Posts tagged with: families

The Gateway Pundit reports today that a provision in Obamacare’s Affordable Care Act allows for what the government is calling the “Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Visiting Program.”monster door

What does this mean? The program is designed to award monetary grants to states that have “modest” home visiting programs currently, and would like to expand those programs. The goal, purportedly, is to increase the health of mothers and young children and things like “developing a family-centered approach to home-visiting.” This comes from an amendment in the Social Security Act. (more…)

I came across a troubling essay in this month’s issue of Grand Rapids Family Magazine. In her “Taking Notes” column, Associate Publisher/Editor Carole Valade takes up the question of “family values” in the context of the primary campaign season.

She writes,

The most important “traditional values” and “family values” amount to one thing: a great education for our children. Education is called “the great equalizer”: It is imperative for our children to be able to compete on a “global scale” for the jobs that fund their future and provide hopes and dreams for their generation.

So far, so good. But from the somewhat uncontroversial assertions in that paragraph, Valade moves on to make some incredibly unfounded conclusions. (I say “somewhat” uncontroversial because it’s not clear in what sense education is an “equalizer.” Do we all get the same grades? Do we all perform as well as everyone else?)

Valade simply assumes that an emphasis on “education” as a “family value” means that we ought to push for greater government involvement in education, in the form of funding and oversight. “Education funding should be the most discussed topic of the campaign; it should be the focus of budget discussions,” she writes.

Let’s be clear that the immediate context for these comments are the national primary elections. It’s thus fair to conclude that Valade is talking primarily about the role of the federal government. This is underscored by her claims that “Head Start and pre-school programs are not a ‘luxury’ in state of federal budgets; they are an absolute necessity.”

The problem with Valade’s perspective is that it equates concern for education with concern for political lobbying: “Who will ask for such priorities if not parents? Who will speak on behalf of our children’s well-being if not parents?”

It is the case that the great concern that so many parents have for their children’s education have led them to move them into private schools and even (gasp!) to home school them. There is no facile and simple connection between valuing education and valuing government involvement in education. Given the performance of public schools in general compared to charter schools and private schools, there is an argument to be made that greater government involvement in education weakens rather than strengthens our children’s education.

Placing a high priority on a child’s education leads some parents to want their kids to be instructed in the truths about God and his relation to his creation, and this is instruction that by definition is excluded from a government-run public education. So there’s at least as strong a case to be made that valuing education means that we should lobby for less government involvement rather than more, or at least not think of education as primarily a political issue but rather a familial and ecclesiastical responsibility.

“There are many things the government can’t do – many good purposes it must renounce,” said Lord Acton. “It must leave them to the enterprise of others.” One of those “good purposes” is an education centered on Christian moral formation.

See also: “Too Cool for School: Al Mohler says it’s time for Christians to abandon public schools.”

And: H-Net Review, Religion in Schools: Controversies around the World (Westport: Praeger, 2006).

Blog post: July 5, 2005. 11:30 PM, Valencia time.

I am writing from the Fifth World Meeting of Families, held this year in Valencia Spain. This periodic event is sponsored by the Pontifical Council on the Family, chaired by the formidable Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo. I have come at the invitation of His Eminence to give a presentation on The Family, the Social Doctrine of the Church and Social Questions. In addition to the Theological and Pastoral Congress, the Meeting also has a Congress for the Young and a Congress for the Elderly. There is also the Family Fare, which is a huge display of family-oriented ministries from all over the world. Since the meeting is in Spain, most of the displays are in Spanish.

The Meeting will end this weekend, with a visit from the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. The streets are festooned with banners and flags in anticipation of his arrival. The organizers anticipate over one million people for the Papal visit this Saturday and Sunday. Right now, there are nowhere near that many people. It is impossible for me to guess how many children, teens and grandparents are attending the sessions designed for them. I would estimate that about five thousand people attend the sessions at the Theological Congress. That is an impressive number, when you realize that this is a combination academic conference and showcase of pro-family organizations. The audience is composed of clergy, religious and earnest lay people.

I was asked to prepare a fifteen minute presentation. When I arrived here, however, I noticed that only 2 of the 4 people originally invited for my session had actually come. So I made a back-up plan to speak for 30 minutes, if necessary. I stayed up late last night, adding material on demography to my paper. My session was supposed to be today. But it was postponed. The session is to be chaired by Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, President of the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace. He will present the new Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. He was unable to come today, so the session is postponed until he can arrive. I am scheduled to speak, as well as a French Member of Parliament, Madame Christine Boutin.

It is now almost midnight Valencia time. Anything can happen tomorrow, so I must be prepared. I am going to bed. I will post more, when able.