The Home Front

Politics, culture, and American life — from the family perspective.

Why You Might Want to Check School Assignments


Alec Torres reported a couple days ago on a sixth-grade class in Arkansas that had been instructed to rewrite the “outdated” Bill of Rights. Now comes this story out of Illinois about a high school sophomore class that was assigned to choose which of ten people were “worthy” of  kidney dialysis when a hospital only had six machines.

“That means four people are not going to live,” the assignment states. “You must decide from the information below which six will survive.”

According to the worksheet [the reporter looked at], the student opted to spare the doctor, lawyer, housewife, teacher, cop and Lutheran minister. The others weren’t so lucky.

Among those unceremoniously dispatched to the hereafter were an ex-convict, a prostitute, college student and a disabled person.

Sarah Palin and other conservatives were taken aback and complained that such an excersice would desensitize kids about the idea of “death panels.” The pricipal responded that that was not the case.

He said the purpose of the lesson was to teach students about social values and how people in our society unfortunately create biases based off of professions, race and gender.

“The teacher’s goal is to educate students on the fact that these social value biases exist, and that hopefully students will see things from a different perspective after the activity is completed,” he said.

But as the author of this story asks, wasn’t there a better way to examine bias in our society? (Put aside that it is a false choice – patients do not need to be on dialysis 24 hours a day, so why couldn’t they treat all ten patients?) Having a 15-year-old sit as judge and essentially executioner seems a bit much. In this day and age when human life has been devalued so much, why engage in such serious conversations as if they are “just another assignment”?

At Odds with School ‘Health Programs’


The first lady is taking credit for a drop in kids’ obesity rates, though she takes a lot of criticism for her efforts. But she isn’t the only one whose attempts to fight obesity in the young are controversial. A case in point is this story about ”fat letters” sent out to parents in Naples, Fla. Their children were determined to have high BMI scores from screenings administered by the school. 

“To give a kid a letter telling them the rest of their life they may be overweight or be obese because of a measurement you took one day, it’s just not fair,” said Kristen Grasso [a mom who received one of the letters].

Eating disorder experts, such as Claire Mysko, worry the screenings do more harm than good. “I would like to see BMI testing in schools banned,” Mysko said. “For those who are already insecure about their weight, these tests can potentially trigger an eating disorder.”

A panel of girls . . . said they dread the screenings. 

“I hate them,” replied student Zuzu Park-Stettner.

“It really doesn’t do much for people except for make them more insecure about themselves,” said student Carmen Kunkel.

Apparently such programs have been adopted in 19 states, even though the use of the BMI index to determine obesity has been questioned (especially in athletes and muscular children). Might be time to have a talk about with my kids about the health programs at their schools, and how they feel about them.






Are Your Kids Up on Their Current Events?


I came across a piece by Laura Grace Weldon, author of Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything, about helping your kid become more news savvy on There are many good ideas, but you may want to be a little selective. For example, I don’t think I’ll be letting my teens watch The Daily Show or The Colbert Report anytime soon. And a link to this fringe site may have been offered purely for showing kids just how far out there some sources can get.

That said, there are some good ideas. One key point is to be a model of civility.

When people who disagree can engage in conversations with respect and integrity, they’re on the way to creating solutions. This is true in backyard squabbles, regional disputes, and diplomatic negotiations. A key is finding common ground. That happens after every person involved has access to the same information and feels that their input is understood. This is a critical skill to practice. Make it a part of your daily life for smaller issues so you can more easily use it when harder issues arise.

Practical ideas include comparing how different news shows report stories, and subscribing to kid-friendly magazines that include news stories. Another is to teach your child the different kinds of logical fallacies. The simplest suggestion is putting a world map up on a wall; the most involved is hosting an international student.

Read more suggestions, with a discerning eye, here

On the Education Front


The Wall Street Journal takes a look at the success of the school-choice program in New Orleans.

And despite what the DOJ thinks, the NOLA program is promoting racial integration.

The decision upholding the Arizona school-choice program is a great response to those who claim such programs promote religion.

Schools with strong athletic programs have higher test scores and graduation rates.

No surprise: The L.A. high school program that gave all students an iPad is not working out as intended

The CEO of Upstart had an editorial in the Wall Street Journal about an innovative way to bring down college tuition.

And on a lighter note: A Connecticut school bans the phrase “hump day.”

