Even Ms. Weingartens distaste for customary family and church roles does not blind her to their benefits for students. The positive effect of those institutions is firmly substantiated in the social sciences.
Mapping America, a project of the Family Research Council, catalogues the societal effects of family and church. It has examined high school grade point averages in America, using data from the National Longitudinal Sample of Adolescent Health.
Regarding the family, Mapping America finds, Students who live with their married biological parents carry the highest combined GPA for English and math. Living with a stepparent, divorced parent, or cohabiting parents decreased the GPA by three tenths of a point in the 16,000 student sample. Living with never-married parents or cohabiting adults, only one of whom is a biological parent, decreased the GPA a further tenth of a point.
Church attendance is also significant. Students who attend religious services at least weekly have an average GPA of 2.9, whereas those who never attend drop by three percentage points. In the middle, those who attend at least monthly and less than monthly score 2.8 and 2.7, respectively.
When family structure and church attendance are combined, the results are even more striking. Students from intact families who worship at least monthly average a GPA of 2.9, but students from broken families who worship less score only 2.5.
Senators McCain and Obama would do well to heed in their education policies the demonstrated importance of the family and church. Increased school choice and financial support may well be part of the answer, but the foundation for healthy childrens education is institutional strength in the family and church.