Is Staying Home With Kids a Societal Good?

This is exactly the kind of story that really makes me worry about America. It's not a story of shadowy terrorists with suitcase bombs, nefarious spies, or foreign madmen plotting our destruction.

I honestly believe this is worse.

The Daily Caller reports:
If Education Secretary Arne Duncan has his way, kids would be spending a lot more time at school — and a three-month summer would be a thing of the past.

Duncan joked with attendees at a luncheon at the National Press Club Tuesday in Washington that he would like schools to stay open 13 months out of the year. Then he told the audience of over 100 that he seriously supports longer school hours.

“In all seriousness, I think schools should be open 12, 13, 14 hours a day, seven days a week, 11-12 months of the year,” Duncan said. “This is not just more of the same. There would be a whole variety of after-school programs. Obviously academics would be at the heart of that. But you top it off with dancing, art, drama, music, yearbook, robotics, activities for older siblings and parents, ESL classes.”
You have to ask yourself why? And the answer is so ridiculous that once you see through the smokescreen you see that this is about control of your children. They don't trust you to raise your children. They know better.

So why does Mr. Duncan think we need longer school days and years?

Daily Caller reports:
“As you guys know, our world has changed, our economy has changed,” said Duncan. “The days of telling kids to go home at 2:30 and having mom there with a peanut butter sandwich, those days are gone. Whether it’s a single parent working one, two, three jobs or two parents working, the hours from 3 o’clock to 7 o’clock are a huge anxiety, and that’s why we have to keep our schools open longer.”
So let me get this straight. Many parents can't be home with children when they come home at 2:30 and that's bad so instead of giving parents tax breaks or incentives to stay home with their children they decide to spend more taxpayer money to keep schools open 12 months a year and 12 hours a day making it harder for parents to be able to afford to stay home because they have to pay for all these programs.

And didn't you pick up the derisive tone to the whole "Mom there with a peanut butter sandwich" thing? To this administration Mom at home with the peanut butter sandwich is a mockable relic of a bygone era. Do they not realize that still happens in millions of homes across the country every single day. Actually, they do. They just don't like it.

Here's the thing - If you believe Duncan's stated problem is that parents aren't home with kids his solution actually makes no sense as it makes it harder for parents to stay home. So one must figure that the stated problem is not the actual problem. One can only surmise that the government wants less Mom and peanut butter and more government.

And they're willing to use their power to get it.
Duncan explained that although he intends to use the leverage of the federal government to drive reform, he intends to give officials and teachers at the local level the flexibility to improve while also holding them accountable
Yeah, completely forget the second part of that statement because those holding the money have all the power. He's telling the country in print that the federal government is going to muscle schools all over the country to extend school days and the school year. I pay him the respect to believe what he says. Too often we discount what big government types say because we figure they must not have meant what they said.

The question must be asked whether parents staying home with children is a societal good. And if so shouldn't the federal government be doing more to encourage it, rather than making it harder.

But when they say more time at school, they actually mean less time with family.
This is their end game. Remember "It Takes a Village." Well, the village looks an awful lot like the federal government. And a lot less like Mom with a peanut butter sandwich.


  1. Maybe they'd like it better if we had a soybutter sandwich, after all, at many schools, peanut butter is considered a killer.

    Going out to get some PB&J while it's still legal.

  2. The US Department of Education should never have been created in the first place. Moreover, those unfortunate enough to endure fourteen years of public schooling must face a life of semi-literacy while those graduating from top tier colleges are marched out mostly as neat little stepford people into a depraved society where our media has a deep worsjip with what has become a moral cesspool. And Lord help anyone who complains about the s..t.

  3. Um...
    If we look at the way a majority of children in the school system spend their afternoon I don't see what the problem is with a little more structure. This extended time would allow children tutoring for extra help, time to learn their arts and music through play practice, band practice, additional art studies etc. They could have parks and rec like programs after school. Rather than sitting at home vegging in front of the TV or Xbox, they could spend more time in a chaperoned environment with their friends and peers. I don't have a problem with that.
    I don't think that Duncan was relegating PB sandwiches to a thing of the past either. It's true that a majority of Moms are working nowadays, and those days are getting longer and more strenuous. I think it would be a comfort to working moms to know that their kids are involved in an after-school program rather than not really knowing where their kids were. I know if I worked it would be a comfort to me.

