Daniel Doherty

Put another way, only about 20 percent of students who graduate high school in New York City are academically prepared to take -- and presumably pass -- college courses. This should be a wake-up call, America (via CBS New York):

Nearly 80 percent of New York City high school graduates need to relearn basic skills before they can enter the City University’s community college system.

The number of kids behind the 8-ball is the highest in years, CBS 2's Marcia Kramer reported Thursday.

When they graduated from city high schools, students in a special remedial program at the Borough of Manhattan Community College couldn’t make the grade.

They had to re-learn basic skills — reading, writing and math — first before they could begin college courses.

They are part of a disturbing statistic.

So what is the solution? We can continue to throw all the money we want into the New York City public school system (even though taxpayers already spend nearly $7,000 per student on transportation alone), but I doubt that will fix the problem. The issues facing public school students are systemic and too numerous to mention in a single blog post.

As social conservatives have argued for years, I think it all starts with the breakdown of the traditional family. As a personal (albeit unscientific) example, one of my good friends teaches eighth grade Social Studies in the New York City public school system. She often tells me that one of the greatest challenges she faces is dealing with kids from broken homes. The vast majority of her students are raised by single moms in government-subsidized housing, and thus don’t have the time -- or perhaps the inclination -- to force their children to do their homework after school or study for tests when they get home. They’re simply not around a whole lot.

And so we as a nation can have a spirited debate about, say, the best methods or policies that could, in theory, fix our broken education system, but until we resolve this issue -- an issue that is staring us blankly in the face -- the vast majority of students in our inner-cities will continue to graduate high school without the requisite skills they need to be successful.

I admire inner-city public school teachers very much. I believe most -- not all, but most -- work hard because, if nothing else, they want to see their kids escape a life of poverty and dependence. But children brought into the world in less-than-ideal circumstances -- as Marco Rubio once said -- are going to struggle to make it. And until we recognize that this is at least part of the problem, we’ll never be able to come up with serious solutions worthy of our kids.


Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography