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Homeland Insecurity
April 4, 2008 3:18 PM   Subscribe

The Every Child Matters Education Fund, a non-profit organization that lobbies for better education and services for children, released a report (audio accompanies link text) this week that reveals that geography is as important as race and class in determining which children succeed, and which fail. The five highest ranking states, based on such factors as child poverty, infant mortality rates, juvenile incarceration rates and the like, were all in New England, with Vermont on top. The bottom five were all in the central South, with Louisiana coming in last... States with a high tax burden did a far better job of minimizing childhood poverty than low-taxing states. Via John Ibbitson in the Globe and Mail

According to the press release (pdf)...

Children in the lowest ranking state are:

• Twice as likely to die in their first year as children in the highest ranking state.
• Three times more likely to die between the ages of one-14.
• Roughly three times more likely to die between the ages of 15-19.
• Three times more likely to be born to a teenage mother.
• Five times more likely to have mothers who received late or no prenatal care.
• Three times more likely to live in poverty.
• Five times more likely to be uninsured.
• Eight times more likely to be incarcerated.
• 13 times more likely to die from abuse and neglect.”
posted by KokuRyu (26 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
More findings:

• Infant mortality. Children born in the bottom 10 states are 70 percent more likely to die before their first birthday than children in the top 10. In Louisiana, the infant mortality rate is more than twice as high as in Montana and Vermont.

• Child mortality. A child in the bottom 10 states is twice as likely to die by the age of fourteen as a child in the top 10. In South Dakota, the child mortality rate is 3.5 times higher than in Rhode Island.

• Inadequate prenatal care. Women in the bottom 10 states are more than twice as likely to receiveinadequate prenatal care as women in the top 10 states. In New Mexico, women are more than 5 times as likely to receive inadequate prenatal care as women in Rhode Island or Vermont.

• Child poverty. A child living in the bottom 10 states is twice as likely to live in poverty as a child in the top 10. In Mississippi, the child poverty rate is 3 times greater than in Maryland or New Hampshire.

• Child abuse and neglect. Children in the bottom 10 states are 6.7 times more likely to die from abuse and neglect as children in the top states. In Oklahoma, children are 13 times more likely to die from abuse or neglect as those in Maine.

• Lack of health insurance. Children in the bottom 10 states are 2.8 times as likely to be uninsured as children in the top 10. In Texas, a child is 5 times as likely to be uninsured as a child in Rhode Island.

• Teen pregnancy. Teens in the bottom 10 states give birth at a rate twice as high as those in the top 10. In Texas, the teen birth rate is 3.5 times that of New Hampshire.

• Teen death. Teens in the bottom 10 states are more than twice as likely to die between 15-19 as those in the top 10. In Alaska, the teen death rate is more than 2.5 times higher than in Hawaii.

• Teen incarceration. Juveniles in the bottom 10 states are more than twice as likely to be
incarcerated as juveniles in the top 10. In Wyoming, the juvenile incarceration rate is more than 8 times Vermont’s.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:34 PM on April 4, 2008


For fuck's sake, when are we going to secede already? This whole union thing is turning into an embarassment.
posted by allen.spaulding at 3:42 PM on April 4, 2008


Sounds about right.
posted by absalom at 4:23 PM on April 4, 2008


• Child poverty. A child living in the bottom 10 states is twice as likely to live in poverty as a child in the top 10. In Mississippi, the child poverty rate is 3 times greater than in Maryland or New Hampshire.

Isn't that basically what it all boils down to? Aren't all the other factors stats just symptoms of poverty?

And, while it's pretty obvious that redistribution of wealth plays a key role (I don't think the phrase "high tax burden" can be helping matters), there's an odd omission here: Do the bottom states even have wealth to be redistributed?
posted by Sys Rq at 4:40 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Very interesting. Thank you.
posted by betterton at 4:43 PM on April 4, 2008


If New Hampshire is in the top five then heavens help the poor kids in the bottom five states.

I've seen plenty of examples of all of the above factors in NH, both ten years ago when I was living there and now, with much of my family still there. My siblings and I all graduated from the very flawed public school system, where schools almost entirely funded regionally by property taxes, which gives even property rich communities less than adequate funding. I have several close friends who are school teachers and even the ones who work in "nice" schools admit they could make the same amount of money or possibly more by quitting their jobs and becoming medical billers or administrative assistants.

Overall it is also critically lacking in social services (not surprising considering how little taxes are paid), leaving many people I have known having to choose between heating their homes in the winter and eating. The only saving grace is that, with such a tiny population in all but the population-dense southernmost communities, poor people can rely on local charities like churches to get through the hard times. And the lack of social support workers means that things like child abuse/neglect go unreported more often than not, especially in small communities.

I think the high rank of the state has been inflated by there being a disproportionate amount of rich to poor, whereas the poor have it as bad if not worse than they would elsewhere, because the rich people there aren't carrying a "high tax burden." Bottom line - poor people, for the love of god, don't move to NH if you know what's best for you. Make a beeline for Vermont, the land of milk and maple syrup.
posted by SassHat at 5:01 PM on April 4, 2008


If New Hampshire is in the top five then heavens help the poor kids in the bottom five states.

