"Race for Results" Ranks States Based On Opportunities for Children Of Color and The Results Kind Of Suck
A new report from the Annie E. Casey foundation compares how well different states are doing at providing opportunity for children across racial and ethnic lines. And it turns out that while white and Asian and Pacific Islander children are doing pretty well across the board in this country, children who are black, Latino, or Native American are not so lucky. The report, called "Race for Results" analyzed a variety of factors, including graduation rates, rates of teen pregnancy, the number of children who tested proficient in various subjects, and the number of children who live in low-poverty areas, and ultimately paints a picture of a country that is deeply unequal.
For black children, it turns out that the state that the state with the most opportunity is Hawaii, while the state with the least is Wisconsin (though the report was unable to supply data for four states). Looking at opportunity for Latino children, the national average was higher than than of black students, and most states did hover very close to that average – but you'd still be much better off growing up Latino in Alaska than Alabama.
For Native Americans, on the other hand, it's children in Texas who have the most comparative advantages, while many states where Native Americans make up much greater percentages of the population were more likely to be below average – in fact South Dakota, where Native Americans make up almost 9 percent of the population ranked last among the states for which the report had data. Though, it's worth noting the total Native population of Texas is much greater than that of South Dakota, so that's good? Right? Maybe?
However, even the highest ranked states for black, Latino, and Native American children are below the averages for white and Asian and Pacific Islander children. And the states that rank well for these demographic groups also correspond to states that rank well in education overall. Wisconsin, for instance, is the state that has the least to offer to black children living there, but gets a B in overall education, and is ranked well above average in terms of opportunity for white children. Meanwhile, Massachusetts is often ranked as the best in the nation when it comes to education, but ranks well below average in providing opportunities to Latino children.
There are many more frustrating bits of data to be gleaned from this report, but the overall message is very clear: the playing field is this country is far from level. Not only do some states do a poor job of serving some or all of their children of color – or any children at all; Arkansas, for instance, ranks below average on all racial categories – but no matter where children of color might grow up, their state still will not provide the advantages the average white child receives.
In a country that prides itself on equality and opportunity, this is blatant hypocrisy. And in addition to being cruel and unfair, it's also bad for the nation. As the "Race for Results" report itself observes, "As our country becomes more diverse, our future prosperity, global competitiveness, and community strength increasingly hinge on the success of children of color." And yet children of color are given comparatively little opportunity to achieve success.
So what can be done about it? "Race for Results" suggests that states need to collect and analyze more data on the subject and use that data to come up with new policies to help children of color reach the same comparative advantages as their white peers.
So will we see this happen any time soon? One can only hope. Because it's clear that as long as children are held back by the color of their skin or the state in which they happen to be born, we really can't call this country "the land of opportunity."