Yesterday, for personal reasons, was a really tough day. And it ended with what felt like a punch to the gut. Hearing the news that the Outlaw Dirty Money and the Invest in ED initiatives would not be on this November’s ballot seemed to paralyze me for about twenty minutes. I sat on the couch and allowed the information and the ramifications to settle into my brain. My husband, who was outside playing with our children, made his way into the house, eyes searching my face to find clues so as to read my mood. Quietly he sat in the rocking chair across from me and simply said, “I heard.”
We sat for a few minutes before the quiet conversation began between us. I can’t say that either one of us was surprised. We’ve been at this for a while. We’ve watched and we’ve resisted as this state has steadily put into place, piece by piece, those systems that will completely erode the foundation of and eventually dismantle our public school system. So as I focused on my breathing, I recognized that I was bone tired. I couldn’t concentrate and I couldn’t move; I was emotionally spent from having navigated a really tough day.
I didn’t, however, stay on the couch. As we moved through our evening, homework, dinner, and bedtime, the routines seemed to open some space in my brain so that I could begin to process the information. In my gut, I knew that I needed a moment, but I also knew that eventually, I would dig deep, find inspiration, and begin the fight again. Never did I think that we were done fighting or that those responsible for this decision would have the final say for OUR children and those who pour their lives into the future of our state and our society.
And interestingly enough, my inspiration came from a story in the Old Testament. A story of a mother who refused to let the Pharoah have the final say in the life of her child. I am referring to the mother of Moses. She gave birth to a baby boy at a time when the most powerful man in the nation wanted to kill all the Hebrew baby boys under the age of two. And this mother was having none of that! She hid her baby for three months and when she couldn’t hide him anymore, she used her resources to secure his future. Those resources included a river, a water proofed basket, her daughter, and the daughter of the Pharoah. This momma put her baby in the reeds of the river and asked her daughter to watch over the baby to see what would happen. Ironically, the Pharoah’s daughter was bathing in that part of the river and found Moses, crying in his basket. Moses’ sister sees the compassionate response and steps in with an offer to find a wet nurse for the young infant. Pharoah’s daughter agrees and the sister of Moses retrieves their mother, who then gets paid to raise her own son.
I applaud this woman for taking such great risks for the life of her child. Putting a baby in a river is one of the least safe places I can think–which is probably why she did it. It was an unlikely place, but a readily available resource. I do wonder if she knew there would be a chance the Pharoah’s daughter would be bathing in the river. Did she gamble on a compassionate response from the Pharoah’s daughter? And then for her own daughter to secure wages for this mom to do what she had wanted to do in the first place–booyah! Yes, I find this story so very inspiring. I want to be that momma who, in the face of dire consequences, assesses her resources and moves forward with conviction and courage. I want to be the momma who knows how to utilize the power structure to secure her children’s future. Like the daughter, I want to be shrewd and savvy enough to direct the future of our children in this state.
While I recognize there is no order for infant genocide in our state, there is a disdain for investing in the lives of all our children. There is a plan to defund the system that will create a good life for them and their futures. There is a plan to make many, many lives more difficult with no compassion, vision, or regard to the majority of families who chose a public education for their children. I want to be that momma who, deep in her soul, finds a way to share her vision for a fully funded education so that all the babies in our state have a future and a life worth living.
The power in our state can change. We have readily available resources. We know that when we show up, committed to working together, we have power. Our state, a right to work state, organized and orchestrated the LARGEST strike in our state’s history and for sure, the largest education walkout in the past year. We know that we have a voice in this next election. We have two months to learn as much as we can. Attend the forums; find the candidates and ask them what their plan is for a fully funded public education, and know that you have a right to secure our children’s future and the future of the state of Arizona. We are those mommas (and papas) who WILL secure our children’s futures. Invite others to join you and most of all, don’t take NO for an answer.
About the Author:
Rev. Stephanie Hamilton wrote this on Aug. 30, shortly after the decision came out regarding Outlaw Dirty Money and Invest in ED. Hamilton is the Southern Arizona Regional Leader for Save Our Schools AZ, working to get a NO vote on Prop 305. She is a proud product of a public school education, the daughter of public school educators and is married to a middle school language arts and social studies teacher. They have three children who attend schools in the Tucson Unified School District. In her spare time, she serves on Tucson Unified Parent Advocacy Council and Pima County Interfaith’s executive and education teams.