Report: Black, Latino, and American Indian Students Facing Huge Barriers to Success

Children of color in every state in the country continue to lag significantly behind their Asian and White counterparts in access to quality education and economic opportunities, according to a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Consequently, these kids are more likely to “fall out of the middle class and are more likely to stay in the lower class as adults.”

With the fastest growing populations in the country being minority groups with the lowest levels of educational achievement, the Casey Foundation issued the report, Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children, to call on policymakers to renew their attention on the formidable barriers that face too many students. Failure to do so will continue to undermine the United States’ ability to compete on a global level. For example, the report cites research that establishes that if the United States had closed the racial achievement gap and African American and Latino students had caught up with their White counterparts by 1998, the economy in 2008 would have grown by an additional $525 billion.

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,” explains Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation.

The report ranked states in a Race for Results Index and awarded them composite scores for how well children of different ethnic groups do, based on a scale of one to 1,000. The index of 12 indicators measure a child’s success from birth to adulthood, including reading and math proficiency, high school graduation data, teen birthrates, job prospects, family income and education levels, and neighborhood poverty levels.

The Casey Foundation acknowledges that the index does not capture all of the many complicated dynamics that contribute to a child’s failure or success, but it does, explains Laura Speer, associate director of policy reform and advocacy, “provide a high-level but nuanced look at children in each racial demographic and some of the conditions that explain their circumstances. We see that where a child lives matters and that in nearly every state, African-American, American Indian and Latino children have some of the steepest obstacles to overcome. Our analysis also clearly demonstrates that growing up in an immigrant family can have a significant impact on access to opportunity.”

The Race For Results 12 Index Indicators (Click to Enlarge)

Although African-American, American Indian and Latino children face some of the biggest obstacles on the pathway to opportunity, no one group is meeting all milestones. Asian and Pacific Islander (API) children have the highest index score at 776, followed by White children at 704. Scores for Latino (404), American Indian (387) and African-American (345) children are considerably lower. It is these three groups – including some subgroups of API children – who are faced with the biggest challenges.

In addition to the harsh realities of being born into poverty and unstable family environments, barriers emerge later in their school career, including disciplinary policies that are too harsh and unconstructive. “These policies that often trap them in juvenile justice systems, racial profiling by police and disproportionate arrests of people of color, more severe sentencing for the same offenses and the greater likelihood that young people of color will be tried as adults and incarcerated in adult prisons than whites for the same conduct,” says the report.

The report also makes policy recommendations to help create pathways to opportunity for all our students. The Casey Foundation stresses the importance of working across all sectors and analyzing and sharing reliable and updated data – a key analytical tool that is essential to allocate and assign resources to programs that help children and families prosper. The report also urges that cities and states include better racial inclusion strategies into their economic development projects, connecting vulnerable populations – namely students from low-income families – to new jobs and economic activity.

“It is time to not only think differently, but also to act urgently,” the report states. “The price of letting any group fall behind, already unacceptably high, will get higher.”

  • Jeanette Lewis

    I recently received a young lady in my corrective reading class who came from Cuba. Thank God I speak Spanish that I was asking her how her transition is coming along. Her tears weld up in her eyes; she tells me she feels so lost and confused. She doesn’t understand any of her classes and she cannot do any of her homework. I understand that we believe that Inclusion is the best way for all ELL students to learn English, but in reality, according to (Nieto, Chpt. 1, Page 17), “These young people have been victimized and circumstances can doom them to receive less than they deserve.”
    In our County 60 percent of all pre K-12 educators nationwide currently have at least one ELL student in their classrooms, and this percentage is steadily increasing; I have five in my Reading class. We as teachers now have to implement ELL consideration when teaching the subject they are teaching; keeping the Common Core standards in the back of our minds as we teach our class. But the problem with this we, the teachers are already spread thin. Not all teachers do include or take consideration for the ELL students.
    In the AFT Article called “ English Language Learners,” ELL students are poised to become an even more significant percentage of the nation’s school population, their economic and social impact on the nation’s future cannot be underestimated or overlooked. Without considerable educational improvements and investments, these students will not be prepared to be successful participants in our global and technologically advanced economy. In calling for change, we uphold our core values and tradition of full inclusion and participation, which are so essential to a democracy.” (2001, January 1).

