As income declines, so does school achievement
BY MICHAEL OVERALL World Staff Writer
Monday, October 22, 2012
10/22/12 at 6:27 AM
Because I Said So is a blog written by six parents and one grandparent. They explore the ins and outs of parenting every day.
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In Highland Park, Mich. - where Chrysler used to be headquartered, but now you can buy a house for the price of a minivan - the ACLU is suing the school district.
Under Michigan law, schools are supposed to give "special assistance" to students who can't read at grade-level. But in Highland Park, that's the majority of kids - 65 percent of fourth-graders and 75 percent of seventh-graders.
How can you give "special" help to practically everybody?
Part of metropolitan Detroit, Highland Park has one of the highest poverty rates in the country, and one of the most dismal school systems. But the question is the same everywhere: Can schools fix a problem that, frankly, starts at home?
Beginning in preschool, children in poverty have smaller vocabularies, shorter attention spans and less organizational skill than middle-class students. And they never quite catch up, according to a recent New York Times article written by Laura D'Andrea Tyson, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Children from single-parent households are three times more likely to live in poverty, Tyson reports.
Poverty, in fact, affects nearly half of all children who are being raised by single mothers - and an astounding 57 percent of all kids under age 6 with no father at home.
"More than half of all births in the United States now occur out of marriage," Tyson writes. "That's one reason that family incomes have been declining for more than 50 percent of all children during the last 40 years."
The statistics suggest that the most effective kind of education reform is called a "wedding."
In Highland Park, single-mother families outnumber married parents by 2 to 1, according to Census data.
And it makes you wonder if the ACLU is suing the wrong people.
What about those missing dads?
Michael Overall 918-581-8383