A few days ago, MSNBC ran an ad featuring Melissa Harris-Perry talking about the need for more educational investments. Most of the time it's a leftist plug for more spending on public education in this country. Usually, those on the right are able to get past the mantra because it is pretty consistent. There's never enough money. Nothing's more important than education.
This video just takes a turn to Oddsville real quick, so let me put this bluntly. Melissa Harris-Perry is demonstrating some of the most evil views about family and society, and there is no quicker route to destroy and dehumanize individuals than through a collectivized education system.
Let's break this video down piece by piece, starting from the front.
"We have never invested as much in public education as we should have..."
First off, no. According to the most recent statistics available, the United States spent 684,043,432,684.69 in total education spending. Yep, you saw that right, and over $500 billion more than the next nation Japan. Moreover, relative to other countries, we spend the 4th highest on primary school students ($6,043) and the 3rd highest on secondary school students ($7,764).
Second, I'll play. Supposing we have never invested as much, can anyone detail specifically what it would take exactly to fund education "properly?" Would it take $10,000 more per student? $15,000? The simple answer is there isn't a set figure, which makes claims like this all the more ridiculous. Commonly, the answer is "whatever it takes," but even that is so vague that nothing can reasonably be done with it.
The real problem lies in how we spend our education dollars, and not on how much we spend. Here in the United States, an estimated 40% of every education dollar is non-instructional, but even that's hard to find out for sure because budgeting and spending is extremely convoluted.
"...because we've always had a private notion of children. Your kid is yours, and totally your responsibility..."
Well, yeah. We have laws in this country protecting your personal right to choose whether or not you have a child that the left are adamantly defending on a daily basis. Furthermore, child adoption laws are very specific to the adopting families (and not the community they live in) and birth certificates list two parents (and not the neighbors they live around).
There is a very, very good reason for this. Families provide the specific context through which children learn a foundation to interact with society at large. Many sociological theories like differential association describe how behavior is learned through environments like the family. Specifically to education, the role of parents is studied at great length. The results conclude that higher and active parental involvement in educational processes is as critical, if not more, than the amount of money.
To assume parental involvement is so critical, it assumes that they, as individuals, have to take more ownership of their own children's education.
"We haven't had a very collective notion of these our our children, so part of it is we have to break through our private idea that kids belong to their parents."
This is where the video starts to get a little bit of creepy and a whole lot of scary. This belief system that children start to belong to the community at large is what served as the foundation for many of the most horrific acts the world has known. Nazi Germany collectivized education to a great extent, instituting a core curriculum and ensuring that the "proper" values were taught. Soviet education focused on indoctrination and failed to provide the kind of education we assume Harris-Perry is calling for.
None of this is in any way intended to say Harris-Perry is a Nazi. Far from it, but it does need to be pointed out how a misguided philosophy can be found to have similar roots in abysmal and destructive social orders. Dehumanization on an epic scale came from such collectivized education systems. Our systems of education can be highly efficient as quashing undesirable social norms and dissent generally. The idea that children can be disassociated from their parents is a dangerous precedent to collectivism, which will result in nothing less than a crumbling society.
"Once it's everyone's responsibility, and not just the households, then we start making better investments."
For a second time, no. Again, we look at education that way now with undesirable effects. It is why we spend nearly $700 billion without any return as it is now. Furthermore, it again reflects this philosophy of collectivized responsibility. However, to make "investments" that everyone is please with is impossible. Either your system would have to stifle dissent about success to the point no disagreement ever takes place, or the system would have to treat everyone with as utilitarian — greatest good for the greatest number.
No, what this country needs is a more privatized system of education to value investment. No two children are alike, and as such, education needs to be as highly individualized as possible to allow those children to have the best possible chance at success. This means more choice for parents, and more certainly more diversity than a state run education system that offers none of it. In terms of policy, it means we need to break our reliance on standardized testing, brick-and-mortar institutions, and teacher pay based on step increases. All of these are core components of collectivized education, and none have provided the "valuable investments" Harris-Perry desperately wants.