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Voices for Illinois Children releases its annual Illinois Kids Count report

Thursday, Oct 12, 2017

* Sun-Times

An annual tracking of child well-being finds huge gaps statewide in educational access and achievement that spans birth through college, and disproportionally affects low-income and minority children.

Illinois Kids Count 2017, being released Thursday by Voices for Illinois Children, blames systemic inequities in access to early childhood education, public funding for kindergarten through 12th grade, and both readiness for and access to college for those disheartening education statistics.

The annual report by the advocacy group shines new light on the critical nature of recent reforms to Illinois’ public education funding system. It found 82 percent of state kids most in need had access to preschool in 2015.

In 2016, only 22 percent of third-graders in that same population were meeting English Language Arts standards; and only 14 percent of sixth-graders were meeting math standards. Racial disparities in graduation rates remain entrenched. In 2016, only 75 percent of African-American students graduated in four years; 81 percent of Hispanic students, and 90 percent of white students. […]

Of those enrolling in college, less than half were meeting college readiness benchmarks, and only 60 percent were graduating from public or private nonprofit colleges and universities.

* From Voices for Illinois Children…

“The data in the 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book clearly proves that to build a future for Illinois where every child is a high achiever, we must reduce systemic inequities and increase support for the students who need it most,” said Tasha Green Cruzat, President of Voices for Illinois Children. “It’s time for leaders across Illinois to fulfill their promise to all our children by providing adequate revenue for quality and competitive programming. We must close the achievement gap and give children, in every community, the tools they need to reach their full potential.”

Through recent policy and budget changes – specifically affecting early childhood education programs, K-12 funding, school breakfast options, after school program access, high school and postsecondary alignment – Illinois has taken steps to reduce educational inequities for children across the state. The 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book concludes that in order to build on the State’s foundation and continue the progress of these policies, Illinois must raise additional revenue.

The 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book concludes Illinois will only make systemic gains in education for all groups of students by:

    · Increasing investments in quality early childhood education programs for low and middle-income children;
    · Examining and addressing inequities in school resources, teacher and principal distribution, course rigor and discipline practices;
    · Coordinating support services so that every child has access to food, safe after-school programming and mental and health services.

“This information shines a clear light on where Illinois has made progress and where challenges remain,” said Anna Rowan, KIDS COUNT Manager at Voices for Illinois Children. “The expansion of access to early childhood education is promising, yet too many children still lag behind and graduate high school without the tools they need for college and a career. While new policies are a step in the right direction, we must continue to make necessary investments, especially in low-income and minority communities, so every child has the chance succeed.”

* From the introduction to the report

The 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book uses 16 indicators to rank each state across four domains — health, education, economic well-being, and family and community — that represent what children need most to thrive. Illinois ranks:

    10th in health. Illinois has been a national leader in providing children with access to health insurance. From 2010 to 2015, Illinois cut the uninsured rates for African-American and Latino children in half, from 6 percent to 3 percent, for both groups.

    13th in education. Early childhood education has been a bright spot for Illinois. Less than half of 3- and 4-year olds do not attend school, ranking the state fifth in this indicator. However, the state still has significant work to do to close the achievement and attainment gaps that exist between low-income and minority students from their white and more affluent peers.

    25th in economic well-being. Illinois families continue to struggle with economic security. Although more kids’ parents are now working full-time, year-round jobs than in 2010, the percentage of children living in poverty has not changed when comparing the height of the Great Recession in 2010 to 2015 data.

    28th in the family and community domain. Illinois has made great strides in reducing the teen birth rate. There were more than 6,000 fewer teen births in 2015 than in 2010. But there are still far too many children living in high-poverty areas and in single-parent families.

The data show that key investments in health and early education have reduced racial disparities among children. Although Latino children still lag behind in preschool attendance, there is little difference between the percentage of African-American and white children who aren’t attending preschool. Additionally, all groups of kids are accessing health insurance at roughly the same rate. However, there is still work to do to lessen other disparities. For example, more than two-thirds of the half a million Illinois children living in poverty are children of color. If Illinois elected officials fail to enact a budget for a third year, we run the very real risk of causing disparities to grow and wiping out the progress we’ve made.

