Ranking our performance in all sorts of ways seems to be a growing industry.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation has been in the rating business for longer than most. Its respected Kids Count Data Book arrived last week for the 30th year.
The book brings good news and bad news for Indiana, but overall we rank a mediocre 29th among the states in what the foundation calls “child well-being.”
Among the high points, the report the percentage of Indiana children living in poverty has decreased to 18%, down from 22& in 2010. Of course, those nine years of gains came during a long recovery from the 2008 recession.
Still, compared to our neighboring states, only Illinois has a lower poverty rate for children.
Showing room for improvement in Indiana, one-third of African-American children and a third of American Indian children lived in poverty — and they’re three times as likely as white children to live in poverty.
A remarkably positive note finds a decline in teen substance abuse. The report says Indiana, along with five other states, shares the lowest rate of teen substance abuse in the nation at 3 percent.
Kids Count uses 16 indicators to rank each state across four categories — health, education, economic well-being and family and community — to assess children’s well-being.
• 24th in economic well-being (the same as in 2018). The percentage of children whose parents lack secure employment dropped to 26 percent from 33 percent in 2010.
• 21st in education (down from 14th in 2018). However, the percentage of Hoosier fourth-graders who are proficient in reading increased to 41 percent from 34 percent in 2009. Compared to neighboring states, Indiana has seen the greatest improvement in the past decade and has the highest rate of fourth-grade reading proficiency.
• 32nd in family and community (unchanged from 2018). Indiana’s teen birth rate continues to decrease to 23 per 1,000 births, but remains above the national rate of 19 per 1,000 births.
• 26th in health (ranked 31st in 2018). Six percent of Hoosier children don’t have health insurance, an improvement from 9 percent in 2010. However, that’s still higher than the national average of 5 percent.
“The KIDS COUNT Data Book provides valuable insight into where progress is being made and where we need to focus our efforts,” said Tami Silverman, president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute. “While there are positive signs across many indicators, it is clear that we need to do more to ensure Hoosier children, especially our children of color, have bright futures.”
Navy ship should be named for Lugar
U.S. Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun of Indiana are asking for the Secretary of the Navy to name the next unnamed Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer warship in honor of the late Sen. Richard G. Lugar.
Lugar died April 28 at the age of 87. He represented Indiana for 36 years in the U.S. Senate.
Lugar volunteered for the U.S. Navy and served as an officer from 1957-1960, including time as an intelligence briefer to Admiral Burke, who then was chief of naval operations,
As a senator, Lugar was a leader in reducing the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The bipartisan Nunn-Lugar program deactivated more than 7,600 nuclear warheads, millions of chemical munitions and several thousand nuclear-capable missiles.
“At a time when nuclear proliferation was civilization’s greatest threat, Sen. Lugar helped save the world,” Young said. “It is fitting that the Navy honor his legacy by naming one of their warships after this dedicated statesman who helped change the course of history.”
OUR VIEW is written on a rotating basis by Dave Kurtz, Grace Housholder, Michael Marturello and Steve Garbacz. Publisher Terry Housholder is also a member of the editorial board. We welcome readers’ comments.