Conor Friedersdorf, a staff writer at The Atlantic, examines the notion that the reason the United States hasn't invested as much in public education as we should is because we have "this private notion of children."
He writes about MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry and her TV spot in which she argues that a necessary remedy is to "break through" the "private idea" that "kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families," and to recognize that kids belong to whole communities.
Friedersdorf believes that "your kid is yours, and totally your responsibility," that "kids belong to their families," not to their communities, and that the converse formulation is dangerous. He notes that children are raised by individuals, not diffuse collectives, and that most parents feel this responsibility deep within them is indispensable to our civilization. Kids whose parents don't feel or ignore it are often seriously disadvantaged.
He writes: "Like all humans, they possess individual rights. But what those children then want and need — much more than a community that feels collective responsibility for its children — is to be placed in a specific family with individuals who'll love them like family. That is far more valuable to them than a community with an abstract investment in them. If their adopted parents love them as their own — which is to say, prefer them to all other children, and are willing to sacrifice more for them than anyone else — that is a beautiful thing. Better two loving parents than 200,000 taxpayers with an impersonal responsibility for one's welfare.
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