In my last epistle, I focused on the news that today 40% of the breadwinners in families are women. You can argue about whether or not this is a sign of social progress, but there is no disputing the dangers behind what is clearly another very troubling demographic trend: today in the USA 40% of children are born into single parent homes, and for women under 30, that figure jumps to a beyond alarming rate of 50%.
I don’t want to pile on single parents. They are often caught up in circumstances beyond their control and act heroically to care for their children. These people deserve our support and admiration.
But we also can’t ignore what this troubling trend means for these children, for their schools, and for society at large because we know the disturbing social maladies, starting with poverty and poor school performance, that too often correlate with single parent households.
There are no easy answers to any of this, but schools will need to ready themselves to assume an even greater role in what clinicians dryly refer to as “student socialization.” (In other words, schools will need to help “raise” as well as instruct students.) In the future school missions will extend far beyond academics. Because if Fred MacMurray isn’t at home, Ernie and Chip will need him (or her) to be there with us at school.