Thursday, September 2, 2010

Society Will be Free Riding off of Our Labors as Parents

I loved, loved, loved this article about the dangers of depopulation.

Some quotes:

" Less than 50 years ago (1957, the year Lyle Lovett was born, to be precise), the U.S. birthrate hit a record and began to decline. From 3.7 births per woman -- well over the 2.1 required to maintain a level population -- our birthrate has been falling since. It is now hovering just below replacement rate.

In Europe, birthrates are even lower. As a consequence, by 2050 the population of Europe will have fallen to what it was in 1950. Mr. Longman says this is happening all around the world: Women are having fewer children. It's happening in Brazil, it's happening in China, India and Japan. It's even happening in the Middle East. Wherever there is rapid urbanization, education for women and visions of urban affluence, birthrates are falling."

He goes in to explain the reasoning behind why? Because the economic incentives have fallen directly against raising and training our next generation. Never mind that that is one of the most important things we can do as a society.

"They're expected to get educated, get a job, find a nice neighborhood, etc. By the time they do that, they've missed their best years for reproduction. Basically, our societies have put a tax on nurture. Parents create value, but they get little of it."

I love that idea, we as a society have put a "tax on nurture". Parents create value, more than any other job in society, by far, but get little of that value back.

We are about to have our fourth child, and people wonder how we're going to do it. And we are, by the way, committed to giving each of them as good of an education as we possibly can (as any parent is).

But when its not your own child, this concern for education drops precipitously. If we truly cared about education, that would be our most important societal investment.

By the way, we just enrolled our daughter in the Chandler's Children's Choir and it is awesome. I went to a rehearsal last Tuesday and they are preparing to sing with a community orchestra and it was wonderful.

My daughter will also get an opportunity to sing patriotic songs before a Diamondbacks game as well as a lot of other community events.

Do public schools have choirs doing as much? Maybe some do, but there's no reason why they couldn't. It just takes a little extra money (when spread out across the community), a bit more of a sacrifice.

Any parent would want their child to have this kind of opportunity (or opportunities like it).

We as a family have made a decision to have more kids, make a sacrifice to raise them the best way we can. And society will mooch off our labors later. :-).

Just be sure to thank us (and every other family that has decided to raise more rather than fewer kids in a society where its increasingly difficult to do so) later.


H said...

Just a comment on the question about other choirs doing all that Lizzy's choir is... First it would take a dedicated teacher. Then it would take dedicated students. Then it would take dedicated parents. That's hard to find in an elementary public school setting.

tempe turley said...

Helena, its true, but I think its possible. I don't think you could do it based on a single classroom, but maybe you extend it to the entire school (it would be a mixed aged choir like Lizzie's is by the way). You could easily get a dedicated teacher (or better yet a choir conductor) if we were willing to pay somebody to do it. And I think many parents could be willing to step it up and volunteer. In Lizzie's choir, parents are asked to volunteer time.

Admittedly, my last point is based on no experience, since our kids are not in school. I just know if they were, and if there was a high quality school choir available, we would definitely contribute, and I'm assuming there would be other parents like us.

H said...

Agreed Scott. SOmething like an honor choir where parents recognize that this is something special and that they will need to step up their game and attend events and get their children to events would work. Scheduling busses and drivers and liabilty would be a concern. I believe, if there were a way around all those extra expenses and problems, it is definitely doable. I think there is a dedicated teacher out there somewhere that doesn't need extra pay in order to do what you're asking. It probably has already happened. They just really need to be committed to dealing with those issues I mentioned, fighting the red tape, and finding the students. In one public elementary school it might be hard to find enough dedicated students and parents to get behind the idea. Thus, charter schools have been created. If you and your child are interested in the performing arts you go somewhere that can cater to that idea. Ironically, part of the reason we chose McKemy (public middle school) is because of their choir director. The reason Amanda chose McClintock (public high school) is because of their choir program. Good, dedicated teachers can make a difference and I don't believe that paying them more is where the problems lie. Of course I'm not saying there aren't boring, schooled teachers out there just going through the motions. There are.

tempe turley said...

Helena, why not pay someone with a music degree to do the choir as part of their core job and not expect a teacher to do the extra work for free.

Its just a matter of funding. But if as a community were dedicated to education, we would be willing to fund stuff like this.

And why all the red tape? I don't totally get why it would be so difficult.

If you were just performing around the community during the evenings and on weekends (when you were more likely to get an audience) you wouldn't necessarily need busing, parents could just get their kids to the event.

H said...

Scott, I think we're talking in circles about the same thing. I see the need to get parents and students behind the idea as priority. You see getting a well paid, qualified, musician to lead the choir as a priority. Maybe this is why it hasn't happened yet. If 2 friends that both agree on the subject can't figure it out, then how do we expect politicians, educators, and the community at large (who may or may not be behind the idea) to figure it out? Just sayin' that's all.

tempe turley said...

The choir is just one example. More generally, I'm proposing that education needs to be funded at much higher levels than we are currently willing to do. And then things like choirs become possibilities.

I'm assuming that there will be enough parents and children interested in stuff like this that that kind of thing would fall into place assuming the resources are available.

If there's not enough interest in a choir, then what about legos.

This kind of stuff is happening, but I'm just proposing we build on it make it more accessible and available to more people.

tempe turley said...


I'm not sure I fully understand how we disagree? Are you saying that parents don't really care about this stuff? And that kids either?

Maybe you're right, you would know more than me.

But I guess it just seems counter-intuitive to me as a parent and knowing other parents, most really would do all they could for their kids.

Granted, I realize some parents are so overwhelmed with careers (especially the single ones) to have time to do much else.

But I think the fact that teacher are so severely underpaid (can you really raise a family comfortably on a teacher's salary), we as a society need to change our priorities.

H said...

Scott, I've seen too much money dumped into schools to believe that money is the answer. That's a whole different argument though. On point of parent participation, here's my personal experience:

private school open house for parents- 100% attendance, several couples got a babysitter and both attended.

charter school open house and parent meetings- 1/2-3/4 participation. Again, several couples, but there were also a few kids belonging to the couples and the parents there on their own.

public school open house- classes of 25-30, I was typically one of 3 or 4 parents in attendance, no couples and several small children wandering the halls with parents.

I will admit that there are several factors that could have been at play here, but my experience has made me a cynic. I would love to pay teachers more and would love to have specialists that were experts in their field teaching subjects that they love, it is just hard to do across the board in a public setting.

Hiring/firing in public school is also different than private and charter schools. I've seen experts come and go in both the latter schools, some for good reasons, some because they (the school or the employee) realized teaching was not something they were good at. It is fantastic when you have a real artist teaching art, and an actual performer teaching drama to students. You (as a parent and school) have to be willing to change your thinking of how a typical classroom teacher is going to behave though. Kyra learned so much from a particular art teacher that most of the parents hated. In a public school there would have been so many complaints that she would have had to change her teaching style (thus ending the learning!), she would have been fired, or she would have quit.
I will also say that the art teacher I'm talking about was not doing it for the money. She truly loved art and children.

I can't believe I admitted that I'm a cynic. Yeesh.

Sean said...

I agree Scott. And this demographic challenge presents itself in many areas of society.

It affects the family and religion; it touches public policy (and involves all sorts of unintended consequences therein); and it affects the microeconomic choices of individuals and families. Check out this recent article on the same subject.