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Report: WI Has a Long Way to Go to Reduce Racial Disparity

PHOTO: A new report analyzes the need to reduce racial disparities in Wisconsin, which it says has the largest gap in the nation in the well-being of white and black children. Photo courtesy of Annie E. Casey Foundation.
PHOTO: A new report analyzes the need to reduce racial disparities in Wisconsin, which it says has the largest gap in the nation in the well-being of white and black children. Photo courtesy of Annie E. Casey Foundation.
September 10, 2014

MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin has the most dismal record in the nation for the well-being of its African-American children. That's the finding of a report released this morning by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families. Ken Taylor is the council's executive director.

"Not only do the African-American kids in our state have the lowest well-being score in the nation, when you compare their well-being to the well-being of white kids in our nation, that's the largest gap," Taylor says. "So, we're in last place, and with the largest gap."

The council's report is based on figures from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. One of the problems, according to Taylor, is people in Wisconsin simply don't want to believe their state can be "worst in the nation" in terms of the well-being of African-American kids.

"There's this discord, this disconnect between our values, what we think is important, and what these numbers show," Taylor says. "I'm hoping people will be as outraged as I am, and that will cause us to take a good hard look at this."

The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families report suggests solutions to closing the gap lie in "authentically engaging" the families and communities most affected by these disparities. The report details a two-generation approach, supporting under-resourced families and intensifying investments in their children. Taylor says every Wisconsinite must feel a sense of urgency about addressing this problem.

"This is essential, not only because it's the right thing to do, that we can't defend this kind of gap, but it's also the smart thing to do economically for our state," he says. "In the interconnected economy, the world economy in which we live, we're not going to be successful as a state if we continue to leave so many of our residents behind."

Taylor says, some may see it as a Madison-Milwaukee problem, but it affects the entire state - so he believes everyone needs to be involved in the solution.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI