State of Missouri Enforces Start Date for School

School Start Date

My home state of Missouri just voted in a new law that forces local school districts to start their year no earlier than fourteen days before the first Monday of September. The basic idea is to extend the summer vacation so families will spend more on tourism. Here’s the problem. It should be up to the school district and their duly elected board to make that decision. If school board members want to have year-round education, that’s their business and they are accountable to the voters in their region.

It’s interesting, although unsurprising, to note that Missouri is dominated by small government Republican politicians and governor Mike Parson is part and parcel of that group. Their excuse, as usual, is it’s for the children. We want to help families spend more time together in summer. If you’ll excuse my crass language, nonsense. Someone convinced politicians an early start date cut into revenue and therefore they want to force local communities away from such.

In addition, the old rules allowed for school districts to start earlier if they gave notice and held a vote, the new rule prevents them from starting early for any reason. This is big, intrusive government in action.

This is exactly what the Constitution of the United States was designed to prevent. Those rights not given to government by the Constitution are reserved to the States or the People. That’s the Tenth Amendment and its meaning is very clear to this Libertarian. Those closest to the situation must have the right to pass their own laws. A school district can start sessions on any date it desires and the board members are then held accountable by local voters.

When the state steps in to enforce their rules onto local municipalities the voters have much less say in the matter. I’m sure there are many parents angry at their State Representatives and Senators over this action but a vote against such takes on a much broader range of issues. The school board is directly responsible for the operation of the school and local voters are in the best position to affirm or reject their decisions. The further removed we become from the local, the less likely we are to get a result in line with voter desires.

Now, to be certain, this means if a school board wanted to have a one-day school year because the majority of members didn’t believe in education, I would support their right to make such a foolish decision.

The freedom to be a moron is an important freedom. The state should not, and frankly cannot, protect us from our own stupidity. The state certainly should not be making school decisions for us when the main rational for doing so is financially motivated. Which is exactly what the Republican led legislature of Missouri just did.

Tom Liberman

Too Much Help – Helicopter Parenting

Helicopter ParentingThere was an interesting article in the news this morning that struck a chord with my Libertarian philosophies. The basic idea is that parents who are overly involved in their children’s lives do them no favors.

The article cites one specific study and indicates that others show the same trend but also admits that when it comes to parenting there are a number of styles that offer success. I don’t have any children myself and I’m probably not the best person in the world to analyze the data but I can, at least, speak from having worked with juniors in several golf programs over the years.

Let’s first talk about the concepts of helicopter parenting. The idea is that for children to succeed in the super-competitive modern world parents need to be involved in every aspect of their lives. This hovering is especially noteworthy around school where every grade is argued for the student, specialized tutoring is offered to help write college entrance essays, and other things of this nature.

The argument against this kind of parenting is that children who are not allowed to fend for themselves become anxiety ridden and unable to cope with the problems that arise in their lives. It’s fairly self-evident to me that if you do not allow a person to solve their own problems they will never learn that skill for themselves. It’s analogous the nanny state that America is becoming and I’ve talked about that in other posts.

One of the things I find discouraging about this country is how many people complain about the government without the realization that they are complaining about themselves. We are the government. We have the government we want. We chose them. I’ve talked about that topic before. My point in mentioning it here is that the nanny state isn’t responsible for helicopter parenting, it is our helicopter parenting that causes us to become a nanny state. Our representatives are us.

One of the ideas that I found most interesting about this sort of behavior was that parents who engage in it are actually less emotionally available to their children. They use modern technology to keep tabs on their children, fight with teachers, and defend their kids as a way to show their love without actually having to spend time loving. It’s like someone who clicks the “Like” button to support a cause. Look at me! I care! I hate cancer! Look at me, look at me. I’m better than you because you don’t hate cancer. I’m the greatest parent ever.

I’m certainly not suggesting that parents shouldn’t be involved in their children’s lives and their education. It just seems to me that a person who grows up not having to solve their own problems is not going to be a successful adult.

I’m reminded of my time at Spring Lake Golf Course in Quincy, IL under the direction of head pro Les Holcombe. We were teaching juniors when one little fellow came over to me and stated that “Jimmy took my club.” I was ready to offer my help when Les jumped in and said, “Then go take it back”. I immediately understood that Les was absolutely correct.

There are certainly circumstances of bullying, poor-teaching, and general life incidents that do require a parents intervention. I’m just suggesting that the first response to a  difficulty that arises should not be to solve the problem for the child. A person who grows up solving their own problems is a person who has a better chance to succeed in life. Isn’t that what any parent wants?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water (watch Silenia grow from frightened lamb to an empowered young lady)
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