How do you remove the hyperlink in the code below during my (child) functions.php? I would like my dates to show as regular text.

if ( ! function_exists( 'twentyeleven_posted_on' ) ) :
 * Prints HTML with meta information for the current post-date/time and author.
 * Create your own twentyeleven_posted_on to override in a child theme
 * @since Twenty Eleven 1.0
function twentyeleven_posted_on() {
    printf( __( '<a href="%1$s" title="%2$s" rel="bookmark"><time class="entry-date" datetime="%3$s" pubdate>%4$s</time></a><span class="by-author"> <span class="sep"> by </span> <span class="author vcard"><a class="url fn n" href="%5$s" title="%6$s" rel="author">%7$s</a></span></span>', 'twentyeleven' ),
        esc_url( get_permalink() ),
        esc_attr( get_the_time() ),
        esc_attr( get_the_date( 'c' ) ),
        esc_html( get_the_date() ),
        esc_url( get_author_posts_url( get_the_author_meta( 'ID' ) ) ),
        sprintf( esc_attr__( 'View all posts by %s', 'twentyeleven' ), get_the_author() ),
        esc_html( get_the_author() )


are you currently just looking to get the date of the publish? Make use of the function: the_date('y-m-d');

The string parameter denotes the way you want the date to become displayed. Discover more relating to this function in the Wordpress Codex