The average American knows we have some problems with children succeeding in school. But why? We keep throwing money at the problem but don't deal with the root issues. If we really want to have a country where every kid has a chance, we have to do something differently.
George Will wrote an article published today, "For black children, daunting divides in achievement and family life". The outlook for children of African-American mothers start life with challenging odds.
Will explains that "Only 35 percent of black children live with two parents, which partly explains why, while only 24 percent of white eighth-graders watch four or more hours of television on an average day, 59 percent of their black peers do."
When looking for the root issues, the Educational Testing Service, produced a report about "The Black-White Achievement Gap: When Progress Stopped," written by Paul E. Barton and Richard J. Coley.
Will quotes from their report, "So, two final numbers: Two decades, five factors. Two decades have passed since Barton wrote 'America's Smallest School: The Family.' He has estimated that about 90 percent of the difference in schools' proficiencies can be explained by five factors: the number of days students are absent from school, the number of hours students spend watching television, the number of pages read for homework, the quantity and quality of reading material in the students' homes -- and, much the most important, the presence of two parents in the home. Public policies can have little purchase on these five, and least of all on the fifth."
Having parents who are married and stay married make a world of difference to kids. We will never be able to change their opportunity for achievement until we admit that marriage matters to our culture and our children. When our culture endorses marriage as an important component for a child's life, we will continue to throw unproductive money at a tragic problem.
Many marriage strengthening programs are available. Check these websites for options:
Marriage Network Oklahoma
Oklahoma Marriage Initiative
Association of Marriage and Family Ministry