Sharon Lerner

Sharon Lerner covers education, work/life, and other issues affecting children and families and conceived of the Prospect's special report on early education. She is a Senior Fellow at Demos, a progressive think tank. 

Recent Articles

Segregation Nation

Omaha's radical attempt at school integration shows how beneficial diversity can be -- and how hard it can be to sustain.

Tyliesha Tucker attends a well-regarded high school in Nebraska's Bellevue school district. Last year, Tyliesha, who is 15 and "pretty hilarious" by her own description, went to her local school in the Omaha Public School District. So did her 13-year-old brother, Kevin. But then there was the incident in the bathroom with a group of girls who had been tormenting her. Tyliesha won't tell me exactly what happened. But her mother, Mildred, knows and remembers well the day it happened: "Tyliesha kept calling me, crying, saying, 'Take me out of here!'" Mildred had been worried about her kids well before that. Kevin, who was in eighth grade at the time, kept getting into fights on the school bus. And Tyliesha had been complaining to her mom about bullying and gang violence for a while. The previous year, her friend had been shot right near the school. So the bathroom incident was really just the last straw. "That was the day I decided to opt her out of that school," says Mildred, an African...

The Part-Time Bind

Mothers who need flexible work-from-home opportunities make easy prey for online marketing scams.

(Flickr/Sean Dreilinger)
It's easy to see how mothers wind up out of the workplace. Sometimes, a lack of maternity leave turns the birth of a child into an all-or-nothing proposition: Leave the tiny baby before you're ready to, or quit your job. Or the child-care options are so dismal, nothing feels right. And, of course, many women simply prefer to be with their children. But what's less obvious -- or less talked about, anyway -- is what happens to women once they do leave work. To whatever degree mothers who leave work for home choose to do so, they often find themselves in dire financial straits. Indeed, even as the image of the hyper-privileged opt-out mother lives on, recent census figures confirmed that stay-at-home moms tend to be less educated and poorer than the rest of mothers. So, instead of enjoying mommy-and-me yoga or relaxed walks in the park, too many mothers are instead desperately searching for ways to earn money that allow them to continue caring for their children. This is Rachel Foster's...

The Sex-Ed Divide

If Maple Grove Senior High chose a prom queen, Ashley Gort would have had a good shot at the crown. Ashley, a petite and popular junior with delicate features, wore deep-sea blue to the event, accessorizing her fully beaded gown with a blue necklace like the one Kate Winslet wore in Titanic and matching blue rhinestones scattered over her pale blond hair. Her boyfriend, Mike Conlin, borrowed his uncle's Lexus to ferry Ashley to dinner at Landmark Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Driving away from the restaurant on an unseasonably warm night a few months ago, the couple looked as if they might be headed off for a romantic evening. But while many of their classmates spent the wee hours in rented hot tubs or boogying in Minneapolis clubs, Ashley and Mike drove the half-hour north to a friend's finished basement in their suburban hometown. With their parents stationed upstairs and peeking in at regular intervals, Ashley, Mike, and a few other couples watched movies, played Ping-Pong, and...