Guess which state is 3rd “Dumbest in the Nation”?!

dunce cap

“Dumbest state in the nation” is a list where a state doesn’t want to be highly ranked. How does Texas perform relative to other states? Warning: This ranking is contrary to the reams of state-controlled (aka contrived) data released by the Texas Education Agency such as dropout and graduation rates etc. The Street compared the Lone Star State to other states in the nation and named Texas “Third-dumbest state in America.” They wrote:

The Lone Star State stands virtually alone when it comes to the proportion of an area’s citizens who didn’t finish high school.

Texas ties California for dead last among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of residents 25 or older without high-school educations — 19.3% for both states.

The Lone Star State also places 10th from the bottom in terms of young people attending college, with just 52.8% of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in post-secondary schools.

Similarly, a 499 average SAT math score places Texas at a below-average 28th place nationwide, while 36.3% of the state’s high schoolers watch three hours or more of TV daily. That’s the 11th-highest rate nationwide.

Per pupil educational expenditures: Here is list where some Texans will be proud (including certain legislators) to be at the top while others are embarrassed (me). For your descriptive statistical pleasure I have included a table below with per pupil educational expenditures  for all states in the U.S. and compared them between 2000 and 2009 with a column for national ranking change. Texas had the fourth highest ranking decrease in education expenditures relative to other U.S. states over the past decade… Where does your state rank?

Per Pupil Expenditures: Education Spending and Ranking by State (2000 and 2009) 

State 2000 2009 2000 National Rank 2009 National Rank Change
Indiana 7287 9369 21 35 -14
Oregon 7511 9805 17 28 -11
Michigan 8029 10483 14 22 -8
Texas 6460 8540 35 43 -8
California 6965 9657 24 30 -6
Colorado 6515 8718 34 40 -6
North Carolina 6368 8587 36 42 -6
Oklahoma 6012 7885 42 48 -6
Delaware 8603 12257 9 14 -5
Wisconsin 8158 11078 12 17 -5
South Carolina 6570 9277 31 36 -5
West Virginia 7450 10367 19 23 -4
Georgia 6909 9650 27 31 -4
South Dakota 6063 8507 40 44 -4
Connecticut 9236 14531 4 7 -3
Illinois 7585 10835 16 19 -3
Iowa 6912 9707 26 29 -3
Washington 6613 9550 29 32 -3
Missouri 6593 9529 30 33 -3
Massachusetts 9038 14118 6 8 -2
Rhode Island 8775 13707 7 9 -2
Maine 8178 12304 11 13 -2
Ohio 7499 10560 18 20 -2
Idaho 5616 7092 48 50 -2
New Jersey 10893 16271 2 3 -1
Pennsylvania 8191 12512 10 11 -1
Nebraska 6946 10045 25 26 -1
New York 10922 18126 1 1 0
Kentucky 6077 8756 39 39 0
Tennessee 5622 7897 47 47 0
Utah 4625 6356 51 51 0
Washington DC 10852 16408 3 2 1
Alaska 9165 15552 5 4 1
Nevada 5778 8422 46 45 1
Arizona 5100 7813 50 49 1
Vermont 8706 15175 8 5 3
Maryland 8077 13449 13 10 3
Montana 6671 10059 28 25 3
Florida 6020 8760 41 38 3
Arkansas 5852 8712 44 41 3
Mississippi 5179 8075 49 46 3
Minnesota 7447 11098 20 16 4
Virginia 7278 10930 22 18 4
New Mexico 6115 9439 38 34 4
Kansas 6521 9951 33 27 6
New Hampshire 7065 11932 23 15 8
Alabama 5845 8870 45 37 8
Wyoming 7833 14573 15 6 9
North Dakota 6318 10151 37 24 13
Hawaii 6558 12399 32 12 20
Louisiana 5934 10533 43 21 22

Source: U.S. Census Bureau Public School Finance Data 2000 and 2009

Edit 12/9/2012: For a decadal analysis of Texas K-12 and Higher Education data go here.
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Categories: School Finance

Author:Julian Vasquez Heilig

Julian Vasquez Heilig is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning and African and African Diaspora Studies (by courtesy) at the University of Texas at Austin.

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2 Comments on “Guess which state is 3rd “Dumbest in the Nation”?!”

  1. January 2, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

    Texas has increased per student spending a little over 32% in 9 yrs and decreased in the National Rank by about 7% tells us that something is not working. My impression is that a great deal of focus has been on the results given by all of the standardized testing and not on academic instruction in the classroom. Second, the reduction (or elimination) of fine arts and some vocational programs has removed an important link between classroom instruction and application appreciation. Those campuses that have been able to maintain these programs fare much better overall compared to the campuses that have been culturally-depleted. Next, class size has been increased dramatically due to the cut in teaching personnel. A class ratio of 35 or 45 to 1, for a science, mathematics, foreign language or English language arts for primary or secondary classes defeats the purpose of classroom instruction.

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