Way out yonder in Utah, Connor Boyack notices that federal bureaucrats are beginning to articulate a principle that the public should be able to sense in just about everything the federal government does: They aren’t clear on the threshold at which their responsibility to protect children crosses into our right to raise our own.
The entire purpose of the 18-page statement is to explain, promote and bureaucratically implement what the departments call “family engagement.” This term sounds like something every good parent would inherently want, but here’s how the government defines it: “the systematic inclusion of families as partners in children’s development, learning and wellness.”
Actually, Boyack could have selected worse phrases from the document in question, like this one:
It is the position of the Departments that all early childhood programs and schools recognize families as equal partners in improving children’s development, learning and wellness across all settings, and over the course of their children’s developmental and educational experiences.
The local school department and the state and federal government are not an “equal partner” with parents in raising our children. At best, the government is a provider that we engage for certain services (and some of us do our best not to allow it to be even that). The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education may presume to “recognize” parents as the equal of government, but what they’re really doing is asserting not only their equality with the parents, but also the authority to determine whether that equality exists.
And don’t think the federal government is alone on this. Last month, I highlighted a similar philosophical impression coming from Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s Children’s Cabinet:
According to the governor, the government is going to link together all of its agencies, along with federal funds, private non-profits, and private companies to take it upon themselves to stop children from “feeling sad.” This is the stuff of Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. We used to chuckle about these make-work political initiatives because we knew we were protected by the limited powers of government, but we can’t chuckle anymore because it’s undeniable that people in and around government really mean it.
The Children’s Cabinet buzzwords haven’t yet crossed the threshold into subordinating parents, but it’s difficult to decide whether it’s a good sign or a bad one that its strategic plan only mentions parents three times, and only as the income-earners and housing-providers of their families. The lack of mention could be taken as an acknowledgement that the government isn’t on the same plane as parents, when it comes to their children, or an insinuation that parents’ rights are largely an irrelevant political problem to be addressed down the road, when strings come with the oft-mentioned federal grants.
As bureaucrats ease into language that better reflects their political philosophy and state agencies define their role as totalitarians, the public should be sure to keep one thing very clear: They are subordinate to us, not the other way around.