“America’s Report Card 2012: Children in the U.S.”
Despite a prioritization of children in the national agenda, the United States seriously lags in keeping its youngest citizens healthy and ensuring they are ready to learn, according to a new report.
The nation earns an average C-minus overall in the report, with lackluster grades in five separate categories: economic security, early childhood, K-12 education, permanence and stability, and health and safety.
The report, by the organizations Save the Children, based in Wilton, Conn., and the Washington-based First Focus, is the first in a planned annual series of evaluations. The U.S. Senate commissioned the report-card series in 2010 after a subcommittee chaired by then-U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, launched an investigation into the recession’s impact on youths and academic performance.
While the report notes points of progress, in no major area of grading does it give the United States anything above a C-plus.
In the area of economic security, for example, the report gives the United States a D, citing U.S. Census Bureau data showing that 43.9 percent of children younger than 18 were living in low-income families during 2011.
The report praises some federal attempts to mitigate damage done by the recession, including the expansion of the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit, using 2009 economic-stimulus funds. But the report card also cites federal statistics that put the number of children living in households without adequate access to food at 8.5 million in 2011.
The nation’s C-minus grade in K-12 education is attributed to weak National Assessment of Educational Progress scores in mathematics, reading, and science—especially among minority students—and inequities in school funding. The report notes that 40 percent of schools that receive aid under the federal Title I program for disadvantaged students are funded at less than their districts’ averages.
A version of this article appeared in the October 17, 2012 edition of Education Week as Nation Gets Lackluster Grades on Child Well-Being Report