I read with great interest the series of articles in local papers this spring on the achievement gap that exists between white and Asian students on the one hand and blacks and Hispanics on the other. The only thing that surprised me was that I saw no mention of E.D. Hirsch, who is emerging as arguably the most important educational theorist and reformer of the last 100 years. His ideas regarding the achievement gap deserve careful attention.
This new American Experiment symposium grows out of a book of mine published just about a year ago, From Family Collapse to America’s Decline: The Educational, Economic, and Social Costs of Family Fragmentation, which examined many of the problems and shortcomings resulting from very high rates of nonmarital births, very high rates of divorce, and routinely short-lived cohabiting relationships. One of the book’s central themes is how such family churning—more specifically, the extent to which it hurts great numbers of children—is leading, and can only lead, to stunted mobility and deeper class divisions in a nation that has never viewed itself in such splintered ways.