College is talked about as the new twelfth grade, and if that can't be managed then there is no saying how far, at a time of increasing inequality, a child might fall. It's either the L.L. Bean Katahdin 35 or the ragged sheets ... (Lower-income children are too often cut off from an autonomous adulthood by being shunted into the criminal-justice system. There are now ten thousand juveniles in adult jails and prisons.) ... in May, a study showed that, for the first time in more than a century, more eighteen-to-thirty-four-year-olds are living with their parents than with a romantic partner. That is exhausting, on both sides. And yet it's too easy, in all this, to forget how hard the supposedly infantilized children are working. Nostalgia for a time when getting an undergraduate degree, or even just a high-school diploma, was enough to achieve a middle-class standard of living is really a longing for a time when growing up in America was all one needed to do. Rising inequality has corroded that belief. That is a structural problem, not a cultural one, and it's not going to be solved by deciding ... that school plays are a waste of time.
Amy Davidson, "Parental Controls," The New Yorker, Aug. 1 issue