By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
During a recent appearance at a National Press Club luncheon in Washington, DC, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the days of stay-at-home moms are a thing of the past and that today’s children need longer school hours.
The Daily Caller is reporting that Duncan told luncheon attendees he believes the American school calendar is antiquated and that children should stay in school year-round, or for 12 to 14 hour days.
“As you guys know, our world has changed, our economy has changed,” he said. “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.”
He went on to say that these longer hours would be filled with a variety of after-school programs including academics but also dance, art, music and more.
“Most people realize that our current day is based on the agrarian economy, and we don’t have too many kids working out in the fields nowadays,” Duncan said. “Schools in countries that are beating us are going to school 25-30 days more than us. If you practice basketball five times a week, you’re gonna be better than the people who practice three times a week.”
These are not just idle words. During the luncheon, Duncan clearly stated that he intends to use the leverage of the federal government to drive reform.
Matthew Archbold, Catholic author and purveyor of the Creative Minority Report blog, took exception with Duncan’s derisive tone about stay-at-home moms.
“To this administration Mom at home with the peanut butter sandwich is a mockable relic of a bygone era,” Archbold writes. “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.”
He believes Duncan’s true aim is not about making American children more competitive. “This is about control of your children. They don’t trust you to raise your children. They know better.”
Because numerous studies have shown that the children of stay-at-home mothers enjoy better overall health those whose mothers work, Americans should question of why the government would make it harder for parents to do so rather than focusing on providing them with tax breaks and incentives to stay home during their childrens’ early years.
“Many parents can’t be home with children when they come home at 2:30 and that’s bad,” Archbold writes. “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.”
The question Americans must ask is whether parents staying home with children is a societal good, Archbold suggests.
“And if so shouldn’t the federal government be doing more to encourage it, rather than making it harder?”
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