Friday, November 7, 2008

Has Obama Been Influened by DREs?

You have to see this to believe it: this is what Obama's "" says about student service:

The Obama Administration will call on Americans to serve in order to meet the nation’s challenges. President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year. Obama will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start. (Emphasis added--E.M.).
Good grief. Has the Obama campaign hired on a bunch of disgruntled DREs from Catholic parishes who think the idea of making kids clean up roadside litter or chat with prisoners in order to prove to the DRE that they are worthy enough to be confirmed was working out so well that the whole country ought to get on board?


The religious education question is for another time; I'm currently in the process of composing a letter to my bishop explaining why the two-tier system (one set of requirements for diocesan parochial students which is simply "Show up, pay $$$$ tuition, get sacraments, lather, rinse, repeat" and another set for public school students who presumably are not receiving regular religious instruction in school, which is "attend weekly classes at the parish from the time you can hold a pencil until you marry or leave the church, whichever comes first; fill such added requirements as community service and anything else we feel like asking you to do, beg us for the sacraments, get told your parents missed a single mandatory meeting which puts you off the list for this year, repeat ad nauseum") is inherently unjust to Catholic homeschooling families, who have made the Catholic education of their children a personal and sacrificial priority, and whose children should not (as a friend of mine reports) have to take two years of Confirmation classes (pre-Confirmation and Confirmation) after a year and a half of which the students have not yet learned anything about the Holy Spirit, His gifts, or His fruits, but have memorized the Mass times of two parishes and are now just starting to talk about Creation and the Ten Commandments. (At this rate, by the time they reach Our Lord's discussion of the Paraclete my young friend will be in her eighties.)

But I digress. The real question at hand is this notion by Barack Obama that schoolchildren ought to be required to do community service as a condition of their public education.

I can see some people saying, in effect, "What's wrong with it? Children ought to learn about service, and since they're receiving a public education there's nothing wrong with asking them to give back to the community."

The problem with that reasoning is that it ignores the most fundamental aspect of the situation: Children do not belong to the state, but to their parents. No one has the right to require anything of children except their parents.

We're not talking about children being required to do their homework, or some other thing which their teachers acting in loco parentis may reasonably be expected to ask of them, such as ordinary obedience and the following of regular rules. We're talking about the state, through the school system, usurping something that fundamentally belongs to the parents: the right to direct their children's civic activities in such a way that supports, and does not contradict, the deeply held beliefs and values of the family.

For instance, a family of devout Muslims might not like their child being asked to serve meals in a soup kitchen where the child might have to handle pork, would they? A strictly observant Jewish family might complain if their child was assigned to clean up roadside litter on a Saturday morning, right? A Christian family wouldn't want their children assigned to stuff envelopes for Planned Parenthood, of course, and a Christian Scientist might object to his children being asked to assist in a public health clinic; a Quaker wouldn't want his child answering phones at a local Army recruitment center. There are countless other examples.

But, one might object, families might be given that choice; and besides, it's only fifty hours. What could be the harm?

The harm is in letting the government intrude even further into your family. The harm is letting the government assume, for one moment, that its rights to direct your children are greater than your own, that your children really belong to the state, and while you are responsible for them in every way until they reach maturity you must bear this responsibility without any corresponding rights to raise them as you see fit.

We must fight this while we still can. Or else fifty hours will become a hundred, and parental choice over the assigned community service will be removed, and the government will "require" more and more from "its" children without any reference to parents whatsoever.


Joe of St. Thérèse said...

I totally agree.

Jeff Miller said...

Well it is rather consistent.

His idea of charity is forcing people to give money to the government so his idea of service also means forcing people to do service.

Karen LH said...

This section of calls all this stuff Obama's and Biden's plan for "universal voluntary public service." How can it be both universal and voluntary?

deanna said...

Interesting thoughts. In Florida, we have mandatory community service in high school if you want to qualify for a "Bright Futures" scholarship.

KC said...

My first thought was Hitler youth.

Mick said...

Wasn't slavery abolished 150 years ago? First the civilian defense force comment and now this!

The nightmare begins...

La Familia said...

kc took the words right out of my mouth. This sounds too much like Hitler Youth which makes three things so far I have found Obama to have in common with Hitler; the scariest one being his willingness to kill babies because they are a burden. That's how Hitler began the genocide. He started with sick and handicapped children and elderly in the hospitals because they were a burden to the state.

nutmeg said...

Sounds like Mao's communist China. And it scares the be-jeebies out of me. The first step to citizen-enforced obeisance... yikes

Scott W. said...

