to an article in the local paper, southern states are some of
the dumbest states, ranking in the bottom 10 of 50 states in a
survey about education.
Oh, please! Do we really need a survey to tell us how dumb we
are? Actually, we have always done a pretty good job of
maintaining our reputation of dumb, hillbilly, redneck, good
olí boys without any survey folks from Kansas sticking their
noses into it.
It seems that the way these surveys measure dumbness is by how
much money a state spends on public and secondary education.
Tennessee was on the bottom of the pile according to the
percentage spent per amount of personal income, ranking all
the way at the bottom.
Maine, Yankee territory for sure, is deemed to be the smartest
state because they spend more money than any other state on
education. Now to my way of thinking at least, it just might
be that it takes more to money to educate a hardheaded Yankee,
but they didnít even consider that possibility.
If you spend a whole bunch of money per pupil on education, it
just stands to reason that students will learn more according
to most peopleís logic. If the three Rís are any
indicator, the survey folks may be right since we are near the
bottom on two of the three Rís and low on the other R,
Money spent on education, however, is certainly not the only
indicator of how dumb or smart a population is. There are so
many other factors to consider with education, for example,
teacher dedication, innate learning ability, motivation to
learn and parent's involvement in education, to
mention a few.
Some folks seem to think the way to measure dumbness of the
south is not by the amount of money spent on education, but by
other things, such as the amount of personal income spent on
pickup trucks, the ratio of people vs. coon dogs, whether
people listen to country music or public radio, or even how
many people still have their natural teeth.
Now for those of you who are laughing up your sleeve, donít
laugh too loud. There were four other southern states in the
bottom ten keeping Tennessee company, Mississippi, Louisiana,
Oklahoma and Alabama. You are probably nodding your head in
agreement that these states are pretty dumb too.
Well, explain this. Western states also turned out as pretty
dumb, with California, New Mexico, and Arizona also apparently
spending less on education than their eastern counterparts.
The other two, and last of the cheap spenders in our bottom
ten list, are Alaska and Hawaii.
Remember, we are not talking about total amount of money spent
here, but the amount spent relative to personal income.
Unfortunately, there is only so much money in the pot and
sometimes states choose to spend it on other needs, such as
healthcare for the residents or social services. Does that
really make us as dumb as the survey would suggest or merely
indicate that some states have other priorities or
Besides, even if we are dumb, so what? The south has lived
with this image for long that we have learned to capitalize on
it and make it into an asset. Fact is the redneck image, car
racing, football and the country music industry are some of
our biggest assets, bringing in big bucks to the new south.
We have learned to do more with less out of necessity. Great
strides have been made in economic development, industries
love our lower taxes, and Yankees just canít seem to leave
the cold north and move to the sunny south fast enough.
I think we are just not quite as dumb as some surveys would
have people believe.