  • Preston James

    What about ADHD???? Has there been any serious look at this and the impact it has on these diverse groups. Here is why I’m asking. One recent and well respected study by Darios Getahun and colleagues found a 70 percent increase in the number of ADHD diagnoses among African-American children, with a 90 percent increase among African-American girls. This is compared to smaller increases in other groups — 60 percent among Hispanic youth and 30 percent among white youth. However, Dr. Richard Gallagher of the Institute for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity and Behavior Disorders at NYU Child Study Center cautions to not be alarmed that there has been a huge jump in the use of the diagnosis of ADHD. In fact, several studies show youth of color have previously been under-diagnosed for ADHD! So, the numbers are on the rise and they’ve been under diagnosed. Hold that thought. Next, the causes of ADHD are debatable, however, here are some major contributors,Poor Diets/Nutrition, Genetics, Stress, Toxins, Hormone Imbalance. Now, if I look at some statistics, like those from the In 2009-10 the national graduation rate for Black male students was 52%. The graduation rate for White, non-Latino males was 78%. This is the first year that more than half of the nation’s Black males in 9th grade graduated with regular diplomas four years later. – See more at: Likewise,In 2009-10, the national graduation rate for Latino males was 58%. Let me be clear, this is a national issue, but for the sake of this comment, I’m addressing NEA article.

    So, what happens when ADHD goes untreated? Many become unproductive adults. Adults with unmedicated ADHD are 78% more likely to be addicted to tobacco and 58% more likely to use illegal drugs than those without ADHD.

    Seventy-nine percent of adults with ADHD who were not treated as children experience symptoms of anxiety, depression, and physical ailments compared with 51% of adults without ADHD.

    The educational implications of untreated ADHD are profound. Up to 58% of children who were not medicated for their ADHD failed a grade in school. In one study, 46% had been suspended from school. As many as 30% of adolescents with untreated ADHD will drop out of or fail to complete high school, compared with 10% of those without ADHD.

    Thirty-eight percent of young adults with unmedicated ADHD have been pregnant or have caused an unwanted pregnancy, compared with 4% of those without ADHD. Seventeen percent of young adults with ADHD have contracted a sexually transmitted disease, as opposed to 4% of those without.

    The list goes on, but i think you get the picture!. Driving, Family Cohesiveness, ability to keep a job and perform well at work. This is millions of young people!!! The impact, I believe is much worse in the African American and Hispanic community where kids are often written off early by their teachers and administrators, especially if they are in a poor, disadvantaged and uninformed household.

    Let’s look back at the causes again. Genetics, Poor Nutrition/Diet, High Stress, Toxins and Hormone Imbalance. There is a HIGH DOSAGE of all of these in many of these homes. Combine this with the parents ( and teachers) being uninformed and you have the basis for a major epidemic!!!

    Treatment for ADHD… It’s expensive and time consuming. The assessment, behavioral therapy, Neurotransmitter testing and ongoing support at home and school is expensive. If you are poor and disadvantaged, getting treatment is that much tougher.

    What am I saying? I believe our country is writing off too many of our children too early in their life and not providing proactive support such as ADHD screening, Behavorial therapy and School Support ( many of our public schools are ill equipped to support the needs of ADHD students.

    Oh, and by the way, ADHD can be attributed to our brain functions. Brain functions are controlled by Brain Neurotransmitters. The medication for ADHD people are to supplement the deficiencies in the Neurotransmitters. Amino Acids are the best source of brain food! Why the deficiencies in the first place? Probably a lot to do with the Amino Acids and other nutrients being depleted via our food manufacturing processes, etc.

    Put this all together, and you have to believe that we are short changing the children of African American and other poorly performing diverse groups.

    We need to approach the problem from a different perspective and get to the root of the problem and not just the symptoms.

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