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Virginia Delivers "Results" for Most Kids, but Racial Barriers Remain

April 2, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. - A comparison of how Virginia's kids are faring when it comes to health, wealth and education shows staggering barriers depending on their race.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's report, "Race for Results," reveals no one racial group has all children meeting all milestones, but some of the biggest obstacles are in education. A look at fourth-grade reading skills shows some children of color falling behind, said Ted Groves, Kids Count director for Voices for Virginia's Children.

"Twenty-three percent of black fourth-graders read proficiently," Groves said. "Twenty-five percent of Latinos, 51 percent whites, and 65 percent of Asian fourth-graders read proficiently."

While Virginia children are doing better overall than those in most other states, Groves said, the report is a call to action for Virginia policymakers. He said understanding race-based data is especially important for those overseeing the public education system.

"Policymakers need to focus on reading proficiency," he said, "and focus on closing the achievement gap by increasing the number of children of color in preschool education."

The report highlights serious obstacles facing African-American, Latino, Native American and some subgroups of Asian-American children - problems that Groves says lawmakers in the state and nation cannot ignore.

"Rapidly changing demographics of American society means that children of color will play an important role in the country's future prosperity," he said. "By 2018, children of color will represent the majority of children. By 2030, the majority of the workforce will be filled by people of color."

The report, "Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children," is available online at aecf.org.

Alison Burns, Public News Service - VA