Does Race Still Matter? New Studies Sadly Say Yes

Does Race Still Matter? New Studies Sadly Say Yes

A trio of new reports and resources released in the last few weeks show that youth outcomes are still significantly tied to race:

(1) On March 21, the U.S. Department of Education released what it calls an “expansive survey” of American public schools, showing wide disparities in discipline, honors enrollment, and gifted and talented placement based on race.  The searchable database now allows visitors to find their own schools or school divisions.  It marks the first time since 2000 that such data has been compiled and the first time that the content is searchable online.  U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan notes that, ”This data collection shines a clear, unbiased light on places that are delivering on the promise of an equal education for every child and places where the largest gaps remain. In all, it is clear that the United States has a great distance to go to meet our goal of providing opportunities for every student to succeed.”

(2) A few days later, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released “Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children.”  The report “compares how children are progressing on key milestones across racial and ethnic groups at the national and state level. The index is based on 12 indicators that measure a child’s success in each stage of life, from birth to adulthood.”  Through a composite score, the report shows that there are wide gaps between Asian and Pacific Islander (scoring 776) and white children (704), compared to Latino (404), American-Indian (387), and African American (345) children.  One very small bright spot for Virginia is that while the disparities hold, the Virginian-Pilot reported that “the well-being of children in several races in Virginia is above the national average.”

(3) Finally, The Education Trust released “Falling out of the Lead,” a study that examines the experiences of high achieving high school students who come from lower socio-economic statuses or who are people of color.  Their research found “that many black and Latino students and students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds who enter high school as top academic performers lose important ground as they progress toward graduation day.”

Individually, each report is quite compelling. When considered together, they make a critical case for the importance of organizations like the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities that are working to address gaps and outcomes along lines of race, class, and national origin in schools.

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