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Readers split on Kids Count report

2011-08-29T00:00:00Z Readers split on Kids Count reportIndependent Record Helena Independent Record
August 29, 2011 12:00 am  • 

A new report shows the well-being of Montana’s children has declined compared to other states.

Montana ranked 33rd in the annual Kids Count report released Wednesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

That’s one spot lower than 2010 and a 12-spot drop since 2002, when the state ranked 21st.

The report ranks states based on 10 indicators of child welfare.

It says Montana surpassed the national trend in the percentage increase of children in poverty, teens not in school, infant mortality rate, low-birthweight babies and children in single-parent families.

But the report says child and teen death rates in Montana dropped faster than the national average.

Our question of the week asked, “Are you concerned about Montana’s poor showing in the recently released Kids Count data book?”

51 percent said yes.

49 percent said no.

Here’s what our readers said:

• Who wouldn’t be concerned about our kids’ poor showing? Unless and until we start looking around the world and adopting some “best practices” in our education system our kids will continue to fall further and further behind many other developed countries who are willing to examine and adopt methods and practices that produce the best results. 

• Sure I’m concerned about Montana’s poor ranking in the “Kids Health Report.” It’s difficult if not impossible to think that Montana ranks below states which have large populations and very large schools with a high populations of students. Kids tend to get lost in the larger schools and my guess would have been that they would probably fare worse, not better, than the Montana schools. I would be interested to know exactly how the data is collected, from schools, school districts, governments, the census or other? Or is the Health Report developed by taking a “sample” of the student population and using a “statistical model“ to calculate the final data? How do other states gather & calculate the data, are we comparing “apples to apples”? In one area of the report it indicates 8 percent of Montana children or 15,000 had at least one unemployed parent (equates to 187,500 children in Montana) the next sentence indicates 2 percent of Montana children or 6,000 kids have been affected by housing foreclosures (equates to 300,000 children in Montana), a difference of 112,500 children living in Montana … which is it? In another area the report discusses 80 teen deaths per 100,000 teens. More sophisticated people might understand this method of reporting but simple people like me would rather have the numbers stated more clearly (i.e.: 0.5% of Montana teens die each year). At least I might have a chance of figuring out the actual number. And what does the number actually mean? It lacks perspective.

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