The following editorial appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released a new report that people won’t like for different reasons. At a time when many Americans insist it’s time to stop thinking in terms of black and white, or brown or yellow, the Casey report says race still matters.
The foundation devised a Race for Results Index, which considered metrics such as the number of babies born at normal weights, eighth graders who scored at or above proficient in math, children in two-parent families, and children in families above 200 percent of the poverty level. Then it scored each racial group on a scale of 0 to 1,000.
Asian and Pacific Islander children had the highest average score, 776, followed by white children, 704. Then there’s a huge drop to Latino, 404; American Indian, 387; and African-American, 345.
Asian and Pacific Islander children scored below 600 only in Alaska and Rhode Island. American Indian children scored above 600 in only one state, Texas, and as low as 185 in South Dakota. African-American children’s top score was 583 in Hawaii, and their lowest was 238 in Wisconsin. Latino children’s top score was 673 in Alaska; their lowest was 331 in Alabama.
If you want to look beyond skin color, there are other ways to view these numbers. A common denominator for the lowest scores in every state is poverty, which inhibits children’s ability to advance educationally and succeed in life. At least one out of every three African-American, Latino and American Indian children in this country lives in a household mired in poverty.
The Casey Foundation says the success of minority children has also been hampered by past policies such as the discriminatory application of the GI Bill, which denied benefits to many nonwhite veterans; redlining by the Federal Housing Administration, which kept families in minority neighborhoods from getting mortgages; and the current inadequate funding of largely minority urban schools.
The vestiges of past discrimination shouldn’t be allowed to continue to wreak havoc on families. The Census Bureau says that in four years, most of this country’s children will be children of color. By 2030, most of the labor force will consist of people of color. If their chances for a better future aren’t improved, what will become of our nation?
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