Tackling the Marriage Crisis Would Help the Income-Inequality Problem


In The Atlantic this week there was a piece that pointed out that income inequality shouldn’t be blamed only on tangible changes in the workplace, such as automation replacing middle-wage workers. A sincere effort to stem the gap between those at the top and bottom of the income scale would involve addressing the marriage crisis in our nation.

Marriage used to be a pairing of opposites: Men would work for pay and women would work at home. But in the second half of the 20th century, women flooded the labor force, raising their participation rate from 32 percent, in 1950, to nearly 60 percent in the last decade. As women closed the education gap, the very nature of marriage has changed. It has slowly become an arrangement pairing similarly rich and educated people. Ambitious workaholics used to seek partners who were happy to take care of the house. Today, they’re more likely to seek another ambitious workaholic.

So, any rise in family incomes is more often than not because mom has entered the workforce, too. Raising children seems to have become a two-income undertaking. So where does that leave single parents? The news is not good.

Single moms or single dads, once rare, now lead 26 percent of all families, twice their share in 1950. . . . Median incomes among families led by single dads and single moms have flat-lined or worse in the last few decades, falling behind those of married couples, whether or not the wife is working.

Single moms and single dads are more likely to be poor, not only because they don’t have help in the household, but also because they didn’t have much money to begin with.

In a strange twist, marriage has recently become a capstone for the privileged class. The decline of marriage, to the extent that we’re seeing it, is happening almost exclusively among the poor. The lowest-earning men and women (i.e.: the least-educated men and women) have seen the steepest declines in marriage rates.

And the majority of single-parent households are found among minorities. Though the reasons are still up for debate, the results are not. 

The decline in marriage rates among poorer men and women robs parents of supplemental income, of work-life balance, and of time to prepare a child for school. Single-parenthood and inter-generational poverty feed each other. The marriage gap and the income gap amplify one another.

The marriage inequality crisis creates a virtuous cycle at the top and a vicious one at the bottom. It pushes educated and non-educated Americans into entirely different worlds.

Read the full story here.






More Play


How often do you read an article and then have the author’s assertions prove to be correct the very next day? “Rarely, if ever,” would have been my answer before I saw evolutionary psychologist Peter Gray’s piece “The Play Deficit.”

Gray explains that kids today are having a hard time successfully growing into adulthood because they are overprotected, over-pressured, and are not given enough time for free play. It is a grim assessment that caused me — the mother of four young children — a lot of anxiety. But the very next day after reading the article I found that something Gray described actually happened among my kids. It was a revelation.

Gray writes about the nature and virtues of play among children of different ages:

The reason why play is such a powerful way to impart social skills is that it is voluntary. Players are always free to quit, and if they are unhappy they will quit. Every player knows that, and so the goal, for every player who wants to keep the game going, is to satisfy his or her own needs and desires while also satisfying those of the other players, so they don’t quit….

[W]atch an age-mixed group of children playing a ‘pickup’ game of baseball… directed by the players themselves. … They have to co-operate not just with the players on their team, but also with those on the other team, and they have to be sensitive to the needs and abilities of all the players. Big Billy might be the best pitcher, but if others want a turn at pitching he’d better let them have it, so they don’t quit. And when he pitches to tiny Timmy, who is just learning the game, he’d better toss the ball gently, right toward Timmy’s bat, or even his own teammates will call him mean. When he pitches to walloping Wally, however, he’d better throw his best stuff, because Wally would feel insulted by anything less. In the pickup game, keeping the game going and fun for everyone is far more important than winning. 

On a walk with my own children a day later, I saw exactly what Gray means about keeping the game going. My five-year-old and three-year-old were racing each other down the sidewalk with the kindergartener smoking the toddler. Losing made the toddler give up racing and start crying that she didn’t want to play anymore. The five-year-old’s response was to do whatever she had to to keep her little sister playing. She faked an injury, grasping her knee and fake crying that she was hurt and couldn’t run anymore. (Her eye-roll let me, and her older sister, know that she was acting.) The three-year-old jumped at the opportunity and shot forward. When the little one had just passed her older sister, my “injured” daughter made a miraculous recovery and started chasing her younger sister down the block, catching up, and overtaking her almost immediately. This caused the little one to give up again and the whole game of racing, stopping, injury, recovery, and racing was replayed over and over again.

