It’s (almost) September: Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

During the
1960’s and onwards, a New York TV station prefaced the 10 o’clock news with the
phrase, “It’s 10 PM. Do you know where your children are?” As a child, in the
safe boundaries of my urban middle-class neighborhood, I assumed it was a
reminder to parents that their kids might still be on the street playing
hopscotch or punch ball. Apparently, it was actually tied into youth violence
and curfews, drug use, and later used to highlight child abduction.

The fact is
that for two summer months, my friends and I would head out each morning moving
in and out of each other’s homes and playing in the street. In pre-cell phone
days, our mothers never knew exactly where we were and simply expected us to
show up for lunch, supper and bedtime. Times have changed and very few parents
today would allow their children to roam free in a similar setting.

When my
grandparents enrolled their children in city public schools, I’m sure it was
with great gratitude. In those days, their children could acquire a free first-class
education and families could supplement religious studies, if they chose to do
so. Indeed, my mother and her siblings as first-generation Americans became
educated, productive, contributing members of society while also having the
freedom to remain true to their parents’ values and traditions. When September
came around my grandparents knew where their children were. They were safely
ensconced in the classroom, receiving guidance to help them become competent,
learned and moral citizens.

Filling in
for my husband on his radio show a few weeks ago, I asked listeners what would
need to happen for them to decide that they could no longer send their children
to public school. I discussed Eric Holder’s Department of Justice weighing in
on the issue of children being allowed to choose which gender bathroom they
wanted to use, as only one of numerous changes continually eroding the nation’s
schools. I mentioned that while many of us feel that public education has generally
deteriorated, most of us will explain that the particular school our child
attends is a good one.

Yet, as my
radio show guest, Tim Daughtry, pointed out in a later hour, liberalism is
winning the culture wars through immersion, not conversion. As uncomfortable as
it may make us, we have to recognize that teacher training in this country
tends very left. Even teachers who are personally conservative often don’t
recognize the liberal messages they are teaching. Years ago, I was a consultant
for a private school. One of the administrators showed me a reading list for
third graders filled with wonderfully written books that I agreed the children
should read. However, I pointed out that every single book focused on America’s
failures! There were numerous books on slavery and discrimination as well as
others on events like the Cherokee Trail of Tears. There were no inspiring books
on the foundations of this country or its greatness. I advised that as
important as it is for our children to know of our country’s struggles and
failings, that knowledge should be preceded and outweighed by learning about
our freedoms, principles and strengths. Schools that hold events that focus on
clean air and water (who can argue with that?) but never emphasize the grandeur
of a free business climate, automatically prime our children to be susceptible
to far-left environmental and anti-capitalist messages. Talk of tolerance and
love that suggests tolerance and love for all views and actions, but never
mentions those held and practiced by religious Americans except to point them
out as bigoted, sets our children up to scorn our teachings. Sadly, too many of
my friends are perplexed that their children, who were brought to church or
synagogue, and whom they love and cherish, have rejected their values on issue
after issue.

I used to say that while I loved homeschooling,
I didn’t think it was an option for everyone. I am no longer sure that there is
a choice. Certainly, today, each and every parent has to assume the main
responsibility for their child’s education. If the child goes to a public—or
private—school, the parents needs to be frequently, and unexpectedly, in the
classroom, monitor textbooks and hand-outs (including ones the children are
told not to bring home), and stay completely on top of all assemblies, trips
and school events. Just as there isn’t any longer a choice for most parents to
turn a child onto the street at 8 am saying, “See you back at noon,” without
any idea of where they will be or with whom, there is no longer a choice to
trust anyone other than ourselves with our children’s tender souls.

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10 thoughts on “It’s (almost) September: Do You Know Where Your Children Are?”

  1. James, You are making an excellent point. In fact, one of the points that Mrs. Stowe makes, if memory serves me correctly, is that a visitor from the North was shown that she had her misconceptions as well. All history, whether fiction or non-fiction, is filtered through an author’s viewpoint.

  2. Hi, Ms. Susan…I love your program and the Musings and I treasure your reply. The point was that any historical phenomenon has hidden facets, and s/he who would rewrite history to advance political dialectic obscures these facets by painting them over with a broad brush. Although this adult reader did not find that GWTW romanticized slavery, you have aptly pointed out, and here I agree, the kindness and love Mrs. Mitchell depicts in GWTW can indeed be used to fuel ‘Pollyanna’ revisionism of history to gloss over slavery as not so bad. Yet even then as today it would be practically impossible to establish a quantitative ratio between (relatively) benign slave owners and the cruel Simon Legree. We can only hope that “Simon,” who would destroy a family unit by selling some members ‘down the river,’ was mercifully infrequent. I humbly submit one comparison: the author of UTC was a dedicated abolitionist activist from Connecticut with a fervent axe to grind, but apparently never actually lived in the South. Mrs. Mitchell, on the other hand, was born and raised there, aware of many facets of its history and society as an outsider could not be. I find it ironic that this comparison opens for each author TWO doors of possibility: 1). an authenticity unique to each author, and 2). a potential revisionism unique to each author. In other words, I fear BOTH authors probably had one eye open and one eye closed. In any case, we are blessed today that human beings are no longer legal tender or “property” in the US.

