Historically, how have the public school teachers’ union bosses, their minions in city halls and state departments of education, as well as in the media respond to that fact?
- “Ho hum. Pass the salt. This too shall pass.”
- “That’s how it just is. The times, they are a changin.”
- “What’s newsworthy about that?”
- “Wanna set up a tee time?”
A study of student achievement differences across the 28 OECD nations discovered that, on average, 13.7% of the 15-year-old students in those nations lived in single-parent families. In the United States, the figure was 20.7%, roughly matching Hungary, where 20.8%. With single-parent homes tending to have fewer resources—including parental time—to devote to their children, what’s the impact upon those students’ academic achievement?
According to the study:
- Children of single-parent families score lower than students in two-parent families, on average scoring 18% worse.
- In the United States, the difference the average achievement difference in math between children of single- and two- parent families is 26.6%, the rough equivalent of 1 grade level. (And that’s to say nothing about all of those studies which have found that children of U.S. single parents face greater emotional distress and, thus, have lower overall educational attainment.)
- Interestingly, Mexican children didn’t perform differently based on family structure. The difference for Portuguese children wasn’t statistically significant. Otherwise, all achievement differences based on family structure in all of the other OECD nations were statistically significant, meaning that the findings about U.S. children are not due to chance alone.
- Adjusting the data for student background to determine whether socioeconomic background, parent education levels, immigration status, or family language could be impacting achievement, the disparity between single- and two- parent children's scores decreased 50%. In the United States, the difference dropped even more from 27% to 10%, identifying socioeconomic background as the single, most significant factor explaining the achievement gap.
- Children of single-parent families in the United States are likely to exhibit lower achievement scores on standardized tests.
- Children of socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds are likely to exhibit lower achievement scores on standardized tests.
- Children of single-parent families that are socioeconomically disadvantaged are most likely to exhibit lower achievement scores on standardized tests.
Now, consider where some of the worst public schools in the United States are located: Urban socioeconomically disadvantaged locales where the nuclear family has been under assault for the past 5+ decades.
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist to connect the dots.
- Forget state re-accreditation site visits by so-called “education experts.” What have they done to improve these schools over the past 5+ decades?
- Forget teacher education program and state certification. How has all of that training improved educational outcomes for the students in these schools over the past 5+ decades?
- Forget pouring more money into those schools. How has doing so for the past 5+ decades improved student achievement?
- Forget the state education apparatus. How has that structure meaningfully improved education for those disadvantaged students for the past 5+ decades?
Give those children vouchers or education savings accounts to attend a school of choice, including charter, single-sex, and special purpose schools for students with special needs. Let those schools compete for enrollment. And, require all of those schools to produce demonstrable results on standardized achievement tests if they are to be eligible to bank vouchers. In short, turn those locales into educational enterprise zones and free up the creative, entrepreurial spirit on those part of those who really care about those students to provide for their educational needs.
The trouble is that the public school teachers’ union bosses, their minions in city halls and state departments of education, as well as in the media across the United States steadfastly refuse to connect the dots. Why? That would cost jobs and, thus, union dues. Then, how would those union bosses be able to afford their lavish suburban lifestyles and country club dues?
The data are there and have been there for a very long time. It’s time to ask: Who do those public school teachers’ union bosses, their minions in city halls and state departments of education, as well as in the media really care about? Themselves or those children? Don’t they deserve better than the “dregs falling from the table” they’re mandated by the states to survive on?
This is a matter of social justice, isn’t it?
Let the discussion begin…
To read the study, click on the following link:
“Single-Parent Families and Student Achievement: An International Perspective.”