GG Allin is a product of New Hampshire and its schools, if that tells you anything.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:15 PM on April 4, 2008


Before I say anything else, the mobile.globeandmail.com link was good. Thanks for including it. But part of me recoils at the inherent more-liberal-than-thou tone that I hear in it, and in so many other Canadian writings that I've read. It's easy to call the U.S. on its racism and economic inequality when your own society is mostly white.

But I really wish we could do as Ibbitson recommends and send a lot more funding towards our poorer states. If the Democrats do take power this year, they could do themselves a long-term favor by sending education $$$ to the south. A more educated population is a more liberal population.
posted by A dead Quaker at 5:16 PM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


A dead Quaker: It's easy to call the U.S. on its racism and economic inequality when your own society is mostly white.

Uh... What?

I'm pretty sure all that racism and economic inequality stems from the fact that the U.S. is also mostly white.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:23 PM on April 4, 2008


A dead Quaker: It's easy to call the U.S. on its racism and economic inequality when your own society is mostly white.

Uh... What?


I think the point is that the more minorities are present (in any country) the more racism that might otherwise be hidden becomes apparent.
posted by frobozz at 5:42 PM on April 4, 2008


Make a beeline for Vermont, the land of milk and maple syrup.

I swear the Vermont thing only works because if you're desperately poor you move elsewhere because you'd freeze to death in the Winter, as Sys Rq says pretty much. And really we have social policies that mean that (previously) underpaid folks like myself can still get health care and an education. On the other hand, we're one of the least diverse states in the nation which points to a cultural poverty of a different sort.
posted by jessamyn at 5:48 PM on April 4, 2008


It's easy to call the U.S. on its racism and economic inequality when your own society is mostly white.

I think what you could mean is that the legacy of "State's rights" (the right to own slaves, perhaps?) has affected how American states interact (or don't).

Canada, on the other hand, is basically an amalgamation of a bunch of mostly unprofitable colonies into one Dominion. Most colonies, like British Columbia or Newfoundland, had to be coaxed or coerced into joining Confederation. The prime motivator was always the promise of money, or equalization payments.

It's written into our Constitution (I think) that Canadians should be able to expect the same level of services (specifically education, medical) no matter where they are in Canada, and this promise also provides the rationale for transfer payments.

But racism is a potent force in Canada. Just ask any First Nations (aka "Indian") person living in Third World conditions on some godforsaken reserve, or on the mean streets of Winnipeg, Regina or the Lower East Side of Vancouver.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:49 PM on April 4, 2008


And, while it's pretty obvious that redistribution of wealth plays a key role (I don't think the phrase "high tax burden" can be helping matters), there's an odd omission here: Do the bottom states even have wealth to be redistributed?

I get your point, but do you think Vermont and Montana have a lot of wealth to redistribute? I think it has a lot more to do with some combination of values, services structure and the number needing to be served.
posted by meinvt at 6:11 PM on April 4, 2008


But racism is a potent force in Canada. Just ask any First Nations (aka "Indian") person living in Third World conditions on some godforsaken reserve, or on the mean streets of Winnipeg, Regina or the Lower East Side of Vancouver.

It's waaaaaay oversimplifying the matter at best to say that the socio-economic problems among the aboriginal Canadian populace are caused by racism. The Canadian government pours money into aboriginal affairs. There's no wage differential between educated aboriginal Canadians and all other educated Canadians. I think that, at least in recent history, we mainstream Canadians have been well-meaning but misguided and incompetent in terms of how we tried to help aboriginal Canadians.
posted by orange swan at 6:36 PM on April 4, 2008


You're right, meinvt, it's not the amount of wealth per se, but the amount of wealth relative to the poor population.

It just bothers me that the conclusion of this report seems to be Just Raise Taxes, Stupid! I mean, yeah, taxes would help, but how much? And that's assuming a rational Robin Hood form of taxation -- not the Trickle-Down baloney that those impoverished Republican states would be more likely to implement.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:47 PM on April 4, 2008


And this is surprising how?
posted by inoculatedcities at 7:51 PM on April 4, 2008


A lot of these mortality stats, could, in theory, be addressed with national and/or universal health care that is federally funded. Lack of access to healthcare casts a very dark shadow on the poor and exacerbates all the other factors. State by state solutions are inadequate to the task, too; it is going to need national efforts to make a dent in these figures.

If you include mental health care as a right also, then you could reach out to substance abusers and those with untreated disorders that make them abuse and neglect their kids. Of course, I also believe in subsidized daycare, preschool programs, and pre and postnatal counseling for parents. Crazy me.

