The Case Against Melissa Harris-Perry’s Collective Parenting

“Aren’t you worried that your kids will turn out, uh, well, uh, how do I say this, weird?”

I always get some variation of that question when people find out that my sons are homeschooled.

I never mention it out loud, but when people bring up the weird factor, I always think about the tenth grade.  I had a mullet in the tenth grade.  I was socially awkward in the tenth grade.  And I was in the public school system.

One day, a friend didn’t show up to English Literature class.  Towards the end of class the principal made a strange announcement over the intercom.  Our teacher looked concerned.  This was nothing new.  She always looked concerned but that was mainly because other students always said Sir Mix A Lot instead of Sir Lancelot.

I knew that this time was different when the teacher walked over to the door, locked it and told us that we wouldn’t be going anywhere for a while.  We spent the rest of the day locked in that classroom.  Later, we found out that a student walked into the principal’s office with a shotgun.  It appears that my friend, the one who didn’t show up for class that day, had had enough.  He was picked on his whole life and so he convinced himself that violence was his only solution.

So I sort of laugh and think back to the tenth grade when I hear those concerns about my kids growing up weird.  Homeschoolers aren’t the only ones who struggle with social skills.

Melissa Harris-Perry works for MSNBC.  About once every three or four months she says something crazy.  This quarter’s installment involves public education.

The basic gist of this short promo is that we need to be spending more money on public education.  This is typical for progressive thinkers.  For them, more money is always the perfect answer just so long as the question is not, “What do you get when you work hard and invest wisely?”

Harris-Perry explains that part of the problem with public education is that we need to do away with the old frame of mind that says that kids belong to their parents or families and embrace the idea that “kids belong to whole communities.”  Again, like a lot of progressive rhetoric, this sounds good at first.  But what if the whole community decides that your kid needs to be pumped full of some experimental new medicine that will help him not to lean back in his chair or fall off of his bike?  Are parents in this country really ready for whole communities to be making vital decisions about the kids that they are charged with raising?  Sadly, for many, the answer is yes.

Harris-Perry continues.

“Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household, then we start making better investments.”

I’ve lived in neighborhoods where there were kids that were everybody’s responsibility.  They were everybody’s responsibility because the birth parents, while still sharing the same geographical space as their children, forfeited their responsibility of raising those children.  As a result, we had three and four-year-olds sitting out in the middle of the road at 11:30 at night.  Isn’t collective parenting lovely?

Even the best parents need a little help from time to time but if it takes a village to raise your kids, maybe you’re doing it wrong.

In most cases, this communal parenting seems to never end.  The three-year-old who is raised by the community has a way of becoming the thirty-year-old who depends on that same community for food, clothing and shelter.  Or even worse, the people are forced to pay in order for that now grown child to be locked away so that he no longer harms the community.

There are good kids, teachers and administrators in private, public and homeschool settings.  It’s not my place to say which is the better option for all families.  But, as a parent, it is our place to take responsibility for our own children and ensure that it is we the parents, not they the collective, that is doing the job of raising men and women.  No matter what educational options we choose for our kids we have to remember that the task of shaping those boys and girls into men and women has been given to parents, not the United States Department of Education.

I’ve had a few opportunities to go on field trips with my two sons and hundreds of other homeschooled children.  On every one of those field trips, I encounter a kid who is, well, uh, how do I say this, weird.

But, for the moment at least, it’s good to know that parents have the right to raise their own kids the way that they choose, even if the collective thinks it’s weird.

A culture where every child is normal is one that has abandoned individual liberty.