Magazine article The New American

"Developing" Childhood, Government Style: In America's Schools, Curricula Are Being Nationalized to Enrich Corporations and Empower Governments-Yet the Changes Are Said to Be for the Good of the Children

Magazine article The New American

"Developing" Childhood, Government Style: In America's Schools, Curricula Are Being Nationalized to Enrich Corporations and Empower Governments-Yet the Changes Are Said to Be for the Good of the Children

Article excerpt

In his State of the Union address on January 20, President Barack Obama presented quite a list of things that "middle-class economics require." It included, among other requirements, a higher minimum wage, paid sick leave or maternity leave, free community college, "faster trains and the fastest internet," trade promotion authority for the president, and a "renewed space program" to send Americans to Mars. And there was one item in particular that the president labeled a "must have."

"In today's economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families," the president

said, "we need affordable, high-quality child care more than ever. It's not a nice-to-have--it's a must-have." He added:

   It's time we stop treating childcare
   as a side issue, or a women's issue,
   and treat it like the national economic
   priority that it is for all of us.

Obama's latest child care proposals are but the latest development in a longstanding trend toward making child development less of a parental and more of a government responsibility.

Two days after his State of the Union address, the president announced a new $80 billion child care proposal as he campaigned for his economic agenda in the red states of Kansas and Idaho. "Republican families feel it just as much as Democratic families," Obama said. "There's no distinction. I don't want any family to face the choice between not working or leaving their children in unsafe or poor-quality child care."

Yet many families, including those of modest means, do make the choice of having one parent--usually the mother--stay home to take care of young children while the other works outside the home, managing to get by on one paycheck, rather than two. But Obama's taxing and spending schemes make getting the "stay-at-home mom" out of the house and into the workplace a "national economic priority." He has proposed, for Pledging allegiance to the flag "and to the republic for which it stands" is still a common class activity, but the philosophy of socialist John Dewey has more influence on modern education than the beliefs of the Founding Fathers. example, a "second-earner tax credit" of up to $500, based on the earnings of the spouse with the lower income. He has also called on Congress to expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to help a parent pay for child care while working or looking for work.

One problem, among many, with these proposals is that they perpetuate a policy bias in favor of encouraging women to forsake the opportunity to be at home with their small children in exchange for a family's second paycheck. For many, if not most, families, a second wage-earner may be an economic necessity in an economy where wages don't keep pace with inflation and real income for most Americans has been declining for decades. But for those families that choose to forgo a second income so that a parent can raise the children, Obama's tax credits are not for them. As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat put it, "You want pro-family tax reform? Sure, so long as the tax credit only pays for daycare and excludes families with a stay-at-home parent."

The feminist movement in the 1960s and '70s encouraged a disparaging view of the American "housewife," as women entered the labor market in force. The federal government encouraged the movement with affirmative action hiring "guidelines" (none dare call them quotas), not only out of concern for equal opportunity, but also because an expanding labor pool was considered good for business, while at the same time providing more workers to support Washington's ever-expanding, ever more costly welfare/warfare state. But the trend has drawbacks as well as advantages, both for the working families and for the social order. As Tim Carney wrote in the Washington Examiner.

   Working parents acquire new job
   skills and keep their existing skills
   fresh. … 
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