Family trumps equity

By MICHAEL BARONE
Posted 1/25/22

“California should abolish parenthood, in the name of equity.” That’s the headline the Ventura County Star put on a column by Zocalo Public Square’s Joe Mathews. “Want …

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Family trumps equity

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“California should abolish parenthood, in the name of equity.” That’s the headline the Ventura County Star put on a column by Zocalo Public Square’s Joe Mathews. “Want true equity?” the San Francisco Chronicle headlined the same column three days later. “California should force parents to give away their children.”

The column’s thesis was not mischaracterized by either headline writer. Mathews wrote that advantaged parents pass on their advantages to their children.

The “solution,” he said, is “making raising your own children illegal” — or “universal orphanhood,” as he wrote a few paragraphs down. “Handovers of babies” would be mandatory. In support, he cited the Greek philosopher Plato (children should be “possessed in common”) and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (policy should be formulated through “an equity lens”).

I know Mathews. And I immediately recognized in his column a familiar sense of humor and turn of phrase. Parents, by some combination of nature and nurture, do tend to pass on some traits to their children.

Mathews’ point is that a single-minded pursuit of equity means abolition of the family. But most voters reject that. Even Israel’s communal kibbutz movement sputtered out long ago.

But some Democrats have been insisting “equity” comes before “family.”

“I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe proclaimed in a debate. Most voters disagreed. McAuliffe lost to Republican Glenn Youngkin in a state President Joe Biden carried by 10 points.

Similarly, the Michigan Democrats tweeted this month that “the purpose of a public education” is to teach children “what society needs them to know.” Oops. The party quickly deleted the tweet and admitted that “parents need to have a say in their children’s education.”

The Democrats’ argument is that parents should defer to educators’ expertise. Their subtext is that many parents are backwardly tradition-bound. But no one cares more for a child than his or her parents, and educators’ expertise has often proven bogus.

In a free society, “family” trumps “equity.”

Michael Baron is a senior fellow emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute (aei.org). A longer version of this article appeared in the Washington Examiner.

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