Sansone's Gifts for Families

Visit our Amazon Associate store. Same prices as Amazon, but you can help us in the process.

Visit Sansone's Gifts for Families

Smartest and Dumbest States?

Friday, November 11, 2005

I recently noticed a story that claimed to be report on the smartest and dumbest states. Below is the first paragraph from this page.

LAWRENCE, KS. The Green Mountain State of Vermont today was named winner of the 2005 Smartest State Award. This annual honor was announced in Education State Rankings 2005-2006, a new reference book from Morgan Quitno Press, a Lawrence, Kansas-based independent research and publishing company. At the opposite end of the scale, Arizona reported in as the lowest ranking state in the annual survey.

However, upon further review, this report does not remotely report what it claims to report. In the methodology section, the site lists 21 factors that make up the rankings. While there are some legitimate factors involved, there are also a number of factors that simply are not directly tied to determining the "smartness" or "dumbness" of any state.

For instance, the first two factors that were listed are:
1. Public Elementary and Secondary School Revenue per $1,000 Personal Income
2. Per Pupil Public Elementary and Secondary School Current Expenditures

This correlates "smartness" with spending, not with results. Frankly, this is troubling, for it continues to perpetuate the liberal philosophy that the answer to any problem is simply to throw more money at it.

When I was at Heritage Christian Academy in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, our students consistently scored at least two grades levels above the National Averages in EVERY grade level. (This was true in spite of me, not because of me, in case you were wondering.) This was done despite that fact that we were doing it at about 1/3 the cost per student of the NJ Public Schools and despite the fact that our lower grades had combined classes (e.g. 1st & 2nd Grade in one class with one teacher) and the combined class enrollment would not (usually) be considered a "small" class.

Other questionable "factors" that were weighed included things such as:
*Percent of 4th Graders Whose Parents Have Strict Rules about Getting Homework Done
*Average Teacher Salary as a Percent of Average Annual Pay of All Workers
*Percent of School-Age Population in Public Schools (viewing a low percentage as a negative factor)

The last one in particular interested me. If this was attempting to represent students not being educated, I could at least understand the inclusion of this factor. HOWEVER, since one of the factors already dealt with drop outs, it seems this is a measurement that is being used to bias the standings against states that have higher private schooled (Christian, parochial, etc.) or home schooled students. This seems to be odd to be counted as a negative measure, when the reports that I have seen on this would indicated that both groups score BETTER than the public schools, not worse.

Just my thoughts,