KIDS COUNT REPORT: Michigan's Kids Falling Behind in Education

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A group that tracks the well-being of kids says Michigan needs to invest in Education. The 2014 Kids Count Data book released Tuesday by the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks each state based on how it performed in four areas: Economic Well-being, Education, Health, and Family & Community. Michigan ranked 32nd overall.

Judy Putnam, a spokesperson for the Michigan League for Policy says Michigan dropped one ranking from last year. "When we hit the Great Recession in Michigan, we hit it very early and it lasted a very long time, and it was pretty hard. As we try to come out of the recession, we've not restored all the funding cuts that were made to support families and help kids and the education. We have not restored Great Recession era cuts but other states have done that."

Since the Kids Count Data Report began collecting and analyzing data, Michigan has improved in some areas. Fewer teens are getting pregnant and fewer children and teens are dying.

But this year, Michigan ranked 38th in the nation when it comes to educating its children. The report shows 70% of 8th graders are not proficient in math. 23% of high school students didn't graduate on time. In 2013, 69% of all 4th graders didn't meet national reading standards.

Putnam says, "We think that by focusing on reading by the end of 3rd grade is a really smart strategy but we don't support just flunking kids who can't read in 3rd grade. We've got to really help them. We've got to help them from birth."

The Michigan League for Public Policy has 4 recommendations to improve Michigan's child well-being. They include restoring education funding cuts, supporting families earning the least with tax credits and more food and cash assistance, increasing childcare payments, and investing in strategies to reduce the 8.4% of Michigan babies born too small, particularly in communities of color.

Putnam says results of the study are important. "We believe that measuring child well-being is probably the single most important indicator of our future success."