Two-parent families are not only a moral imperative, they are an economic one, too

America would be better if fathers played a larger and more positive role in the lives of their children — and government less of a role. I posted this statement on Father’s Day and got a remarkable amount of reaction. 

The facts prove that the more kids are growing up in households where two parents are present and positive influences, the better the circumstances will be for them and our country. Tackling this issue will do more to address race in this country than the various liberal indoctrination programs being promoted around the country. 

Critical race theory (CRT), in my opinion, is state-sponsored racism. Teaching children to judge people based on race contradicts the aspiration of civil rights hero the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. who famously dreamed that his children would someday be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. CRT is at odds with that declaration. 

The organization Black Lives Matter (BLM) is run by self-proclaimed Marxist organizers. Their intent is to create chaos, not calm, in our society. Marxist organizers tried to impose their radicals on America decades ago but failed because we are not a class-based society. In America, anyone can succeed — freedom and opportunity are available to everyone. 

There are, however, real differences in economic status based on race in our country. But they are driven by two fundamental factors: children raised in two-parent households and the level of education obtained in the household. 

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the majority of children under the age of 18 lived in married-couple households (63%). The numbers by race and ethnicity are 84% for Asian children, 73% for White children, and 57 percent Hispanic. In contrast, Black children were the only group to not have a majority living in married-couple households. 

The national average for children living in poverty was 16%. The numbers by race and ethnicity are 9% for Asian children, 10% for White children, 23% for Hispanic children, and 30% for Black children. 

Combine family structure and level of education attainment and the numbers are even more stark. The poverty rate for children under age 18 was highest for those in households in which no parent had completed high school (43%) and lowest for those in households in which the highest level of education attained by either parent was a bachelor’s or higher degree (4%).The data was found in a May 2021 report called “Characteristics of Children’s Families.”

The percentage of people on public assistance seems to correlate with the previous information according to data compiled by the NCES prior to the last census. Overall, 6.5% of the population in the United States was on public assistance. The information by race and ethnicity are 4.4% of the White population, 5.9% of the Asian/Pacific Islander population, 8.7% of the Hispanic population, and 13.5% of the Black population. 

In 1965, former U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was then serving as assistant secretary of labor under President Lyndon B. Johnson, issued a controversial report that raised concerns about the higher rates of “female-headed households” and “out-of-wedlock births” among Black Americans. According to the Moynihan Report, he was concerned that 23.6% percent of all Black babies were born outside of marriage. 

In 2018, 39.6% of the births for all racial and ethnic groups combined were born out-of-wedlock. By group: 69.4% Black; 51.8% Hispanic; 28.1% White; and 11.7% Asian. The concerns raised about the lack of fathers within African-American families has gotten worse, but so has the overall population. 

The data overwhelmingly shows that children living in married-households are less likely to live in poverty. The same goes for children living in households with higher levels of educational attainment. 

Years ago, I announced an effort to push a success sequence based on simple rules: 1) finish school, 2) get a full-time job, and 3) wait until age 21 to get married and have children. The concept came from research conducted by the Brookings Institution. Their research showed that of adults who followed these simple rules, about 98% were not living in poverty and nearly 75  joined the middle class. 

The facts are clear. Two-parent families are not only a moral imperative, they are an economic one, too. Children raised in households where fathers play a positive and active role are more likely to succeed. The same is true for graduating from school. 

Instead of pushing CRT or BLM or the 1619 Project, advocates who want children, particularly Black children, to succeed should push fatherhood initiatives and expand educational opportunities (particularly parental school choice options). The facts show the path to succeed for all children: a strong family unit, principled morals and a student-centered education.

• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him @ScottWalker.

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