Thursday, January 23, 2014


Three weeks ago a bill was submitted to the New York Senate’s Education Committee that would pose a significant attack on parental rights. S142-2013, sponsored by Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) and cosponsored by Adraino Espaillat (D-Washington Heights) and John Sampson (D-Brooklyn), would require persons in parental relation with a child of elementary school age to attend parent support programs and complete four workshops, one of which must be related to physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children. As the penalty for non-compliance (or what the lawmakers would consider the reward for compliance), a child’s advancement to the seventh grade is contingent on the parents’ completion of these courses.

The language of the bill expresses its purpose as providing “…parents with educational and support systems that would enhance parenting skills and to provide parents with guidelines and resources necessary to prevent instances of abuse and neglect.”

This bill, the first of its kind, would dictate to parents how to do their job, regardless if they are “bad” parents or “good” ones. It assumes there is a standard one-size-fits-all approach to parenting that all households should conform to. As any one will tell you, there isn’t…each and every family has its own unique chemistry, traditions, norms and culture – that’s what makes each family – and each person – on this planet so interesting, so unique. Sameness is the bane of human development. And it is the symptom of total control.  

Not only is the bill a disappointing and insulting assault on parenting (despite its alleged intentions), the impact on the Empire State’s educational infrastructure -- and taxpayers – would be unfathomable.

The bill is constructed in such a way that the classes offered to parents could not be presented by the typical places where they might now voluntarily seek out ideas and assistance (churches, parental support groups, county social services, etc.). Instead, the Education Commissioner and Board of Regents are charged to develop a dozen workshops and institute them through our existing school systems. Mind you, teaching colleges do not offer degrees on parenting, New York’s current certification system does not afford accreditation in these matters and the very subjects themselves do not fit at all with the core competencies of our schools – that is educating youth (not adults) about science, math, language, and arts.     

New York education would have to be remodeled to meet the new standards and it would come with significant hardship. There are just over 2.1 million families in New York State with children aged 0 to 11, so there would be (absentee fathers notwithstanding) some 4.2 million adults who would need to be educated. To put that into perspective, there are approximately 3 million public school students in the state and spending on education is already 73% higher here than it is nationally. Where would the money come from? New York’s property owners, who shoulder the greatest burden of school taxes, can give only so much. And, if they are going to spend more, it should be spent on the kids directly.

On top of those fiscal matters, there are financial ones, too: Under Diaz’s bill, employers would be required to provide 1 paid day of leave per year so that those parents can attend training.

There are thousands of bills put before the Legislature every year and most of them are never passed. Let’s hope that this bill is one of them.

But, you can never be too pessimistic about that. In recent years we’ve seen how government has taken it upon itself, through the schools, to act as a parent, dictating to children what they can/cannot eat, how to view the world, how to treat others, and what constitutes good character – all facets of physical, mental, and emotional health more rightly managed by parents.

Even without this bill, parental rights are slipping away one little bit at a time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think the Parenting Proposition for a bill is the best logical approach for parents. This country has many parents who do not know how to parent children. Parenting is not an easy task. Most parents work hard and do not spend enough time with their children. I, as a parent of a small child do not oppose to taking any classes if it is needed once my daughter starts school in NY or NJ because the main focus is our children. The Best interest of our children is what counts, adults have an obligation to raise good citizens even if it takes expense and time to teach parents to be better parents. This bill if it gets approved does not take parents rights,this improves parenting skills. We take courses to become professionals in college but we do not take parenting classes to be parents before having a child. As a civilized country and NY being on top as an important city that represents the US, to have this bill will be revolutionizing the way we treat children in our school system. This new approach to dealing with parenting issues will be a great sample for the world. Children are our future and the ones we must invest to allow them to grow emotionally stable , better citizens,for less crime and abiding citizens.