Appalling indeed. But hope remains while company is true. As someone mentioned at Jeff Culbreath's blog, the pres doesn't always get what he wants even with a majority congress. Americans can be swayed by sugary rhetoric, but when radical sweeping proposals are on the table they'll blink. Remember Clinton's attempted health care industry pillage? He whipped out that Federal ID card, and people FREAKED OUT. Result? Epic fail.

I also remember Clinton running on a middle-class tax cut. Then after he was installed and people asked about it he was like, "what you talkin about Willis?" Obama promised the same thing. I predict the same result. That sound you will hear? Me cackling at the electorate's folly.

freddy said...

I think this is funny. Well, scary, but funny, too. Fifty hours? Nice round number from folks who wouldn't know a work-week if if bit them in the keister. One hundred hours? From college students? Because we all know that college students have so much *more* time than high school students. This will last until high school parents with their kids in band and sports explain just how much *extra* time their kids really have, or until someone sits down and actually determines the logistics and manpower required to shuttle, supervise and clean up after all the little free-laborers.

MommaLlama said...

Good grief... one more thing I will have to try and figure a way around (I want in on that letter Erin... you know our current struggle with an Obama-ish DRE!).

Anonymous said...

First of all, what are DRE's? And, why are they required of Catholic children in preparation of the sacrament for Confirmation? And, who said that they were required?
Then, where is it stated that Barack Obama is going to require DRE's or community service hours of grade school children, and how is this social program to be effected, i.e. a requirement to pass on to the next grade in school, or access to federal or state school funds for school systems, much as programs based on academic achievement or school attendance, like Four Star Schools etc., and how would this play out in the homeschooling agenda?

What would be the basis of conceiving a program like this, to provide a show of community service to other countries, to provide actual unpaid labor, or to show that children can unite without parental overview?

Depending on the relativism of such programs, (which when I was a kid were provided as voluntary services in the Scout programs); if Barack Obama is touting this, where is the element of choice to participate, otherwise it sounds like Brownshirts, or Jr. Communist League, or Tito's Kids.

Before we get our panties, or shorts in a bunch, we need to know facts.


Irenaeus said...

Directors of Religious Education

Molly said...

This really isn't something new. In our county, possibly in the whole state of Virginia I am not sure, the high school kids have mandatory community service they must do to graduate.

Of course, it is classic liberalism. They force us to care for the least of our brothers by taxing us and "spreading the wealth". Now they want to force our children to "volunteer" to help in the community.

I am all for having volunteer programs available and encouraged. Most American kids lack a sense of responsibility towards their fellow man. But it has to start at home, not with the government.

Jennifer said...

Brilliant, Erin--thank you!

ps--I'm going to be learning how to lobby, and will be posting the how to's on my blog as I learn, if anyone is interested in learning, too.

You know the saying, "the only way for evil to succeed is for good men to stand by and do nothing."

pps--Can I have the letter, too?

To Jesus through Mary + amdg

Anonymous said...

Okay, the DRE thing is a new provincial Catholic requirement, (whew! I was beginning to think that the stridency expressed recently in American Catholicism is trickling out as new 'ja wohl' miltancy propounded by the DRE).

I looked at the site and found it to more innocuous than anticipated.

In my youth, the town I attended school had a very good educational system (my folks were teachers), but that was many years ago. My spouse and I 'had' to move to a college town to find that level of quality, and then, it's not available at every school in surrounding districts!

Recently, I found that it is a popular tradition in some of the neighboring school systems of this mid-eastern area of the country for completion of a 'senior' project 'required' prior to high school graduation. (Not required in our school district.) My children were already too much involved in sports, religious and cultural pursuit of academic excellence, extracurricular service projects, college application process, etc. to want to participate in just one more activity, but I suppose if kids knew that expectation was required, they could possibly plan for it as freshmen. (Hmm, I doubt kids would plan that far ahead.) In any case, fulfillment of the requirements for a middle-school and high school service project would probably be met by participation in usual activities of actively involved kids.

One of the issues that Barack Obama wishes to address is 'education' and as a factor in decreasing abortion rates; we've got recent data (finally!) that correlates excessive consumption of promiscuous TV eye candy as well as actual candy, promotes obesity as well as teen pregnancy, among other ills. (Can we expect the agricultural subsidies for sugar beets to decrease?) It would seem that 'opportunity' for constructive use of time by 'encouraging' participation in service projects would have an effect on candy consumption, with positive outcome seen for the future. (Just who are these kids that watch all that TV and eat fatty foods?)

Let's look on the positive side... What would happen if kids were strongly encouraged to be actively involved in community service with significant motivators (for their parents as well?), if not previously?

I suppose I took it for granted, but most of the parents in my kid's elementary classrooms provided voluntary minutes and hours, at lunch, monitoring lunch hour clubs, helping with classroom presentations, serving as field trip monitors, sport and academic coaching, etc., and then I see the same kids in that sixth grade class are now mentioned as national merit semifinalists. And, we're a public school. And, yes, I worked full-time 60-70 hrs a week sometimes at a hospital, and punched the time-clock.

