racial achievement gap

jail cells
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Having a parent behind bars can be a traumatic experience for a child. Studies show parental incarceration can affect school achievement, health, relationships and increase a kid's risk of going to prison themselves in the future.

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We’ve talked a lot on State of Opportunity about racial achievement gaps - how the average test score for black, Hispanic or Native American kids isn’t as high as the average test score for a white or Asian student.

Now we want to talk about what the real world implications of those gaps might be. We tried to tackle the question by asking: What would the world look like if racial achievement gaps suddenly disappeared?

"There are two possible answers to that question," says Derek Neal, an economist at the University of Chicago. His research is focused on black-white inequality, and he’s studied how test scores play into that.

The Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank, has a new analysis looking at whether teacher diversity matches the growing student diversity in American public schools. Spoiler alert: it does not. The report says while minorities now make up nearly half of the student population in America's schools, only 18 percent of teachers are minorities. In the report, Michigan scores a little better than average, but that's not saying a whole lot. The report's recommendations come from a left-of-center policy perspective, but the problems the report identifies should resonate regardless of your political persuasion.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

When it comes to making sure kids are at grade level, the U.S. isn't doing so hot. Just a little over a third (36%) of 8-year olds are cognitively on track by the time they reach 3rd grade, according to a new Kids Count analysis by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

When you break it down by income, the numbers are even more staggering: 19% of 8-year olds who come from low-income families (defined as being at or below 200% of the poverty line) have "appropriate cognitive skills," compared to 50% of kids who come from wealthier families.

Equity and Excellence Commission

 We know, and have known for some time, that not every child in America gets the same shot at a good education. We know that children with darker skin are the ones most likely to get left behind. 

For the past two years, a 27-member commission has quietly been working on a report to suggest ways for the federal government to address the problem. The group, known as the Equity and Excellence Commission, released its final report to education secretary Arne Duncan on Tuesday. 

The report has recommendations in five main areas. You can read them all here. 

But what I found most surprising is that the commission attempted to actually put a dollar figure on how much educational inequality is costing our country. And the cost is measured in trillions