A few days ago I wrote about Joe Wethington, a father who was infuriated that neither the state nor a privately owned company had had the sense to put their foot down and tell his daughter that she was just too young and immature to go skydiving. He had tried to stop her himself of course but she just wouldn’t take no for an answer and so daddy decided that if you can’t control ‘em, might as well join ‘em. Mr. Wethington jumped first without incident; his daughter had a parachute malfunction and, in her panic, failed to deploy the back up chute. By some miracle she survived the three thousand foot plummet back to earth. To say she was lucky would be an understatement. Not everyone survives the impact of colliding with the cold hard world.
Emma Neiderbrock wasn’t so lucky. Miss Neiderbrock was a sixteen year old from Farmville, Virginia, who lived with her mother Debra Kelley, a professor of criminal justice at Longwood University and a published expert on sexual and domestic violence. While she did not approve of her daughters infatuation with the brutally violent horrorcore rap scene, neither Ms. Kelley nor her estranged husband, the Rev. Mark Neiderbrock, felt that they could simply just tell their daughter no. So it happened one day they all drove more than seven hundred miles so Emma and a friend of hers could attend the “Strictly for the Wicked” horrorcore festival in Michigan. After the concert the family returned to Farmville, bringing with them another friend of Emma’s named Samuel McCroskey, a twenty year old Californian who went by the moniker “sykosam” on the horrorcore fan sites where he and Emma had first started corresponding the year before. The plan had been for them to finally meet in person at the concert and then he’d stay and visit for a couple of weeks with Emma at her mother’s before he flew back home to California. Unfortunately the plan went awry when McCroskey discovered Emma had been texting another guy she had met at the concert. Enraged, he murdered her, her friend, and both of her parents.
Generally a parent’s inability to say no to their child doesn’t leads to such brutal and immediate consequences as this. Most times all it really leads to is bratty kids and burnt out parents doing their damnedest to avoid each other. Walk by the toy section of your local Walmart or the candy rack by the grocery store checkout-line and you will see the intense conflict of intergenerational warfare waged a dozen times in a day as parents sacrifice the high ground and sue for an end to the screaming, placating their offspring with candy and trinkets. Of course the brief reprieve that this abdication of authority has purchased is never a lasting peace. Hostilities inevitably recommence, usually within the hour.
Nature abhors a vacuum, and there are many who have noticed the growing power vacuum within American households. For decades television and popular culture have been gnawing at the underpinnings of the traditional family, specifically, the authority of the father as head of his household. Correspondent to this loss of parental authority is a rise in the authority and influence exercised by the state. The number of families dependent on welfare has risen dramatically in recent years, an increase that mirrors the rising number of single mothers raising multiple children. Given the inherent stress and burdens of raising a family alone, it is little wonder that the increase of extra-curricular programs at government schools have been widely applauded and supported, especially in the urban areas hit hardest by the disintegration of the traditional family structure.
It is not uncommon nowadays for a child to eat two meals a day within the government schools, courtesy of the state (taxpayer). Recently, Governor Christie (NJ) suggested that the schools should just go all in and serve dinner too. Given these developments, one begins to wonder if another decade will bring dormitories for the students, perhaps letting them go home on Sunday afternoons to visit their families.
More immediately, the Obama administration has been working to increase the number of children held in government schools during any given day by expanding the pre-k programs. Naturally, they’ve trotted out a bunch of “education experts,” to tell the public how fundamental early education is for a child to succeed, but the truth of it is the state really just wants to increase the number of young minds directly under its influence. Parents who are just scraping by working two part-time jobs trying to pay the bills are more than happy at the offer of free childcare, and given the economy its hard to blame them.
The state has steadily filled the power vacuum that was left when parents abdicated their own authority. The federal government has grown increasingly confident of its hegemony over the hearts and minds of our children. Most recently it has begun bullying and bribing every state in our nation to begin implementing the Common Core curriculum. Through the implementation of this curriculum the federal government has obliterated the numerous educational options previously available to parents and made it incredibly difficult for local and state governments to have any say in how the children of their communities are educated. While supporters of Common Core talk about the importance of implementing national standards in education, the real effect of this initiative will be the creation of a cookie cutter populace, uniformly shaped and opinionated, indistinguishable from one state to the next, and formed solely by the banality of the mass media and the inflexible educational standards of the federal Leviathan.
There are those among our citizenry who won’t terribly mind this particular development; it’s one less thing they’re responsible for, one more thing the government’s taking care of. Certainly, the Joe Wethingtons and Debra Kelleys of our nation will breather a sigh of relief, and say, “Finally, at last, maybe the feds will be able to put their foot down and tell those children no.” Because, remember, they’re not your responsibility. They’re not even yours. As the Common Core advocates over at John Podesta’s Center for American Progress like to say, “The children belong to all of us.”