In Red States, Schools Rule
Newsweek and the Washington Post (no members of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, they) both have polls that put schools in Red states at the head of the class.
When it come to excellence in education, red states rule — at least according to a panel of experts assembled by Tina Brown’s Newsweek. Using a set of indicators ranging from graduation rate to college admissions and SAT scores, the panel reviewed data from high schools all over the country to find the best public schools in the country.
The results make depressing reading for the teacher unions: the very best public high schools in the country are heavily concentrated in red states.
Three of the nation’s ten best public high schools are in Texas — the no-income tax, right-to-work state that blue model defenders like to characterize as America at its worst. Florida, another no-income tax, right-to-work state long misgoverned by the evil and rapacious Bush dynasty, has two of the top ten schools.
Newsweek isn’t alone with these shocking results. Another top public school list, compiled by the Washington Post, was issued in May. Texas and Florida rank number one and number two on that list’s top ten as well.
There’s something else interesting about the two lists: on both lists only one of the top ten public schools was located in a blue state. (Definition alert: on this blog, a blue state is one that voted for John Kerry in 2004; red states cast their electoral votes for Bush.)
There were no top ten schools on either list from blue New England states like Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut. Nor were there any in the top 25. By contrast, Alabama made both the Newsweek and the Washington Post top ten. Only two public schools from these states made the Washpost top fifty list; zero made it into Newsweek‘s elite. 150 years after the Civil War, South Carolina is kicking New England’s rear end when it comes to producing great public schools.
More interesting details at the link. So what are the implications of these list?
Defenders of the high tax, high regulation, highly unionized model of state governance that characterizes the blue states like to point to their higher quality of government services as justification for the taxes they pay and the regulations they accept.
Let those crackers and hillbillies in the red states wallow in their filth and their ignorance, say proud upholders of the blue state model. We blue staters believe in things like quality education — and that costs money.
In theory, perhaps, but in practice the extraordinary achievement of so many red state schools strongly supports the idea that blue state governance is no friend to excellence in education. Having low taxes and governors descended from George H. W. Bush seems to offer students more hope than having high taxes and strong teacher unions. At the very least, the rankings suggest that blue state taxes and management philosophies aren’t knocking the stuffing out of their allegedly underfunded and poorly run red state competitors.
Indeed, taxes are the payment for living in a free society, but, as with many things, it can be overdone, or not done well. Cutting taxes, or shifting revenue, to put dollars (perhaps fewer dollars) into better programs is not cutting the budget on the backs of the poor.
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