It's shameful that South Carolina's children continue to fall short of their peers across the nation. They are less healthy, less well educated and poorer.

It's also shameful that scores in all three areas for the nation's children, and South Carolina's, are closely correlated to race. The gap between African-American and white children remains glaring.

Shameful, but certainly not surprising. Educators, physicians and economists have searched for answers for years, and have come up short.

Finding solutions can't happen too soon. As the state meets with success in recruiting new industry, an educated, healthy workforce will be even more important.

Perhaps it's a reason to look for innovative, even unconventional approaches. For example, the Medical University of South Carolina is using telemedicine in an effort to enhance health care for children, and adults, in rural parts of the state with fewer medical resources.

South Carolina's Health and Human Services director Tony Keck said the state's Medicaid program was not making people healthier as it was being managed. He implemented Express Lane Eligibility, which has added 103,000 children to the Medicaid rolls in the past two years by enrolling children who were already eligible but not receiving benefits. Healthy children are more likely to be healthy adults.

Other HHS programs promote breast feeding, discourage deliveries before 39 weeks when they are not medically necessary and screen pregnant women, and refer them for treatment in cases of drug or alcohol abuse.

In the way of education, families across South Carolina are being given more choices for their children, both in traditional public schools and in charter schools.

One success story is the Charleston Charter School for Math and Science, a racially balanced, urban school whose students are excelling.

Charleston County schools are wisely focusing on literacy, which is one of the measures used in the study and has been one of the district's biggest problems.

Since then, S.C. Superintendent of Education Mick Zais has made literacy a statewide focus area.

Gov. Nikki Haley hopes to spend $65 million to expand kindergarten for 4-year-olds in some of the state's poorest counties.

Clearly, the report, "Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children," released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, suggests that far more innovative approaches are needed if South Carolina's children are to catch up.

Melissa Strompolis, chief executive officer of the Children's Trust of South Carolina, says her plan is to gather parents, lawmakers and others to talk about what should change next, based on the data provided in the report.

Warning: People are justifiably skeptical of talk-it-over initiatives. It is important that some concrete solutions come out of the talks. Throwing money at a problem is no guarantee of success.

And don't disregard unconventional ideas.

The status quo is falling short.