Gray’s analysis about the importance of mixed-aged play came to life before my eyes. Perhaps we don’t have to rush our children into adult-organized, age-segregated after-school activities. His larger point about the need to break down traditional school structures and to stop focusing on test scores also deserves attention, especially when he correctly points out the holes in the current dogma – Gray is talking to you, President Obama — about how Chinese and other Asian students do so much better than American kids on standardized tests. Did you know that those societies are suffering from the limitations of their supposed success?

— Abby W. Schachter authors the blog, about the intersection of parenting and government policy.

Ann Romney’s New Cookbook: Family, Fun, and ‘Fluff’


In a USA Today interview with Susan Page, Ann Romney talks about her new cookbook, The Romney Family Table: Sharing Home-Cooked Recipes and Favorite Traditions (Shadow Mountain). The beautiful 224-page book features stories from the Romney family, gorgeous photos, and apparently a description of a Romney food group called “fluff.”  

What kind of recipes does Ann include?  She kept it simple, and shared with us some family favorites: Mimi’s Buttermilk Pancakes, Chicken Pot Pie, Welsh Skillet Cakes, and Mitt’s Meat Loaf Cakes.

Of course, it’s more than a cookbook, it’s a glimpse inside their very strong family. The interview has some wonderful tidbits, like the fact that she made pancakes for the Secret Service the day after the 2012 election. She also discusses whether another campaign is in the family’s future and explains why it became hard to count their grandchildren recently.  


Mitt Romney’s Son Adopts a Child and the Left Erupts with Venom


Last week, I wrote about a strange phenomenon we experienced firsthand after adopting our daughter from Ethiopia: Liberals think adoption is great, unless white, Christian, Republicans are the ones doing it. It was odd and sad to have strangers questioning and criticizing our family composition. The same crowd who emphasizes that there are all kinds of families — gay, lesbian, straight, divorced — suddenly got the vapors when they saw my black child on my hip at a GOP convention.

Well, as if on cue . . . check out the liberal Twitter reaction to Mitt and Ann Romney’s announcement last week that their son Ben and his wife Andelyne recently adopted.

Tags: Mitt Romney , adoption , race

Kids Need to Be Taught the Skill of Paying Attention


We all know — or like me, may have — a child who struggles with paying attention. A Slate article by psychology professor Barry Schwarz is not about clinical diagnoses. It’s about a generation that is growing up with under-five-minute videos and SNL skits, 140-character tweets, and cable-news sound bites. How we need to teach them how to pay attention if they are to truly get ahead in life. 

Again and again, we are told in this information-overloaded digital age, complex and subtle arguments just won’t hold the reader’s or viewer’s attention. If you can’t keep it simple and punchy, you’ll lose your audience. What’s the point of having a New York Times article about the U.S. stance toward the Syria that continues on an inside page if nobody is going to turn to the inside page? Even talking about “inside pages” is anachronistic, since more and more people get their news online, with articles that are “up-to-the-minute” but frustrating in their brevity.

By catering to diminished attention, we are making a colossal and unconscionable mistake. The world is a complex and subtle place, and efforts to understand it and improve it must match its complexity and subtlety. We are treating as unalterable a characteristic that can be changed. Yes, there is no point in publishing a long article if no one will read it to the end. The question is, what does it take to get people to read things to the end?

Schwarz points out that instead of teaching children how to flex their “attention muscle” we are catering to their short attention spans — and not doing them any favors in our well-meaning efforts. Kids who are being raised on concise recaps of topics will never find any reason to dig deeper.

Before long, people stop realizing that they have an intellectual deficiency that needs correction. Oversimplified becomes the only game in town, at which point, it stops being “over” simplified. If people are fed a steady diet of the oversimple, it can’t help but affect the way they think about things. Before we know it, the complexity and subtlety of the world we inhabit will be invisible to us when we try to make sense of what is going on around us.

Even the ingenious TED talks should be reexamined, Schwarz feels, since their 18-minute length is now considered an “extensive” look at any given complex idea. While commercial enterprises may be a lost cause, Schwarz thinks that our education system should teach the skill of paying attention, and cites the example of the KIPP schools in addressing the short spans of their students. 

Read the entire piece here.

The Politics of Adoption


After my husband and I adopted our daughter Naomi, we were thrust into the world of “adoption politics.”

