Looking Deeper, However, Shows Disparities For Children Of ColorBy Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A recent study conducted by the Children’s Defense Fund found that Minnesota remains among the top five states in children well-being, but deeper analysis shows some troubling disparities in economic stability and education for children of color.

While 15 percent of all Minnesota kids live in poverty, the numbers are much higher for children of color: 46 percent of African American kids, 38 percent of American Indian kids, 30 percent of Latino kids and 20 percent of Asian children live in poverty.

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“At first glance it’s impressive that Minnesota has consistently ranked among the top five states in the KIDS COUNT child well-being index,” said Stephanie Hogenson, Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota (CDF-MN) Research and Policy Director. “But when you dive deeper into the data and examine child outcomes by race and ethnicity it becomes evident that for children of color and Native American children in Minnesota the path to success is steeper.”

Other troubling trends are the spike in children living in single-parent families and children living in high poverty neighborhoods. Since 1990, children living in single-parent families rose from 18 percent to 29 percent. The percentage of children living in high poverty areas also increased by 50 percent since 1990.

Minnesota kids are doing better in the classroom than almost anywhere in the country, but, still, it’s not as good as it sounds.

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While the state ranks sixth for education, the study also found 59 percent of the state’s fourth-graders are not proficient in reading and 53 percent of eighth-graders are not proficient in math.

“In reading, we have fewer than half, 41 percent of fourth graders are proficient in reading in Minnesota and that is one of the best outcomes in the country and that is not something to brag about,” Hogenson said.

Children of color are less likely to go to preschool, too, which further puts them behind.

“They are less likely to have better educational outcomes, less likely to attend preschool, [less likely to] graduate on time and be proficient in math and reading,” Hogenson added.

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On the bright side, however, the teen birth rate is a historic low and the death rate for children and teens has fallen.

Esme Murphy