Virtually all of the bottom ten states in terms of education are red states. Only Nevada voted for Obama in 2012, but it has a Republican governor. The criteria is based on SAT scores, median household incomes and percentage of bachelor's degrees, which are pretty easy to come by these days with the plethora of expanded junior college programs. It really makes you wonder how certain states can be so dumb, but then most of these states also rank at the bottom of traditional measures of education, such as high school graduation rates, education budgets and pre-school enrollment, completing a vicious cycle.
Mississippi was the last state to make schooling compulsory in 1917. Massachusetts, which ranks at the top in most education lists, was the first state to have compulsory schooling in 1852. Unfortunately, states have been allowed to adopt their own standards, rather than establish a national criteria. Even the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act explicitly forbade the establishment of a national curriculum. As a result, these standards vary considerably from one state the next.
Common Core is a recent attempt to bridge the gap by presenting a national core curriculum, which 44 states adopted in 2009. However, there has been a concerted effort by right wing groups to push red states to drop Common Core, so it would seem that there are those in these states who prefer remaining dumb. Bobby Jindal appears to be caving into this pressure, after having agreed to the Common Core initiative 5 years ago.
The problem is that ignorance is so endemic in many of these states that it will take decades to remedy it. There is no tradition of excellence except at individual schools. The majority of the schools in these states are mired in petty local and state politics, unable to move beyond parochial constraints. Many of these kids go on to get vocational education and do well for themselves but their horizons are limited, and these limitations are passed onto the next generation.
|Eagle Stadium, Allen, Texas|
Instead, the dumb get dumber while the smart get smarter, as the gap between states in terms of education continues to grow.