Education has been an ongoing hot topic for decades. As we have seen academic performance stagnate and even regress since the 1960s, the call has come for more and more tax dollars to be thrown at the problem in the hopes of producing better educated children.
Yet even after the creation of a national Department of Education under President Jimmy Carter and unprecedented education funding, there has been no resulting bang for the buck. We are currently spending about $553 billion, or about $9,266 per child on average in the United States, but we aren't getting anything noteworthy for our money.
In South Dakota, we have reached a level of education funding insanity where government is suing itself for more money.
Meanwhile, study after study indicates the best way to boost academic performance is to provide a stable environment for children in a traditional home where parents are involved with their children.
The Heritage Foundation released a report on a number of these studies today which the education establishment--and parents--would do well to heed.
The Heritage Foundation examination of these studies found two important factors in determining academic success:
1. family structure, i.e., the number of parents living in the student's home and their relationships to the child, and
2. parents' involvement in their children's schoolwork.
It seems we can't just live our lives any way we want, and push our children off on someone else, and expect our children to do well. Imagine that!
The erosion of the family was examined--something we have seen as a result of no-fault divorce, promiscuity and lack of moral training:
In 1960, 88 percent of all children lived with two parents, compared to 68 percent in 2007. (See Chart 1.) In 1960, 5 percent of all children were born to unmarried mothers. That figure rose to 38.5 per?cent in 2006.
Among the more pointed academic findings:
- First-graders whose mothers were married when they were born are less likely to engage in disruptive behavior with peers and teachers than those whose mothers were single or cohabiting at the time of their birth.
- Children aged three to 12 who live in intact families have higher average math scores than peers whose mothers live in cohabiting relationships.
- Children aged seven to 10 who live in continuously intact families tend to score higher on reading tests than peers who have lived in other family structures.
- Children aged six to 11 who live in intact families tend to be more engaged in their schoolwork than peers in other family structures.
- Eighth-graders in two-parent families perform, on average, better on math and science tests than peers in single-parent or stepparent families.
- Middle school and high school students who experience a parental divorce tend to suffer declines in their grade point averages and are more likely to fail a course one year later compared to peers of married parents; the evidence suggests a causal link.
- Among middle school and high school students, the portion of childhood spent in a single-parent family is associated with declines in GPAs over time; and living in a single-mother family with a cohabiting partner is associated with a greater likelihood of suspension or expulsion from school at a later time.
Yes, we can have our 2-income families, our new cars, large houses and sexual autonomy...but it comes at a price. Unfortunately, it is our children who pay the brunt of the bill.
Maybe it's time for adults to be adults--a duty which involves putting our children ahead of our self actualization goals.
Otherwise, we can continue throwing more and more money at education, and paying higher and higher taxes, and getting the same lackluster results...while our children continue to suffer academically and emotionally.