April 10, 2013
From the Desk of Carol Soelberg
Four years ago I left a commission at the United Nations with the stark realization that Parent Rights would be the next BIG battle ground. We started immediately honing in on the social science that supported the myriad of reasons parental rights are imperative to a thriving society. True to course, the politically correct élites are now vocalizing exactly what we saw coming. Two examples are presently in the news.
First, you may have heard of the Romeike family who fled Germany in 2008 after they were fined thousands in euros and had their children forcibly taken from them because they were homeschooling them. That was in liberal Germany–the rest of the world has nothing to fear–right? Wrong! While a U.S. immigration judge granted the family political asylum in 2010, the United States Department of Homeland Security has now disputed the decision. United States Attorney General Eric Holder has also added his opinion agreeing with Germany that restrictions on homeschooling fail to violate the family’s fundamental rights.
Second, MSNBC’s news commentator Melissa Harris-Perry has now proclaimed that children “fundamentally belong to the state.” With a huge thanks to our parental rights expert Marlene Hinton, we offer the following debunking of that premise. Take particular note of Harris-Perry’s seductive claim that more funding is the answer to education woes as that seems to be the one so many of us fall for.
You can see the MSNBC clip here.
Be sure to share this information with others who might have been persuaded by MSNBC’s attempt to undermine parents.
President, United Families International
Community or Parents?
Funny that I should respond in opposition to a plea for collective parenting when I reared my own children in a neighborhood of stay-at-home moms who kept angelic watch over all the children in the cul-de-sac. Occasionally I would get a call informing me that my son was on the roof or that another underage child was on his way to the junior high nearby. We mutually appreciated the warm environment of a small, neighborhood community that shared values, primarily the value of family. Each family supported the other families on the street. Each phone call was an invitation to greater personal responsibility as a parent.
Nearly a century ago, Oregon decided that children belonged to the state and that private schools should therefore not compete with the state to educate its children. Associate Justice James McReynolds, in the resulting 1925 Supreme Court case, Pierce v. The Society of Sisters, wrote in the majority opinion that children are not “the mere creature[s] of the state” (268 U.S. 510, 535). However, this opinion doesn’t seem to impress political science professor and news commentator Melissa Harris-Perry.
For a professor – a genre of individuals renowned for careful analysis and research – Dr. Harris-Perry makes some remarkable statements that deserve examination. In a recent television ad she asserts this claim: “We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had a private notion of children, your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children. So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household’s we start making better investments.”
Notice the emphasis on money. It is tempting to move first to the ludicrous claim that more money would flow into schools if parents distanced themselves from their primary responsibility – that of parenting their own children. Common sense would indicate the opposite direction of investment of any kind in the well-being of children – or business – when the assumption is that others will take care of it.
However, the insidious core concept of her statement must not go unchallenged: that children do not belong to their families.
Dr. Harris-Perry’s utopian vision does not match the reality of thousands of children turned over to the “community” in Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, and China when parents no longer could or would take responsibility and ownership of their children. Under their State systems, constructing the ideal non-private child “was thought to be possible when hundreds of ‘children of the state’ were collected under one roof to experience new everyday rules, upbringing practices, requirements, approaches to motivation, disciplining conditions, and above all – ideological legitimating of the production of the comprehensively developed future builders of socialism.”¹
In these institutions where the children belonged to the community and parents did not take responsibility, the mortality rate was commonly 50% (ibid., p. 91). That does not take into account the emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual casualties. Few parents find that preferable to underfunded schools.
Arguing the cost/benefit analysis of Dr. Harris-Perry’s comments avoids the central issue of humankind, that of bringing children into the world in order to love them. No community, however strong and well-intentioned, possesses the power of parental love and the influence of the intimate interpersonal knowledge of families.
Nor can any community or State institution provide the sense of belonging, love, intrinsic worth, and resulting personal identity that comes from being part of a strong family. The way an infant is cared for and responded to by family members alters the architecture of the brain, enabling healthy cognitive, emotional, social, and physical growth.² Spending more money on schools will not compensate for lack of loving attention. Neither will abstract platitudes about caring communities.
Parents who abdicate responsibility of rearing their own children risk legal charges of abandonment. Children with no compelling moral compass or sense of belonging other than the community are frequently seen as delinquents by that very community.
The truth is that no greater harm could come to society than that which Dr. Harris-Perry advocates. No community is willing to invest the love, encouragement, patience, effort, and money that parents do daily on behalf of their children.
Have we already fallen into the trap?
Many of us already accept most of her theory – that more money will solve schools’ problems and that it is the State’s job to educate our children. We believe enough to turn over our little ones to strangers each fall and continue to vote to expand our debt for increased funding. I hear some parents eagerly anticipating all-day programs for younger ages. Instinct to protect our children has been overridden by generations of State coercion of children into the one roof experience of “new everyday rules, upbringing practices, requirements, approaches to motivation, disciplining conditions, and above all – ideological legitimating of the production of the comprehensively developed future builders of socialism.”
So forget the illogic of how much we should invest, as there will never be a definitive answer, even from the political and economic “scientists.” Disregard that Dr. Harris-Perry provides no supporting evidence for her claims, and that our current experience demonstrates those claims to be patently false. School test scores decline even though funding in the U.S. is among the highest on the planet.
This new Children’s Crusade will have no better outcome than that of the 13th century, when multiple thousands of children, cheered on by parents and civil and religious leaders, were somehow convinced that children, not yet in their teens, could redeem the Holy Land where enormous armies of knights had failed. Only a handful of those parents ever heard from their children again. Parents need to rethink this logic.
When the Dr. Harris-Perrys of the world place their own children on the curb of community and walk away, expecting a happy and productive result, perhaps the rest of us will be convinced of their genuine belief in these outlandish claims. However, even their sincerity, like that of the Children’s Crusade, will not save children. Children belong to their families, and families must do that.
¹Iarskaia-Smirnova, E. & Romanov, P., 2005. Institutional child care in Soviet Russia: Everyday life in the children’s home ‘Krasnyi gorodok’ in Saratov, 1920-1940s. In K. Schilde & D. Schulte (eds.) Need and care – Glimpses into the beginnings of Eastern Europe’s professional welfare (pp. 91-122). Bloomfield Hills, MI: Barbara Budrich Publishers, p. 95.
²Stamm, J. (2007). Bright from the Start, New York: Gotham Books
For more Information and to see a follow-up response to this alert, go here.
Marlene Hinton is a wife, mother, grandmother, and defines herself principally through faith, family, and freedom. A teacher for many decades, education, particularly in those three areas, is a focus. She holds degrees in history, Spanish, bilingual education, and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.