Parents are responsible for their child’s education

Journalist uses tiny percentage of population to smear parents

Government leaders and activists want control of your children. The most recent tell was when President Joe Biden said in April, “There is no such thing as someone else’s child. No such thing as someone else’s child. Our nation's children are all our children.”

Biden’s remarks came during an event to honor teachers of the year. He criticized parents who want to ensure that inappropriate books are not shelved in their children’s schools. It is not the first time a politician has said, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and it appears to be a growing sentiment.

Sarah Jones, senior writer for New York Magazine’s Intelligencer, wrote an April 8 commentary that carried the headline “Children Are Not Property.”

Jones consistently makes wildly inaccurate claims in her piece, which casts conservatives as dangerous people.

“Like any piece of property, a child has value to conservative activists. They are key to a future the conservative wants to win. Parental rights are merely one path to the total capture of state power and the imposition of an authoritarian hierarchy on us all,” Jones writes.

Jones writes, “Because parents own their children, they can dispose of the child as they see fit.” She cites as one example a recent Arkansas law that loosens work restrictions on minors. Conservatives are behind an effort to put children to work in dangerous workplaces such as meat-packing plants and construction sites, she writes.

Jones neglects to note that when children work, it is usually out of economic necessity, as the National Institute of Health reports. Statistics also show that the majority of low-income households identify as Democrats, which suggests that it isn’t conservatives who send children to work.

Whether and when minors work should not be a partisan issue. Letting a child work as a way to learn a good work ethic is not child abuse. The alternative is likely children sitting at home watching television or playing on electronics.

Jones writes, “When a child goes hungry, that’s because a parent isn’t caring for their property — and what a person does with their property is their right.”

Neglect, of course, is against the law. Parents don’t just get to treat their kids as private property, which Jones claims is the case.

Homeschooling, grounded in the principle of parental abuse, comes in for a special attack in the article. “There are ways to circumvent a child’s established right to an education, as conservatives know,” Jones writes. “Homeschooling laws are so lax in the U.S. that thousands of children have essentially disappeared into an academic void.”

A recent Harvard study concludes that homeschooled children are happier and have fewer mental health issues than children who attend public schools. They also scored 15 to 25 percentile points higher on standardized achievement tests. In fact, Black homeschooled students scored 23% to 42% higher on tests than their public-school peers.

But lax education isn’t the greatest risk of homeschooling, Jones darkly warns: “Taken to extremes, the concept of parental rights can be dangerous and even deadly for children.”

“Ignore the basic fact that the home is often no refuge but a place of domination and abuse,” Jones writes. “The National Children’s Alliance says that over 600,000 children were documented victims of abuse and neglect in 2020. In 77 percent of substantiated cases, a parent committed the abuse.”

There were, by these statistics, 462,000 cases of child abuse and neglect at the hands of a parent in 2020. There were, in the same year, 73 million children in the United States, according to the 2020 U.S. Census. Any abuse is too much abuse, but that comes to 0.006% of children. Fewer than one percent of American children were abused or neglected in 2020 by parents, but for Jones that makes all parents suspects.

Jones repeatedly asserts that conservative parents mistreat their children. What happens when there’s more government involvement? The National Coalition for Child Protection Reform conducted studies on how governments treat wards of the state. The studies found that “real family preservation programs have a better record for safety than foster care.”

“In group homes there was more than ten times the rate of physical abuse and more than 28 times the rate of sexual abuse as in the general population,” one study reads.

Children are best off under their parents’ tutelage.

“Children aren’t private property, then, but a public responsibility,” Jones concludes.

That would be the worst outcome of all. Wards of the state do not live well.

Jamie A. Hope is assistant managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential. Email her at

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.