I’d figured adoption was universally considered to be wonderful, like chocolate cake, rainbows, or a heavy snowfall that keeps everyone home from work and school. Who could be against helping orphans?

Apparently, this isn’t quite the case.  For liberals, adoption is just great . . . unless white conservative Christians are doing it.

Tags: adoption , Politics , race

H.S. Football Coach Suspends Entire Team to Teach Lesson


Another cyberbullying incident. But this time — even though the culprits were not specifically caught — a thoughtful coaching staff was able to fight back and teach a lesson that brought a team back together.

Matt Labrum believes football helps create great men.

And it is that belief and his passion for the game that led the Union High School head football coach and his staff to suspend all 80 players from the team because of off-field problems ranging from cyberbullying to skipping classes.

“We felt like everything was going in a direction that we didn’t want our young men going,” said Labrum, an alumnus of the program he’s coached for the past two years. “We felt like we needed to make a stand.”

So the coach and his staff gathered the team together after Friday night’s loss to Judge Memorial Catholic High School and told them he was concerned about some of the players’ actions and behavior off the field. He then instructed them all to turn in their jerseys and their equipment. There would be no football until they earned the privilege to play.

The story recounts the players’ reactions and their parents’ as each young man reexamined what it meant to deserve the right to play on that team. Read about the multiple steps each player had to take to earn back their spot and the results of the coaches’ drastic move here


When a Man Loves a Pregnant Woman


I forgot to check out Verily, a relatively new women’s magazine which has been highly recommended by Kathryn Jean Lopez. Thankfully a tweet brought a touching tribute to my attention (and now I’m following Verily so I will have the inside scoop on future features).

Tim Carney has written a short-but-sweet love letter, in essence, to his wife. He relates how witnessing her carry and give birth to his four children has made him fall even more in love with her.

Women may worry about how pregnancy and childbirth will affect their bodies and their husband’s view of their bodies. In my experience, it can help a man love his wife’s whole person – body and soul.

It’s natural for women to want unconditional love—you know, that patient, kind, not-selfish love you hear about at weddings. We know our bodies will age and become less beautiful in time; I’ve vowed to love my wife just the same. But I don’t mean I’ll love her soul despite her body—I mean I unconditionally love them both as essential parts of her.

He goes on to tell the tale of how watching his wife go through the trials of pregnancy and childbirth cemented his devotion. Read the whole piece here — and then have your spouse read it, too!

Instilling Religious Faith in Our Children


A new interview with Vern Bergtson, a scholar who has studied the impact of faith in families for 35 years, was published in Christianity Today this week. He has released a new book, Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down across Generations that examines the ways parents attempt to instill religious faith in their children in light of today’s individualistic society. He has found that the influence of parents is about the same as it was thirty five years ago.

Despite the many societal changes that have lurched us towards greater individualism and away from a more collective family focus, over half of young adult children are following in their parents’ footsteps, in that they are affiliated with the parents’ religious tradition. (To a lesser extent, their religious practices and beliefs also align with those of their parents). This number is the same now as it was in the 1970s. In today’s culture, one that often disparages family continuity and assumes that families are not doing a good job, our research reflects a basic resiliency in American families over generations. Good news for the church.

The number of people who followed in the footsteps of parents who had no faith also stayed about the same. Bergtson suggests that in order to have children retain the same faith, parents need to provide some flexibility and tolerance of deviations.

. . . W]e found that allowing children religious choice can encourage religious continuity. A “hard-nosed” approach that says, “This is our faith, you will follow it, you will practice it, and you are prohibited to experiment with any other faith,” tends to be less successful. A better approach says, “We want your faith to be your own, we believe we have found the faith that is meaningful to us and our family, but we don’t want to impose it on you. Feel free to experiment.” In evangelical families, the latter soft-minded approach by the parents was much more successful than prohibitions on straying or experimenting.

The author also relates the importance that the faith of grandparents can have, as well as how churches need to be more welcoming to “prodigals.” Read more here.

‘Preschool for All’ Not Beneficial, but Head Start Is


Really it is, but I’ll get to that.

If you haven’t heard about the president’s “Preschool for All” plan, chances are you will soon hear a lot about it. The program will most likely be a core element of campaign speeches next year since it sounds like a good idea — the DNC and independent voters should eat it up. Why shouldn’t the middle class have their children’s pre-K costs covered?

Well, how about because it will not make enough of an impact to be a good use of taxpayer funds?

