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Two weeks ago in this space, I wrote of the pathology and negative impact upon the republic attendant to the absence of fathers in American households. That piece was written as a result of a commercial that ran during the telecast of Super Bowl XLVII. (Read the article here .)
On Thursday, (Feb. 21, 2013) USA TODAY ran an editorial  responding to a proposal concerning universal access to pre-school as put forth in President Obama’s State of the Union address.
Said, USA TODAY:
“In the eyes of many parents and most educators, starting a child’s schooling before kindergarten is an indisputable virtue.…
“So it’s hardly surprising that President Obama used his State of the Union Address to call for extending that middle- and upper-class habit to all children, at government expense.
“But before the checks go out, it would be wise to consider a broader question: Can the middle-class experience be replicated that easily?”
I believe that the answer to that question is, “no.”
The USA TODAY piece ran under the sub- headline, “Fragile families harm children’s development,” and it goes on to detail many of the same grim statistics regarding dropping out of school, drug addiction, teen pregnancy, gang involvement, crime and chronic unemployment that I believe is directly attributable to children growing up in homes that suffer the absence of one or both parents – usually the father.
The piece in USA TODAY concludes by saying,
“So, sure, explore Obama’s plan to expand quality preschool, and make sure kids aren’t then dumped into failing elementary schools. But don’t miss the core problem. The primary engine of social advancement has always been the family, and it is breaking down.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Which is why I’m not enthused by the prospect of a federal program to provide low-cost or no-cost preschool. I believe that such a program constitutes another example of the “cure” exacerbating the disease.
It is along lines such as these that the sharp debate between liberals and conservatives regarding the role of government is framed.
In 1965, unwed births in the black community had risen to 24 percent – an alarming statistic. Today, that number stands at a staggering 73 percent . The question is, “why?’
You can’t dismiss the correlation between the expansion of such government benefits as welfare, food stamps and direct aid to pregnant mothers — that either began or were greatly expanded starting in 1965 — and the concurrent diminishment of the role of fathers in American households.
When there is only limited assistance available to a woman who becomes pregnant and bears a child, the consequences of recreational sex in an otherwise uncommitted relationship are more carefully considered. Mitigate those consequences with free food, free prenatal care, free child care, free school lunches and free housing assistance and the downside to hopping into bed is less likely to be a behavior-limiting factor.
Further, since government has proved willing to substantially replace many of the things that mothers at one time counted on a man to provide – such as the income and the presence necessary to help meet the burdens attendant to raising children – there is less incentive for women to weed out the men that won’t meet that responsibility and thus less incentive for men to behave in ways so as to avoid being weeded out.
Thus the family breakdown that USA TODAY correctly laments.
One of my favorite quotes comes from British Prime Minister David Cameron who said,
“…no amount of government spending can replace the social capital provided by families, churches, charities, and community organizations.”
Well said, Prime Minister.
And a reasonable argument against expanding the government through a universal preschool entitlement.