The full report is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Ghost - Thursday, Oct 12, 17 @ 11:48 am:

    Sorry no money for poor kids…. we saved it for luxury foreign vacations for the governor and his police entourage

  2. - Arizona Bob - Thursday, Oct 12, 17 @ 12:11 pm:

    I got involved with VOICES when it first started, but it became clear early on that they weren’t about improving the quality and effectiveness of Illinois education, they were most interested in getting more taxpayer money on the table for the unions and bureaucracy to plunder. For example, even thought they know that Illinois spends about 18% per pupil more than the national average, they CHOOSE not to ask what that extra money is buying for students. They know that spending per pupil increased at abut double the rate of inflation from the late 90s to the 2010s, but never demand to know why with all those increases the school year hasn’t increased contact days substantially. They never question the inequality of union negotiated salary schedules that result in senior faculty getting paid often double the “journeyman” rate for teachers often wi, they’re without any better outcomes for the seniors, and often worse. Indeed they’re not the voices for Illinois CHILDREN, they’re the voices for Illinois unions and bureaucrats.

  3. - Arizona Bob - Thursday, Oct 12, 17 @ 12:14 pm:

    Sorry for not giving poor kids the extra contact days they need, even though we spend 18% per pupil above national average. We’re just too busy increasing salaries in filed systems above inflation and funding gold plated pensions and ADDITIONAL annuities for our adminstrators…

  4. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 12, 17 @ 12:18 pm:

    ===… Illinois education, they were most interested in getting more taxpayer money on the table for the unions and bureaucracy to plunder.===

    … and in a not too surprising turn of events, - Arizona Bob - makes it, as always, about unions, teachers, and pensions.

    At least you got to a second or third thought before… lol

  5. - cdog - Thursday, Oct 12, 17 @ 12:47 pm:

    Besides all this, a true indicator of success/achievement is parental involvement.

    There is most likely a direct correlation between a child’s failure to educationally thrive and the education values in the home.

    Crack that nut, and maybe we, as a society, can get somewhere with these kids.

    In the meantime, expecting schools to teach values is a hopeless thought.

  6. - JS Mill - Thursday, Oct 12, 17 @ 1:50 pm:

    =Besides all this, a true indicator of success/achievement is parental involvement.

    There is most likely a direct correlation between a child’s failure to educationally thrive and the education values in the home.=

    I don’t agree with you very often but when you are right, you are right. And boy are you right.

    If parents are positively engaged with the school (50% of that is the schools responsibility) that goes a long way toward success as well.

    There are many moving parts but parent engagement is huge.

    = expecting schools to teach values is a hopeless thought.=

    Whose “values” should we teach? That is rhetorical, given how divided we are these days as a society it is almost impossible to agree on values.

    We try to focus on respect, attendance, and hard work. If we can establish a foundation there, we have it pretty good. Everything else is about teaching and ever expanding set of state mandates.

  7. - Rod - Thursday, Oct 12, 17 @ 1:54 pm:

    The evidence based funding model will no doubt fix many of the problems discussed in the report over the next ten years, or not depending on whether there is actually funding for this. By the way what kind on interest will we have all paid on the additional $7.5 billion in State government debt hidden away by agencies and discussed by the Comptroller this week?

  8. - cdog - Thursday, Oct 12, 17 @ 2:10 pm:

    It’s nice to agree on this, and discussion surely cannot hurt, so I respond.

    I strongly feel that the lack of a comprehensive common moral framework in America is dooming generations of kids.

    Values are taught and perfected through life. We are what we do. I think Aristotle said “virtue is a habit.” But it has to be taught, we aren’t born that way.

    There are probably 20-30 moral values that are agreeable across all cultures and persuasions, but there is no longer a “village” of guides affecting young kids. I’ve heard that a new mom is lucky to have 2-3 decent quality parenting mentors (like mom, aunt, gma). I actually know young moms that really have no one except those that are bad influences due to work ethic, alcohol, drugs, crime etc.


