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These comments are responses to the Civic Caucus interview with

Devin Foley of Intellectual Takeout, and Better Ed
November 13, 2015

Family breakdown causing instability in society, public institutions

Overview

The disintegration of the family in our society is a fundamental public-policy institution breakdown, according to Devin Foley of Intellectual Takeout and Better Ed. He asserts that family breakdown is causing instability for our entire society and for our public institutions-our policy institutions, our government and our schools.

High out-of-wedlock birthrates in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, especially among minority communities, highlight the destruction of the family, Foley states. He points to large achievement gaps between whites and minorities in Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools as results of both family breakdown and schools that don't work, despite high rates of spending per student. He says public schools cannot replace families.

But he praises three successful schools located in Minneapolis, but not part of the school district. They offer different models and assume a different role in their students' lives. He sees a critical need for school choice for families.

He takes a close look at millennials, saying that since a large number of them come from broken homes, they've learned that family doesn't really matter. He notes that half of all births to millennials are out of wedlock. He claims millennials are a lost, lonely and adrift generation. They have a strong longing for community at the local level, but because of the atomization of society, they don't know how to achieve it. He concludes by saying older generations should be horrified that as they age, the millennials will be the people in charge.

For the complete interview summary see: Foley interview

Response Summary: Readers rated these statements about the topic and about points discussed during the meeting, on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

1. Topic is of value. The interview summarized today provides valuable information or insight.

2. Further study warranted. It would be helpful to schedule additional interviews on this topic.

3. Stable institutions tied to stable families. The stability of Minnesota's public institutions, including public policy organizations, is significantly related to the underlying stability of family life.

4. Societal shifts threaten families, institutions. But major societal shifts, including out-of-wedlock births now regarded in some quarters as the new normal, portend significant threats to family and public institutions.

5. Heavy indebtedness impedes family formation. The problem is accentuated by people enormously in debt choosing not to marry or have families because they are unable to support anyone other than themselves.

6. Traditional community ties often missing. People still long for community, but traditional threads that naturally draw people together, such as family, church and neighborhood ties, often are missing in their lives.

7. Some laws impede self-organizing. Some laws make it difficult for people to self-organize on commonalities that might draw them together, like religion and ethnicity.

8. Religious groups should question their response. Religious organizations ought to examine whether they're simply accommodating today's trends instead of exhibiting leadership to counteract them.

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree

Neutral

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Topic is of value.

25%

25%

0%

6%

44%

16

2. Further study warranted.

13%

0%

0%

40%

47%

15

3. Stable institutions tied to stable families.

7%

7%

7%

40%

40%

15

4. Societal shifts threaten families, institutions.

13%

13%

13%

13%

47%

15

5. Heavy indebtedness impedes family formation.

13%

13%

7%

27%

40%

15

6. Traditional community ties often missing.

13%

27%

0%

27%

33%

15

7. Some laws impede self-organizing.

20%

27%

13%

20%

20%

15

8. Religious groups should question their response.

20%

13%

20%

7%

40%

15

Individual Responses:

Greg Marcus (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)
Very good material. Please invest more and more time on these issues.

Anonymous (0) (7.5) (7.5) (5) (10) (7.5) (2.5) (5)
8. Religious groups should question their response. Mr. Foley and his organization is a disservice to the need for responsible education reform. Coming from the CAE, what else would we expect?

Tom Rubey (0) (10) (10) (5) (5) (2.5) (10) (5)
4. Societal shifts threaten families, institutions. Irrelevant unless considered along with how the government is incentivizing these breakdowns.

5. Heavy indebtedness impedes family formation. Again, irrelevant unless considered along with how the government is incentivizing these breakdowns.

8. Religious groups should question their response. Although often ignored in Minnesota, there is still the establishment clause of the first amendment.

The examination of family breakdown and public policy without a thorough understanding and examination of the state's family law system is meaningless. There are government incentives that directly contribute to family breakdown ingrained in the family court system. Please contact me if you would like further background.

David Dillon (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

Sheldon Clay (0) (0) (10) (10) (10) (0) (0) (0)
1. Topic is of value. Mr. Foley seems to have everything 100% backward, probably because he seems to want to recreate the 1950s instead of look a little more deeply into the creative ways Millennial families are adapting to a changing and fragmented world. Rather than being horrified, I rather admire the generation coming after us and have great hopes that they'll fix the things we've screwed up.

2. Further study warranted. Leave it to the Center for the American Experience to study this stuff.

5. Heavy indebtedness impedes family formation. Yes, the problem with families is largely economic. The answer is to try and reverse the forces that are robbing more and more of the share of the economic pie from middle class and lower middle class families and funneling it to a very small segment of the wealthy (whose families seem to be doing quite well).

6. Traditional community ties often missing. Community ties exist - they just look different than they did a generation ago.

8. Religious groups should question their response. Seems to be an overgeneralization. Look at what Pope Francis is doing for the Catholic Church.

Denny Carlson (2.5) (7.5) (7.5) (0) (0) (2.5) (0) (0)
1. Topic is of value. I don't see it as valuable and certainly not insightful. It is a hurtful, negative, and depressing view of the Twin Cities and America.

2. Further study warranted. I question why he was selected other than he is outspoken in his views and more than happy to share them.

3. Stable institutions tied to stable families. Stability of family life is critically important. I don't understand how the public policy organizations he represents are helping.

4. Societal shifts threaten families, institutions. I don't understand how an out-of-wedlock birth to two wonderfully caring adults, who also are economically advantaged, can be a threat to the family or society.

5. Heavy indebtedness impedes family formation. I don't agree with the assumption - too simplistic and wrong conclusion.

6. Traditional community ties often missing. I think people are finding community on-line, at their work place, and in the places they choose to gather.

7. Some laws impede self-organizing. I agree with separation of church and state. Which religions will he sanction as "good" and which ethnic groups will be acceptable and which will not?

8. Religious groups should question their response. I think religious organizations ought to examine their value to humanity in 2016. As long as they are involved in loving, caring, spiritual growth for all of humanity and designed to be a positive force in this world, I would support their existence and value.

I found this interview troubling to say the least. His lack of appreciation of blended families, gay partners, and civil unions is a throwback to an earlier age. I realize he claims that is what is wrong with America but I could not disagree more. To disregard the value of certain ethnic groups, gay people, and anyone who disagrees with him is pathetic in this day and age.

Bruce A. Lundeen (10) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (10)

William Hustedde (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (5) (10)

Bob Brown (10) (10) (10) (10) (7.5) (10) (7.5) (10)
5. Heavy indebtedness impedes family formation. Much of the problem relates to the pressure to go to 4-year academic institutions. Some get degrees in fields that do not enable the students to make enough money to cover their debts. Thus the young people cannot afford to buy a house or get married. Something is very wrong in a society which pushes college degrees and doesn't assist the young people in understanding which education might make them more employable and doesn't teach then the problem of being saddled with education debt until they may be in their 60s. This is bad financial education and poor counseling in high schools and aggressive recruiting by colleges to fill their desire for students regardless of the impact on the individual students. To me, this is a combination of incompetence and a lack of good ethics.

6. Traditional community ties often missing. Those that push for the state to control all of the development of children undermine the role of parents. That is why many people from both the intellectual left and the religious right see the need for home schooling, which has grown substantially starting in the 1980s. And now charter schools are creating other opportunities to build community.

8. Religious groups should question their response. It is too bad that some traditional religions have substantially lost members when they have become simply another community organization. When they do this, they tend to lose members as they have lost the real reason for their existence.

Government intervention in the family and the lack of a sense of morality in our society combine to undermine the family unit. Fortunately, some people resist this and find ways to work with likeminded people. This gives me a slight ray of hope.

Vici Oshiro (2.5) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (10) (10) (2.5) (5)
1. Topic is of value. Provides a lot of questionable "information" and much opinion.

2. Further study warranted. Yes, because breakdown of families is as much or more a symptom of a very difficult economy than the cause of the breakdown.

3. Stable institutions tied to stable families. Chicken and egg, again.

4. Societal shifts threaten families, institutions. If we want to encourage family formation, we need to make it economically feasible.

5. Heavy indebtedness impedes family formation. One example: student debt.

6. Traditional community ties often missing. I'm guessing that the "next system" whatever that turns out to be will include much more community. Growing food closer to home. More sharing of space, goods and services. Grace Lee Boggs helped demonstrate some of this in efforts to revive Detroit.

7. Some laws impede self-organizing. Such laws are the least of our problems. In the developing society we need to understand and respect each other while living cheek to jowl.

8. Religious groups should question their response. All organizations, not just religious ones. The latter need to be sure they are helping us all to live together and not trying to segregate us.

Obviously I disagree with much of what he claims. I expect generations yet unborn will live in a very different world.

Anonymous (0) (0) (0) (0) (0) (0) (0) (0)

Lyall Schwarzkopf (8) (8) (8) (10) (7) (8) (5) (8)

Wayne Jennings (2) (8) (5) (3) (3) (2) (1) (1)

Arvonne Fraser (2) (na) (3) (2) (2) (2) (1) (2)
This interview is horrifying. Men, especially white men, should understand the old patriarchal model of families is neither economically nor morally sound. Most men canít afford families the speaker admires. Even his call for organizing around religion and ethnicity is scary. Such organizations are why we have pervasive racism and sexism, which have resulted in breaking up families. Women no longer tolerate patriarchy and blacks and other minorities are so discriminated against that they canít support families. Very sad that men who call themselves civic leaders think this way.

Paul Magnuson (10) (10) (9) (10) (6) (7) (9) (10)
This subject is very important.

Bill Kuisle (10) (10) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na)

 

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The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Interview Group  includes persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

  John S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje (Executive Director), Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted Kolderie,
Dan Loritz (Chair), Tim McDonald, Bruce Mooty, John Mooty, Jim Olson, Paul Ostrow, Wayne Popham, Dana Schroeder, Clarence Shallbetter, and Fred Zimmerman

 

 

 


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