Single-Parent Families: Revisiting the Moynihan Report 50 Years Later

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Spring 2015 issue of Education Next is dedicated to revisiting on its 50th anniversary Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s 1965 report “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action” (generally referred to as the Moynihan Report). The issue features articles by leading scholars that document changes in family structure over the last 50 years and discuss the policy approaches that might be undertaken to address the social problems that have accompanied these changes.

This event was webcast live on March 5, 2015. A video of the event is below.

For more information, see the Education Next website.

12:15 p.m. Welcome
• Introduction: Paul E. Peterson, Harvard University; Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
12:30 p.m. Keynote Address
• Senator Lamar Alexander, Chair of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
1:15 p.m. Panel I: Causes and Consequences of Single-Parent Families
Chair: Martin R. West, Harvard Graduate School of Education
• Paul E. Peterson, Harvard University; Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution: Impact of Social Policy on Changes in Family Structure
• William Julius Wilson, Harvard Kennedy School: Concentrated Poverty and the Black Male’s Struggle for Work
• Greg J. Duncan, University of California Irvine: Family Structure and Educational Attainment
• George Will, Washington Post
2:45 p.m. Break
3 p.m. Panel II: Strengthening Families and Improving Educational Outcomes
Chair: Gerard Robinson, Patten University
• James T. Patterson, Brown University: The Moynihan Report
• Isabel Sawhill, Brookings Institution: Creating Stable Environments for Children
• Robert L. Woodson, Sr., Center for Neighborhood Enterprise
• William Galston, Brookings Institution
4:30 p.m. Adjourn



Paul E. Peterson
Paul E. Peterson is the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government in the Department of Government at Harvard University. He directs the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance, is Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and is Editor-In-Chief of Education Next, a journal of opinion and research. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Education, he is an author or editor of over 30 books, four of which have been identified as the best work in its field by the American Political Science Association.

Senator Lamar Alexandar
Senator Lamar Alexander is a United States Senator from Tennessee. He received his B.A. from Vanderbilt University and his J.D. from New York University Law School. He served as governor of Tennessee, 1979-1987; chairman of the National Governors Association, 1985-1986; U.S. Secretary of Education 1991-1993; and chair of the Republican Conference, 2008-2012. He was elected as a Republican to the U.S. Senate in 2002 and is currently in his third term in that role, serving as chair of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in the 114th Congress.

Martin R. West
Martin West is an associate professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, deputy director of Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance, and an executive editor of Education Next, a journal of opinion and research. West’s research examines the politics of K-12 education policy in the United States and the impact of policy on student learning and non-cognitive development.

William Julius Wilson
William Julius Wilson is Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University. Recipient of the 1998 National Medal of Science, he is the author of several award winning publications, including The Declining Significance of Race, which received the American Sociological Association’s Sydney Spivack Award; The Truly Disadvantaged, which was selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review as one of the 16 best books of 1987, and received The Washington Monthly Annual Book Award; and When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor, which was selected as one of the notable books of 1996 by the editors of The New York Times Book Review and received the Sidney Hillman Foundation Award.

Greg J. Duncan
Greg Duncan is a Distinguished Professor in the School of Education and Departments of Economics and Psychology and Social Behavior at the University of California at Irvine. He studies the economic mobility of the U.S. population, both within and across generations, with a particular focus on low-income families. His research has highlighted the importance of early childhood as a sensitive period for the damaging influences of economic deprivation as well as for the beneficial impacts of policy-induced income increases for working families. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001 and the National Academy of Education in 2009. He served as president of the Population Association of American in 2007-2008, and currently is the president of the Society for Research in Child Development. He has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan.

George F. Will
George Will writes a twice-weekly column on politics and domestic and foreign affairs for The Washington Post. He began his column with The Post in 1974, and he received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1977. He is also a contributor to FOX News’ daytime and primetime programming. His books include: One Man’s America: The Pleasures and Provocations of Our Singular Nation (2008), Restoration: Congress, Term Limits and the Recovery of Deliberative Democracy (1992), Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball (1989), The New Season: A Spectator’s Guide to the 1988 Election (1987) and Statecraft as Soulcraft (1983). Will grew up in Champaign, Illinois, attended Trinity College and Oxford University and received a Ph.D. from Princeton.

Gerard Robinson
Gerard Robinson was most recently Vice President of Partnerships with UniversityNow, Inc., whose mission is to ensure that a quality higher education is available to people everywhere through campus and online degree programs at regionally accredited Patten University, where he is a trustee. He is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Education Policy at the City University of New York. He is also a board member for the Georgia G.O.A.L Scholarship Program, a founding board member of K.I.P.P. STRIVE Academy, a member emeritus at Chiefs for Change, and an advisory committee member for both the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University and the Center for School Reform at the Pioneer Institute. Robinson served as Florida Commissioner of Education and as Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Robinson was President of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. Robinson earned an Ed.M. from Harvard University, a B.A. from Howard University, and received an honorary doctorate from Bluefield College in Virginia.

James T. Patterson
James Patterson is Ford Foundation Professor of history Emeritus at Brown University. His many works include two entries in the Oxford History of the United States series—Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974, which won a Bancroft Prize, and Restless Giant: The United State from Watergate to Bush v. Gore—as well as Brown v. Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone and Its Troubled Legacy, Freedom Is Not Enough: The Moynihan Report and America’s Struggle over Black Family Life-from LBJ to Obama, and The Eve of Destruction: How 1965 Transformed America. His research focused on legal, social, and political history, as well as the history of education, medicine, and race relationships.

Isabel V. Sawhill
Isabel Sawhill is a senior fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution. She serves as co-director of the Budgeting for National Priorities project and co-director of the Center on Children and Families. In 2009, she began the Social Genome Project, an initiative by the Center on Children and Families that seeks to determine how to increase economic opportunity for disadvantaged children. She served as vice president and director of the Economic Studies program from 2003 to 2006. Prior to joining Brookings, Dr. Sawhill was a senior fellow at The Urban Institute. She also served as an associate director at the Office of Management and Budget from 1993 to 1995.

Robert L. Woodson, Sr.
Robert L. Woodson, Sr. is Founder and President of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. Bob Woodson’s social activism dates back to the 1960s, when as a young civil rights activist, he developed and coordinated national and local community development programs. During the 1970’s he directed the National Urban League’s Administration of Justice division. Later he served as a Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. For more than four decades, he has promoted the principles of self-help and neighborhood empowerment and the importance of the institutions of civil society.

William A. Galston
William Galston holds the Ezra K. Zilkha Chair in the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program, where he serves as a senior fellow. A former policy advisor to President Clinton and presidential candidates, Galston is an expert on domestic policy, political campaigns, and elections. His current research focuses on designing a new social contract and the implications of political polarization. Galston is the author of eight books and more than 100 articles in the fields of political theory, public policy, and American politics. Galston has appeared on all the principal television networks and is a frequent commentator on NPR. He writes a weekly column for the Wall Street Journal.  

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