A further thought on the collective 'ownership' of children

By now, everyone has had an opportunity to be duly horrified by Melissa Harris-Perry’s MSNBC video, in which she called for a “collective notion” of children, which can only be achieved if we “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.”

I’ve asked Captain Jean-Luc Picard to deliver my response:

But let’s do Harris-Perry the courtesy of stripping away her creepy collectivist rhetoric and focus on her specific complaint: insufficient spending on public education.  “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,” she said.

Let’s do her one more courtesy, and strip away the bubbleheaded liberal idiocy of claiming we don’t spend enough on public education.  We spend titanic amounts of money on it.  The utter and complete failure of the public school teachers’ unions is to blame, not insufficient spending.  The sooner people like Melissa Harris-Perry admit this, the sooner we can get down to serious, effective educational reforms.

Behind her complaint about money lies a basic assertion that parents and family consider themselves disproportionately important to the educational growth of their children, when it should be seen as a collective responsibility, shouldered by government schools and community organizations.  But that is the exact opposite of what public school bureaucrats invariably say when their failures are pointed out to them.  They always claim that successful students have exceptionally strong support from involved parents.  They take this to the level of implying that engaged parents who encourage good learning habits are tantamount to an unfair advantage.  Public schools can’t be expected to achieve educational success with kids who don’t have that advantage.

If you’ve studied America’s public education failure at all, or if you have kids in public school, you’ve probably heard this excuse a million times.  And behind the excuse-making lies some research that demonstrates involved parents are indeed an asset for the education of their children.

So in addition to everything else offensive and foolish about that MSNBC promo, Melissa Harris-Perry is 100 percent wrong about the basic point she was trying to make.  She has it exactly backwards.  It takes a family to raise a child, not a village.

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