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Airline travel and more disrupted by global tech outage; Nevada gets OK to sell federal public lands for affordable housing;Science Moms work to foster meaningful talks on climate change; Scientists reconsider net-zero pledges to reach climate goals.

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Mixed reviews of Michigan kids' well-being in new report

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Thursday, June 13, 2024   

Michigan ranks 34th in the nation for overall child well-being, in the new Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

A closer look at the rankings showed students' performance in school is alarmingly low, at 46th. Much of the data is from 2022. It showed one in five Michigan students does not graduate from high school on time. Some 72% of fourth graders were not reading proficiently, and 75% of eighth graders were not proficient in math, both higher than in 2019. The report also revealed a high school absenteeism rate of 40%, amounting to more than a half million students missing too much school.

Anne Kuhnen, Kids Count policy director at the Michigan League for Public Policy, said the problem is about more than what happens in the classroom.

"They're dealing with a lot of economic insecurity at home, a lot of trauma," Kuhnen pointed out. "These are all things that are making it hard for students to show up and do well in reading and math, because they're just not getting their essential needs met."

The research showed significant disparities for children of color. Each year, the Data Book examines four areas: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community factors. Michigan's best ranking is 22nd in health, in part because only 3% of children in the state are uninsured.

The data also revealed a continuing positive trend Michigan has seen for the past 15 years, a decline in teen births. Kuhnen believes it can be attributed to a couple of factors.

"An overall recognition of the harms of teenage childbearing, for moms and for children," Kuhnen noted. "And also, just a greater emphasis on education and making sure that kids are finishing school before they begin families of their own."

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said the pandemic had a profound effect on learning, but is not entirely to blame for lower scores in many states. She emphasized the need for effective policies to drive positive change for children and argued supportive measures, like more assistance for those who have fallen behind, must be a collaborative effort.

"It's important that parents are engaged, as schools and communities are looking at ways in which we can meet the needs of children," Boissiere urged. "It is an 'all hands on deck' moment."

Disclosure: The Michigan League for Public Policy contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Children's Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, and Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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