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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 29, 2010/ 19 Elul, 5770

Daunting divides in achievement and family life

By George Will



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Various figures denote vexing social problems. They include 10,000 (the number of new baby boomers eligible for Social Security and Medicare every day), 10.2 percent (what the unemployment rate would be if 1.2 million discouraged workers had not recently stopped looking for jobs), $9.9 trillion (the Government Accountability Office calculation of the gap between the expected revenue and outlays for state and local governments during the next 50 years), $76.4 trillion (the GAO's similar estimate of the federal government's 75-year fiscal shortfall).

Remedies for these problems can at least be imagined. But America's tragic number -- tragic because it is difficult to conceive remedial policies -- is 70 percent. This is the portion of African American children born to unmarried women. It may explain what puzzles Nathan Glazer.

Writing in the American Interest, Glazer, a sociology professor emeritus at Harvard, considers it a "paradox" that the election of Barack Obama "coincided with the almost complete disappearance from American public life of discussion of the black condition and what public policy might do to improve it." This, says Glazer, is the black condition:


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Employment prospects for young black men worsened even when the economy was robust. By the early 2000s, more than a third of all young black non-college men were under the supervision of the corrections system. More than 60 percent of black high school dropouts born since the mid-1960s go to prison. Mass incarceration blights the prospects of black women seeking husbands. So does another trend noted by sociologist William Julius Wilson: "In 2003-2004, for every 100 bachelor's degrees conferred on black men, 200 were conferred on black women."

Because changes in laws and mores have lowered barriers, the black middle class has been able to leave inner cities, which have become, Glazer says, "concentrations of the poor, the poorly educated, the unemployed and unemployable." High out-of-wedlock birthrates mean a constantly renewed cohort of adolescent males without male parenting, which means disorderly neighborhoods and schools. Glazer thinks it is possible that for some young black men, "acting white" -- trying to excel in school -- is considered "a betrayal of their group culture." This severely limits opportunities in an increasingly service-based economy where working with people matters more than working with things in manufacturing.

Now, from the Educational Testing Service, comes a report about "The Black-White Achievement Gap: When Progress Stopped," written by Paul E. Barton and Richard J. Coley. It examines the "startling" fact that most of the progress in closing the gap in reading and mathematics occurred in the 1970s and '80s. This means "progress generally halted for those born around the mid-1960s, a time when landmark legislative victories heralded an end to racial discrimination."

Only 35 percent of black children live with two parents, which partly explains why, while only 24 percent of white eighth-graders watch four or more hours of television on an average day, 59 percent of their black peers do. (Privileged children waste their time on new social media and other very mixed blessings of computers and fancy phones.) Black children also are disproportionately handicapped by this class-based disparity: By age 4, the average child in a professional family hears about 20 million more words than the average child in a working-class family and about 35 million more than the average child in a welfare family -- a child often alone with a mother who is a high school dropout.

After surveying much research concerning many possible explanations of why progress stopped, particularly in neighborhoods characterized by a "concentration of deprivation," the ETS report says: "It is very hard to imagine progress resuming in reducing the education attainment and achievement gap without turning these family trends around -- i.e., increasing marriage rates, and getting fathers back into the business of nurturing children." And: "It is similarly difficult to envision direct policy levers" to effect that.

So, two final numbers: Two decades, five factors. Two decades have passed since Barton wrote "America's Smallest School: The Family." He has estimated that about 90 percent of the difference in schools' proficiencies can be explained by five factors: the number of days students are absent from school, the number of hours students spend watching television, the number of pages read for homework, the quantity and quality of reading material in the students' homes -- and, much the most important, the presence of two parents in the home. Public policies can have little purchase on these five, and least of all on the fifth.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

George Will's latest book is "With a Happy Eye but: America and the World, 1997-2002" to purchase a copy, click here. Comment on this column by clicking here.

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