The NYPost has an article about the rising pregnancy rate of out of wed-lock couples, mainly through teen pregnancy.
An old business adage holds that when you can’t solve a problem, make it bigger and look for a comprehensive fix. Gov. Cuomo followed that advice with his new commission on education.
Facing a deadlock on several fronts — cost, teacher quality, student performance — Cuomo tossed them into a pot with other issues and handed the stew to the respected Dick Parsons. The retired Citibank chairman and all-around Mr. Fixit will head the panel of union and business leaders, charter advocates, philanthropists and state officials.
Cuomo wants a soup-to-nuts evaluation and an “action plan” he can present to the Legislature. “Anything and everything” is on the table, he said.
Only it’s not. The disaster of out-of-wedlock births is the most important missing piece.
In theory, family structure has nothing to do with education. In reality, it is often the whole ballgame, especially during the early years that set the framework for a life’s education.
It is no coincidence that New York state, like America, is facing a family crisis and an educational crisis at the same time. While divorce and other issues matter, Public Enemy No. 1 is out-of-wedlock births.
Both the nation and the Empire State report that over 40 percent of all live births are to single mothers. In 2010, the state Health Department found that 102,000 New York children were born to single mothers, out of 243,000 births.
The problem is more acute in the five boroughs. Of 120,000 births, over 54,000 were born to single mothers — a rate of 45 percent.
Single mothers accounted for 70 percent of births in The Bronx, double the rate in Manhattan. National patterns for different racial and ethnic groups are pronounced, with 73 percent of black children born to unmarried mothers in 2009. The state doesn’t publish that information, but it should.
One recent, private study of third- and fourth-graders found that black and Hispanic children were chronically absent at far higher rates than Asians and whites. That puts those kids at a huge disadvantage.
The problem isn’t new, but it is getting worse. Statewide, the number of out-of-wedlock births dipped in the late ’90s, but rose sharply again a decade ago and stayed there, even as overall births have declined slightly. In the state, there are now about 11,000 more single-parent births each year than there were a decade ago.
In the last decade, the city has had more than 550,000 out-of-wedlock births, about 80,000 of them to teenage single mothers.
The impact on children of family breakdown is a secret only to those who don’t want to know about it, or are afraid to ask out of political correctness. Yet many teachers and the growing ranks of scholars studying families and student achievement cite a link. Charter advocates often attribute their success to giving students a structure they don’t get at home.
One researcher, Susan L. Brown of Bowling Green State University, recently told The New York Times that her review of academic studies showed that children born to married couples, on average, “experience better education, social, cognitive and behavioral outcomes.”
Put another way, the best way to fix schools would be to allow children to be born only to married couples.
Of course, that’s not possible, but the issues Brown cites go to the heart of everything Cuomo is concerned about. Whether it’s test scores, graduation rates, attendance or suspensions, intact families usually make a difference in childhood development.
This is not to argue that progress can’t be made on core issues until there is a boom in two-parent families. By all means, Parsons should press ahead on the fronts Cuomo outlined.
But he should also lead the panel in an honest discussion about out-of-wedlock births. After all, ignoring the facts certainly hasn’t helped. Acknowledging them could finally open the door to a greater understanding of why so many kids are falling behind.
4 years for excessive celebration
Spike the football, dance in the end zone, taunt opponents, trash-talk and celebrate — they draw penalties, as every high-school athlete knows. It’s a lesson Barack Obama never learned.
Proving he has no scruples or shame, the unpresidential president flew to Afghanistan to celebrate the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden with a campaign speech. He went to dance on the terrorist’s grave, though to do it literally would have required him to walk on water. He could, you know.
The Man from I has turned the best moment of his presidency into a political prop and a grating reminder of his insufferable egoism. If you just landed from Mars, you’d think he flew the copters into Pakistan, slid down the rope, stormed the fiend’s house and fired the kill shot — all by himself.
Staffers in his 2008 campaign called him “Black Jesus,” and the messianic idea apparently went to his head and stuck there. Michelle Obama caught a bad case, too, telling a Tennessee audience, “This president has brought us out of the dark and into the light.”
The odd thing is that Obama doesn’t need to mention that bin Laden met his end on his watch. We knew it, and gave him credit.
But that’s not enough for him. Something in his character compels him to blast his own horn, and push the idea that Mitt Romney would have blocked the raid. The need to be seen as unique overwhelms all else.
The upshot is the sickening feeling that our nation is led by a sad little man, a braggart concealing deep insecurity and hostility. It’s not pretty, but he is who he is.
The plot sickens
Can’t wait to see how The Associated Press spins the terror conviction in Brooklyn federal court yesterday. A Queens man and his friends went to Pakistan to join al Qaeda, and came home to commit jihad by blowing up the subways. It took the jury only a few hours to convict such a nice religious boy, which is probably what the AP believes he was before the evil NYPD spy crews turned him into a raging Islamist. Sweet.
Cuba myths ‘flee’-bitten
Apologists for Fidel Castro are swallowing another dose of reality about life in Cuba. Two actors coming to New York to promote their film about trying to escape Castro defected in Miami. They’re now talking about life on an island where there have been no elections for more than 50 years.
“Actors and dancers are viewed as something to glorify the revolution,” their lawyer said. “They don’t want to be in a system where their lives and their choices are not their own.”
Bam’s poor Marx
The Obama campaign’s new slogan, “Forward,” has a “long and rich association with European Marxism,” The Washington Times reports.
Well, isn’t that why they picked it?