Friday, January 05, 2007

Children growing up in California, fabled land of opportunity, have a worse chance of achieving the American Dream than children in most other states

Nanette Asimov:

The real Golden State is Virginia, where children are most likely to become well-educated adults with steady, high-paying jobs, according to researchers from the nonprofit Editorial Projects in Education Research Center in Washington, D.C.

Children born in New Mexico were deemed least likely to succeed.

The researchers stacked up all the states and the District of Columbia against 13 measures of success, ranging from parents' employment and English fluency to children's test scores and graduation rates.

California ranked 34th among the states and was below the national average in seven areas: percent of children whose parents work full-time, speak English, graduated from college, earn at least a middle-level income; percent of children proficient in reading and proficient in math; and percent of adults who work full time.

California had by far the nation's lowest percentage of children whose parents speak fluent English: 62 percent. The next lowest was 73 percent, in Texas. Nearly everyone's parents speak English in Virginia: 91 percent.

"The idea we're trying to get across is that education plays an important role, but success is not just about the years of formal schooling," said Christopher Swanson, director of the research center. "What happens in your schooling is strongly influenced by what happens in your early years."

In other words, your family's income and parents' English skills make a difference.

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