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Michigan Last in Well-Being of African-American Children

Stacy Bogard

By Stacy Bogard, CAE, MASB Assistant Director of Communications, PR & Marketing

DashBoard, Nov. 1, 2017

Michigan is dead last in the nation when it comes to educating African-American students according to a new study. The 2017 Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children from the Annie E. Casey Foundation is the latest national study to paint a dismal picture of public education in Michigan.

Michigan’s scores are lower than the national average in several of the racial and ethnic groups studied, and has the worst well-being score in the nation for African-American children.

The scores were calculated by measuring key indicators of education, health, family and community, and economic security for various racial and ethnic groups. The total scores range from 1 to 1,000 with 1,000 being the best.

African-American children in Michigan had a score of 260, well below the national average of 369. More than 70% are living in low-income families, only 9% are reading proficient and they are tied with Alabama for the lowest eighth grade math proficiency.

While Latino children scored higher than the national average overall, 446 and 429, respectively, 60% of children are in low-income families and they are performing well below their peers on standardized tests and graduating high school at lower rates.

NonHispanic White children also scored lower (667) than the national average of 713, and the percentage living in low-income families is higher than the national average. White and Latino children are in the bottom five states in the country for fourth grade reading proficiency.

Approximately 50% of Michigan's Native American children are living in low-income families, and are the least likely compared to all of the other states to participate in early childhood education programs and struggle with graduating high school on time.

The scores for racial/ethnic groups in Michigan that fared better than the national average were for American Indian/Alaska Native children at 511 compared to 413 nationally, and Asian and Pacific Islander children scored 804 compared to a 783 national average.

“While there are so many success stories in school districts across our state, this study shows we have an uphill climb in doing our part to extend that success to the majority of children in Michigan,” noted MASB Executive Director Don Wotruba. “As we push the Legislature for a new school funding model, based on data like this, we need to ensure that the model prioritizes equity based on the needs of specific student populations rather than equality for everyone. It has become more and more clear that the same amount of money for every child is not going to make the improvements necessary for them to be successful.”

To view the full report, visit the Michigan League for Public Policy website.

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