  9. - Last Bull Moose - Thursday, Oct 12, 17 @ 2:25 pm:

    Reducing the teen birth rate has helped. We still have 50% plus of births paid for by Medicaid. That means the child is born into poverty.

  10. - crazybleedingheart - Thursday, Oct 12, 17 @ 2:55 pm:

    ==We try to focus on respect, attendance, and hard work.==

    You obviously don’t teach at an elite school.

  11. - Free Set of Steak Knives - Thursday, Oct 12, 17 @ 3:00 pm:

    === Besides all this, a true indicator of success/achievement is parental involvement.

    There is most likely a direct correlation between a child’s failure to educationally thrive and the education values in the home.

    Crack that nut, and maybe we, as a society, can get somewhere with these kids.

    In the meantime, expecting schools to teach values is a hopeless thought. ===

    Why is it that decaying urban values is our default argument?

    And who exactly are “these kids”?

    1 in ten white children doesn’t graduate from high school in time. Is that because “these kids” don’t have parents that have the right values?

    Or is it just possible that its not some intrinsic flaw of the parent’s character, but something else at play here, a factor that also correlates with race?

    Because according to the largest study of educational achievement ever, looking at data from 27 countries across 20 years, the best predictor of a child’s educational development isn’t race, parental involvement, or parental education level, but how many books there are in that child’s home.

  12. - crazybleedingheart - Thursday, Oct 12, 17 @ 3:01 pm:

    The report reveals structural problems in the opportunities Illinois provides children.

    The comments here shift to a discussion of individual families and values.

    The morality most in need of change is the one in which systemic inequities are considered avoidable.

  13. - cdog - Thursday, Oct 12, 17 @ 3:17 pm:

    “but how many books there are in that child’s home.”

    I think you just made my point. Parents that value education buy books.

  14. - cdog - Thursday, Oct 12, 17 @ 3:21 pm:

    “The morality most in need of change is the one in which systemic inequities are considered avoidable.”

    I don’t understand this. Systems are tough to change but inequities are avoidable. Parent inequities are another matter.

  15. - Last Bull Moose - Thursday, Oct 12, 17 @ 3:27 pm:

    Crazybleedingheart. Women are choosing to have children that are born into poverty. Sometimes this is because they want a child to give them my unconditional love. Sometimes it is a mistake and abortion is not an option for religious reasons.

    You see systemic inequity where I see personal choices.

  16. - crazybleedingheart - Thursday, Oct 12, 17 @ 4:56 pm:

    cdog, I misspoke. I meant that discussion and problem-solving about inequity is usually avoidable by simply shifting the conversation to individual choices. As has been done here.

    And that it is immoral.

  17. - cdog - Thursday, Oct 12, 17 @ 5:28 pm:

    cbh, ok. I think both are needed for success, a fair system and good individual values. I’ve seen it work in real life, too.

    You can have a kid in the best schools, with the all the extras, but without good guidance from a parent or mentor they will struggle. Many can’t overcome that.

    The reverse is true too. A kid with great parents in a crappy school….

  18. - JS Mill - Thursday, Oct 12, 17 @ 6:24 pm:

    =You obviously don’t teach at an elite school.=

    I am not a teacher, I am an adminstrator.

    “Elite school” please enlighten me. Tell me about elite since you are the expert.

  19. - Crazybleedingheart - Thursday, Oct 12, 17 @ 7:33 pm:

    Jsmill, its not a dig at your kids.

    I only mean that the children who are being trained to own, develop, and invent in adulthood are not being taught to attend, follow rules, and work hard. That produces capital for the owners. Owners are taught differently.

    They’re being taught efficient breach, critical thinking, and strategy…in other words, when it is in their interests to break rules, let someone else do the work. Efficient breach.

    They’re not trained in a more moral system. The opposite, in my opinion.

    But I’m not sure that binding poor and middle class kids up in a net of backbreaking work and rule following is beneficial, either, and it pains me to see this belief in austerity and bootstrapping sold to kids when it’s actually breaking those rules to do something different that allows for financial stability in the future (albeit risk of serious negative downsides).

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