Bureau of the Babysnatchers

February 28th, 2012  |  Published in Andrew Katz, Education, Featured, head2head, Katie Burrell, Politics, Public Health, Race

Bureau of the Babysnatchers

Irresponsible parents should not be allowed to keep their kids

By: Andrew Katz

Photo by Jake Heller.

Andrew Katz

A successful democratic society requires citizen participation on various levels—political, economic, social.  When citizens no longer contribute–or never contributed–they create a drain on the entire society.  These people are in essence failed citizens and their children are ticking time bombs, waiting to explode with high chances of unemployment, incarceration, drug use, and a whole host of other societal ills. These people become entangled in the social safety net that is supposed to stop them from sinking. Instead, the net holds them just at the surface–where they spend most of their lives gasping for air.

Many government programs have put band aids where we needed stitches, and sutures where we needed open heart surgery. Let us look at head start programs as an example. Head Start began as a six-week summer school program designed to prepare low-income children for kindergarten. It became increasingly obvious that six weeks could not make up for 5 years of, dare I say, “parental mismanagement,” and the cumulative effects of generations of poverty. The program was quickly upgraded to a whole year of pre-school.

The government commissioned Sesame Street to help, as well, in the hopes that the number one babysitter in America (television) could take on the role of a responsible adult. Still, it was evident that–despite the best efforts of Ms. T-Vision and full year of pre-school fully funded by the government–that was not enough. So Head Start began enrolling children in programs starting at birth, and kept them for the first three years of their lives, reflecting evidence that these years are critical to a child’s development (personally I say why not start when the brain starts—JUST 3 WEEKS AFTER CONCEPTION!—surely Apple can design a prenatal teaching devise, iFetus or iCareforthefutureofyourchildsoiamimplantingalearningdeviceintoyourwomb… now that Steve Jobs is dead someone needs to take the helm of innovation—those two are free Apple).
Government at the state and local levels haven’t stopped there. Charter schools are being asked to run longer days and longer school years. Some kids now only get a few weeks of summer vacation!

What is the trend here? Getting the children away from their parents for as long as possible.

Well, I say we need to stop pussy-footing around and go all the way with it. If the government is going to be investing millions or billions of dollars in social programs they need a better guarantee of return.  We need to take out the middle man.  Instead of handing the kids back to adult children we should just keep them…at government-funded boarding schools.

Now, some of the more astute readers might be saying, “Why should I pay for some other kid to go to some fancy boarding school!  What about my kid!”  Fair enough. But whether you pay to send the child to government-sponsored boarding school or not, you are paying either way.  Instead of boarding school you are paying for prisons, prison guards, lawyers, judges, unemployment, ghettos, unsafe neighborhoods, and human suffering, and there is a guarantee for little to no return on your investment.

vs.

More Matilda than moral, this plan is as sound as a residential school

By: Katie Burrell

Katie Burrell

So, what I’ve got here is a proposition that children with parents who are ill-equipped to parent be tucked away safely into boarding schools, where adequately educated, sane, compassionate guardian figures can raise the children to be active members of a strong society.

Brilliant. This doesn’t sound like residential schools at all.

I understand the idea behind it – that parents without the financial wherewithal or mental stability (just as examples) to raise children are bereft of responsibility. Perhaps they would be allowed visiting hours, or weekend trips, but for the most part, America can raise Americans the way that they should be.

1. This sounds a little bit more like the plot for a sci-fi movie than educational reform: Baby is born; baby is removed from parents and given to state schools; state schools raise baby to be readers, writers, and efficient fighters; baby escapes and finds family, killing state-appointed “mentors” along the way. Or Matilda. She lived with her parents until she moved in with her teacher.

2. Who decides how bad a parent you have to be to have your children sent to boarding schools? How do we create a regionally-specific school- and government-affiliated programs that assess the ability of every parent in America? Where do we draw the line between “good” and “good enough”? How do we create a board of people that draws this line? Is it based on numbers or morals? Who determines what is moral and what is not? Moreover, how do we determine what is moral and what is not? If we decide on that, can moralism be a platform from which we make these kind of decisions?

3. Why is “low-income” so regularly associated with parental mismanagement? Shitty-ass rich parents exist. Just because their kids are going to expensive private schools doesn’t mean that they are not vulnerable to incarceration or drug use.

I’m all for socialist programs and helping each other out. Anything I have ever learned, however, has lead me to believe that the only initiatives that work are small-scale. Therefore, for Andrew’s idea to have any long-term success, it would need to be implemented on a very individualized level. Perhaps within every catchment area, social workers/child development professionals/teachers could join forces to evaluate the children that they are exposed to on a daily basis. With some funding, perhaps those children could have a hot meal waiting for them when they got to school, a warm jacket for the walk home, free books, shoes, counselling, a hug, whatever they might need specifically for their own success. As for after-school activities or the summertime, we could run programs could run that are flexible and ever-changing in the face of area-specific challenges.

Or maybe we could just ship the kids off to residential boarding schools. And that is my gloss-over of a very intricate issue.

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