A few days ago, CitizenLink reported the heartbreaking results of a study from the Family Research Council’s Marriage and Religion Research Institute: Only 46 percent of children will reach the age of 17 in intact homes with married biological parents. Combine that statistic with the fact that child poverty rates rise as the percentage of intact households falls.
Many people are pointing at falling income levels as a current social issue that hurts our schools. But should they be looking even deeper at the wound beneath the poverty symptom—the unprecedented breakup of families in this nation?
Columnist George Will said it well: “The best predictor of SAT scores is family income, which generally correlates with family structure—two parents in the home. Family structure is pertinent to the 9/91 factor—between their births and their 19th birthdays, children spend 9 percent of their time in school and 91 percent elsewhere. For many children, elsewhere is not an intact family.”As a teacher, I have seen the impact of divorce on children. Mr. Will is correct that an intact and healthy family dramatically increases the likelihood that children will do well in school. Even the best teacher on Earth has less of an impact on her or his students than do the parents.
Focus on the Family recognizes the above but opposes marriage for same gender parents of children. The impact on children is the same without regard to the parents' genders. The children do matter and should be the focus for every family with children. Focus on the Family and Ms. Cushman fail to connect the dots. Their ministry continues to work against too many families.