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Equity Challenge Day 13

DAY 13: Behind the Starting Line — Racialized Outcomes in Early Childhood

We must acknowledge the broader diversity in and of the African American experience and celebrate that all Black children are born geniuses. Black students continue to pursue educational excellence despite the many unnecessary obstacles they face due to constructions and perceptions of race, class, gender, and sexual orientations in America.” — David J. Johns

From infancy through high school, children's educational outcomes are dependent on the quality of their learning experience. Quality early childhood education, in particular, has been shown to have a significant positive effect on future success, because brain circuits are developing actively then. In fact, 85% of the brain's development happens before a child enters kindergarten.

When a child enters kindergarten ready to learn, they are twice as likely to be able to read in third grade, which is one of the biggest indicators showing whether someone will graduate high school. An individual that finishes high school will contribute $750,000 more into the local economy in their lifetime than someone who drops out of school.

In the Quad Cities, 68% of African-American households earn less than a living wage. For these families, early childhood education will cost a minimum of 20% of their annual gross income. 

Social and emotional health are also key to children’s development, we know that poverty, trauma and other adverse childhood experiences (ACES) can have sustained, negative impacts on children’s ability to succeed. Dr. Roy Wade notes that “We see higher levels of childhood adversity among minority populations, but we need to acknowledge the role that historical inequities and disenfranchisement play in creating the environment in which such traumatic experiences are more likely to occur.” 

Did You Know? Inequities in education start early with lifelong impacts on children and communities. This gap in opportunity is not due to individual actions, but rather on present social and economic conditions. 

  • High quality child care is costly – an average married couple in Iowa/Illinois spends 21-25% of their annual income on center-based child care. Reflect back on Day 12 and consider how the high cost of care acts as a barrier to a family living in poverty’s access to high quality programs for their children.
  • In the Quad Cities, 84% of white kindergarten students enter school ready to learn, but this is true of only 71% of their African-American classmates.
  • Until third grade, children are learning to read. After third grade, they are reading to learn. But, in the Quad Cities, less than half (only 43%) of African American third-grade students can read at grade level, compared to 73% of white third grade students.
  • Researchers have found that “the persistence of the educational opportunity gap imposes on the United States the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession” (McKinsey & Company 2009, 6). 

Today’s Challenge: 

Option 1: Read this U.S. News article on how “Education Inequality Starts Early” for children in households with low incomes. 

Option 2: Watch this 2-minute CBS News report on how systemic racism persists in early childhood education, where Black preschool students are disproportionately facing harsh punishments, like suspension. 

Option 3:  Have children? Visit PBS for on about talking to young children about racism. 

Option 4: Learn more about UWQC’s Women United’s Born Learning program aimed to help parents become their child’s first, best teacher. If you would like to learn more about the work of Women United, click here. 

Option 5: Read this Quad-City Times article about local early learning and child care center challenges that are exasperated by the impact of COVID-19.