Sunday, September 25, 2022

Bill Crawford: Mississippi's Freedom to be Inferior

 Wow, Mississippi ranks 6th nationally in “education freedom.” That’s terrific, right?

The Heritage Foundation recently published for the first time its “Education Freedom Report Card.” To reach its overall score for each state it combined scores it calculated for schools in four categories – school choice, transparency, regulatory freedom, and spending. Mississippi’s scores in each category were 13th, 30th, 1st, and 23rd respectively. If the report’s title didn’t make it obvious that regulatory freedom would matter most in overall scoring, these scores do. 

Florida received the top ranking. Its scores by the four categories were 3rd, 1st, 2nd, and 7th. Not hard to see here why Florida’s overall score was 1st. The Heritage blurb about Florida stated, “Families looking for a state that embraces education freedom, respects parents’ rights, and provides a decent ROI for taxpayers should look no further than The Sunshine State.” 

Read the report here:

So how does this metric compare with more traditional measures of school success? Well, the most recent data showed Florida ranked 34th and Mississippi 48th in high school graduation rates. ACT scores assess high school students’ readiness for college – Florida ranked 27th on average ACT scores and Mississippi 49th. Educational attainment data shows how many high school graduates go on to achieve 4-year college degrees. In this category Florida ranked 34th and Mississippi 49th

I have written several times in the past about “truth management” from well-funded national policy institutes and research centers that propagate research and findings supportive of pre-conceived notions, i.e., they tailor “truth” to fit stipulated concepts. So, it should be no surprise that the top five scoring states in the Heritage report, Florida, Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, and South Dakota were among the most conservative states while the worst five scoring states, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, were among the most liberal. 

One fascinating aspect of Heritage’s analysis showed up in the spending category. The foundation calculated a return on school investment (ROI) for each state. The numerator of the resulting fraction was the average of NAEP scores for 4th and 8th graders in math and reading. The denominator was per average pupil spending in public schools. Mississippi graded 37th in average NAEP scores and 45th in spending per pupil. While this does show Mississippi doing pretty good using its limited funding to teach to the tests, it implies that more spending to improve scores would reduce Heritage’s ROI score. For example, Connecticut graded 3rd in NAEP scores and 3rd in per pupil spending but 50th for ROI.

Indeed, Heritage’s approach could be used to justify reduced school spending in Mississippi.

In summary, what Heritage’s “Economic Freedom Score Card” really celebrates is freedom to be average (Florida) to inferior (Mississippi) in school performance.  

Wow, indeed!

“Foolish people! How long do you want to be foolish? How long will you enjoy making fun of knowledge? Will you never learn?” – Proverbs 1:22.

Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Jackson.


Anonymous said...

Mississippi is a great place for a hunting and fishing vacation. Not much else, though.

Anonymous said...

Ultimately the Heritage Foundation does not believe education is a right to be supported by government but a function of private enterprise. They should be honest enough to make the statement before making misleading evaluations. Under the premise that government owes no one an educational opportunity, obviously Mississippi should rank number one!

Anonymous said...

None of those metrics mean jack shit except to eggheads who took too many 'Test and Measurement' classes.

That some of our school systems are even allowed to EXIST is beyond alarming.

Anonymous said...

Throw more money at it. That always works.

Anonymous said...

10:52 - Are you actually concerned with what the Heritage Foundation 'believes' regarding education being a government function....I mean since our Constitution declares that it is?

Anonymous said...

Mississippi has some very good schools and some very bad schools. So what are they doing differently? What is Madison County doing differently than JPS?

Anonymous said...


Wife and I took a lap through the delta yesterday afternoon. Even with the harvest in progress we barley saw any people. We moved from the delta to Madison several years ago and to be honest (being empty nesters) the quiet, sparsely populated delta looked so damned good compared to the hustle and bustle and traffic of Madison. And yes we like to hunt and fish and the outdoors in general.

Anonymous said...

1:47 PM, You know exactly the difference and so does everyone else. This answer will not get posted but everyone knows the truth anyway. They just will not let us say what is the difference.

Anonymous said...

12:58 Spend as little as possible. How does that work? Ask Mississippi.

Anonymous said...


I knew they grew soybeans in the Delta, but not barley!

Anonymous said...

Are you also made Kingfish won’t let you say the N-word either, bigot?

Anonymous said...

1:47 The difference is the expectation and participation of PARENTS in the process. That's the difference. There, I said it 2:33. What's the big deal?

Don Drane said...

1:48 - Your post is interesting. I don't know where your 'Delta Lap' took you, but hundreds yesterday were in attendance at the Sam Chatmon Blues Festival, free, on the streets of Hollandale. And Clarksdale hosted a dynamic musical festival with headliners that numbered about 15 and thousands attended and it continues today (Sunday). The entire town of Cleveland was busy getting ready for their annual fall festival that involves everybody in town. Moon Lake up around Lula was full of rafters (pontoon boats). Terrene Landing over at Rosedale is all spiffed up and receiving regular dockings from the paddle wheelers who then board buses to head over to the Grammy Museum in Cleveland and BB King Museum in Indianola.

I have not heard a single word about shots fired in the Delta, cars jacked, people beating each other up or babies being kidnapped by baby-mommas or diaper-daddies. You're right. Things were quiet in the Delta. Y'all come back, now.

Tweety said...

The difference is the library. Areas that use the library regularly have better schools. The best indicator of future success is regular reading. The library is free, so what causes a kid to use it (and the politicians to respect it)?
I've lived in multiple states with varying levels of diversity. Reading is what improves an individual's test scores and their school's score.
If you want to improve Mississippi, encourage reading. Please

Anonymous said...

5:08 There are a lot of things that Madison County does right, but the Madison County Library System is not a positive. The Library system is all about being "woke". Check out the woke statement on their website. They are proud about their efforts to screw things up.

Anonymous said...

5:55 Prove it.

Anonymous said...

5:55 - did the words "Freedom Begins with a Book" mess with your tiny mind?

Anonymous said...

Let's just leave the little matter of the education of young Mississippians to the staff of our Department of Education. After all, they are the educated, certified, qualified, wholly competent experts in the field. Just step back out of their way and look at their successes.

Because everyone wants and needs to be told what to do by some government expert.

Bobby Magee said...

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose. Free to be 50th in this case.

Anonymous said...

I would rather be number 50 in America, than number 1 anywhere else.

Anonymous said...

What's Madison County doing? It's student population comes from the highest income area in the state. Check out the results at Ridgeland and Germantown - pretty average compared to those at Madison Central. If it were something the overall district were doing, those two would be performing at a level similar to Madison Central. It's the population the schools serve. Just about any replacement level administrative team could maintain or exceed the results of the current administrative team.

Bobby Magee said...

Hey 9:34. You are in the right place. Apparently happy to be last. You are the problem. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

Old news. We already knew Mississippi was on the bottom of every good list
and on the top of every bad list.

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