Wednesday, May 21, 2008
The Appalachian Problem
In a New York Times Op-Ed Column, Charles Blow suggests that Obama has an Appalachia problem that includes counties from New York State down to Tennessee – a region that is “whiter, poorer, older, more rural and less educated than the rest of the country,...Warner teaches at The New School in New York, and is the Goldenson Chair Emeritus at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. With such sterling credentials, Warner must know what he is talking about.
Given that so many geniuses seem to emanate from places other than Appalachia and that West Virginia has been the brunt of many such comments, I thought it would be fun to compare high school graduation rates. High school graduation rates can easily be seen as the foundation of an educated population. A sign that a group has the basic literacy, math skills, etc. to be considered fundamentally educated.
This Manhattan Institute report from 2001 provides some tidbits.
The national graduation rate for the class of 1998 was 71%. For white students the rate was 78%, while it was 56% for African-American students and 54% for Latino students.Huh! This can't be. The high school graduation rate for blacks in West Virginia is the best in the country!? A full 15 percentage points above the national average for blacks.
The highest rate of graduation among African-American students was 71% in West Virginia,...
The cities with the lowest graduation rates?
Among the fifty largest school districts in the country, Cleveland City had the lowest overall graduation rate with 28%, followed by Memphis, Milwaukee, and Columbus.None of those cities fall within West Virginia or Appalachia.
Here's a list from USA Today of the school systems with the lowest graduation rates. The largest school system in the country, New York city, has a graduation rate of only 38.9%. Pitiful. West Virginia's population be about 1.8 million and New York city's being 8.2 million according to Wikipedia, New York is failing on a grand scale.
In this list of high school graduation rates by state, West Virginia sits in the middle with a graduation rate of 73.4% compared to the national average of 68.6%. States ranking below West Virginia include Rhode Island, California, Washington, Indiana, Michigan, Hawaii, Delaware, New York, and Oregon where Barack
I like that you're calling BS on the media types who hold up the "education" of a voting bloc as some kind of indicator, but by making these comparisons without more specific operational definitions, you may fall into the same traps that you yourself are looking to expose.
For instance, every state has high school graduation requirements that are somewhat similar (because of accrediting agencies, like the the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools [SACS]), but the differences from state to state on population, educational funding sources, educational philosophy, regional accrediting organizations, and a host of other factors affect this number.
For instance, California, Illinois and New York have far higher state populations than West Virginia while Deleware and Rhode Island have far more population concentration. The bigger states are dealing with far more students and far more balkanzied school systems within their own states. They are also dealing with huge influxes of immigrants (legal and otherwise) whose first language is not English, but who are subjected to English language exit exams if their English paperwork isn't in order.
The smaller states are effectively bedroom communities for large nearby cities in other states, with a higher concentration of great wealth and legacy at prestigious private schools that may or may not participate in the same regional accreditation agencies as the states' public schools. That alone can skew graduation rate numbers.
So there are huge factors that make simple comparisons problematic. Even college attendance and acquision of a degree (which is what the msm tends to base their talking points on) are problematic.
Here, I'm talking from personal experience. I mean, I met a lot of smart folks in college, but I met a lot of idiots there too...
Obama carried Memphis by a mile. So if they want to talk about being supported by uneducated voters...
The real lesson here is how sad it is that so many blacks don't pursue an education which is the real path out of poverty and "oppression."
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