"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"It Takes a Community to Raise a Child"

Michelle Malkin, a conservative journalist, just called the cable news network MSNBC, "Maoist Socialist Nutballs' Broadcasting Company". This labeling apparently was made because of a "Lean Forward" program advertisement of MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, where she said:
“We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had a private notion of children. Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children. So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.”
Left, Melissa Harris-Perry (Twitter photo) and Right, Michelle Malkin (Wikipedia)
MSNBC Chris Hayes in his program "All in with Chris Hayes" used a segment of his program to highlight how much time the FOX News Network devoted to attacking Harris-Perry's ad:


Perhaps, Melissa Harris-Perry should not have invoked "ownership" to emphasize "responsibility". But this is really just "semantics". The community does carry the responsibility of properly raising a child for the simple reason that children are the future of society. Fox News' objection is really without substance. Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin does not have to equate an advocacy for investing in our children to Maoist socialism. Harris-Perry is simply asking for collective responsibility. Michelle's parents, by the way, are immigrants from the Philippines. The Philippines is a country where investment in public education as a percentage of its gross domestic product is very low compared to international standards. It is true that compared to the Philippines, the United States is spending a fortune on public school education. In fact, the United States does spend more per pupil compared to the average among developed countries. Thus, Harris-Perry's claim that "We have never invested as much in public education" is the phrase that needs close examination. Of course, investment is not really limited to investment in terms of cash. We also invest both time and attention. And public education in the United States can really do better with additional time and attention from the community. Greater involvement of parents and stronger relationships between universities and K-12 schools certainly will help improve K-12 education in the country. Part of the time and attention a community could give to the schools is sharing the burden of checking whether the investments are being made in the right places. So much money and time are wasted in education reforms that do not work. It is one of the reason why education costs are too high. Making the right investments requires correct prioritization. Responsibility does not mean we simply pay our taxes and let politicians and policy makers waste them on education reforms or programs that do not work. This responsibility equally and perhaps more strongly applies to poor countries like the Philippines. With much more limited resources, education programs must be carefully planned. There is no room for waste....

And yes, a child does not belong to the community. A child likewise do not belong to his or her parents. A child is our responsibility.






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