Friday, March 28, 2008

"Moral Problem," Indeed

The Superintendent of Education for Wisconsin states that MPS' troubles are a 'moral problem.'

Milwaukee Public Schools' efforts to shed its status as a "district identified for improvement" are locally controlled but closely watched by officials in Madison...

..."This is a moral issue, this is a social justice issue and it's an economic imperative," state schools Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster said Wednesday. "This is a pivotal time where we can answer this clarion call to action."

MPS, the state's largest district, has failed to meet "adequate yearly progress" goals, established under the No Child Left Behind law, in state reading and math tests since 2004

MPS is the only district in the state that has the improvement label, which is related to the concentration of poverty here, Burmaster said.

"We have to recognize how poverty affects the daily lives of children in MPS," she said.

Some might suggest that the real "moral problem" here has to do with illegitimacy. It is a fact that children who are illegitimate are usually in trouble from their birth. This from Education Week:

U.S. Census Bureau data show that in 1993, 27 percent of all children lived with a single parent--and, for the first time, those children were almost as likely to live with an unmarried parent as with a divorced parent.

Although birthrates have risen more for older unmarried women in recent years than for teenagers, the policy debate has focused largely on younger, more disadvantaged mothers.
These young women still account for the largest number of unwed births, and their children are the most vulnerable to dropping out of school, going on welfare, and perpetuating the cycle of unwed births and poverty.

Children caught in that cycle may not be "ready to start school in a modern technological society, and more likely to experience real disadvantages," said Kristin Moore, the executive director of Child Trends, a Washington-based firm that tracks data on children.

Cato's take:

The non-economic consequences of the increase in out of wedlock births are equally stark. There is strong evidence that the absence of a father increases the probability that a child will use drugs and engage in criminal activity. Nearly 70 percent of juveniles in state reform institutions come from fatherless homes.

MPS was criticized for its byzantine structural problems:

[Laura] New said the district has "a fractured, almost non-existent infrastructure and a patchwork curriculum."

...which, it is claimed, makes it difficult for parental involvement.

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