What is the logic behind pre-K for all? Why the “for all?” Why would a publicly-funded preschool program have to be universal as President Obama and New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio advocate? It sure would be a lot more expensive that way. For instance, this 2012 University of Texas study found that “preschools may reduce inequalities in early academic achievement by providing children from disadvantaged families with higher-quality learning environments than they would otherwise receive.”

But “advantaged” families — not so much. As a Slate article by Melinda Wenner Moyer on the UT study succinctly put it: “If you are reading this article, your kid probably doesn’t need preschool.” Indeed, claims of high return on investment from pre-K spending by economist and Nobel laureate James Heckman refer to expensive, narrowly targeted programs aimed at very poor families.

The end result seems to be that middle-class families simply switch their children from private to public preschools with no effect on test scores.  About the same number of children are enrolled in preschool, but less is spent on child care. (And yes, it’s one more feather in the cap of public educators.)

But what about continuing to provide programs for low-income kids? We’ve all heard that Head Start doesn’t really make a difference, right? Well . . .

If you take a bath on Friday, and get dirty on Saturday, this means the bath was ineffective. The preceding, clearly flawed, logic sums up the misguided hysteria over an [October 2012] HHS report showing that the positive effects of Head Start fade out by third grade. The early childhood field has grappled with the “fade-out effect” multiple times before. We seem to have no trouble understanding why people lose ground after weight loss, addiction recovery, or treatment for depression because we know intuitively that an intensive intervention represents an extraordinary divergence from the natural course of human difficulty. And so it is with children growing up in poverty.

But, you say, everyone knows that a bath’s effects are supposed to be temporary. The very promise of Head Start is that it provides a long-lasting benefit to disadvantaged children. Plus, baths don’t cost taxpayers 8 billion dollars every year. If Head Start can’t protect children against the “dirt” they may encounter once they enter the public school system, then why continue to pay for it, right?

The author goes on to offer very detailed responses to several objections raised about Head Start. You be the judge. I would be interested in a rebuttal, and an answer to this question: Wouldn’t there be better Head Start outcomes if the quality of teaching remained as intensive throughout the upper grades, instead of the poor quality that our public schools — especially for the economically disadvantaged – often have?

Couple with Down Syndrome Crowned Homecoming King and Queen


The feel good story of the day. The couple have been together since fifth grade and are planning a special trip after graduation. More in this video.


That mom was bursting with pride!

Athenian Days: Adjusting to a New World Order


Writing a follow-up post, and in a manner completely different from the original, is probably a bad idea. Best to leave the original article untainted by future reflections, I tell my rational self. But my other self — the self that has to go to confession a lot — is mad. And that self is curling its lip, narrowing its eyes, and sitting down to write.

It’s my son I’m feeling heated toward. You remember him — the one who nearly broke my heart in leaving for college. Well, I’m over it. Okay, I’m not over it, but I’m so angry that I’m close.

In the three weeks since that boy of mine departed, he has contacted me only for purposes of obtaining information, things, or money. No “Miss you” texts, no “Hey, it’s all good here” e-mails. Certainly no “I can’t function without you, my dearest mother” phone calls. Frankly, it’s like I never existed.

This is a rude awakening. I fancied myself important. I thought he was attached. Instead, he seems to consider himself a modern day Athena — sprung, fully-grown, and clad in armor (read: college tuition) from his father’s head. As far as he is concerned, there never was a childhood. There are no debts, emotional or otherwise, to pay, and to reprimand him is sheer folly. He is, after all, Athena, patron of sound intellect.

Charming. Really, though, I should have known this was coming. It is, after all, exactly what I did to my own mother. In 1986, before cell phones were invented, dorms were equipped with pay phones. I remember using the one in Stauffer Hall exactly once. My mother sent letters, care packages, post cards, anything and everything she could think of to establish a link between us. I thought it was sweet. How silly (and old) she seemed to me. How dear of her to want to keep it up.

Keep “it” up. That is precisely what I thought. She wants to keep up this being close — she wants to pretend like I’m not grown up and completely independent. How very quaint — and bordering on pathetic.

Now, of course, I am pathetic. But I have a resource my mother did not have – pride — and a lot of it. My mother, who has never harbored a proud thought in her life, will die, go to Heaven, and stand before God who will say: “Welcome Shirlee! You belong over here, in this elite group of saints who never fell victim to pride, and who sent their indifferent college students care packages. Well done!” To me he will say: “I seem to remember you calling your pride a ‘resource’. Purgatory is that way.”

