|Who is in charge of
your child's mind? Of any child's mind? When
we turn over the development of the mind to others, what risk do we
take it will be fertilized with Terror versus Vigilance?
20, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 464
Who's In Charge
Of Your Child's Mind
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
|GROUND ZERO, New York City, Dec. 20--"No!
No! No!" As I flicked on the television to
catch the weather early this morning, I spluttered out the words when
I heard a comment more startling than another Terrorist attack on New
Bloomberg commandeering duties belonging to parents?
Mayor Bloomberg's image
filled the screen as the newscaster on New York One relayed how the
Mayor had done what no other Mayor had--taken control of New York's
failing education system. The state law was signed by Governor
Pataki June 12 and took effect July 1. The nation's
largest school system joins Boston, Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit in
cities that have put their mayors in charge of the schools. It
is a step better than what was before. But isn't the solution.
As he was being questioned about his
successes as mayor during the last six months, Bloomberg retorted
"do parents have to wonder who's in charge of educating their
children? The buck stops here. The mayor's in charge
of their children's education."
That's when I shouted, "No! No!
For years the Board of Education has been
ensnarled in a bureaucratic maze where inaction and insulation
protected the incompetence of a system responsible for the public
education of 1.1 million children in New York's five boroughs.
In a first test of leadership, the mayor dissolved the power of the
board and brought it directly under command of City Hall.
I suppose I was most concerned about
the mayor's joyous announcement and about the press's accolades of his
What more Terroristic thought is
there than to turn over the fertilization of a child's mind to
another--to a stranger, to government?
Yet that was
The buck indeed stops at the
Mayor's desk. On the buck is the mind of a child.
Over one million of them.
The idea of abdicating to
third parties the education of a child is a form of tacit child abuse.
It is like handing over a child to a stranger on the street and
saying: "Here, take my child. Mold his or her mind as you will.
I'll pick him or her up later. Do a good job."
I had hoped the
Mayor would say, "While the city has taken control of the education
system for business reasons, to monitor its public responsibility to
the parents, let me remind each parent that the precious and pliable
power of a child's potential is not shaped in school, but by the
parent's interest in the child's education. Let us never forget
the education of a child, any child, is the prime responsibility of
the parents and guardians. And let me warn all parents and
guardians to always check and monitor the education of the child at
school to insure it conforms with the education you as a parent wish
for your child. Let the educational partnership be strengthened
between parent and child, and let the public school system be an
extension not a replacement for the parents desire to give the child
the best opportunity to grow and evolve as rich and prosperous
Now, that would have sated my
hunger for Vigilance. It would have put the parent directly at
the epicenter of the child's educational formation.
But that didn't happen.
Instead, the mayor became the
Wizard of Knowledge.
Wizard of Knowledge
I have a lot of
respect for Mayor Bloomberg as a leader who is capable of conducting
the business of government on a fiscal level. I was glad to see
him continue in the footsteps of Giuliani in the aftermath of
Nine Eleven to help New York City rebuild its magnificent
infrastructure after the horrors of September 11.
But I do not think he, or any
government leader, has any right or responsibility to assume command
of the education of children. The public school
system is not the prime source of developing a child's mind. In
fact, the idea of giving a child's education over to any "system" is
wrong, whether it be private or public.
Education is the duty of the parents.
It means a parent, to do his or her
job properly, must be involved in the child's education.
Must work with the child on the homework assignments. Must help
them. Must redirect them if they are being taught improperly.
Must be active in the school systems agenda, and, if there is a
conflict of interest, move to correct it.
Personally, I went through school again
with both my children. My wife and I became their teachers'
teachers, monitoring what they were taught, helping them, and refuting
information that we believed was inaccurate or irresponsible, or
politically misaligned. We also worked on the social
and emotional factors of their development--vital sub-elements of any
education, and often as important as what is being taught out of text
My position with my children, and I
believe with any parent, is to "not trust the school system."
This is not a negative approach, it is a Vigilant one.
School systems are forced to teach the average knowledge that the
average child will learn, and tends to water down information and edit
it, and at present especially more than ever make it politically
correct. Most school texts are twelve to fourteen years
behind times, having to go through a long process of review and
approval and often include the revisionist pen of politically correct
editors who change and alter the raw truth to meet the current
That's where parental educational
leadership is demanded.
The parent's obligation to
oversee and monitor education far exceeds the mayor's. If
a parent allows the "system" to educate the child, this neglect can
lead to a massive misunderstanding of education itself, and put a
great gap between a child and parent.
Some of the most precious
moments with my children have been doing their homework with them--and
having them be more right than I, and I becoming the student not the
teacher. It is easy to have a child participate with an
adult if you have the child take on the role of the teacher, and you
sit like the child listening to what the child is teaching. The
child will reflect what he or she has learned, and, if he or she is on
target, you nod. If there is something you take issue with, you can
raise your hand and ask your "child's teacher" to explain it, or, make
a comment--thus, you teach by default and have fun.
The child knows
you are concerned. The child knows you are the ultimate teacher.
You are his or her Sentinel of Educational Vigilance.
I believe the child goes to
school not to learn, but to learn to think.
To insure that the child is
learning to think, the parent must be involved. The buck must
top on the parents' desk, not the mayors.
Dec. 19--The Assassination of Democracy
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