Barack Obama promised to expand government spending on pre-kindergarten education to make it “universal,” a proposal certain to warm the hearts of middle Americans. After all, who doesn’t want to help our children get ahead? However, that prompts two questions — will it actually help, and could we take more effective and less costly action elsewhere? USA Today addressed the first question yesterday, and argued that the real danger to toddlers isn’t a lack of pre-K education; it’s broken families:
Children are most likely to succeed in school when pushed by parents who provide stability, help with schooling, and instill an education and work ethic. But for decades now, the American family has been breaking down.
Two-fifths of children born in the USA are born to unmarried mothers, an eightfold increase since 1960. Many succeed thanks to the heroic efforts of strong, motivated single parents and other relatives. But research shows that children of single parents suffer disproportionately high poverty rates, impaired development and low performance in school.