But I can’t help it. If that heartless son of mine is not going to call, text, or e-mail me, I’ll be damned if I’m going to act like a love-sick girl and pepper him with queries and gifts. Instead, I’ll sit here — steaming mad and a little sick from grief — and troll the University of Dallas’s friends and family Facebook page for accidental photos of him.

And then, I suspect, in remembrance of my own Athenian days, I’ll break down and send him a care package. 

Selling the Rewards of Parenthood: Couples Ain’t Buying


For all the hue and cry about overpopulation it is becoming clear that there is a baby bust in our country (and across most of the globe). Several factors seem to be contributing to this trend. Nearly one out of five American women never have children. College-educated women are increasingly delaying marriage and motherhood for financial reasons — and it’s paying off.  

College-educated women are reaping most of the benefits of later marriage: They can enjoy the greater economic security that comes with marrying later, while still being able to have children in the relatively stable context of marriage. Women with lower education levels get a much smaller economic bump for marrying later and are less likely to to be married when they have their first child.

And couples are delaying marriage and children for fear of repeating the cycle of divorce that their parents endured, as well as because of crushing college-loan debt. The acceptance of cohabitation has led to about 70 percent of twenty-somethings choosing that lifestyle over marriage, despite the proof that children fare better with married parents. 

But it seems we need to challenge the current conventional wisdom on encouraging parenthood. Those efforts usually begin with providing paid maternity leave and childcare subsidies. Many are opposed to providing these benefits because of fears about their impact on business — and subsequently the job market. Such fears are not unfounded. And it may take years for businesses — and society at large — to reap the positive aspects these policies would bestow. It’s hard to think long-term. Yet, as Jonathan V. Last — author of What to Expect When No One’s Expecting – points out, a strategy to get a higher birth rate has to go even beyond just those kinds of benefits. If that’s all it took, countries like France and Sweden with very generous policies would be having baby booms – they’re not.
Senator Mike Lee and others have talked about giving significant tax breaks for parents raising children, and that approach seems to sit well with young people. Who wouldn’t want to get some of their hard-earned money back to spend as they see fit for their children?

But Last believes we have to go even further. We need to challenge other instilled beliefs that young people have concerning parenthood. For one, they think the government will take care of them in their old age, so that particular perk of parenthood means nothing to them. And the cost of housing in dense urban areas discourages them from having larger families, and so policies supporting telecommuting and other ways to encourage suburban living are needed.

And not only are young couples delaying family life because of their own college debt, they fear the cost of sending several children to college. Last believes we need to totally change the higher-education system.

If college were another industry, everyone would be campaigning for reform. Instead, politicians are trying to push every kid in America into the current exorbitantly expensive system. How could we get college costs under control? For one, we could begin to eliminate college’s role as a credentialing machine by allowing employers to give their own tests to prospective workers. Alternately, we could encourage the university system to be more responsive to market forces by creating a no-frills, federal degree-granting body that awards certificates to students who pass exams in a given subject.

Encouraging married couples to have more children is a complicated issue that has no easy answers. But we should not be apathetic about the issue of our current fertility level. Our country’s future — and the direction it will take on so many levels — is at stake.

Thoughts on the Rise of Single Parenthood


Back in May there was a lot of talk about a Pew Research Center report that indicated that women were the main breadwinners in nearly 40 percent of households. But a new piece over at AEI points out that this was due in great part to the rise in the number of single moms. 

Sixty percent of “breadwinner-mom” families are really just single-mom families. In fact, single moms account for precisely one-quarter of U.S. households.

…the biggest story here isn’t the rise of female earners, exactly, even though that’s a distinct and powerful trend. This is really a story about a more astonishing fact: Single parents have more than tripled as a share of American households since 1960.

Single parent households exist in a different socioeconomic pool than married households. Single mothers earn incomes that place them well below married mothers in the income ladder. According to Pew, married mothers earned a median family income of $80,000 in 2011, almost four times more than families led by a single mom.

The article then goes on to discuss how the single moms earn far less than their married peers, and how poor child-care options contribute to their earning less and having fewer job and advanced-schooling opportunities.  

A follow-up piece raised other questions including whether the rise in single mothers could be attributed to the rise in women’s roles in the workplace — they earn enough themselves and don’t need to be married — and whether the U.S. government should provide child-care subsidies and paid leaves, like the other top economic leaders in the world.

Unpaid maternity leave can have significantly adverse impacts on single parents in particular who are dependent on their incomes to sustain their family…  Thus allowing for paid maternity leave would enable them to seek good quality care for themselves and for their child during the maternity leave, rather than forcing them to make a choice between their career and their children for the sake of meeting financial needs.

But would providing paid maternity leave and child-care subsidies encourage promiscuity amongst single women and condone raising children outside the institution of marriage? It sometimes seems that conservative values are at cross purposes with showing support for single mothers. Can’t we strive for more stability in families while still recognizing that we need to assist the currently rising numbers of women who are carrying the burden of raising children alone? (Especially when 30 percent of them are living in poverty.)

While we should encourage young women to delay parenthood until they are married — because children fare much better with two parents in the household – the fact remains that many get pregnant while single. To be truly supportive of those young women who want to choose life, but are not in a position to get married (by their own choice or the father’s), we should be prepared to show them that motherhood is not a dead end.

While encouraging them to do the best they can — and prodding reluctant fathers to take responsibility — we should also make them feel that they will not be left to their own devices in a crisis. Private services (faith-based or otherwise) are certainly great options that deserve our support, but we should also see to it that government services are not denigrated under the rationale that single mothers ”choose” to raise their children on their own. We should not throw the babies — or their moms — out with the budget-cutting bathwater.

Another Hate-Crime Hoax? The Left Tells Stories Too Bad to Be True


We thought we knew this tragic story.

It was late and Matthew Shepard, a young gay college student in Wyoming, needed a ride home. He left the Fireside Lounge with two strangers who offered a lift. Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson were not Good Samaritans, however. They took Shepard to a remote outskirt of Laramie, tied him to a fence post and pistol-whipped him so many times that the cyclist who found him the next day mistook him for a scarecrow.

The media told Shepard’s story repeatedly, explaining the two murderers had gone into a homophobia-induced rage when Shepard came onto them. JoAnn Wypijewski described the immediate aftermath of the murder in Harper’s Magazine, “Press crews who had never before and have not since lingered over gruesome murders of homosexuals came out in force, reporting their brush with a bigotry so poisonous it could scarcely be imagined.”

Groups like GLAAD moved in and defined the narrative: This is what happens when homosexuality isn’t fully embraced as part of mainstream society. In fact, as Breitbart’s Austin Ruse writes, this attack had enormous cultural consequences:

Almost immediately Shepard became a secular saint, and his killing became a kind of gay Passion Play where he suffered and died for the cause of homosexuality against the growing homophobia and hatred of gay America.

Indeed, a Mathew Shepard industry grew rapidly, with plays and foundations along with state and even national hate-crimes legislation named for him. Rock stars wrote songs about him, including Elton John and Melissa Etheridge. Lady Gaga performed John Lennon’s “Imagine” and changed the lyrics to include Shepard.

Even before Shepard died, two of his friends were peddling the narrative that he died at the hands of vicious homophobes. Within days, the gay establishment latched onto what would drive the hate-crimes story for years to come; even now, the Laramie Project, a stage play about the killing, is performed all over the country. Indeed, it will be performed next week at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.

But what if everything we knew about the Matthew Shepard story was a lie?

A new book — written by an award-winning gay journalist – shows that Matthew wasn’t killed by men deranged by homophobia. In the most recent edition of Rare, I write about how the deceptive reporting and spin on this boy’s tragic death should be a shocking, eye-opening lesson for all of us. 

Texas High-School Text Book Redefines the Second Amendment


Sean Getts, a dad in Denton, Texas, was surprised to open his daughter’s AP United States history book and find it had rewritten the Second Amendment. He snapped a photo and posted it to Facebook with this caption:

Looks like I’ll be educating the school system.

The book, which is apparently used at Guyer High School in Denton, describes the Second Amendment as guaranteeing that “the people have a right to keep and bear arms in a state militia.”

However, the text of the actual Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The photo went viral, and parents who wanted to discuss the textbook with the school administrators started to organize.

In the past 200 years, the Constitution has been amended 27 times. But who needs Article V, if text book publishers can just change parts of it to reflect their personal preferences?


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