Tuesday, December 14, 2010

In Defense of Michelle Obama

The headline was: “We can’t just leave it up to the parents.

It sounded big brotherish.

But in the context of the complete thought being expressed, I think Michelle Obama was right on the idea that schools are there to support parents in their child rearing. (She was wrong in the belief that a federal mandate, rather than local school decision, is the best way to support parental choice and values.)
"But when our kids spend so much of their time each day in school, and when many children get up to half their daily calories from school meals, it’s clear that we as a nation have a responsibility to meet as well. We can’t just leave it up to the parents. I think that parents have a right to expect that their efforts at home won’t be undone each day in the school cafeteria or in the vending machine in the hallway. I think that our parents have a right to expect that their kids will be served fresh, healthy food that meets high nutritional standards."
Children are forced to be in school--usually 6 to 8 hours a day. The schools should not take on the role of undermining what the parents are teaching at home. At present the schools often do undermine parental training in religious and moral areas. This is especially true on morally-related issues such as sexual mores, dispensing birth control devices and requiring "diversity" training. Unfortunately, the model used by many schools is to impose values administratively from above with no reference to what parents want their children taught.

Even if the schools cannot actively support the variety of parental emphases in helping to shape a child's character and worldview, the school should at least be supportive of children looking to their parents for guidance rather than the school seeking to be an independent source of guidance. Unfortunately, schools that seek to support parental values are becoming more and more rare. (This is one of the reasons the public school system is in crisis and parents are scrambling to get their children into alternative schooling environments.)

Michelle Obama is right that the role of schools is to support parents in their efforts to teach their children good values and good character.

Mrs. Obama sees that principle clearly as regards healthy foods, but has not yet seen it with regard to a child's character and values in the other areas of life that schools have taken upon themselves either voluntarily or through federal mandates.

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