ON-Lion Letter

"Fifty years ago the U.S. Department of Labor issued a report, titled 'The Negro Family:  The Case for National Action,' that identified a surprising rate of growth in the percentage of African American children born into single-parent families," begins the editor's note from Paul E. Peterson in the Spring 2015 special issue of Education Next.  "The report was written at the instigation of an assistant secretary for labor, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who became a close adviser to both President Lyndon Johnson and President Richard Nixon and eventually one of the 20th century's most distinguished members of the U.S. Senate.  At the time the report was released, it was roundly condemned for having constructed racial stereotypes and misidentified 'pathologies' that didn't exist.

"Revisiting this topic in 2015, the many contributors to this issue of Education Next, writing from a broad range of perspectives, reveal that single parenthood is no longer limited to one racial group but constitutes a problem, with serious consequences for children, that still needs to be addressed," Peterson continues.

The issue contains articles on how schools can address America's marriage crisis, on one-parent students leaving school earlier, on what else happens to the children of unmarried mothers, on black men and the struggle for work, and on the international context of the single-parent family, among other things.  One piece, "Family Breakdown and Poverty," was co-authored by two Bradley Prize recipients, Robert P. George and Yuval Levin.

In March, Education Next hosted a conference on the issue in Washington, D.C.  U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, delivered a keynote address.  Alexander chaired The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation's National Commission on Philanthropy and Civic Renewal in 1996-97.

His keynote address was followed by panel discussions on the causes and consequences of single-parent families and strategies to strengthen families and improve educational outcomes.  Bradley Prize recipients George F. Will and Robert L. Woodson, Sr., participated in the panel discussions.

The conference is viewable online.

Milwaukee's Bradley Foundation supports Education Next.

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