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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. 

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Maureen Foertsch McKinney
Maureen Foertsch McKinney is the NPR Illinois News Editor and a lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers, and is curator of the Equity blog. Maureen joined the staff in 1998 as projects editor. Previously, she worked at three Illinois daily newspapers, most recently the suburban Chicago-based Daily Herald, where she served stints as an education reporter and copy editor. She graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's in journalism. She also has a master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield.