"Mother's Baby, Father's Maybe"

From my column in Taki's Magazine:

A young English teacher at a public high school in New Jersey emails me: 

I’m just in my third year of teaching, so I get stuck with the remedial classes. I mean, what are you going to do? But the stress of dealing with bad behavior is wearing me down. I ask myself why the old teacher’s honors classes are full of well-behaved students, while mine are—I've got to say it—bastards

After dozens of parent conferences, maybe I’ve figured it out. My students are bastards. Literally. My remedial kids come from chaotic families. The honors teachers meet with Prof. and Dr. Smith. But I meet with Ms. Jones and her four misbehaving kids by three baby daddies, none of whom seem to be around. 

I used to think all those ancient putdowns of poor little illegitimate children were awful, and we’re so much better than they were back then. But, I’m starting to think they knew something we don’t.

Two out of five children are now born out of wedlock, so, uh…get used to it, America!

But that raises the perennial question of what percentage of children born in wedlock were actually fathered by someone else. Few topics generate more heat and less light than “mother’s baby, father’s maybe.”