To The Editor:
In a recent Commentary (“What NAEP Scores Aren’t Telling Us,” April 25, 2018), Ian Rowe wrote that single parenthood among young mothers creates a much greater risk of fragile families. This fragility correlates with child poverty and chronic student absenteeism and negatively affects long-term academic achievement. Researchers from the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-rights research organization, agree that unintended pregnancies result in poorer outcomes for those children. What Rowe fails to mention is a solution.
There is clear evidence that comprehensive sex education and high-quality reproductive care, including counseling and access to long-acting reversible contraceptives, result in fewer unintended pregnancies.
Furthermore, Rowe’s dismissive attitude toward racism’s effect on family structure is off the mark. Isabel V. Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, notes that there are fewer marriage partners for black women because of poorer employment prospects and higher rates of incarceration for black men. Segregated housing patterns, inadequate health care, and more aggressive police responses have all contributed to family challenges.
I urge Rowe not to overlook better sex education and reproductive care and to confront the corrosive nature of racism as it relates to poor educational outcomes.
Silver Spring, Md.
A version of this article appeared in the May 30, 2018 edition of Education Week as A Reductive View of Single Parenthood