“You Don’t Own Me”

Posted on April 10, 2013 by


Just when you think the Left has pretty much “let it all hang out” (I am partly a child of the 60s/70s), you are surprised.  I read about (but did not see, except in a short clip) a “sermonette” by Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC in which she stated that “We have to break through  our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families.”  She isn’t the only one though.  Francois Hollande, the Socialist, and soon to be broke, president of France, in criticizing homework, said that work “must be done in the school facility rather than the home if we want to support the children and reestablish equality.”  And in Germany the laws do not permit legal home-schooling because it detracts from the brainwashing agenda of the state, as a recent high-profile immigration case has shown.

It is not always fashionable to challenge the state when it comes to education.  Even among many Christians the public schools are sancrosanct, or at least one rung lower than God.  In a certain sense education is a modern deity, or rather, the idea of education is a deity.  The results are often something else altogether.  But this attitude takes on a whole new meaning when it implies that our children in effect are to be sacrificed to the state.  That is what is being said by those like Harris-Perry.  The God is education in the spirit of secular doctrine, the priests and priestesses are John Dewey and his spiritual ancestors, the temple is the classroom, and the doctrinal content is collectivism in all its forms from mild to radical, along with a bland but real atheism.

So let’s have the conversation about education.  First, am I opposed to it.  No, I’m “fur” it as a West Virgnia hillbilly (me) would say.  After all, self-promotion to follow, I possess two doctorates, three masters degrees and a BS in Physics.  And most of those degrees were from public universities.  Oh, I forgot to add that I attended public schools all the way through.  I have “cred” you might say.  Ok, that settles that.  But it does not follow that we leap to the conclusion that I or anyone else belongs to the state and that the state has the authority or right under any legitimate standard to regiment us, indoctrinate us, or brainwash us.  The responsibility for education, no matter how it is delegated, ultimately rests with the parents.  God ordained that in His Scriptures.  If we are Christians there is no getting around that argument.  And even if we aren’t, it is still hard to argue that the state ought to control their every coming, going and mental development.  That smacks of nothing less than George Orwell.

Do I sound a little agitated?  I could after all adopt the smug, condescending, cool, self-satisfied, apparently a bit bored attitude of much of the contemporary intelligentsia.  But my own children, their children, my friends’ and relatives’ children are affected by the incredibly pernicious statement of a Harris-Perry.  She reflects I fear a great portion of the educational bureacracy’s thinking today.  She also reflects much thinking on the radical political Left and even some on the moderate Left.

So what do we do?  How do we respond?  Obviously it is essential that Christians fight the battle of ideas–with ideas, well-reasoned and well-founded.  This might necessitate something further and more controversial than is often suggested.  Several policy ideas come to mind, but are distasteful to many Christian universities and almost all secular universities.  One is to scrap education schools altogether, an idea suggested long ago (around 1960) by some heavy-weight analyists.  Make education students learn academic content, excepting grade school teachers to an extent.  This severs their education from the radical educational agenda presently being taught in most Ed schools (though it also has its risks).  Another idea is for Christian universities especially to sever their connections with educational accreditors as much as possible.  We could say “We don’t guide our students toward certification.  Rather we guide them into Christian education that will also prepare them to teach any subject.”  That’s pretty radical.  Another solution might be to decentralize education, free it from state control and from Federal dollars which amount to control. This one has great merit, but school systems have grown dependent on the money, so it is at best difficult.  A fourth solution would give vouchers, but without “strings attached.”  Vouchers have been successfully tried, but the removal of political control is problematic.  Finally, and most radically, the public schools might be completely eliminated.  OK, the last solution is not at present feasible and might not even be desirable for everyone.  But some of the other ones have been done.

Whatever we do or don’t do in the policy arena, we as Christians must grasp the notion that our children belong first to God, not the state, and that we as parents, again, not the state, are responsible for their intellectual and moral education.  We may choose freely to allow others to perform some of that task, but we are the the locus of the proverbial “buck” stopping point.  So in the words of the immortal pop song of the 50s (or was it the 60s), “You (read, state) don’t own me.”  And that includes my children.


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