    Nope, I don't have a problem with this. And I'm a stay at home, homeschooling mother. So I guess we already have this philosophy. We school year round and have "extended hours" as activities and projects call for. A lot of my neighbors' kids go home from school to an empty house and sit in front of the boob tube for the afternoon until they eat at 7 o'clock with their families. I think the family would prefer a more positive alternative...And if there are stay at home parents whose kids are in school then they might be able to volunteer to come in during this time to help with some activities etc. That would be a plus to get involved in school (as I know a lot of stay at home parents already do.) Besides, summer vacations were originally intended to allow children to help on the farm during the busiest time of the harvest. I don't think a majority of Americans need this agricultural support. anymore...

  4. Sorry that was supposed to be Patty in CT above.

  5. It is BETTER for a latch-key kid with no parents around to have a supervised environment where they can learn, than for them to play video games while chatting to 30 year olds on-line and stuffing their mug with Doritos.

    The other issue is that there are parents who really are so bad that a public school is a better place for their kids to be. That is very sad, but also true.

    On the OTHER hand, we should be encouraging an economic and social environment that enables more parents to be with their children - not the other way around! My problem with this is that it is building a self-perpetuating machine of government dependency:

    Because some parents CAN work longer hours, they do. That raises the costs of goods and services, which eventually means that other parents, who do NOT want to work outside of the home are forces to to make ends meet.

    Just more of that common sense that we need but don't seem to have in this country.

  6. I'm of two minds on this. On the one hand, it seems to be pretty well-established that summer vacation leaves low-income, under-performing children further and further behind their peers. An extended schooling situation has go to be better than an unsupervised home environment (I wouldn't call it a "family" environment during the long after-school hours when Junior is by himself) with no resources. In turn, however, a loving family environment with two caring parents, one of whom may be at home, and a group of stimulating siblings and neighborhood friends and an extended family support system is better than more time spent in school. The kid in the first family shouldn't have to suffer so the kid in the second family can have his idyllic summer vacation, but the kid in the second family also shouldn't be prevented from benefitting from his healthy environment so as to ensure that all kids spend their time in identical, middle-of-the-road, not-the-best-but-not-the-worst environments. But how do you ensure that kids from disadvantaged backgrounds get something better than the worst without either requiring that kids from advantaged backgrounds get something worse than the best or creating a ghettoized two-tier system?

  7. Many things start as voluntary and quickly become mandatory. For all.

    It's not like schools are doing their jobs now. Two extra months isn't going to help.

    We should be incentivizing parents to stay at home, biot creating more programs that have to be supported by taxpayers. Higher taxes means parents have to work more.

  8. One of the side-benefits of our huge and ever-growing defecit is that bureaucracies like the DOE will soon be as cash starved as Greece is today. Until the recent market collapse and attedent recession many states were seriously contemplating just these kinds of programs. From all-day kindergarten, to pre-school for toddlers many states had a full plate of programs that would essientially replaces the parents. Of course, the program's intent was hidden. The only thing that prevented such hideous ideas from becoming reality was money.

    There isn't simply enough money to complete these kinds of progressive dreams. In 5 years Medicare and Social Security alone will consume $2 trillion of our GDP. The DOE, no matter what the pols say, is far below the priority list. Retirees vote. If anything, future lawmakers may just "see the light" and reduce the DOE to some bureau within HHS before eliminating it altogether. Besides, we have way too many schools anyway. And with a national fertility rate of only 1.8 children/female, the need for a national education bureacracy diminishes with every passing year. If some education bureaucrat still wishes to implement some crazy educational program, he/she should travel to Utah. At least the Mormons stil have children.

  9. Two quick fly-by comments:

    1. A few people mentioned the fact that low income kids are hurt/benefit from the concepts of long summers/longer school years. Their argument stems from the idea that we can "Fix" the system to "save kids." It sounds harsh, but maybe we cant? If you lengthen the school year, think of the how MANY more kids will become dependent. Think about how the system will become WORSE and more clogged with kids. Then the mandates set in, because parents that used to actually have to keep their kids alive for 4-8 hours a day, and 2.5 months in the summer, now only have to make sure they dont die in their sleep. Dont tell me that this is a good thing... it isnt. Read Utopia.

