If You’re Truly Believe in Liberty, Should You Send Your Children to Public School ?

Scott on Frog_Colorado

The educational establishment is one of the major drivers behind the frequency with which government comes and asks for more of our earnings and the increasing number of laws and regulations which erode our freedoms.

We all know that increases in educational performance cannot be attributed to just increases in educational spending.  The data shows that we’ve reached the point of decreasing returns in the U.S. when it comes to education such that for every additional dollar spent on education, we are seeing decreases in performance in many geographic areas.  We all know where the good schools are–in the affluent neighborhoods where other factors in addition to money make a difference in students’ lives (like intact families, college-educated parents, etc.).

No one likes to say no to the “old” or to “children.”  So, our first problem is voters feel warm and fuzzy about voting for spending increases for the so-called” educational benefit of our children despite even plummeting performance.

Second–aside from educators–who always claim that they’ve squeezed every penny out of the budget this year–parents wiht children in the schools can’t say no to more school spending (literally, that was the quote in my local newspaper from our superintendent when asked about his $600k increase in the budget).

A parent is a voter.  No parent with children in the school wants to vote against a nicer school, more teachers, etc . A for-profit company would not keep dumping money into an entity that performs so poorly.  So, my question is, why do U.S. conservatives keep propping up a failing educational system ?

If we truly want to preserve our liberty and not keep giving government more and more of our tax dollars and our freedom, shouldn’t we pull our children out of this failing system ?  What are conservatives afraid of ?  Is the reliance on the public school at all cost the necessary evil to perpetuate the two-income family (mom and dad working outside the home).  I’m sure this will anger many but it seems logical to me.

Life is Hard: Suck it Up and Strengthen Your Family Now

Balanced rock resting above lava arch near Park Lake in Grant County

“When Marriage Disappears: The Retreat from Marriage in Middle America” was recently published by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values.  National Review interviewed the Director of the project Brad Wilcox. National Review’s interview can be found here.

In the National Review interview, Wilcox states:

“When Marriage Disappears” points out that a “soul mate” model of marriage has overtaken an “institutional” model of marriage in the minds of many Americans. What I mean by that is that more and more Americans think that marriage is about an intense and fulfilling couple-focused relationship that, by the way, is made possible by a comfortable and secure income.

More and more Americans have jettisoned the older, institutional view that marriage is also about raising a family together, offering mutual aid to one another in tough times, and becoming engaged in larger networks of kin and community.

I’ve been reading alot about the Mexican drug cartels lately so I’ll say it in Spanish and then translate, “la vida es dura” (English: life is hard).  I can no longer remember what movie it was that dispensed this knowledge to me in my early twenties but it’s the truth.  We all love the movie “Life is Beautiful” but we love it because of Roberto Benigni’s fight, spirit and resolve in the face of adversity.  Marriage isn’t easy.  Raising the kiddos isn’t easy.  However, Gen Xers like myself and those generations that follow somehow think that all these things “should” be easy.

We women are trying to “find ourselves” in our careers and during our pedicures when we should be trying to get to know our spouse and our kids.  Since mom went to work, families have gone into debt to try and afford the suburban home and second car that mom requires and/or demands if she works full-time.  Let’s not be ridiculous and talk about college tuition for the kids.  The environmentalists talk about sustainable growth; well, this dual-income plan isn’t sustainable over the long-run.

Like Mr. Wilcox stated above, the traditional view of marriage is: spouses aid one another during tough times and are involved in their extended families and community.  Well, Grandma no longer lives down the street and there are usually no uncles, aunts or extended family to help pitch in when life is hard.  Divorce scatters finances and family members while also weakening loyalty of parent-to-child as the divorced parents go on to start second marriages.

During tough economic times like we face now, it is imperative that we have strong family ties.  We need many arms to hold us up (and I don’t mean the Government).  During the last Great Depression, we had an intact social fabric.  We no longer have this fabric so what does that mean for us as we face double-digit long-term unemployment and a bankrupt Social Security program ?

