Children Falling Short in School? Blame Parental Breakups

Education has established itself as a god term in progressive circles. Name any problem whatever—from global warming to grade-school bullying—and progressives will begin to genuflect and burn incense before the shrines of education, certain that academe can save us. Their solo fide progressive credo blocks from view the way that educational attainment actually depends on family life. After all, progressive ideology typically rests on a secularized individualism that defines family life as little more than an unfortunate constraint on individual liberty.   Still, from time to time social science unsettles progressives’ faith in education by adducing evidence that when family life fails, so too do students. The latest evidence that academic success depends on strong family life comes from Dutch researchers trying to explain why some students fall short of the educational potential predicted for them by standardized tests. These researchers begin their inquiry supposing that when students do not realize their academic potential, perhaps health problems are to blame. But their study uncovers no evidence implicating health issues as the reason students tumble short of their educational potential.  Instead, evidence surfaces clearly identifying parental divorce as a significant reason that students do not realize their potential.  Affiliated with the University of Groningen, Utrecht University, and the Netherlands’ National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, the authors of the new study “recogniz[e] that educational achievement has far-reaching consequences for health later in life,” consequences reflected in data indicating that “in the Netherlands, as in other countries, life expectancy increases with attained level of education.” The researchers accordingly regard it as a matter of “great importance, both for their future socio-economic position and for their later health, that children complete the level of educatio
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