The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s, Kids Count Policy Report, “Race for Results, Building A Path To Opportunity For All Children,” was released last week. This is the second report of its kind, the first was published in 2014. The studies use 12 indicators — from birth weight, preschool enrollment, fourth-grade reading proficiency, eighth-grade math proficiency, on-time high school graduation, two parent families and several others — to “measure how children from different racial backgrounds — African American, American Indian, Asian and Pacific Islander, Latino and white — were faring on the path to opportunity.”
The 2017 report also makes recommendations for “a brighter future” for the children of this country. Without getting into the weeds of the report, the data show nothing surprising when it comes to how children are doing. The index scores are stark reminders — the higher the score — the better the children fair on the 12 indicators by state.
For example, in the state-to-state comparisons, West Virginia’s white children are ranked No. 50, at 525. However, that index score is higher than all but four states for African-American children (Alaska: 626, Idaho: 615, North Dakota: 548 and Utah). West Virginia’s index for white children is better than all but six states when it comes to American Indians and eight states when it comes to Latinos.
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The story is much different when it comes to Asian and Pacific Islander children. All 43 states (seven states were not counted because the data sets were too small) score higher than West Virginia. Seven states indexes of Asian and Pacific Islander children were higher than the top state for white children, which was New Jersey. The Garden State was also the top state for Asian and Pacific Islander children. In fact, on the national index, Asian and Pacific Islander children scored 70 points higher (783) than white children (713).
Reading and math
Two of the indicators in the Race for Results report are fourth-grade reading scores and eighth-grade math scores. Only 3 percent of immigrant Latino children scored at or above proficient in math and only 23 percent of U.S. born Latino children scored proficient. For Asian and Pacific Islanders the numbers were better for immigrant children. Seventeen percent scored proficient or better and 64 percent of U.S. born children were proficient.
For African-American children, immigrant or U.S. born, the percentages were dismal for math, 2 percent and 12 percent, respectively. In reading, 7 percent of immigrant children scored proficient or better and 18 percent for U.S. born African American children.
There are also danger signs for white children. Only 11 percent, coming from immigrant families scored proficient or better in math and 42 percent for U.S. born white children. Geographic differences are stark here with the lowest scoring states in the South.
While the United States is one of the world’s wealthiest nations, we rank ninth among developed countries in child well-being according to a Save the Children study. Forty-three percent of children here are being raised in low-income households and 10 million children are growing up in poor neighborhoods. The study states: “Children of color are more likely to attend schools that lack the resources to meet the needs of all students — especially those of English-language learners and immigrant families.”
What to do?
First realize that our country is changing, 49 percent of its children are children of African American, Latino, American Indian, Asian and Pacific Islander or some combination thereof. The study recommends school systems should “better equip schools in low-income neighborhoods to meet the needs of their students.”
The study explains, in great detail, the disparities that need to be addressed, particularly in the Latino community where many children are living with either one or both parents living in the shadows fearing deportation. It is a tsunami that flows through our society that lands on children the hardest.
It is also important to note that the Race for Results index highest score is 1,000. None of various groups of children broke 800. We have a lot of work to do.