By Leslee Kulba- Like deity and scripture, a reference to families in a public setting is now considered churlish and offensive. At first, it hurt the feelings of children with only one parent or two daddies.
Now, it is considered synonymous with a drunk daddy and uncle who beat and otherwise abuse the children before running off with a teenager, and a mom who hasn’t been able to knock her opioid habit sense.
While happy, loving families are still the norm, they don’t hire PR agents. Unlike “POTUS Avoids War,” newspapers won’t print “Mom Didn’t OD” or “Priest Didn’t Abuse Child.” It’s the anomalies that get the attention, that provide provocative, dysfunctional subject matter for Broadway plays, country songs, and sitcoms. Mass communications firms maximize profit by pushing salacious content to occupy a growing market share of the human mind.
Yet, failure in the home now spills over into school systems. A decade ago, local school administrators requested more funding to help with children who arrived in kindergarten not even knowing which end of a book was up. Now, schools are filled with trauma, trauma, trauma. Each year, citizens are reminded that were it not for subsidized breakfast and lunch and gifts from local food kitchens, half the kids in Buncombe County would probably never eat.
With school shootings guaranteed top slots in the world of headlines, no self-respecting school would dare not demand funds for school resource officers. Schools also need more nurses and psychologists. This year, Buncombe County Schools requested another $567,000 to hire seven additional behavioral support specialists for what Superintendent Tony Baldwin said was “the number-one concern” of all his principals.
Today’s teachers can’t just impart lessons on subject matter. They must protect themselves from being sued for not detecting and reporting signs of abuse. They must ensure all the diagnoses in their room are getting their medication on-time and encourage students experiencing anxiety and anger to meet with a therapist during school hours to develop a plan for wraparound services.
They can also refer students who are pregnant or homeless to service providers. Thanks to No Child Left Behind, teachers are further responsible for teaching non-English speakers, who separately take courses with the county’s 32 English as a Second Language instructors.
Anymore, teachers say it is impossible for a single teacher to manage a classroom in the early grades. They need assistants and will march on Raleigh if funding for them is threatened. Contradictorily, the same people who wouldn’t dream of abandoning teachers to going it alone in the classroom deem single parenthood the hip and happening thing. Currently, close to one-third of American children live with only one parent.
A somewhat dated study by Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur analyzed data on 25,000 children of different races and income levels growing up in different family structures. Prior studies had already correlated single-parent households with poor school attendance, lower grade point averages, higher dropout rates, more teen pregnancy, greater unemployment rates, and worse college performance. While arguing single parenthood was more a function of technological advances eliminating household labor and society removing taboos on high-risk behaviors, the authors found the worst outcomes were associated with homes disrupted by the departure, but not the death, of a parent.
It is not human to stand idly by and watch children fall into lives of poverty. So, the federal government created a number of welfare programs to help single mothers. Unfortunately, politicians soon discovered they could win support for any bill by mentioning children in its title. It was as easy as winning over single-issue voters with a pro-life-and-anything-goes platform. This led to making welfare the proverbial hammock instead of a safety net, as young women realized they could have better food and housing if they would only get pregnant out of wedlock.
The tide has since reversed, with government requiring moms to work for their welfare, which has the “unintended consequences” of reducing the amount of time children spend with their biological mothers while adding daycare expenses to the mothers’ costs of living. A worse scenario would be if, instead of giving women taxpayer dollars, the federal government were to require fathers to be more responsible – many women have very good health and safety reasons for fleeing.
There is still, however, room for improvement in removing disincentives for marriage in the tax structure. So, of course the county commissioners wanted to spend $3,600,000 for early childhood education (ECE). It is as if to say the same person who cannot manage a household as a parent can, as a government employee, rear children properly in a public-school classroom.
To pay for facilities and programming, taxes will increase, marginalizing some taxpayers into entering the workforce, which will, in turn, require them to enroll their children in ECE, growing demand for ECE …