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Romney Video Nails “THE” Urban Education Question

Posted by Larry Doyle on September 18, 2012 10:52 AM |

America has a problem dealing with the truth. You do not think so? Then why is it that NOBODY  — and I mean NOBODY — in our mainstream media deals substantively with the following:

1. urban graduation rates
2. family structures in general and the rate of single parent births specifically
3. the fallout from both 1 and 2

If anybody seemingly comes close to these third rails, then the likes of Chris Matthews and others seem to rally to the defense and pull out the race card. Well, I will not even dignify Matthews, a fellow Holy Cross alum, or his like. I truly care about each and every citizen in our nation. I believe our nation can and will progress IF and ONLY IF we embrace the cold hard truth. 

Say what you want about Mitt Romney and comments recently released in a string of clandestinely captured communications. The simple fact is in the midst of all that, the Republican candidate nails a Sense on Cents hot button issue and one that America should address as well. What did Romney say and ask?

“Fifty percent of the kids in high school in our 50 largest cities won’t graduate from high school. What’re they gonna do?”

BINGO!! Romney nails it.

I have repeatedly broached this topic and ask the same questions once again. What will become of these millions of high school dropouts in America? Why is it that there is an exceptionally high correlation of high school dropouts with single parent births? As the rate of single parent births EXPLODES ever higher, the massive social issues and associated costs (juvenile crime, teen pregnancies, substance abuse, high school dropouts , a cycle of poverty, obesity) highly correlated with that topic will likely EXPLODE as well.

Many within our general media will spend an inordinate amount of time and effort parsing Mr. Romney’s comments. The clanging of that noise is designed to distract many within our nation. For those who truly care about America, though, let’s have an intelligent discussion about our nation’s future. What will happen to all of the high school dropouts? Why have gangs within our major urban centers become such a problem? Who is populating and growing the gangs? What about the exploding rate of single parent births? 40% of newborn Americans enter the world into a single parent family. That rate is much higher for selected ethnic groups.

Let’s not allow teachers unions and selected social groups to hold America’s children and any political party hostage and vice versa. Let’s break out the cold, hard truth serum. High time America has these conversations. Can we handle the truth?

Let’s get it on. I mean, it is only the very future of our republic at stake.

Comments, questions, constructive criticism always encouraged and appreciated.

Larry Doyle

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I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.


  • Andrew

    Perhaps a decoupling of the school tax from property ownership would be a start. I think schools should be funded on a use based system, which would put the parents and school teachers in the same boat, with oars pulling in the same direction.

  • Peter

    Hi Larry

    I think that what you are getting at is the truth. But you are guilty of subterfuge by not really expressing what you really want to say. You imply the truth but seem unwilling to express it in terms that your readers will really understand.

    What percentage of single parent families are black (or as you would say are african american)?

    What is the percentage of the population in the USA is black (african american)?

    What percentage of kids in High Schools in American high schools, in your largest 50 cities are black, (african american)?

    What percentage of those kids who will not graduate are black (african american)?

    Based upon the above figures (which I am sure you know Larry) why is the american education system failing children from black (african american) single parents?

    Time to stop circumventing the problem by ignoring that it has a racial element and address the real problem.

    Black kids are no less capable of achieving academic success than anglo saxon ones, so what is the educational system in the USA doing wrong?

    Keep up the good work, but bovine excrement is not the solution. Say it the way it is.

    • LD


      I do not see this as strictly an African American issue although certainly the impact of issues within that ethnic group are significant. The issues run across our entire society.

      As I know the data:

      40% of all newborns in our country enter the world into single parent families.
      ~12-15% of newborn Asian Americans are born into single parent families.
      ~33% of newborn Caucasians are born into single parent families.
      ~50% of Hispanic newborns and ~70% of African American newborns are also born into single parent families.

      From the US Census Bureau, we learn that :
      ~63% of our population is White (non-Hispanic)
      ~13% are African American
      ~17% are Hispanic
      ~5% are Asian

      Some of the other data regarding breakdown by ethnic class for urban schools I do not have on the top of my head.

