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New York News

Siena Releases NY Youth 'Life Chances' Survey

This Special COVID-19 Siena College Poll was conducted April 3-14, 2020 by internet interviews with 307 Business Leaders from across Upstate
WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas
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What are the odds the kids in your neighborhood will succeed? That’s the question the Siena Research Institute tried to answer in a New York State Life Chances Survey. 

811 New Yorkers were polled for the survey. They were asked to think about the future of young people in their neighborhood and answer questions as to how likely they thought a series of eight different "life events" might turn out.  Siena research Institute director Don Levy:  "This is the type of survey where people are asked to predict, to describe their sense of what life is like for young people in their neighborhood, what chances they have in life."

Are young people in New York likely to graduate high school? And of those who do, what percentage see a college diploma in their future?    "Overwhelmingly, New Yorkers, 80 percent, think it’s very likely that young people, a typical young person in their neighborhood, will graduate from high school, but that number drops to only 53 percent when we ask about graduating college," said Levy.

How about getting a job?   "There we find that only 39 percent of respondents think it’s very likely or almost certain that a typical young person in their neighborhood will get a job with opportunities for advancement."

The poll takes a more sobering tone in taking a look at three potentially negative life chances or events.  How likely is it that you'll have an incarcerated family member? There we find that overall 23 percent, nearly a quarter of all New Yorkers, think that a typical young person in their neighborhood will have an incarcerated family member.

Huge difference between white respondents and respondents of color, those that identify as being African-American or Hispanic, among African-American and Hispanics, 39 percent think that a typical young person in their neighborhood will have an incarcerated family member, only 13 percent amongst white respondents.

Drugs and alcohol? This one really jumps off the page. 38 percent of all respondents think its very likely or almost certain a typical young person in their neighborhood will abuse drugs or alcohol. 38 percent overall, 34 percent, over a third of white respondents, 51 percent, half of respondents that identify as being African-American or Hispanic, think that drug or alcohol abuse is at least very likely, if not almost certain for typical young people in the neighborhood, and finally, be in a gang. 14 percent, about 1 out of 7 New Yorkers, think that a typical young person in their neighborhood is very likely or almost certain to be in a gang. Again, that number goes up by almost 5 times between white respondents and respondents that are African-American or Hispanic. White respondents 7 percent. African-American and Hispanic respondents 33 percent think it’s very likely or almost certain that a young person from their neighborhood will be in a gang."

Jasmine Gripper is the Statewide Education Advocate for the Alliance For Quality Education:   "The Siena College survey demonstrates the need to support a positive school climate for all students. The state needs to step up and provide adequate resources to our schools to fund programs like  AP courses, science labs, sports, music and art, all of which help students better prepare for college and success in life. 

Even though the implementation of Common Core was an attempt at advancing college and career readiness, this effort was sabotaged by the botched rollout and many of Governor Cuomo's cuts to education. The drastic increases in tuition costs are also cutting off access to higher education opportunities. New York State needs to ensure that all students, regardless of race, class and zip code have access to a high quality learning experience from birth to college."

The poll was conducted June 1 through 28 via landline and cellular phone calls. Respondent sampling was initiated by asking for the youngest male in the household. It has an overall margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

The Cuomo Administration did not immediately return a call for comment.
Related:  The Truth Behind Your State's High School Graduation Rate [NPR]

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