    2. Alaska is pretty good at this. Lots of low income "natives" that live here, and the homeschooling and community schooling system works. In the bigger cities/towns, regular schools exist, sans a large homeschool community. (The homeschooling culture up here is amazing). In smaller villages, community schools are set up. Teachers are required to teach the values of the families, or they are booted. This is the way schools used to work.

  10. The problem starts in the home. If parents were more involved with their children and their education, our schools would be producing smarter students and the kids would be less exposed to undesirable influences.

    Don't like the dumbing down of curriculum? Get involved with your local school board.

    Don't like you sixth grade (or younger) daughter being shown how to put a condom on a cucumber? Get involved with your local school board.

    Don't like your kids being taught to worship B.O. and Co.? Get involved with your local school board.

    How many times have we read of stories involving the examples of the sort I just gave? How often do the followups detail the local parents' outrage having a desired effect on the problem? It may not happen 100% of the time but it DOES happen the majority of the time. The squeaking wheel gets the grease.

    Start "squeaking" before the problem surfaces, not afterwards. Be proactive and not reactive.

    Bottom line, don't let your kid's education run on AUTO. Then those few added hours of schooltime can be beneficial, as pointed out by PattyinCT. Blithely assuming the teachers are on the same wavelength as yourself will lead to a rude awakening.

  11. This simply will funnel more money to the teacher's union who can put more money behind Democrats.

  12. Um... I'm a teacher. So is my husband. Make our day 12 hours, week 7 days, and THEN take the summer... Good luck finding someone to take our jobs.

    Seriously, the government doesn't need to take over the raising of our children. Talk about nanny state...

  13. Sad :/ I agree that I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing to have the school open more for children who have no parent or guardian at home, but I also don't believe that's truly Duncan's goal. I agree that it's about control of our children. I honestly believe that in my lifetime, homeschooling will either become illegal, or so regulated that it will be virtually impossible. Homeschooling is a huge threat to the progressives/liberals because it takes the power to shape and mold our children's minds out of their hands.

  14. I take issue with John Hetman's statement. I am a product of a largely underperforming public school (13 years, K- 12) AND a top-tier private college. I am neither semi-literate nor a "stepford" person, as he so neatly put it. Rather, I am well-educated and literate, clinging to the few shreds of moral decency that still exist in this "cesspool". Let's not make blanket statements and unfair generalizations. Schools are not to blame; parents are.

    On another note, why is the federal government involved in public education? I don't remember that enumerated power in the Constitution...

  15. If this ever happens, I will emigrate or else flee so far into the country they'll never find me. The whole country is going nuts witn ideology and "government knows best" mentality.

  16. SCHOOL HOMING! What a novel idea!

    Basically, the school takes over every waking moment of a child's life and does all the jobs a family at home should do- feeding, hygiene, health, sports opportunities, socialization.... oh, and academics if there is time.


  17. The Obama Administration--getting public policy ideas straight from the Onion:,17159/

  18. ...But home schooling is NOT the answer. It is ONE part of an answer... (And I agree with Sub Vet about being involved in the local boards)

    Just take a look around at this country and the millions of uneducated and the "miss-educated" who have grown plump on the Government Soma Cheese... they will be spooning their own mind-poison spew to children whether they are doing it in the school or in their homes.

    And another thing - some parents CAN'T teach! They don't know anything to begin with.

    The real issue is ECONOMIC and moral. We have lost the entire social network and community that used to exist around stay at home parents and families in general. The only way to rebuild that community is through a more prosperous world and a more morally sound one. Unfortunately we are red-shifting in the other direction at a cosmic rate at the moment.

    Once people started accepting that nice tasty slice of government cheese, the addiction started. Maybe we should be asking - who's cutting that cheese?

  19. There are very few families left. If we had families, societal good would naturally (I suppose I should employ the fashionable "organically") follow.

    And then there's this: did everyone commenting here vote in his or her last school board election? State election? National election?

    -- Mack

  20. You are certainly correct, the public education system is more dangerous than any terrorist. Check out this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

    A counseling student was dismiss from a program after she asked to be relieved of counseling a homosexual client due to the counseling student's religious beliefs. She did not try to "convert" the homosexual client and was very honest with her professor. Apparently believing that homosexuality is not a normal or healthy lifestyle and is actually a destructive and abnormal lifestyle is not an option for counselors. The "governing board" of counselors is going to make sure there are no truly Christian counselors out there to challenge the homosexual agenda.

