Parenthood should be affordable in this country, butthe cost of raising a child from birth to adulthood is now a quarter of amillion dollars and projected to double by the time today's toddlers reach their teens.
首段无需过分投入，只需看到两个关键词affordable 和cost 便知文章的话题所在。
Will having kids soon be out of reach economically formany American families? A recent report from the Center for American Progress found that middle-class families are feeling an unprecedented economic squeeze- caught between stagnating wages and the exploding cost of basics like housing, health care and children's education. Most families, it seems, are getting by on less and living closer to the financial edge to help their kids grow up healthy and get ahead.
第二段开篇以设问形式点出文章主体：为什么迫于经济压力，很多美国家庭无法生儿育女?答案的关键词在于“caughtbetween stagnating wages and the exploding cost of basics”
The most striking growth in costs to families has beenin child care, where expenses have climbed about $200 annually in each of thelast dozen years, with nearly ten fold growth since the 1960s. Child care, on average, consumes $1 of every $5 in a family's budget and exceeds the typical rent in every state.
In terms of their kids' health, families increasingly have to choose between treating their children's medical needs and paying household bills. Despite gains in the percentage of children with health insurance, per capita medical spending on kids has quietly ballooned faster than for any other age group, with families paying more for premiums and steeper out-of-pocket expenses.
本段首句再度说明很多家庭的问题在于两难之选：choose between treating their children's medical needsand paying household bills。
For evidence to suggest that middle-class parents might already be getting priced out of parenthood, look to the national birth rate. It fell sharply in the recession but, unlike in previous economicre bounds, has continued to drop. This makes sense in financial context, given that most families haven't seen their incomes grow since the recovery began andthe median net worth of households has actually fallen below what it was 15years ago. Most families today don't have enough saved to meet basic needs for three months, let alone save for college or retirement.
那么背后的深层原因何在?段落首句直指national birthrate, 下面的细节可以暂时忽略不读。
For folks in the middle class, the economic calculus of raising kids must be daunting. Not only are the costs unaffordable, but parents also face a harsh ultimatum: "Keep up with the Gateses" or risk your children's health, achievement and long-term well-being.
Higher-income families spend six times more than working-class families on child care and educational resources, such ashigh-quality day care, summer camps, computers and private schools, which are increasingly indispensable investments in long-term success. This spendingine quity has tripled over the last four decades and is only accelerating, which is likely to widen the achievement gap, creating a vicious cycle.
The public education infrastructure, designed generations ago to drive a strong economy and give every child an equal footing for success, is crumbling from neglect - stuck between those who argue for repair and those who argue for redesign. As a consequence, it is unable to prepare most kids for the new economy. The statistics are grim: Two-thirds of preschoolers don't have access to high-quality child care, two-thirds of public school students fail to meet math and language proficiency by eighth grade, and two-thirds of public high schoolers aren't ready for college when they graduate.
本段中间部分有一个标志性词汇as a consequence, 可知本段关键所在：很多家长跟不上新的经济形势，孩子的未来无法得以保障。
To solve these problems we have increasingly relied on a public safety net designed to catch what used to be a small number of kids falling through the cracks. But over the last 50 years those cracks have become chasms. When funding constraints force programs such as Early Head Start toenroll just 4 percent of eligible children needing early intervention and half of pediatricians opt out of accepting kids on Medicaid, these are clear signsthat it's time to rethink our approach.
看到本段开头便可知，文章进入了解决问题阶段。首先回顾过去的失败历史。从“but over the last 50years those cracks have become chasms”可以看出问题不但没有得到解决，反而愈演愈烈。
These economic realities are contributing to a swift loss of academic opportunity, health prospects and upward mobility among children whose parents cannot afford to spend top dollar. With this de factoeconomic segregation of opportunity leaving working families in the economic dust, we are risking the prosperity and social mobility of our kids for yearsto come.
本段将问题继续严重话，应找到contribute to (引起结果)和risking (可能引起……后果)，借此理清段落结构。
We should be reinvesting in working families and modernizing our public infrastructure. Not only would this make parenthood more feasible, it also makes good economic sense. We know that investing early in kids yields considerable savings by reducing chronic health problems, building stable families and increasing earning potential.The opportunity to raise healthy, smart and successful kids shouldn't be an economic luxury. It's time we made parenthood affordable again by investing more in kids and families.Given that what's at stake is the success of our country, the alternative is unaffordable.