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Studies show Indian, Hispanic youth fare worse than whites in ND

GRAND FORKS — American Indian and Hispanic children in North Dakota continue to lag behind their white peers, and by some measures they are worse off than their peers of the same race around the nation, according to a report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

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For example, the percentage of Indians and Hispanics who graduated from high school on time is lower than the national average for their racial peers. At the same time, the percentage of whites in both states graduating on time is higher than the average for whites nationwide.

In North Dakota, Indians and Hispanics lagged behind whites.

The Casey Foundation, known for publishing annual data on children’s well-being in its Kids Count reports, said that, as the number of nonwhite children grows in the nation, they will make up the majority of the workforce by 2030.

Reducing this gap is both important to the nation’s promise of equal opportunities for all and to the nation’s future prosperity, the group said in its report, “Race for Results.”

Kids Count North Dakota, based at North Dakota State University, agreed. “The demographics of our state are changing and the fastest growing youth population faces many obstacles blocking their path to success,” the group said in a statement.

The report also included data on other nonwhite racial groups around the nation.

In North Dakota, the gaps between white children and Indian and Hispanic children were narrower when they were younger and got wider as the children grew older, the state’s Kids Count noted.

For example, at birth, the percentage of Indian and Hispanic infants born at normal weight was the same as whites at 93 percent. The percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds in early education programs, such as kindergarten, was 41 percent for Indians, 32 percent for Hispanics and 53 percent for whites.

By eighth grade, the percentage of children who scored proficient or better on standardized math tests was 14 percent for Indians and 44 percent for whites. Data for Hispanics was not available.

At the end of their secondary education, 60 percent of Indians and 67 percent of Hispanics graduated from high school on time compared to 91 percent of whites.

By their mid- to late 20s, 21 percent of Indians and 32 percent of Hispanics had at least an associate degree compared to 51 percent of whites.

Kids Count North Dakota blamed childhood poverty for the wide disparity. “The earliest years of a child’s life are the period when the most brain development occurs, laying the foundation for later learning and success. ... Research has shown that growing up in severe poverty contributes directly to toxic stress that affects children’s health, brain development, and social and emotional well-being.”

Among Indians, 72 percent live with families whose incomes are less than 200 percent of the official poverty rate. For a household of two adults and two children in 2012, that was an income of $46,600. For Hispanics, that figure was 56 percent. For whites, it was 26 percent.

Tu-Uyen Tran
Tran is an enterprise reporter with the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began his newspaper career in 1999 as a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, now owned by Forum Communications. He began working for the Forum in September 2014. Tran grew up in Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington.
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