    This is where the battle is being fought, in K -12 and higher ed, and the agenda is pretty clear.

    C. D. Constant

  21. Bloody hell.
    The BOE is already having issues keeping the public school doors open in HI! Furloughs anyone? Wow.
    It starts in the FAMILY. If mum and dad are on auto pilot, so will the kids be. Get involved and stay involved - be interested and act upon that interest in your children's educations. Sub-vet is spot on.

  22. I'm waiting to see how this will affect charter, independent, and private schools... and find out just how "independent" and "private" they really are.

    Also if schools weren't so concerned with wasting time and money as quickly as possible, we wouldn't HAVE to extend the school day or the school year. We have to fix the disease, not guess at treatment for the symptoms. I know that if my school days and/or school years had been any longer, I would have gone stark raving mad.

    Finally, what is with this utter dissing of jelly? I think Mr. Duncan should address his palpable and unexcusable disdain towards preserved fruit.

  23. Jimbo,
    Would you rather have an ignorant parent teaching a child because they were "underschooled" or an ignorant person slamming homeschooling because they have no clue what they're talking about? I'll keep working on my education WHILE I enjoy the freedom of educating my kids. Why don't you find out more about homeschooling before presuming the worst upon us all?

  24. Jonathan,
    I think your irritation with John Hetman's statement rather..misguided. I too came from a public school K-6, followed by a parochial school 7-12, followed two two public schools for college.

    True enough, you and I and many others are not semiliterate. BUT..
    Are we fairly well educated because the schools insisted upon it? Or because our parents required it? Or because we sought it? Or some combination of the latter two?

    Parents indeed make the difference.
    But did you notice that the original article contained no suggestions about how the US Dept of Ed would enable parents to raise their kids?

    I find it VERY interesting--and outrageous!--that Mr. Duncan, who by his post controls much funding to State Depts of Ed, thus what local schools CAN teach, doesn't seem interested in even consulting the parents of the nation. He simply believes he has the right to educate children as he sees fit.

    Never mind that this severely abuses every couple's fundamental right as first educators of their own children!

    I have long felt that if we wish to see the nation thrive, we'll need to dismantle the US Dept of Ed, including its funding lines, return those funds to the States at least, and preferably, to the localities where they've been collected--yes, that DOES mean reducing income taxes--and returning control of the education system to the States where it belongs.

  25. It's a general principle here: who is responsible for our kids? Parents/families or government? Public schools don't "deserve" to be considered the "norm".
    See: A Mom's view on the issue.

  26. The problem with the cutesy "get involved with the school board" suggestion is that it doesn't work. Catholic schools back in the '70s were inundated with parents upset over the dumbing down secularization of the parish schools. Mary Kay Clark writes about this time in her book, Catholic Home Schooling. No amount of parental involvement made one iota of difference to radical priests, bishops, and school principals. The only thing left for good knowledgeable Catholic parents was to take their children out, at least then they weren't financially supporting the rot. Public school parents should do the same now, vote with their children's feet (not enroll them).

  27. PattyinCT:

    I don't pretend to be an expert in homeschooling but I did say that it was part of the ANSWER so, perhaps you misunderstood my post a bit? I certainly was not slamming it!

    If I was going to slam something it would be the notion that homeschooling is the ONLY way. That is moronic and idiotic. It isn't the only way. Just as public/private schools are not the only way. One size does NOT fit all. Children can be well educated outside the home. (And I acknowledge that's getting harder and harder as our public schools have become a cesspool of immoral teaching. But there are still good Catholic and other private schools out there, despite what some people think)

    My point about ignorant parents was that many are not qualified or are incapable of teaching. That is not a slam on them either, it is just a statement of fact. God gives us all different gifts... I would make a better ballerina than my wonderful wife would make a teacher, for instance. (And she would tell you that or I wouldn't say it.)

    Then there are people whom I know - and I don't wish to be uncharitable, but I certainly wouldn't trust them to teach MY children so I sure as heck don't think they should be teaching their own children either - because, well, they are idiots.

    The fact that not everyone has an excellent Catholic school down the street, and not everyone is cut out to teach their own children (or anyone else for that matter) just illustrates the point that this is a more complex issue than some make it out to be.

