The growing movement to protect children from their government
This week, there is news about the very real need for the government to protect children from exploitation, such as in a series of scary stories about child labor.
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There is a growing political argument on the right that children must be protected from 'indoctrination' by the government in schools. However, this week there is also news about the very real need for the government to protect children from exploitation, such as in a series of scary stories about child labor.
The two issues aren't related, but they both speak to the involvement of government in the lives of US citizens.
The protection of children from indoctrination is a parent's responsibility.
The conversation about protecting kids from so-called indoctrination has mostly played out in recent years in terms of Covid-19 restrictions and school curriculums.
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin rode a message of 'parental rights' to victory in a battleground state in 2021, which has made him a much-discussed potential contender for the 2024 Republican presidential primary.
He's one of a number of Republican governors who are focused on cleansing schools of history lessons about race that they find objectionable, making schools less accommodating of transgender students, and _______, although he was unable to get all of his proposals passed into law.
Watch: Youngkin will take part in a CNN town hall Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET. Moderated by Jake Tapper, the program will give parents, teachers and community leaders the opportunity to ask the governor questions face to face.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential Republican presidential candidate, has a GOP-controlled legislature willing to do his bidding and has turned himself into a lightning rod by actively opposing what he says is 'woke indoctrination' in schools.
At a news conference in Florida on Wednesday, he argued his administration is not banning certain books with graphic content, but rather helping parents to root them out of school districts. After playing a video showing examples of books with graphic illustrations he said were found in some school districts, DeSantis rejected the argument that restricting books in schools is tantamount to banning them.
"It's a hoax designed to sexualize and pollute our children," he said.
He also defended state laws he signed that restrict how teachers can address issues of systemic racism in their classrooms.
"It's wrong to just identify somebody who is a young kid going to school and saying they're guilty of things they had nothing to do with," DeSantis said.
At a news conference, DeSantis said he was opposed to references to queerness and what he perceived as "neo-Marxism" in a proposed African American studies course for Advanced Placement students.
Youngkin has also waded into these issues. He backed requiring schools to inform parents of their child's sexual orientation or gender identity, set up a tip line for parents to report on so-called 'divisive' concepts, and CNN reviewed complaints to the line, which showed it did not get much use for that purpose.
After his state's education department put forward a plan to dramatically edit history and social science standards, he drew criticism for failing to mention Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Juneteenth - the two federal holidays directly related to Black history, racial equality and civil rights - which led to the plan being changed.
is not unique
The example from Florida is not the only one
In Florida, DeSantis' efforts to restrict what's in schools in the aim of avoiding graphic content and what he views as indoctrination has led to The Washington Post reporting that teachers are increasingly careful about what they can say and erring on the side of saying little at all.
These questions about US education will continue as the classroom becomes increasingly political and the country becomes more diverse. DeSantis has pledged to end all diversity programs in state colleges.
Diversity cannot be stopped.
Census data shows that a growing majority of Americans under 18 are non-White. The country is changing and diversifying.
In fall 2009, the Department of Education classified 54% of US public school students as White. In fall 2020, that figure was 46%. And by fall 2030, it will be 43%. The percentage of Asian, Hispanic and multiracial students is growing. The percentage of Black students is shrinking.
Government needs to protect children from themselves and from others.
The Biden administration has pledged to crack down on child labor after a series of scary stories about teenagers being forced into physically demanding and dangerous jobs. This has brought the reality of child labor into the headlines.
The New York Times examined the working conditions of immigrant teenagers hoping to find work as day laborers and in food-production facilities.
A 13-year-old was found employed by a cleaning company at a Nebraska slaughterhouse by the Washington Post.
The Labor Department imposed fines on a major food safety sanitation company for employing teenagers in dangerous jobs at meatpacking plants in multiple states, according to Reuters.
"The survey shows that a significant number of people are in favor of the death penalty," said John Smith, the director of the research center."A significant number of people are in favor of the death penalty," said John Smith, the director of the research center, according to that report.
At least 102 children between 13 and 17 years old were allowed by Packers Sanitation Services Inc to work overnight shifts and use hazardous chemicals to clean dangerous meat processing equipment such as brisket saws and 'head splitters' used to kill animals, according to the department.
This awkward moment for the movement to loosen child labor laws comes from glimpses of the reality of kids found working in meat plants. In Arkansas, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a measure to no longer require employers to obtain work certificates for children under 16. The paperwork was considered onerous.
"The Governor believes that protecting kids is the most important thing, but this permit puts an arbitrary burden on parents who have to get permission from the government for their child to get a job," Sanders' spokesperson Alexa Henning said in a statement. "All of the child labor laws that actually protect children are still in place, and we expect businesses to comply with them just as they are required to do now."
The issue of child labor is obviously distinct from school curriculums, but they are both connected to the larger question over how involved government should be in the lives of American young people.