Our Beverly LaHaye Institute analysis of census data shows that if the family structure of the population had been the same in 2007 as it was in 1972, the poverty rate for all families would be lower today. Instead of increasing from 11.8 percent in 1972 to 15 percent in 2007, it would have been 10.7 in 2007. Thus, poverty and fatherless families are inextricably linked. So are certain other negative consequences for children — we have forty years of social science data detailing the higher frequency of adverse child development outcomes for children raised in single-mother households.
Bad Schools: While plenty of poor children excel in school, other factors contribute to the poor educational outcomes for black boys, including bad schools in minority areas. The District of Columbia spends more per pupil than almost any other school district in the nation — close to $25,000 per child — on par with tuition at the exclusive Sidwell Friends private school the Obama girls attend. Yet, the D.C. schools consistently rank among the poorest in the nation, with run-down facilities and bloated central management. Both New York and New Jersey also spend huge sums on education — $13,780 annually per pupil. A Fordham Foundation report found that only eight states had achieved “moderate” success in the past fifteen years in improving poor and minority students’ scores on reading, mathematics, and science. Only seven to eight percent of black 9th graders are at or above the proficient level in science and math.
Family Breakdown: Yes, poverty and poor schools are partly to blame, but black children suffer disproportionately because of family breakdown. White and Asian parents are more likely than black or Hispanic parents to read to their children (white, 68 percent; Asian, 66 percent; black, 50 percent; and Hispanic, 45 percent). Again, it comes as no surprise that children are read to more often in two-parent families than in single-parent homes (62 percent in two-parent homes compared to 53 percent in single-parent homes).
At some point, we will have to come to grips with the fact that a very large percentage of our students fail because they lack a father and mother who value, encourage, support, and reinforced their efforts to learn. Common sense tells us that there is no surer recipe for the child to lag behind in learning than having to contend with the strain and disruption of a broken, dysfunctional family, where the parent or parents are so focused on themselves and their needs that they have little emotional energy to spare for the child’s needs. Before we can address the problems of public education, we have to address the problems of marriage and family. Only then can we begin the massive overhaul of cultural values that will be necessary to close the educational gaps in America.
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