Random thought: we've been having a lot of school meetings on kids who a) have troubles and b) the parents don't show up, which means that I get to hear a lot of people's opinions on the Problems With Kids Today. Despite the fact that these are smart people, they often miss what they are saying.

People often say the problem is something like "babies having babies", meaning that teenage pregnancy is a major problem. This is sort of true. But they tend to pair it with bemoanings that things are getting worse, which may also be true... but these facts do not go together. The teenage pregnancy rate in America has been dropping fairly consistently since pretty much forever. There may be a problem nested in the reduction of marriage rates resulting from teenage pregnancies. Or there may not.

However, before, after, or sometimes in the same breath, people will mention a supposed "effect" of this, ignoring the fact that they say the same things about older (and often married) parents: "the kids stay up all night playing video games"; "the kids are unsupervised"; "the kids don't do any reading over the summer".

This is a problem, because "give your kids a bedtime and stick to it" is likely to be more welcome, more manageable, and more targeted advice than "don't have unprotected sex"... which indicates that it might be effective advice, since the whole "don't have unprotected sex" thing has been paying dividends.

More relevant to educators, you are not going to have district support in telling parents not to have more kids, nor will you be addressing the problem at hand (the kid that can't read). It is simply not productive, unless you are a highschool PE teacher or counselor, to be worrying about who is having kids that shouldn't. It is productive -- and encouraged! -- to encourage parents in helping their kids with summer reading, homework time, bedtimes, and engagement in community programs that support Good Things of this type.

Most educators do these good things. They just also happen to spend too much time worrying about young parents and the collapse of modern society, which is not productive.

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