Life is hard young mothers and fathers, please stop surfing the 352 channels on your tv and start talking to your spouse and children about your plans for the next five years.  Start focusing on what is going to make your family unit stable and durable over the long run.  The long-run is important; just ask those who didn’t save enough for retirement and don’t have family nearby to help take care of them; their only prospect may be living their days out in a state-run nursing home.

Working Women Outsourcing Their Sick Kids

munch: the sick child

When my first child was born, I bought a three year subscription to Parents magazine.  I just renewed last year; just like my renewal of In Style (I can’t afford anything in that mag), I can’t figure out why I renewed again.  I like the baby bloopers section but many of the articles annoy me.  One such article was titled “A Working Mom’s Guide to Sick Kids” in the Sept 2010 issue.

First, it was a politically motivated article aimed at getting working women to phone and write their Congressmen to support deceased Senator Ted Kennedy’s Healthy Families Act which would “establish for the first time that all employers provide one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.”  Apparently Family Medical Leave Act isn’t enough government regulation as it only gives 12 weeks for parents with chronically ill kids…the flu doesn’t qualify.  Also, on top of the federal regulation, we have 19 states which are considering bills requiring companies to offer certain number of paid sick days per year.

According to Dr. Jody Heyman of McGill University’s Institute for Health and Social Policy, “The U.S. lags behind almost every developed nation when it comes to flexible leave policies and other family supports and well below many low- and middle-income countries.”  Who cares if I can get government subsidized child care if I have to live in a 300 square foot apartment in a barrio in Brazil.  Also, perhaps this is a simple-minded observation on my part but…..if you’re doing cross country comparisons, don’t you have to look at other factors like per capita income, taxes, education, etc before you can draw any conclusions about whether the U.S. has too little or too much subsidized child care.

I was mostly struck by how I felt for the little kiddos who are affected by the recommendations in the article.  Let’s take Marijean Jaggers whose experience is highlighted in the first paragraph:

Marijean Jaggers cringes when she thinks about the time she strapped her vomiting 4-year-old daughter into the backseat of their car, gave her a towel and a bowl and then drove 45 minutes to her office to pick up work she had to turn in that day.  ‘My husband was out of town.  I’d been up all night and my priorities were completely jumbled,’ recalls Jaggers of St. Louis.  Halfway there, she came to her senses, called the office, and asked them to email the files to her at home instead.  The message from the boss?  ‘He said I needed to find back-up child care when my kids got sick and that I should get my ass into work.’

I was saddened by several things:  first, the feeble child who needs her mom and instead has to deal with the harried frenzy of figuring out how to dump the child off somewhere so the mom can go please her boss.  Let’s be honest, is that mom who is worried about her child, going to be productive at work ?  Not really.  Also, what messages are we sending to our children when we aren’t there for them when they need us ?  How many children are being forced to go to school when they’re sick because mom needs to go to work ? A solution in the article was, of course, more outsourcing of our children:  sick-child day care.  A franchise with 9 locations called Get Well Station has a pediatric nurse where

kids are cared for in separate rooms according to illness.  Each is equipped with a reverse ventilation system so no one has to worry that a child with, say, a broken leg, will catch the flu.

Mom’s: Is this really what you want for your little kiddos ?  Were you taken to a sterile environment like a hospital when you had the flu or did your mom let you sleep in your own bed or better yet on the couch with your comforter with the tv on?  Perhaps she even watched The Price is Right with you in between dusting and making your chicken soup.  Those kind of memories are priceless.

Are we really better off than we were when the boomers were born into families twice the size of today and mom stayed home.  50 years ago mom stayed home to nurse her 2 month old whereas now mom pumps in the bathroom at work and watches her newborn on her computer at work.  The daycare camera delivers her pictures of her 6 week old over the internet similar to security footage from a 7 Eleven.  Is this the result we American women were hoping for when we thought about having a child ?  I just don’t see how we can be better off with our children being outsourced at every chance….even when they’re sick ?  As working women strive to be more like men, they are treating their role of mother as a nuisance that needs to be eliminated.

photo by: deflam