Home, for example, is no longer the place where “father knows best.” More and more, families are headed by women, many of them single parents. In fact, the so-called nuclear family (you know, Mom and Dad and Dick and Jane and Spot) is becoming a relic of the past.
As to schools, one of the old pillars of community, although they are very much alive and well, they are far from the neighborhood schools older ones of us remember as children. Today’s schools are more likely to be magnet-type schools where children are bused great distances to attend.
Then, of course, there is the growth of the charter school movement. Although such schools typically are referred to as “public,” that is true only because they have been able to tap into public funding for education. The difference is that parents may choose to send their child to a charter school, but the school must also choose the student.
It is an option truly “public” schools do not have.
Bottom line, neighborhood public schools are also fast becoming a relic of the past. This is no small thing. In many ways, neighborhood schools were part of the cement, the pillars, that held communities together. For good or ill, as schools have changed, so too have the ties that once bound neighborhood people together.
As to churches, they too have undergone profound changes. All the way from small churches to the larger ones, children and families from the neighborhood in which they sit seldom attend. Their parishioners come from other places, often from great distances, to attend Sunday worship services and then go back where they came from.
I do not know the full meaning of these changes. Their meaning, however, generally is expressed in negative terms. But I’m not so sure.