  3. James, Thanks for your kind words. I enjoyed Gone With the Wind, like many teenage girls, but I don’t think it should be seen as historically accurate on many fronts, particularly in its romanticizing of slavery. I think Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin manages to show the horror of slavery without damning every slave owner.

  4. Julia, You are raising a great point re the Susan Hill books. I’m not familiar with those, but you are right that the literature often favored in schools is now pessimistic and depressing. May you have much blessing from your grandchildren.

  5. My grandchildren are in the UK and are nearly 9 and I never thought I would say this but I thank God that they are severely handicapped, one will never attend anything other than a special school and the other, although at a mainstream school, is not able to take a lot of things in but his parents ensure that he knows the Truth. Because of their handicaps they are protected from the worst which this alleged ‘civilised’ western world is feeding them. I have never forgotten, in the early 80s trying to fight with the teachers of my childrens’ middle school about some of the literature they were required to read written by a woman called Susan Hill. They were short stories, all based on ‘spiritual’ things but not God’s Spirit and not one of the short stories had a positive ending. Our children were the only ones who were not affected by these dreadful books and it was not for them we were fighting but the others! As someone who has an IQ of 152 you can imagine how I felt when the headmaster – who ironically was the chairman of the Parochial Church Council – informed me that I had neither the training, the intelligence nor the expertise to know what I was talking about. I know many children had appalling nightmares after the Susan Hill book was studied. It gave us wonderful opportunities to teach our children more about God’s spirituality, but my heart still goes out to those who were so negatively affected.

  6. Dear Rabbi, thanks for sharing your Ancient Hebrew Wisdom with us. The profound intricacy of the ancient language of your people and of your faith never ceases to astound! Looking forward to further examples of “as written” and “as pronounced!”
    Dear Ms. Susan, The insidious incursion of liberal propaganda as “history” is indeed frightening, for it seems that certain powers-that-be systematically present the founders of our country as but depraved, wicked fools, not as creators of a unique historical experiment in freedom. History always appears different in the light of sufficient hindsight, but the extent to which our history is being slanted to conform to the revisionist dialectic of the Left is alarming: the blacks were all poor, unfortunate victims, misused and mistreated, and the Amerindian was Rousseau’s Noble Savage, cheated and maligned. And this distortion is apparently creeping unquestioned into the textbooks! What my poor grandchildren will be forced to swallow, I dread to imagine.
    Recently at a yard sale I had a rare opportunity to procure a copy of Gone with the Wind, a perennial classic I had never read, David Selznick’s monolithic cinema production notwithstanding (And what a faithful adaptation it was! I wish the recent translation of Tolkien’s trilogy into film had been as faithful.). This book, written by a not-quite-contemporary Southern lady with deep roots in her past, calls up much lost perspective. This perspective, if one stays the course of some 1400+ pages, depicts the touching love and loyalty of the “slaves” to their “masters” and vice versa. It also reveals via the Creek Uprising, that the Amerindian was not quite universally the “Noble Savage” projected by today’s wild revisionist fancies. I say this as a biological Cherokee (in part), so nobody can label me as a racist Caucasian with impunity! A work of “fiction” can contain much truth, and this great book with its historical perspective set me to wondering greatly.
    Our Rabbi teaches us how people are people: nobody is all good, and nobody is all bad. Good people can do bad things, and bad people can do good things. Likewise, smart people can do stupid things, and simple people can do wise things. And he demonstrates love and forgiveness as Hebrew imperatives. A great many so-called Christians think these attributes are sole property of Christianity, despite centuries of direct counter-evidence. Thanks and blessings to the both of you!

  7. I wanted to share this on Facebook, but when I click like, the dialog box is cut off after the first quarter inch or so. This is true on both the Google Chrome and Firefox browsers. This is a message I think more people should see.

  8. Susan,
    I grew up in a small town in the Midwest. The town whistle would blow at noon, 6 pm and 10 pm. As children, we could wander everywhere but when we heard the whistle, we knew it was time to head home! What wonderful simple times and my heart is sad that my granddaughter most likely will never experience the freedom and safety I did. I did homeschool my children and I am praying that my son and daughter in law, will see how necessary that will be in the future for their daughters spiritual well being! Blessings to you! I so love reading your musings each week and love the wisdom I glean from your husband!

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