New York Considering Law Mandating State-Run Parenting Classes


“Not only would parents have to attend” writes Cato’s Walter Olson, “but for good measure the bill would require employers to bestow a paid day off each year for employees who are parents to do so.”

Here’s the bill, which is a short read. Section 1, “Requires parents of elementary school children to attend a minimum of four parent support instruction programs prior to the child’s advancement to the seventh grade. Requires employers to provide one day per year of paid job leave for the purposes of attending such support instruction programs.”

Section 2, “Provides that the topic of one such workshop shall be related to the physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children.”

So, if you want your kids to get past the 6th grade, you have to go to the classes. And at least one of the classes has to be about child abuse. And maybe child abuse could be anything from actual abuse to, say, owning guns.

There’s a lot of room for abuse, and you really have to wonder what purpose is being served? Does anyone really believe that these programs might turn a bad parent into a good parent? Is an abusive, neglectful or indifferent parent likely to change their ways because of a mandated government program?

It’s hard to imagine these programs making any real difference, and I’d argue that they may actually hurt. Already our ever-expanded public school bureaucracy has inspired parents to abdicate vast swaths of parenting responsibility to educators. A mandated government parenting class would be another step down the road toward a society which believes that the state, and not the parents, is in charge of raising the kids.

By the way, there are a lot of different philosophies when it comes to parenting, and that’s not a bad thing. Different kids, different families, approach education and discipline in a lot of different ways. But now we’re going to be instructed to follow a state-approved method of parenting?

When does this one-size-fits-all approach ever work?

Someone should check the contribution records of the lawmakers backing this. I’m guessing there are a lot of big companies salivating at the idea of getting the contracts to provide these mandated classes.