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|'SOCIETIES' DON'T RAISE KIDS, PARENTS DO
A loyal reader writes in response to last week’s opus:
“Dear Mr. Suprynowicz, I read your columns on a regular basis, and while I don’t often agree I have never felt compelled to write. But the education issue in Nevada and across the nation just baffles me.
I’m a very optimistic moderate Republican, and as a profession I solve problems. But as I read your column in today’s Review-Journal, I came to the realization that there may be no solution to our dismal education efforts as a society.
“I agree with you about the ‘incarceration in the government homogeneity camps.’ I have real problems with the public education system, and my kids attend private school because of my concerns. You also praise the idea of children staying home until they are older than 5 so they are not ripped from their parents and their nurturing environment. Well, the problem with this is that the majority of children are not in nurturing, caring, learning enriched environments.
“In fact, regardless of income or socioeconomic status, most of our kids are in homes which do little to enrich any portion of their lives. At the very least all day kindergarten gives a child attention from an adult, safety and stimulation.
“In addition, I’m not at all surprised that testing, by anyone, of a public school child in the third grade, fifth grade or even tenth grade will” (not? -- V.S.) “show any significant effects from his or her early education.
“Why? Because children, aged birth to eight or so, are ultimately most influenced by the behaviors of their parents or guardian. If they are assisted with homework, encouraged to read, see their parents reading, and our praised, loved, and taught the importance of knowledge and the beauty of learning, then they will learn at above average levels and be able to demonstrate that knowledge through testing (another whole issue I won’t get into now).
“But really more importantly, our children who succeed are protected from a social culture that breeds hate, violence, and ignorance, a culture that rewards promiscuity in our teenage girls, and a thug mentality from our teenage boys.
“The music, television, even commercials are counterproductive to values taught in many homes. I have five children, ages 21 to 6, and I am a diligent, educated, passionate mother, who has a plan to fight these outside influences and I’m winning.
“I hope all parents and educators read your column today. It made me think and realize that money will not solve this problem, independent school administrations won’t solve this problem, paying teachers more is also not the answer.
“Parents are the key, and how we throw money at that duty to improve upon it is a mystery. Thanks for all your insights,” -- L.M.
I replied: Dear L.M. -- Thanks for writing. But I’m afraid I don’t see any real mystery.
Up through the early 1960s, the majority of American families could survive -- paying for a car and a free-standing single-family home -- on one salary. The second adult -- usually mom, though each family should be free to decide who -- could thus stay home with the kids.
Today, the second wage-earner (usually the mom) earns about enough (after paying for a second car, work clothes, dry-cleaning, “day care,” and the “convenience” costs of having no one at home to start dinner from scratch) to pay today’s much higher taxes on dad’s salary, which now approach half his earnings once you add them all up, including both halves of the second “general fund” federal income tax falsely labeled “Social Security.”
But more than half our state and local taxes go to support the dysfunctional government schools. Which means all these social pathologies have been imposed in the pursuit of the mad notion that government can raise our kids.
In pursuit of this nutty scheme, we’ve been convinced mom can’t stop working because a family needs twice its old earnings since half of everyone’s earnings now have to go to fund the schools ... and we can’t close the schools because there’s no one left at home to watch the kids!
Merely close these counterproductive government Political Correctness Academies and tax rates could be cut in half. Trim federal per-capita taxes and expenditures back to 1962 levels, to match. (Did anyone wake up in 1962, alarmed that we “didn’t have enough government”?)
Once again, families could survive on one salary; one parent could stay home to raise and see to the non-government schooling of the kids -- the system that gave us Franklin, Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and even such self-taught fellows as Abe Lincoln and Hartford’s Rev. J.W.C. Pennington.
The only remaining problem is that many modern parents (including women) appear to be truly horrified at the prospect of doing that. They fear they’d go stir crazy.
What would be a non-governmental solution? Living closer to the grandparents and the extended family? “Allowing” groups of neighboring families to pool their day-care or home-schooling efforts, so no one would feel “chained in their kitchen” for months on end?
(Today, of course, it’s illegal to care for the kids of three of your neighbors unless your kitchen is “government certified to commercial standards”; it’s probably equally illegal to help home-school the kids of three neighboring families without a wall full of government “licenses” and “certificates” and vastly expensive “charters.” When did we decide to let these petty “enforcement officers” tell us who should care for our kids, and how?)
Encouraging more home-based, Internet-friendly occupations? (Our government entities hate this, too, of course -- it’s harder to track and tax such commerce.)
We used to be an innovative, problem-solving, “can-do” people. The first step is to get over this presumption that raising kids is a problem to be solved collectively, “as a society,” through means of government coercion.
Just set people free to solve it for themselves. The “village” in the old African proverb that Hillary Clinton loves was a VOLUNTARY association -- neighbors anxious to help neighbors when ASKED for help. I doubt there was any uniformed village “officer” who would come arrest you for “doing it without the proper permits.”
And if there was, let us renounce the doctrine right now, and the lady with it.