Report: Children of color, especially immigrant children, lag in meeting milestones on well-being

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The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released its report that measures the well-being of the nation’s children and makes recommendations for improvements.

“Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for all Children,” uses a scale of 0-1,000 to rank the welfare of children on a variety of milestones, such as math test scores and kids who live in a two-parent households.

Dana Wolfe Naimark, president and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance, and Luis Avila, campaign director for Demand2Learn, an ACLU effort aimed at eliminating practices that disproportionately push minority children out of school, discuss the report and numbers from Arizona.

 

Ted Simons: I guess we'll stop right there. Up next on "Arizona Horizon," the report on the wellbeing of children.

Ted Simons: The Annie E. Casey foundation has released its report that measures the well-being of the nation's children and makes recommendations for improvements. Here to tell us about the report is Dana Wolfe Naimark, President and CEO of children's action alliance, and Luis Avila, of Demand-2-Learn, which targets practices that push minority children out of school. Good to have you both here. Thank you for joining us.
Dana Wolfe Naimark: Thank you.

Ted Simons: We are talking about results here, but you want to talk about the previous segment.

Dana Wolfe Naimark: I think the report shows us why it's important who is in leadership in our country and who we elect to the U.S. Senate. Children of color and all children in Arizona face huge barriers to success due to our own policies and systems we need to change.

Ted Simons: So family security, race, these kind of things.

Dana Wolfe Naimark: It puts a score on the goal we have for all children. Kid of Arizona are behind but kids of color face barriers to success.

Ted Simons: Does that surprise you at all?

Luis Avila: Unfortunatly, they don't. I have been working with families in Arizona and see the widening of the gap for kids of color. We have a school system where kids choose schools, which is making the inequity larger in our state.

Ted Simons: Opportunity for kid of color, Latino, Indian, African-American. Persistent obstacles of opportunity. What are those?

Luis Avila: One of them is enrollment. Half of the high-performing charter schools have barriers to enrollment when it comes to kids with special ed. Latino kids are six times likely to be pushed out through suspension or expulsion. African-Americans, six more. Mexican children 20 times.

Ted Simons: Why?

Luis Avila: Defiance. It could be responding to the teacher. I met with a family where her kid was expelled out of school because he had an afro.

Ted Simons: For kids growing up with immigrant parents, there is a toxic stress from an inconsistent and uncertain environment.

Dana Wolfe Naimark: Think about what we have been through with 1070 and everything with the Trump administration, the amount of fear that surrounds families no matter what their immigration status is, but in their community. The fact that our policies separate families on a routine basis, that is the worse thing for children. Separation is devastating. Having that hang over you so the toxic stress affects their development and learning.

Ted Simons: No bilingual impact in Arizona schools.

We passed a voter proposition that eliminated the programs in Arizona. Funny enough, if you look at the highest performing schools in the state, they are teaching Spanish in the classroom. That's kids and families who want to learn Spanish. For the kids that speak Spanish, no lower education for them.

Ted Simons: We talked at the last segment; big change in politics headed our way. What do you want to see in terms of policy?

Luis Avila: We have to be transparent with data. Arizona is one of the only states we don't receive data. We need to look how we are doing with the kids of color in schools and go after the federal government for data because the state of Arizona doesn't have any. We have to be transparent as to know how schools are doing. We have to look at are they retaining kids in the classroom, keeping kids throughout the year and keeping kids learning throughout their career.

Ted Simons: The recommendation you think that applies most to Arizona?

Dana Wolfe Naimark: Keep families together. Our immigration policy should be child focused, child centered. Children are not threatening our security. What are we doing to keep them with their families. That gives us the best future we can have.

Ted Simons: How do you balance that with those with sincere immigration concerns regarding security and the whole nine yards.

Dana Wolfe Naimark: We know there is a difference between those that threaten our security and those that come here for a better life. Our policies can treat that. We need to do that.

Ted Simons: A major recommendation you need to be addressed.

Luis Avila: Every child of color in the report is half in the way of performance by way of reading and math. We have to stop thinking about the kids in a small number of demographics. We are the future of the state including myself and my family. I came from Mexico. I have a business. I am trying to reach people leak me. We need to change this. The numbers need to change too.

Ted Simons: Why do you think it hasn't changed?

Luis Avila: We haven't invested in schools. We are playing politics with families. We had 1070 created fear, all because we had a couple of politicians that wanted to show the state how conservative they are.

Dana Wolfe Naimark: Our policies have barriers built into them. The next step is to recognize that and knock down barriers for children of color.

Ted Simons: Good to have you both here. We appreciate it.

Ted Simons: Wednesday on Arizona Horizon, we launch our monthly consumer segment with a discussion on data breaches. And we look at a program that helps cut recidivism among women inmates in Arizona. That's at 5:30 and 10:00 on "Arizona Horizon." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. You have a great evening. ºº

Dana Wolfe Naimark: President and CEO, Children’s Action Alliance
Luis Avila: Campaign Director, Demand2Learn

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