This morning we learned the President wants to extend the length of the school day to bring us up with some of the rest of the world. Education Secretary, Arne Duncan describes this as leveling the playing field. He further says our school day is based on an agrarian economy, and we are no longer farm people. Really! Since when? Well, since 1925. America moved from the farms to the towns and villages in 1925 and forward. Are you telling me, Mr. Duncan, that the shorter school day and week, is why we got so behind much of the advanced world in 2009? Since we left an agrarian society much earlier why didn’t these poor results show up in 1935 or 1955 or 1975?
The problem of education competitiveness is complex and not given to simple, sound-good solutions. To reach America’s education achievement problem everything must be on the table. Divorce, as an example, is off the table. It cannot be discussed.
Children from divorced parents are twice as likely to repeat a grade as other children. Young children from divorce are less imaginative, more dependent, unaffectionate, disobedient than children from intact families. But, we can’t talk about this subject because it is too sensitive.
Try to imagine the President, in his bully pulpit, or any other politician for that matter telling us that our high divorce rate must be lowered for the sake of our children.
The politicians could say we are going to make it a goal this year to have a divorce rate as low as the United Kingdom, or even Germany. In 2020, we will have a goal to be as low as even Switzerland. And, in the year of 2050 we will be as low as Brazil. But, one day, through our grit and competitiveness our divorce rate will be as low as Italy’s. Such ambitious goals will surely get frowns from the many offended, but it is the kind of optimism that will show up in the classroom.