    Now before everyone jumps on me here: This is NOT to deny that ALL parents do have a RESPONSIBILITY to teach their children certain things (such as right and wrong, how to behave, prayer, etc.) But we are talking about k-12 education here and there is much more to it than that. Nor would I suggest that any parent would NOT be ALLOWED TO TRY to teach their own kids. If they can get their kids to meet the standards (another issue again), great. I would fight for the right of any parent to teach their own children. (These folks would not be the idiots of whom I speak.) But we've all seen examples of parents who can't even handle their basic parental responsibility - let alone teach their kids Math and History!

    The show "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader" is a great example of how people can make it through the school system, become parents, be good people and yet still not know how many states there are, or what a fraction is, etc. Then there are the many good people out there who simply have a hard time learning for whatever reason - maybe they are just not as smart as you, have a learning OR OTHER disability (mentally or otherwise disabled) or who can learn but can not teach because they are just not effective communicators. And what about those parents who don't give a rat's or will spend their time teaching their kids about how to worship the earth...?

    So again, if you CAN do it, then homeschooling is absolutely, positively a great idea and I AM FOR IT, not against it! But it is a gross oversimplification for some to suggest (not accusing you of this) that the ONLY solution, or even the BEST solution is that ALL kids be homeschooled. That is true for some and not true for others. I am sorry if my post was unclear or came across on a slam on anyone who homeschools. Far from it.

    My overall point was that the economic and moral breakdown in our society means that there is less communal support which makes homeschooling harder and the nanny state bigger. Parents used to be able to help each other more. Families were bigger, etc. Now families are smaller, and people have to work harder and longer to make ends meet and have less time with and for their family, neighbors etc. so they eat more government cheese. (Also not denying that the cheese is quite scrumptious either.)

  28. Good luck with your Uptopian dream, Secretary Duncan. Here in CA, programs (and teachers) are being cut left and right and class sizes are ballooning to unmanageable numbers. With the economic situation does he really think folks are going to pay more taxes to take care of (often) other people's kids? And I can bet that any of that "extra" money is not going to go to schools, but to prisons. Not ever going to happen, Mr. Secretary - especially in CA.

  29. I can tell you now, if they extend the school-year, the children will become burnt-out. Maybe the extra curriculum would be something engaging like music or art, but being in the school will create an atmosphere that will make the class seem the same as if they were in a Math or Science class. Besides, we like sitting around, relaxing and having fun, being around our family and just enjoying our time-off while we have it before some of us work dead-end jobs day in and day out, wasting our life away just so we can eat and have a place to sleep.

  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

  31. Oh, so Duncan would like the schools open "13 months a year?" Well, do you know what made Greece go broke? Bureaucrats whose pay was for 14 months per year!!! Sounds like Duncan is just arguing for more jobs for bureaucrats. This has nothing to do with "the children," believe you me!

  32. kat, comparing the Catholic schools of a few decades ago to the public schools of today is comparing apples and oranges.

    Those bishops, priests, etc. you cite who wouldn't listen to the parents are in no way accountable to the general public as are school boards paid by John & Joan Q. Public.

    As I stated, look at those stories making the news of outrageous events at public schools. THEN follow up on the story after the school staff has heard from irate parents. More often than not, whatever occasioned the outrage is stopped. When taxpayers started demanding their money's worth, public servants (locally at least) are prone to respond in a positive manner.

    Calling parental involvement "cutesy" and dismissing it out of hand is symptomatic of a "I can't be bothered" mindset. I've run into it before and it's always indicative of sloth.

    Please don't cite the fact that you homeschool your kids as evidence of concerned parental involvement. It's in your profile, I've read it. Just because you do it doesn't mean you're good at it.

    As Jimbo says, one size doesn't fit all. As a parent whose children NEED daily interaction with their peers (my boys are autistic), it's to my kids' advantage to attend a public school. The oft cited advantage of social interaction applies to them. Thats the end of that story and neither you or anyone else should be opining on what you've no knowledge of. Therefore I recommend not voicing what you think other parents should be doing regarding their child's education.

  33. I wished I could have stayed home and had some more time with my son's. That was'nt an option I had to work and single moms that are lucky enough to have them in a good day care is worth the money, and the next thing ya know the children are having good play with new freinds. It helps with social skills. But I have to say that My dad would pick up my eldist son a least an hour after I had droped him off. lolo what great papa and dad...
    Proud Navy Mom
    Denise Johnson.

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