Some very troubling assertions emerge from a new report using a broad range of data to forecast American children’s chances for success in life.
According to the report, a huge disparity exists from individual to individual, group to group. And at the basis of it is race.
Highlights of the findings were included in an Associated Press story in last Wednesday’s Press-Republican. The study was done by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the lives and prospects of children throughout the United States.
While, predictably, the study found gaps in achievement and future success from one child to the next, it showed deep divides by race.
Asian and white children ranked dramatically higher than Latinos, American Indians and African-Americans across the board and in every region of the country in chances for success.
Far more study is needed, but short-term action is urgently required. In the long run, something fundamental has to change about the way children are raised and educated, if we assume the study has validity.
What do those numbers tell us about ourselves as a nation? That we stand by and let certain groups thrive while others struggle? That we are satisfied if some score disproportionately to others? That we have created a system in which only certain people can prosper? That social conditions are fostered that favor some groups and drag down others?
If poverty or education biases are factors, we must effectively address the conditions that promote those.
And is it really a racial issue? Or are there community issues that seem to swallow certain racial categories in greater proportion to others?
The report calls the challenges facing black children “a national crisis.” We cannot allow any group to fall behind others and face a future no better than its past. Leadership among all racial groups is needed to analyze and attack this failing.
As schools and governments evaluate what role they might play in this sad situation, so must parents. Most people know the elements of home life that add up to success for children, among those having a stable, safe and supportive atmosphere; parents who read to their kids and try to stimulate their minds; nutritious food in sufficient quantities; limited access to violent games, movies and TV shows; and rules that maintain order and routine.
Philanthropic, community, church and social organizations can work on educating families about how to create the kind of solid start at home that children can then build on during their school days.
So often, studies are compiled and their results publicized and that is the last most of us hear of them. This one is too important to let age on a shelf.
Americans must know what is causing this crippling disparity in children’s futures and how to end it.