Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Day Care Blues

How many absurdities can be packed into one article? This one by Sue Shellenbarger today makes an heroic attempt to be the clown car of absurdity. Titled "The Brat Race" the article expresses sympathy for the plight of wait-listed parents at hoity-toity child-care centers across the country. These neurotic yuppies (the tuition in these joints makes it highly unlikely that they’re catering to blue-collar folks or even mid-level execs) fill out applications for enrollment before their little bundles of joy are even conceived. There are so many things to consider, after all, and you have to get into the right place. This can be quite distressing . . . as Shellenbarger says, "The trend poses a challenge for parents, who may not know how far to plan ahead and how to navigate the wait lists."

Well, this much is clear . . . they don’t know how to plan very far ahead!

"Quality" is ever the watch-word . . . as in "quality" care and "quality" time. And what connotes "quality"? Well, this will (of course) depend upon your "values." For example . . . do you want a program that works toward "reading readiness" or do you want your child to begin a rigorous reading program by age 2? Can you imagine coming into this world and being thrust into the warm bosom of such a household? It sounds perfectly charming . . . about as charming as a straight-jacket.

Discussions - 9 Comments

Just another step of vainity that we think that our kids have to learn everything and be super successful. A parent should be no less proud of a child who works at a local store or a factory than one who becomes a professor or a lawyer. Private schooling is another sign of our selfish focus on worldly glory gone to an extreme. So what if the public school isn't perfect? It teaches children that they are not the center of the world and maybe they could take a second to help someone else do his math homework instead of going the advanced private school that is all about them.

I'm not suprised. This country is the opposite of Machiavellian Italy where Machiavelli complained that people were too focused on the next world to live properly in this one. Today we are so focused on this world and ourselves that we never consider the acting with an eye toward the next one, or consdider that such an action might really make this life better than the self-esteem based society that we have today.

Private schooling is another sign of our selfish focus on worldly glory gone to an extreme.

In some cases, I guess this could be true. But you rather over-state your case, don't you? Don't many parents send their children to private (especially religious) schools because they worry (and not without just cause) about the extreme elements that are running many of our public schools who have worked mightily to effect the transformation toward secularism you rightly and so often condemn? In such cases, might you not say that more vanity could be coming from those who send their children to bad public schools in spite of their knowledge about the dangers on the assumption that their own good offices will be enough to keep their kids on the path of the righteous? I don't take either position. Both are too absolute and give no credence to prudence or judgment. Not all public schools are bad and not all private schools are good. I'd say sometimes public schools are probably fine and in other cases, I'd scrub toilets and consider worse to keep my kids out of them. Not that there's anything wrong with scrubbing toilets . . . of course.

Dennis Prager agrees with you, and I with him, that the most important thing parents should want for their children is that they be good. "Successful" should come way down on the list. But after good comes happy. Part--though only a part--of being happy is rising up to your own potential which, undoubtedly you agree, is a gift to us from God. If that means you work as a janitor and scrub toilets, God bless you. Be the best janitor you can be and feel no shame in it. But, if you are blessed with other talents that you do not or cannot (for lack of proper guidance) explore, then that is a shame and it may very well prevent you from achieving happiness. Parents who seek to find the best guidance they can offer to their children ought not to be condemned as vain, it seems to me.

From what I said above, it's probably clear to you that I do send my children to a private (though religious) school. I have come across many types of parents in my association with it. Some are there for vanity reasons. Others are there for moral or religious reasons. In the end, however, it probably won't matter what the reasons were for any of us. What will matter will be what our kids take away from it and (to some lesser extent, I fear) what we reinforce at home.

What will matter will be what our kids take away from it and (to some lesser extent, I fear) what we reinforce at home.

I agree. I only said that private schools were a "sign" of such vanity, they are not evil of themselves (i.e. money). I have no doubt that parents(in my opinion a minority) have good reasons for sending children to private schools. Most do so to feel good about themselves and because they think their kids will be more successful. God bless parents that do so much for their kids, but kids need to learn to do for themselves. No public school is so bad that a child can't learn (school can only waste 7 hours of your day!).

