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Deep Divide Among Ohio Kids, According to New Research

Fewer African American and Latino fourth graders in Ohio are at or above proficiency levels compared to their white and Asian and Pacific Islander peers. (Pixabay)
Fewer African American and Latino fourth graders in Ohio are at or above proficiency levels compared to their white and Asian and Pacific Islander peers. (Pixabay)
October 24, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio – There are deep differences in opportunity among children in Ohio and other states, and a new report sheds light on policies that can help level the playing field.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2017 Race for Results report shows poverty, limited educational opportunities, and family separation are preventing children of color and those from immigrant families from reaching their full potential.

Ashon McKenzie is a policy director with Children's Defense Fund Ohio. He says the data can help drive policy decisions.

"For Ohio children to reach their full potential they need the stability and the pathway to opportunity," he explains. "And this is really true especially for children of color, children living in immigrant families. It's really important for us to get a very big, clear-picture look at what we're seeing."

For key childhood milestones among the states, Ohio ranks 42nd in opportunities for African American children, 23rd for Latino children and 11th for Asian and Pacific Islander children. To improve outcomes, the report suggests expanding access to education and healthcare, prioritizing keeping families together when enforcing immigration policy, and increasing economic opportunities for parents.

In Ohio, the research found that more White and Asian and Pacific Islander fourth-graders are at or above proficiency levels compared to their Black and Latino peers. McKenzie says there are also disparities in employment and higher education engagement.

"We're looking at just 74 percent of black young adults who are in school or working compared with 87 percent of white young adults and 94 percent of Asian and Pacific Islanders," he says.

When it comes to immigrant families, report co-author Laura Speer, the associate director of policy reform and advocacy at the Casey Foundation, says they're earning about 20 percent less annually than U.S. born families.

"Only 47 percent of kids in immigrant families live in households with sufficient income, even though the majority of immigrant parents are in the workforce," she laments.

But, she notes, Ohio's children in immigrant families are beating the odds in some areas, with 84 percent living in two-parent households compared with 66 percent of U.S. kids.

Also, 54 percent of foreign-born young adults in Ohio ages 25 to 29 have completed an associate's degree or higher compared with 40 percent of young adults born in the U.S.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH