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Saturday, October 25, 2014
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Published: Monday, 4/7/2014

EDITORIAL

Racial divide

African-American children in Ohio are in crisis. They face immense disparities in education, health, and poverty compared to their white peers.

The condition of Ohio’s black children is among the worst in the nation, according to a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, “Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children.” The study measures children’s prospects for academic success, good health, and economic well-being.

Only five states — Michigan, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas — scored lower than Ohio. The statistics are sobering and disappointing.

All children deserve to grow up with a solid foundation for success and opportunity. Yet the report suggests we are failing our children, in Ohio and beyond.

By 2018, children of color will represent the majority of children in the United States. Yet in every region of America, white and Asian-American children are far better positioned than black, Latino, and American Indian children, the report concludes.

“Many in our next generation, especially kids of color, are off track in many issue areas and in nearly every region of the country,” said Patrick McCarthy, president of the Casey Foundation. “Race for Results is a call to action that requires serious and sustained attention from the private, nonprofit, philanthropic, and government sectors to create equitable opportunities for children of color, who will play an increasingly large role in our nation’s well-being and prosperity.”

The study is based on 12 indicators that measure a child’s success in each stage of life, from birth to adulthood. These indicators include reading and math proficiency, high school graduation data, teen pregnancy, employment prospects, family income and education levels, and neighborhood poverty.

Groups of children were ranked on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 1,000 (highest). Asian-American children in Ohio achieved the highest score in the state at 860, followed by white children at 674, Latino children at 432, and African Americans at 274.

“This report puts in stark numbers what we already know in Ohio: that many of our most vulnerable children are falling further and further behind,” said Sarah Biehl, policy director for the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio. “We hope that Ohioans will use these data to re-examine policies and practices at both the state and local levels and address racial disparities head on.”

Ohio has much to do to place its minority children in a position to compete with their white counterparts and thrive. There must be a concerted effort to bridge the racial gap. State and local policymakers must focus on strategies to increase opportunities for children from all racial and ethnic groups.

Ohio will not prosper, nor will America, if such stark disparities continue to fester. Every child should have the same opportunities to meet appropriate economic, health, and educational milestones, and to live in successful families in supportive communities.



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