Terms like immigration and health care have really stolen the reform spotlight in the United States; they’ve taken the critical wind right out of classroom sails. But that doesn’t mean that education isn’t equally important. If anything, it’s arguably more important. It’s a constant systematic issue, it’s time sensitive, and it’s entirely unfixable on an individual level once young people have passed through the system. Plus, it’s the system that shapes the individuals who will deal with issues like immigration and health care two decades from now. As such, it’s worth considering where we have most badly failed in the U.S., as well as highlighting some successes.
These are the five states with the worst public education systems, ranked in no particular order.
1. West Virginia
4. New Mexico
5. District of Columbia
Justification for the list comes next. The five above were compiled based on the states with the most negative mentions for policy, budget, testing scores, teacher pay, school violence, student drop out, and student-to-teacher ratios, drawn from various education data sources, as shown in the table below.