      The reason I continue to bring up this topic is really fourfold:

      1. The correlations with a whole host of social issues and single parent births.
      2. The responsibility that fathers especially need to hold if/when they bring a child into this world.
      3. The fact that our urban education system as a whole is a huge failure. I would put that failure at the feet of the pols and teachers unions primarily along with the often lack of meaningful parental involvement.
      4. The failure of society to address these issues in a meaningful fashion.

      Lives are being wasted and costs are escalating. What should be done with the schools? I am a huge proponent of school choice via quality charter schools and student vouchers. Time and again we see better results for the children who are educated via those paths than the standard public schools. Competition breeds success. Bring in some serious evaluation to the process and utilize a no-strike policy for the unions. The pols and unions have a parasitic relationship. Meanwhile the kids suffer.

      I do not view this from the standpoint of black and white but rather right and wrong and responsible and irresponsible.

      I do not lay out the ethnic breakdowns for the very simple reason that I believe it may actually take away the focus on the underlying social issues and overriding social outcomes.

      Thanks for a very stimulating prompt.

  • Eddie

    I think the two most important questions about education in this country are:

    1) should education be forced?

    2) should government be a provider?

  • Diana

    As a health care clinician and educator who has seen the increasing acceptance of teen parenting and a decline in marriage at first hand, I must point out that the problem is one that is not specific to any single race. Perhaps that was the case at one time, but this tragic situation now seems to be more accepted and tolerated across ethnicities and belief systems with a few notable exceptions. This is one area where govenment policies could be instrumental in discouraging multiple pregnancies by refusing to subsidize the costs of supporting / raising more than one child. What might be a single incident and a learning experience / turning point with proper guidance can easily morph into a way of life if the “state” stands ready to support an unlimited number of children born to a poorly educated young woman. Better that that young woman be supported in returning to school and developing skills that will enable her to move toward productive adulthood…for her sake and for that of her child.

    • LD


      Thank you very much for adding real substance to this dialogue. I truly appreciate your insights from one who has been in the arena.


  • Ok, I’ll try to be as brief as possible. The breakdown in education is due to the breakdown in the family unit. Kids in urban areas are growing up without any fathers at all. Society (Media) characterizes fathers as idiots, dummies, and unneeded – but in reality they are an essential part of society and the growth of a child’s character and development. These children who drop out of school overwhelmingly have no father figure to give them leadership and instruction, instead they replace the father figure & its influence with everything else known to man – usually gangs and other worldly influences. This missing influence is a big reason children drop out of school and pursue life outside of structured society. It would be interesting to know how many of these kids who drop out of school come from a family with an absent father.

    • LD


      Welcome to Sense on Cents and good luck with your own blog.

      There are a whole host of social outcomes in which the absence of those we call Dad has a very real impact. Here is a fabulous link to the National Fatherhood Initiative that provides voluminous detail on a wide array of issues relating to the absentee fathers including:
      poverty, maternal and child health, incarceration, crime, teen pregnancy, child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, education, and childhood obesity.

  • Bill

    Christine Matthews

  • LP

    I hope you are serious about wanting comments on your columns, because I truly believe there is not anywhere near enough solid discussions of issues today, and way too much partisan sound bytes.

    I agree education today is a disaster, and a great deal of that can be laid at the feet of the teacher unions and entrenched administrations and school board bureaucrats. A great deal of the responsibly needs also to be laid at the feet of misguided, uninterested parents.

    Having said that, I wonder how Romney on one side can correctly identify education as a significant problem in this country, and on the other recommend the cutting of funds to support education, as well as eliminating the Department of Education?

    Without a more detailed plan for we voters to consider, this just sounds like one more Romney sound bite with nothing behind it but a blind hope to attract a few more far right voters into his corner.

    • LD


      I thank you for taking the time to write. The comments bring real life to the blog.

      In regard to Mitt Romney’s views on education, they are “somewhat” similar to President Obama’s. How so? They both support charter schools. I am fairly certain that Romney also supports student vouchers. President Obama does not.

      The reason for doing away with the DOE? Eliminate the bureaucracy and return the control to the local levels who understand and know their “client” base.

      Thanks again for taking the time to share your feelings.

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