MSNBC: We Have to Break Through This Idea 'That Kids Belong to Their Parents'

Michael James | April 8, 2013 | 4:52pm EDT
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Melissa Harris-Perry, host of MSNBC's "Milissa Harris-Perry" show, broadcast on Saturday and Sunday mornings. (AP)

( -- In a 30-second promo for MSNBC’s Lean Forward campaign, Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry advocates that society end the “private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families,” and instead institute a “collective notion” that kids “are our children,” they belong to the community.

In the MSNBC advertisement, Perry says, “We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children: your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children.”

“So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities,” said Harris-Perry, a professor of political science at Tulane University and host of the Melissa Harris-Perry show on Saturday and Sunday mornings on MSNBC.

“Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments,” Harris-Perry added.

Lindsey Burke, the Skillman Fellow in Education at the Heritage Foundation, told that Harris-Perry’s sentiments were misguided.

“It’s almost unbelievable, the language they use in that piece,” said Burke.  “To say to parents that your children don’t belong to you, effectively, that they belong to the community, is just really telling about how the left views preschool programs, in particular, and the role of government in preschool.”

“We see, time and time again, that expansive government preschool and child-care programs can never replicate the benefits that strong families and parental caregiving provide,” said Burke.

Lindsey Burke, the Skillman Fellow in Education at the Heritage Foundation.

“When the president’s budget comes out on Wednesday, we know it will have a big push for universal preschool in it,” she said.  “You listen to the Obama administration’s rhetoric on preschool and they talk consistently about having ‘cradle to career’ education, that they want preschool programs starting with infants and toddlers, expanding programs like Head Start to include three-year olds and younger children. So we know that we’re going to see a big push over the next week by the administration to grow government intervention into the lives of the youngest American children.”

“That’s the first thing that my mind went to when I saw this video,” said Burke.

“It’s definitely a slippery slope,” she said. “We have a lot of different stats on a lot of different aspects of this. We know that mothers of young children prefer overwhelmingly to at least work part-time, as opposed to full-time, so they indicate that they do want to spend at least part of their days at home with their children. We know that the more hours a week a child spends in center-based care, daycare and preschool, that the worse their behavioral outcomes are down the road.”

“All of the evidence points to that the more you can be with your family and one-on-one, having that really intimate early learning experience, the better,” Burke concluded.

Janice Crouse, a senior fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, the think tank for Concerned Women for America (CWA), agreed with Burke in an email to

“The encroachment on parental rights is unrelenting -- from the Obama Administration to college classrooms to news desks across the country,” said Crouse. “Everyone, it seems, is hopping on the bandwagon to remove children from parental influence and let teachers, television programs, video games and cultural influences shape the minds and hearts of next generations of Americans. MSNBC has assumed leadership in just laying the agenda out there and exposing the plan: the left wants to expand government to the point of taking over the raising of the nation's children.”

“American parents are quickly losing control over the influences that shape their children's lives,” said Crouse. “It's becoming almost impossible to shield our children from the cultural degradation that surrounds them -- through music, political correctness, school reading requirements and the list goes on and on. Time was, parents felt supported by teachers and the community. Now, parents feel all alone in protecting their children from the evil influences that surround them in society.”

“This is shredding the notion of family, replacing it with the commands of the state,” said Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, the parent organization of

“MSNBC has awarded itself a new acronym: My Son Needs to Belong to the Collective. How do you sell a private network with this dreadful collectivist advertising?” asked Bozell.

Harris-Perry has one daughter, Parker, from a previous marriage, and “her interests include the study of African American political thought, black religious ideas and practice, and social and clinical psychology,” according to her website.  She received a BA in English from Wake Forest University in 1994, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Duke University in 1999.

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