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Report Highlights Racial Inequities Among Children

Annie E. Casey Foundation

Looking at the well-being of Illinois’ children through a racial lens … shows big disparities, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual KIDS count report.

Racial disparities show up on measures of health, educational achievement, and economic well-being.

Bill Byrnes is KIDSCount Project Manager for Voices for Illinois Children, which participates in the report.

“Children’s lives turn out very differently based on their race and ethnicity, and some of the challenges we face in Illinois are pretty significant.”

For instance, while the poverty rate for all Illinois children is at 17 percent, for black children it’s more than double that at almost 40 percent. Latinos are just a few points above the state average, while white children are well below.

That snapshot of the well-being of children puts Illinois in the middle of the pack on most issues — except education, where the state ranks 12th.

“Despite the high ranking there, we still face some pretty significant challenges in reducing wide racial and ethnic disparities “

Almost 90 percent of Illinois’s African-American eighth graders were considered below-proficiency in math. That’s compared to 58 percent of white children.

Byrnes says there is recognition of the racial inequity problem in Illinois’ education system, hence recent reforms. 

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is news editor and equity and justice beat reporter for NPR Illinois, where she has been on the staff since 2014 after Illinois Issues magazine’s merger with the station. She joined the magazine’s staff in 1998 as projects editor and became managing editor in 2003. Prior to coming to the University of Illinois Springfield, she was an education reporter and copy editor at three local newspapers, including the suburban Chicago Daily Herald, She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in English from UIS.
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