Democratic Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris recently tweeted about a plan to raise teacher pay from the federal level: “I often get asked ‘how can we afford this’ — but my question is: how can we afford NOT to give our teachers a raise? They’re raising our children. Don’t they deserve our respect? Don’t they deserve to get paid their value?”
We should all shiver when a U.S. senator proclaims that teachers are raising our children. This should profoundly bother us, yet her words were just a blip in the news. Unfortunately, in far too many instances teachers are raising America’s children, or they are at least attempting to do so. Teachers should not be faulted for their efforts, and in fact a desire to nurture leads many to the teaching profession, but there are significant reasons to ensure the line between teacher and parent remains distinct.
While I am not usually one to harp on pronoun usage, Harris’s use of the collective pronoun our for children ought to be a red flag. Children are not collective property to be raised by an unfeeling state. The God-designed family ought to be honored and supported by all who hope for a better America.
No matter how caring the teachers they hire are, government-funded schools cannot and should not attempt to pick up the slack for mom and dad. It not only costs too much, it is an impossible task. It will cost us tremendously in the many ways it will tear at the fabric of this nation.
In all the education-focused dialogue exchanged in this country, too few are willing to state the obvious: Some of educators’ top complaints are situations that are unlikely to improve unless and until mom and dad become more involved with their kids. Too many parents are allowing the state to step in and do their job, and this happens at least in part because the state is a willing enabler.
Understandably frustrated teachers turn to the government for help when the source of at least some of their frustration is a lack of support from home, and disinterested parents are not a recent trend. Common teacher complaints include students with poor hygiene, students who get no help with their homework, students who only eat when they are at school, and students whose behavior needs to be addressed either with medication they do not take regularly or with discipline that parents withhold.
Family psychologist John Rosemond summarizes the perfect storm raging in America’s public schools: “The problem consists of equal parts irresponsible parenting (not confined to any given demographic), parents who make excuses for brats they send to school (just another form of irresponsible parenting), teacher unions that have been given legal power to game the system, federal aid to education (long outlived its usefulness), and administrators who strip teachers of permission to discipline and then discipline teachers who have the temerity to do so.”
“Feeding a child is the fundamental duty of a parent,” notes Teresa Mull. Ronald Reagan once said, “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” There is a great deal to consider when contemplating shifting the burden of providing a child’s sustenance from parents to the government.
Mull discusses some of the long-term emotional benefits of a government that encourages parents to meet their responsibilities rather than assuming another government program is the answer: “Parents would also be reminded of the pride and joy that comes from providing for one’s family, and they need to know that bonding with a child at the grocery store and the dinner table is a thousand times better for his or her development than any government-subsidized meal could ever be.”
It is one thing to need a few more textbooks or some extra paper. It is another matter when you seek money to feed children who are not fed at home, to assist children whose parents haven’t addressed their basic hygene, or to employ an army of counselors and therapists in an attempt to meet the psychological needs of students whose parents are physically or emotionally AWOL.
Are these things taxpayers should be supporting via the money budgeted for education? Are we not encouraging a dereliction of parental duty by spending more money and creating more programs that have little to do with education and everything to do with the government happily inserting itself into what ought to be private family matters?
Many teachers cannot teach as effectively as they otherwise might because they are physically and emotionally being drained attempting to fulfill their dual roles as mother and teacher. It is an untenable situation, a cycle fostered by a handful of parents who either cannot or will not fulfill their duties coupled with the pervasive but erroneous idea that it is normal, healthy, and fiscally possible for a child’s every need to be met by a publicly funded school system.
I believe a nation can withstand and possibly turn the tide against an intrusive government if its families remain strong and intact. There are reasons power-hungry regimes seek to destroy the family, to loosen the natural familial bonds and find government substitutes for mothers and fathers.
We are not yet at the stage George Orwell described in “1984”: “The family had become in effect an extension of the Thought Police. It was a device by means of which everyone could be surrounded night and day by informers who knew him intimately.” But we continue to take unwise steps toward a future in which the government is involved in child-rearing in unprecedented ways.
The individual family unit is the source from which any strong and functional nation derives its leaders and its stability. Continuing to unthinkingly funnel money into programs that allow for and even encourage parental absenteeism is undermining both the families and education for all school children, for even those students with attentive parents are certainly hurt by the strain placed on teachers attempting to not only teach but to simultaneously meet the physical, nutritional, and emotional needs of some students.
Teachers should be teaching. We can debate teacher pay, but the notion that we need to give teachers a raise because they are “raising our children” ought to raise eyebrows. Raising children is not an endeavor on which you could ever put a price, nor is it an endeavor schools ought to be undertaking at the taxpayers’ expense.