Okay, where or what's the evil in strongly encouraging kids to do something useful with 'extra' time, especially if the transportation will be provided (or arranged) by the school?


This_Cross_I_Embrace said...

I definately see the problem with this kind of thing... more with the mentality of it than the act itself. In my public HS, me and my friends were involved in just about EVERYTHING (Varsity sports, Musicals and Drama, Literary Clubs, Yearbook, National Honor Society, etc.), and for the latter, we were already required to put in community service hrs. It is extremely hard to find any "extra time" if you are a student like this- and I'm guessing that Obama's desire to exploit the separation of Church and State would not accept service to one's Church, as my HS did for me. So, given that sports practices and drama productions even take place on weekends, and my Sundays were devoted to Church... I guess if I had gone to HS while Obama was President, I wouldn't have graduated!!

More importantly still is the issue that you brought to light. It shouldn't be the government's "lesson" to our kids, it should be ours. Our time, our children, our morals.

eulogos said...

Just a note on the DRE's and their mandatory meetings; one of the most cruel things I ever saw was when a mother missed a mandatory meeting because her house burned down that night. Two days later she brought her daughter to the first communion practice and left. The DRE told her daughter she shouldn't be at the practice, that she would not be able to make her first communion because her mother missed the meeting, and she would have to leave. This poor seven year old girl sat on the front steps of the church alone and crying while waiting for her mother to return. I tried to say something to the DRE but was quickly shut up. I reproached myself every time I think of it that I didn't take my child and sit on the front steps with the little girl. I guess I wasn't willing to deprive my own child of her promised first communion, beautiful white dress and all that...but it was terribly wrong to go on practicing inside that church while the little girl sat outside. I spoke to the priest about it later and he said that he hadn't felt great about it either but he felt he had to support the DRE in front of the other parents.
If they had done this to my child I don't know if I could have gone back to that church. But she did.

Susan Peterson

Alexandra said...

My thought is who is going to monitor all this community serve!

They could have the honor system, but the first time someone forges cs documents(and they will), it'll go to monitored service. They'll have to create new positions for community service officers in the public schools to monitor, verify and document the hours. Then they'll have to be sanctions(missed service, forged serve, etc.) and an appeal process - someone will need to hear these cases, and on, and on. Not to mention the fact that many people will have trouble finding opportunities with the thousands of children and young adults trying to make their hours, many no doubt at the eleventh hour.

I can see that schools may need to "create" service opportunities for children without transportation or access. What a nightmare of wasted time and expense to tax payers.

LarryD said...

My thought is who is going to monitor all this community serve!

Why, ACORN, of course! And every two years, the community service work will consist of getting people to register to vote.

Something wicked this way comes...

Anonymous said...

Try to get your child into any competitve college without community service. It won't happen.

Anonymous said...

I would like a copy of the letter you are preparing for your Bishop. We have a huge problem here in MN as well.

This_Cross_I_Embrace said...

Anon, I went to a pretty competetive college (Middlebury), and did tons of community service; but the point Red is trying to make, I think, is not that community service is a bad idea. On the contrary! But why should the government be mandating it? I'm pretty sure, as I already pointed out, that much of my community service wouldn't have counted under Obama's mandate. I worked mostly for Church organizations.

This_Cross_I_Embrace said...

Excuse the typo :)

Rene'e said...

Obama reviews Bush orders on stem cells, drilling

Scott W. said...

As a former DRE and on further relfection, I'm not too worried about Obama. Considering the amount of resistance I got from even the good Catholic parents for attempting to make their kids do anything, I think Obama's proposal will go down like the Hindenberg.

Also, on the topic of DRE's--Get thou a copy of your diocesan guidlines and requirements go through them with a fine tooth comb. In mine for instance there was language about encouraging community service, BUT there was also explicit language that it (and sponsor's meetings for that matter) could not be made a condition of receiving confirmation. So DRE's might give you the illusion that such things are mandatory, but don't buy it until you read the fine print.

Also, get the diocesan employee handbook and look for a section about how teachers may not teach or act contrary to the teachings of the Faith. Just so you know.

Dymphna said...

So what happens if my kid doesn't do the community service? Will the police come and arrest me? Will CPS be called? Will my kid not graduate?

Betty Beguiles said...

I couldn't agree more. My husband was a DRE and tried to advocate for homeschoolers but our Bishop, who I really respect, had strict guidelines for CCD and the like. It's ridiculous!

Anonymous said...

You make some interesting points. Religious Education is my occupation. Thanks for sharing.