By Raoul Lowery Contreras
Perhaps the worst damage on America by the fading Covid pandemic has been its effect on our children and the masses of college students that were kept out of the nation’s classrooms.
The worst damage, of course, was on K-12 kids that were kept home. Some, of course, managed some studies online and some by home schooling. Overall, however, K-12 students were cheated, especially in the country’s economically disadvantaged and particularly in states that are normally in the lower half of educational achievement.
That lower third is markedly noticeable in the lower half of uneducated states and are, generally, from three distinctive groups, poor whites, Blacks and Hispanic children, teens and twentysomethings.
The United States as a whole has bettered the country’s educated standing in the past 80 years but huge gaps still exist.
On the eve of World War II, the 1940 Census calculated that only 3% of the country’s population was college educated. That improved to 10% in the 1960s and 33.1% in 2019.
Example of improvement, the Mexican American population of over 40,000,000, has dramatically improved graduation rates and, in California, has displaced non-Hispanic whites in college matriculation, second to the state’s Asian community.
Nonetheless, there are states in the U.S. where education lags behind; they are dragging the country down.
Here are the 25 states that are the least educated of the 50 states, as noted in “24/7 Wall St.” The list was compiled by Sarah Burns.
The worst states: #50 – Oklahoma, #49 – Nevada,
#48 – Louisiana, #47 – Arizona, #46 – Mississippi,
#45 – New Mexico, #44 – Idaho, #43 – West Virginia,
#42 – Alaska, #41 – Alabama, #40 – Arkansas,
#39 – South Carolina, #38 – Texas, #37 – Wyoming, #36 – Florida, #35 – South Dakota,
#34 – Georgia, #33 – North Dakota,
#32 – Tennessee, #31 – North Carolina,
#30 – Indiana, #29 – Ohio, #28 – Montana,
#27 – Kentucky, #26 – Hawaii, #25 -Michigan…
Of these 25 states, 20 have several commonalities:
They are generally the most politically conservative states; they are generally poorer than the better educated states; they generally have large minority, mostly Black, populations (though four have substantial Hispanic numbers); most are rural-dominated states; most do not have large cities and most are Protestant dominated.
Among these 20 similar states, one commonality that stands out is that they voted for Donald J. Trump in 2020. Another is that most have lower standards of living. Illicit drug usage is high and in some states like West Virginia, Ohio and surrounding states, have extremely high opioid death rates.
And though less-educated states could be expected to have poorly prepared and educated workers, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi have blossomed into automobile manufacturing centers despite their educational systems being below the national experience.
Two, Arizona and Texas, have huge worker populations devoted to trade with Mexico; Texas, the traditionally worst state for Mexican-origin people to live in, is happily trading over 100 billion dollars-a-year in goods and services with Mexico.
Despite that gigantic trade with Mexico, Texas voted for Trump who vigorously vilified the basis for Texas trade with Mexico, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the very agreement that made Texas a trade giant.
These 25 states are collectively limiting U.S. productivity and more prosperity.
These states must improve their education. A better education can lift the country higher than ever imagined.
How to do it is the problem. Education is not a federal responsibility. The result is that Washington sends only a small amount of funding to the states and localities that are responsible for education.
Some states on the list prohibit the use of federal funds on private and parochial schools and others are — pushed as they are by teacher unions — limiting charter schools. These limitations and prohibition of public money on children in private and parochial schools must end.
Aid and expenditures should be based on individual students. National standards should be implemented so that any child in West Virginia or Oklahoma should be exposed to far better educations their cousins might receive in Massachusetts or Connecticut.
Money and national standards are the keys. Kids want to learn. It is our duty to teach them. No matter the cost.
There should be no states with inferior education, none. The states that do have inferior education should fire and replace their legislatures and governors — Period!
Raoul Lowery Contreras is a United States Marine veteran, political consultant and the author of “The Armenian Lobby & American Foreign Policy” and “The Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a Trillion Dollars in Trade.” And, “A Hispanic View of President Donald J. Trump.” He hosts “The Contreras Report” on Youtube and Facebook…