Friday, December 24, 2010

Her Body, Her Choice

Joanne Jacobs tells us about a St. Paul, Minnesota school where sweets have been banned.  I think the most telling quote comes from one of the fifth-graders:
“All my friends say, ‘This really sucks,’” said Misky Salad, a 10-year-old fifth-grader at Chelsea Heights Elementary. “A lot of us feel it should be up to us to determine what we should do with our bodies.”
So, what do we do when two liberal social programs collide?  Should women be able to decide what to do with their bodies?  Or only if they're not obese? 

I actually think the underlying philosophy is that the government, not the parent, is to decide what girls can and cannot do with their bodies.  So, it's considered acceptable for a school nurse to give birth control to a child without her parents' permission.  But if Mom sends a Little Debbie in her daughter's lunch, it's a crisis.

This isn't a new trend among do-gooders and social reformers.  Chesterton wrote about this a century ago in What's Wrong With The World, though at the time the argument centered on poor girls having long hair.

Whenever we decide to 'uplift' a population, we end up denying parental rights.  Why?  I suspect it's because we see the poor as 'less human' than we are.  We don't ask mothers, "What do you want for your daughters?" Instead, like farmers trying to raise the perfect livestock, we make decrees intended to produce the ideal breed of urban woman.

Of course, the answer to these plots against parental rights is to treat each other as beloved children of God.  That is why religious schools seem to do better with poor children.  They see the kids as people, not an inferior species in need of 'improvement.'  Meanwhile, the same class that rails against factory farming of animals demands factory farming of children.   Well, of other people's children.  If their own children were subjected to such strict rules, it would be an unfair encroachment on parental rights.  Because, you see, the reformers are the RIGHT kind of parent.


Jen Raiche said...

You really nailed it here. On CMR they wrote about San Fran trying to ban circumcision. It seems, parents cannot even make decisions from the first moments of their children's lives.

And, apparently, neither can the children think for themselves once they're "of age" to know how many sweets to consume.

Another reason to homeschool! I want my boys to think and reason rather than to simply react in an environment. Sheesh.

Jen Raiche said...

Just purchased "What's Wrong With The World" for the Kindle for free! I am loving ours! Thanks for recommending it. I hope to read it soon. :)

Deirdre Mundy said...

Oooh! I really want an e-reader! :) (We're at the point where we have to choose between books and children. And the children always win....) I'm thinking next year--or maybe, if I sell enough writing this year, sooner. (Because then I'll need it for RESEARCG, right?)

You'll love WWWTW--- Also, if you ever get a chance to pick up 'Brave New Family' (A collection of his columns on the Family) it's a keeper.....

Anonymous said...

Right. So, now, who, exactly, is it who sees poor children as an "inferior species"? Public school teachers? The government? And who, exactly, is hatching "plots"? The blanket statements are neither informative nor persuasive.

Margaret said...

From the combox-- I'm hoping this is a joke but am not at all convinced:

BadaBing says:
December 25, 2010 at 12:49 pm

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find it comforting that the government cares more about us than we do ourselves. Let’s face it. We don’t have the self-control to do what’s in our best interests, and that includes what we put in our gullets. We need more regulations and mandates to keep us healthy and to prevent health care from becoming more costly. After all, isn’t that the whole purpose of government to begin with, i.e., to take care of us?

Anonymous said...

"And who, exactly, is hatching "plots"? The blanket statements are neither informative nor persuasive."

I totally agree. Deirdre routinely writes spiteful comments about public schools and public education as a whole, so take her comments here exactly as they are: religious, anti-public education, pro-homeschooling snark. Oh, and you're an "independent thinker" only if you agree with her. Feh!

Anonymous said...

"so take her comments here exactly as they are: religious, anti-public education, pro-homeschooling snark."

Yipes. This is a blog, people. I don't agree with a damn thing Deirdre posts. That's why I read it -- it's fascinating to me that this is how she thinks. She's entitled to her opinions about the world, based on her world view. And those of you who disagree are entitled to do so. But there's really no reason to be mean about it.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Ok- finally taking time to respond to these comments.

Anon 11:13-- I would say the people treating the kids like an 'inferior species' to be fixed rather than as people are the reformers and school boards. The teachers on the ground really have very little control over these policies-- what 5th grade teacher would WANT to be policing lunchboxes instead of teaching--the job she signed up to do?

Our policies tend to treat the poor as if they're not rational actors-- people capable of making their own choices for their own reasons.

And, frankly, it's not the Little Debbie making kids Obese-- it's the total lack of playtime in most modern school settings. (see the NYT article Joanne Jacobs linked at )

Deirdre Mundy said...

Margaret -- I think BadaBing is often sacrastic--sort of like Blighter over at McCardle's blog.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Anon #2 -- have I called anyone an 'independant thinker?' When?

I think the public schools have taken a wrong turn. Scores keep going down, kids are graduating LESS educated, yet the answer is to do more of the same? Really?

If I could wave my magic wand and transform the schools (and a lot of Catholic schools have gone down the same bad pedagogical paths, IMO) I would make it Montessorri for EVERYONE in the early grades, followed by a strong great books curriculum (with Latin! But that's just my personal bias.) starting in 4th grade.

Currently, only schools for the wealthy provide that sort of education. I'd like to see it for everyone. (Including much better math and science instruction!)

But for some reason the answer is always more phonics earlier. Phonics will only take you so far in life-- it's no good being able to sound out words if you can't tell what they MEAN.


The second major problem with the public schools is that they do a horrible job with poor kids. A lot of this may be due to social problems beyond the school's control-- the breakdown of the Urban family means that there's no one around to supervise. Mom is working and Dad is who knows where. But we still haven't figured out an answer to this problem either.

I'm not opposed to public schools, but I am opposed to them as they currently operate. That's why I homeschool. HOWEVER given that the people my children will be friends with, marry, work with, and live in neighborhoods with ARE suffering through them, I think I have a right to be interested in changing them for the better.


Deirdre Mundy said...

Anon 3 -- Thanks for the kindness. But honestly, given my miniscule readership, I think the nasty comments on this and other posts are actually members of my own family being passive agressive! :) There's probably a novel in that somewhere.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing "passive aggressive" in the comments, they're just aggressive. It's uncalled for.

- Anon 3 (aka your sister)