A former education secretary for the state of Massachusetts recently defended federal control of education. “The children belong to all of us,” he stated. [Source: DailyCaller.com, 2/3/14, former Massachusetts education official Paul Reville.]
Is this really true? If you have children, do those children belong to me as much as to you? Do I have an equal right in determining how you raise them, what you encourage them to think, do or value?
Is the same true in reverse, if I have children? Do you have a right to tell me how to raise them?
Very few would take it this far. But the very premise of federal control over schooling — as opposed to a private marketplace for education — is consistent with what this man said.
If government officials were concerned with educating children, they would merely provide subsidies or guarantees for parents in the marketplace. I’m not saying I endorse this, because I don’t. Government should not be forcing some citizens to pay for the education of other citizens’ children. However, the fact that the federal government completely controls education as we know it (leaving little room for a private, competing marketplace) shows that, as with health care, government’s purpose here is control — in this case, over the minds of children.
In reality, human beings cannot be controlled, not fully. You can coerce people into doing things, but you cannot, in the end, absolutely and literally control them. The more you try to control or dominate people, the less you’ll have their hearts and their minds. You can inspire fear, but you’ll never inspire a person you dominate into authentic greatness or goodness.
It’s not even possible to control children, not completely. Ask any parent of a typical two-year-old, to say nothing of a thirteen-year-old or seventeen-year-old.
The closest you can come to controlling someone is to make them part of a group, and then claim that this group “belongs to all of us.” When it’s adults, you usually hear: “We belong to each other.” When it’s children, you hear, “The children belong to all of us.”
Nobody really questions the government’s right to control children. The only opposition you generally hear to public schools is the use of tax money to promote homosexuality or abortion in a neutral or positive way. But these are merely side-issues. Yes, it’s up to the parents to teach their children what they wish to teach them about homosexuality or abortion. (In a free society, they will make up their own minds about these matters anyway, once they grow up.) Government should not be collecting children, by force, herding them together on the premise that they belong to the state, and then teaching them what the state chooses to impose. It’s not the content of what government programs are teaching that we should object to; it’s the fact that government is doing this at all.
When somebody proclaims, “The children belong to us all,” the implication is that we are all responsible for each other’s children. Not only do we have a right to control them, but we also have an obligation to feed, clothe and otherwise maintain them. If this isn’t collectivism in the form of Communism, I don’t know what is. It’s not fashionable to make such claims, but I’m simply being objective here. If it’s true that we all own each other’s children, and are responsible for them, doesn’t that mean we all live in one gigantic commune?
In a free country, people are free to reproduce as they see fit. But they are the ones responsible for their children, until those children are grown. If you want to help unfortunate children born into bad circumstances, you’re certainly free to help them. Nothing in the laws or attitudes of a free country prevents charity, help and kindness. And government certainly can take children away from situations where they’re being neglected or abused.
But to say that we all belong to one another? If you let your rulers get away with these comments, you have nothing to complain about once they take it all the way.
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