According to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, there is only so much schools can do to close the racial achievement gap that has plagued the educational system for decades. The liberal think tank concluded that this gap is not explained by socioeconomic differences between blacks and whites, a startling rebuke of the typical left-wing narrative. Instead, they say, the problem lies with the parents.
In the report, the EPI looked at factors that conspired to depress academic performance. They found that there were stark differences in how black and white parents raised their children, and these differences were largely to blame for academic failure among African-Americans. “White adults spend 36 percent more time than black adults reading to young children, and three times more time talking with and listening to them,” said the report.
Putting that into specific terms, the report offered this fact: “By age 6, white children have typically spent 1,300 more hours engaged in conversations with adults than black children.”
In addition to these differences, the EPI report identified four other societal factors that widen the achievement gap. Single parenthood, atypical work schedules, poor healthcare, and lead exposure were among the factors they identified.
It Starts In the Home
The EPI report, despite coming from a liberal think tank, speaks to what many educators have been saying for a long time. You can invent all of these academic programs and standards, reduce black suspension rates, and call teachers out on their “white privilege” all day long. But until we fix what’s going on in the home, it’s not going to make much difference.
Knowing Democrats, they’ll use this study’s findings to declare reading racist. Or they’ll come up with a proposal to let the government intervene in the household even earlier. Mandatory pre-pre-K, perhaps. But we can’t address cultural problems by giving the government more control over parental authority.
A better way to address this gap is through awareness and education. Black parents may not realize that they are hurting their children’s chances of succeeding in school. If we focus on getting the word out about how important it is to give your kid books, read to them, and talk to them, it could be enough to make significant inroads. Then we could get back to common-sense policies in school and stop lowering the bar for black students.