What caught my attention was a study reported in the New York Post indicating that the average parent in the US has the understanding of math and science that we expect an 11-year-old to have.(1)
Having been asked to help friends’ children with math homework, this finding isn’t entirely a surprise. However, it immediately indicates several problems:
- Home schooling whether, voluntary or Covid-19-enforced, for children with parents who lack proficiency in math and science is going to be problematic. Parents can’t teach what they themselves don’t know.
- Home schooling will increase the educational and economic divide in the US between affluent and non-affluent households. Families with parents who are highly educated are able to impart more knowledge to their children than can parents with less knowledge. They don’t always do that, but they can. The stories that we hear about children reading four or five grade levels ahead of their age is testament to the impact that parents can have.
- Home schooling or not, parents who are engaged in their childrens’ education will imprint attitudes toward learning that will help the children succeed.
- Affluent families are more likely to have at least one adult who can take the time to work with the children on learning and homework. In the Covid environment, affluent families are more likely to have at least on parent working from home.
Our economy is increasingly dependent on “knowledge workers,” not manual labor. Jobs that don’t require knowledge (and even some that do) are being automated out of existence.
Children who know more will go farther as adults and have better jobs and incomes than those who are knowledge-disadvantages.
Remember, if you are old enough, the original initiative for home-schooling and for private “Christian” schools wasn’t about learning. It was about moving children away from racial integration in the 1960s, about keeping white kids in a “white” environment.
Multigenerational households are more able to support the child’s learning, if the grandparents are able to step into the role of teacher. However, with immigrant families, that’s not always possible due to language issues. The grandparents can offset the cost of daycare and provide structure when parents are at work. The incidence of multigenerational families has increased since the first economic downturn in 2009, and the current Covid mess is boosting it further.(2)
Multigenerational households literally are changing the complexion of the US. These households are more likely to be Asian or Hispanic, and they are more likely to have children than are Anglo or Black households.
In fairness, Covid has upended existing demographic forecasts for US population growth. We expected to achieve, 400 million people in the US by 2050, and that may not happen. Instead, we are seeing increased deaths and changes in immigration, with both citizens and foreign nationals voluntarily leaving the US to live elsewhere. With fewer interested buyers, it’s not hard to imagine another collapse in the housing market. Shortages of workers may force factories to relocate offshore. The current extreme Federal deficit may hamper what the government can do.
Domestic terrorism adds to the case for not investing in the US. The far right largely represents poorer, less educated whites, and they are likely to be the most hurt by what’s going to happen. Those with families offshore have someplace to go. The rich can isolate themselves or leave.
“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.”Hosea 8:7
Stay tuned, the near future should be interesting. It may be time to sharpen your language skills.
- Lauren Medina, “Demographic Turning Points for the United States: Population Projections from 2020 to 2060,” US Census Bureau, Oct. 24, 2019.