Our System, Our Children

March 21, 2013 Leave a comment

“We want a system that provides all children regardless of race or economic background with the same opportunities.”

– CT Right From the Start

The video above and words below appear on the CT Right from the Start (RFTS) website, and represent one of the outcomes of the past two years of work of a collaborative multi-stakeholder effort that IISC has been supporting as the lead process designer and facilitator.  RFTS runs parallel to the state’s planning initiative to create an early childhood office that consolidates services for children and families. Right from the Start has become an important voice for equity in Connecticut and we are very proud of its stance and our partnership . . . 

All children deserve the opportunity for optimal intellectual, social, and emotional development. But we see troubling statistics showing that the zip code where you are born or the color of your skin are strong predictors of future success. Here are a few highlights from Opportunity in Connecticut, produced by the Connecticut Association for Human Services:

  • Children in schools where the majority of students are poor and have academic problems are more likely to have lower grades than if they attend a school with high performers.
  • Eight percent of White Children, 29 percent of Black children, and 28 percent of Hispanic children are poor in Connecticut.
  • Standardized test scores reveal that Connecticut has one of the largest achievement gaps in the country based on race-ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

These issues affect us all. By 2020, almost 30 percent of the state’s workers will be people of color; almost half of Connecticut’s population of 25- 29 year olds will be of color.

Disparities are deeply rooted in our institutions. We need to retool systems that have failed generations of children. Raising our own awareness of how federal and state policies have contributed to these disparities by creating advantages for some while ignoring others, is the first step. We must create a culture where we can hold the difficult conversations about why these inequities exist and commit to creating a better, more equitable future for all of our children.

These children are Connecticut’s best, often untapped resource. According to Nobel Prize Laureate Professor James Heckman, in a recent article “The Economics of Inequality: The Value of Early Childhood” – “Investing in early childhood development of vulnerable children produces great returns to individuals and society, saving taxpayers money and increasing our nation’s economic productivity.”

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