Arguments can cut both ways, here are the reasons that I see against private schools...a biased list of course.


Parents choose school because:

1. Great image, all people of my class are doing it.

2. Want desparately for child to succeed (make lots of money, be smart, popular...)

3. Want to separate child from "bad" influences.

4. Selfish and don't want to share their resources, talents, time, etc with other families and children not of their status. "us vs. them" attitude. Unwilling to make a difference outside of their circle.

5. Like the "values" that they believe the school engrains (best motive but questionable)

What the kids get out of it:
1. Entitlement attitude, I'm better than others, my parents can get me special things.
2. I'll let my great school spoon-feed me knowledge instead of doing any learning outside of class on my own.
3. Elitist perspective; I'm in my little bubble and don't know about the real world problems.
4. Teaches kids to remove themselves from others' problems; don't help out, life is about YOU.
5. Potential for great education and more classical learning. BUT ONLY IF the child has the discipline and talent to take advantage of the opportunity. Most do not.

I dislike personal bios, so there is no need to mention my own educational experiences.

I dislike personal bios, so there is no need to mention my own educational experiences. But we already know (from you) that you went to Ashland. So you haven't always disliked personal bios and that's a silly argument anyway. Of course you learn from your experiences--unless you're in a coma. So since you went to Ashland, tell me . . . why not Ohio State or OU? They weren't good enough? Why not a community college? Why didn't you just go to the library and check out books on your own and learn to "do for yourself"? Or does this rule only apply to elementary and secondary education--when kids can be expected to have the least capacity to do much for themselves?

God bless parents who have the patience, the will and the fortitude to fight the battles raging in some of our public schools. But I cannot find fault with those who don't have the stomach for it or who do not want to watch their kids suffer for their rigid principles. Again, I think this is a highly individualized subject and depends so much upon local factors that it's almost impossible to discuss it in the generalized way you want to do it.

"Brat Race" is a very fine term for this nonsense. It's definitely a keeper.

So since you went to Ashland, tell me . . . why not Ohio State or OU? They weren't good enough? Why not a community college? Why didn't you just go to the library and check out books on your own and learn to "do for yourself"? Or does this rule only apply to elementary and secondary education--when kids can be expected to have the least capacity to do much for themselves?

1-3. Cheap.
4. Diploma.
5. College is more important than elementary.

You have gone quite a bit off subject to start in on colleges. It is also a bit unecessary to explain how one's experiences especially when all you're doing is stereotyping. You stereotyped yourself. There was no need to say that you clearly sent your kids to a private school. From what you'd written to that point it was not clear at all, although I knew from other things. A person who had only experienced public schools could have made the same arguments. Instead you attempted to make it sound like you have special arguments and I have special arguments because of our educational experiences. When used in that way, I do dislike bios.

The best teacher of your child is you, especially in the early years.

You have gone quite a bit off subject to start in on colleges. What?! The original post was about day care (which is mostly all private--as it should be). You're the one who made this about public v. private education. Day care isn't really even about education. It's about babysitting or warehousing children so their parents can do other things than educate them.

I added that autobiographical bit in the interest of full disclosure. Most people reading this know my kids aren't in public school (though they may be next year)--but I didn't want to appear as if I was trying to conceal that fact.

I just think you're too hard on folks who are just trying to do the best they can by their children. Some people are the cartoon characters you describe in #1 . . . but most are not. You'll realize that when you have your own.

I find Clint's opinions about why parents choose private school and what kids get out of it quite insulting. I attended religious schools as a child, and at times got flak on the school bus from public school kids who had attitudes like his! Today I have chosen religious school for my own children. I appreciate that the school helps me to make God present in their lives everyday, not just on Sunday. Clint really doesn't know much about the mission and traditions of religious schools.

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