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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: every Western country thinks that their values are being attacked in isolation.

However, that is not necessarily true. There seems to be a co-ordinated agenda among them. This is why it is important to appoint a family reader who can track news items in more than one country.

The Americans who read UK sites seem to be doing so for American news only. Yet, if they look closer they will see that the same statist ideas are put forward at the same time in both countries.

The same is true in France.

I can manage tracking only three countries at the same time. However, a fluent Spanish / German / Dutch (and so on!) speaker can track the US and the UK along with other European nations. The same is true, no doubt, in Canada and the Antipodes.

We think that our freedoms are being attacked in isolation: ‘only the’ British, French or Americans. Yet, it’s far more pervasive than this and much more interesting to read about when one compares what’s been going on in various nations.

The debates about gay marriage and ‘recreational’ drug legalisation has been going on in the US, UK and France for some time now. Often, related news items appear just days apart on these topics. Watch, track, listen. The Internet makes it child’s play. However, it does take time.

The latest topic to appear has been Obama’s push for school for four-year olds in his recent State of the Union address. This would be part of the long-running Head Start programme. Clare Spark ably explores the subject on her blog. Note Obama’s rationale (emphases mine):

POTUS proposed in his State of the Union speech that “pre-school” for all middle class and poor kids would go far in lifting them out of poverty and on to employability in the [brave new world] created by social media and other math-science-heavy fields.

France is doing the same thing. Education minister Vincent Peillon recently proposed school places for under-threes in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. As I commented on Clare’s blog, there are some councils in France which have opened up school to this age group for several years now. Ten years ago, one of my ex-colleagues in Paris took advantage of the local programme for his under-threes. He thought it was great, because he and his wife both worked. They were executives, by the way, and clearly not disadvantaged. I asked him if he was worried that the state was taking away his influence in the home. ‘Look, they’re only little kids! What’s the worst that could happen? At least we’re not spending anything extra. We’re already paying for it out of our taxes.’

What’s the worst that could happen? That the child becomes more dependent on and respectful of the state’s teaching than the parents’.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the same has been going on since New Labour’s (Tony Blair’s variety) 13 years in office. Remember Blair’s ‘education, education, education’? This is what some of his ministers went on to do (see p. 7):

New Labour’s 2001 Green Paper comments that `universal nursery education for all 4 year olds is now in place. There has been a significant expansion for 3 year-olds. In total there are 120,000 more free nursery places than in 1997′ (DfEE, 2001b: 9). It also promises to `ensure that every school with fewer than 25% achieving 5 or more A*-C at GCSE or more than 35 per cent on free school meals receives extra targeted assistance’ (p.9), and `expand Sure Start (a programme aimed at helping pre-school children in poorer areas) to include 500 programmes, to support 400,000 under-4s, one-third of under-4s living in poverty, by 2004‘ (DfEE, 2001b:6). The White Paper expands on support for schools and children `in the most challenging circumstances’ (DfES, 2001a:49-51) detailing additional funded schemes, and additional funding for `increasing the participation of under-represented groups in higher education’ (p.35).

Sure Start is the British counterpart to America’s Head Start, incidentally.

In 2011, Conservative Education Minister Michael Gove proposed the greatest of scholastic hells, the 10-hour school day. Ten hours at school daily, and lessons on Saturday! The mind boggles.

The following year the Labour Party said that a longer school day would better prepare Britain’s children for work. Note the similarity in reasoning with the US and France:

[Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg] claims longer school days will particularly benefit kids from disadvantaged homes, giving them a chance to do their homework away from the pressures of their family, TV, and the lure of gangs.

I remember a few years ago when Labour were still in power and they discussed the importance of getting toddlers into school as soon as possible. Listening to one of the morning news shows before work, I recall at least one Labour minister saying that the State could raise children much better than grandparents, aunts and mothers could. It is no surprise then that much online commentary advocated resisting such a move.

And so it is several years on. This is what Parentdish reader luanshaw said concerning Twigg’s proposal concerning longer school days:

Is it not enough that when children are at home they have little family time due to the pressures of school work? Longer school days will limit this family time even more, and I can’t imagine that the homework load will lessen – it will just increase because pupils will be expected to do ‘homework’ at school as well as at home, not instead! Is lengthening the school day just a way of giving teachers more time to achieve targets??

Commonality among the arguments advocating longer school days or younger children attending school:

– helps the disadvantaged … who could refuse a programme to help the poor?

– alleviates ‘pressure from the family’ … the family is the enemy of the state.

– prepares the youngster for work … a smokescreen for statist control of the mind.

As Clare Spark said, this is elitism.

It is also statism. True conservatives and libertarians support good education but not at the expense of the family. They would argue that it is incumbent upon parents to start the ball rolling at home and encourage productive conversation at the dinner table as well as teaching useful practical skills.

I find it interesting that for decades Western nations offered some of the best education the world had to offer. Over the past three decades, the level of real achievement has dropped dramatically. First it was the US. Then it was the UK. Over the past 12 years, France has now weakened its curriculum, watering down French language, literature and history — the main planks of their education system. Is it any wonder that these countries — along with others, no doubt — look to immigrant populations as employees either through outsourcing or importing ‘human capital’? This never happened when schooling was top-notch.

Generally speaking, however, it would be fascinating to read how the same topics for legislation appear within such a short space of time in various countries. If I find out how this is done, I’ll be sure to post on it. If you know it’s done, please post factual links. I suspect UN involvement in part, but please avoid conspiracy theories.

Some of my readers will consider tracking news from more than one country a luxury.

However, if we can interest a retired family member to check out newspapers, blogs and radio programmes in other countries in addition to our own, we’d learn a lot.

Only a couple of weeks ago, the same tailored news item appeared within 24 hours in the UK and in France. British health ‘experts’ told the nation that they were far too ‘stiff upper lip’ to get medical checkups. The same item appeared in France: ‘experts’ said the French were too reticent in going to the doctor.

In February 2013, the French Socialist government pledged to allow lesbian couples IVF by the end of the year as part of legislation on the family. Just days later, the British National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) announced that lesbian couples will now be eligible for the same procedure. Interesting, don’t you think?

The most important benefit of tracking news about more than one nation is that it would diminish our fear factor as we realise that we are not alone in battling statism. The arguments — and reactions — are the same wherever we live.

Bottom line — there is much commonality in the statist agenda, wherever we live.

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