(It is a very odd thing to be considered crazy for wanting to invest in such commonsense programs, when pushing for wars that burn billions of dollars to no purpose gets applause, but that's another rant.)
posted by emjaybee at 8:02 PM on April 4, 2008


I'm entirely unconvinced that there's an argument to be made that certain states are racist/sexist/anti-child because they're poor. The South is poor because they hate children, women, gays, blacks and so on. There is extraordinary wealth concentrated in few hands and the idea that the states as a whole are a priori worse off than Massachusetts is ridiculous. They are indeed worse off, but that's because the majority of the state would rather vote for anti-gay constitutional amendments than treat their own citizens as equals, because they fucking get off on invading foreign countries out of a desire to rape brown women and shoot brown people, and because deep down inside, they still fly the confederate flag in their hearts. They are poor because they are hateful people and not the otherway around.

I feel for their children, but not for them. They still have not paid for their sins.
posted by allen.spaulding at 11:13 PM on April 4, 2008


Looks to me like different states obviously have different priorities.

Apparently some states think taxes are an acceptable tradeoff for good elementary education and everything that flows from it. I think it goes almost without saying that this is the popular position here on MeFi, and if I might go out on a limb for a moment, probably among educated people in general.

However, it's pretty clear that there are some states where the opposite opinion is held -- or at least acted upon, for some reason -- by the voting public. They would rather not raise taxes and not fund elementary education, and they have the kind of statistics that you'd expect as a result of this.

There are some complicating factors -- it's not hard to imagine people who don't have much wealth and didn't get much benefit from the educational system themselves being resistant towards taxation for the purposes of improving that system, for instance -- but I think there's a pretty fundamental disagreement going on, at some level. People have differing ideas of what public education should provide and how much everyone should sacrifice in order to fund it, and what priority it should take relative to other costs (infrastructure maintenance, immediate job creation, direct welfare payments, etc.).

While I suppose one 'solution' to this would be to mandate universal standards for education that all schools would have to adhere to, that strikes me as the "solution that is simple, neat, and wrong"; if you want to improve education, you need to convince the voters and taxpayers in low-funding areas that it's worth taxing themselves more in order to pay for it. Trying to force people to pay for services they don't value, especially if it's done in a condescending way, tends to be a losing proposition in a democracy. (I.e. if you can force stuff like that, it's a fair bet your government isn't particularly democratic, and that's a problem in its own right.)

I see that as one of the major reasons for NCLB's failure, besides the near-complete lack of funding. It's a top-down solution that tries to address a problem that starts at the bottom. If you want to solve it, that's where you need to go and work from. People will happily vote for higher taxes when they go to pay for things of perceived value to them. That's where the change needs to occur.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:52 PM on April 4, 2008


because deep down inside, they still fly the confederate flag in their hearts

Forget hearts; I think it's worth remembering that a lot of 'em fly the damn thing on their flagpoles.

And, as you say, their voting record makes clear that the majority of Southerners do indeed still seem to stand for most, if not all, of the glorious things the Confederate Flag symbolises.

On this subject, I (from the other side of the planet, mind you) concur, as usual, with Tim Kreider.
posted by dansdata at 2:41 AM on April 5, 2008


My God, you can't all be serious. The South is an incredibly diverse region as far as politics, culture, and race. Speaking of race, it has one of the highest African-American populations in the United States (almost 30% versus Massachusetts' 7%), not only due to it's history of a slave state, but because there's an influx across the country into Georgia. And this is just one of many minority groups that are quickly becoming a majority. As for religion, Roman Catholics and non-religious are almost as numerous as Baptists (a trend that will increase in the future). As for the sin of capital punishment, the South is hardly unique there with states like New Hampshire, California, Washington, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and Illinois also killing off their citizenry.

But this is neither here nor there. I can't convince you on statistics alone, because it's not statistics that have pushed you to hate all the States in the southern United States. And I understand your hate because many of the aspects of the United States that you loathe are made manifest here. But that doesn't mean that they only exist here; your state's own history can be just as sordid. The South is a symbol then and the people here that labor and work and pay taxes, people that are good or bad or simply live their lives – they are all secondary to that symbol. Georgia and South Carolina have some great colleges, great celebrations, noble souls, and—you probably know this—liberals. What should they do? I guess they're all under interdict.

These places aren't perfect – they are flawed. The primary and secondary educational systems are deeply broken. The health care system is likewise badly in need of repair. But glancing around the United States, I don't find these problems only in the South. But ever time something happens down here, every time it's a symptom of the South's evil, while when it happens in New York or California or Minnesota, it just is. When the hunter shooting occurred back a few years ago, not many called Wisconsin out on it's racist past with the Hmong.

I love the United States, and all of the places I've lived in it, I also have learned to love. And that's why this separatist attitude of 'screw them' offends me so. But sure enough, I'll probably be attacked for it. But regardless of whether you see it or not, there is good here, sometimes good that only exists here. And that deserves something more than outright hatred.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:09 AM on April 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


Thank you, Lord Chancellor. I am from Mississippi, and it makes me furious to see people turn blind eyes to the racism in, say, Massachusetts, and refuse to adjust their viewpoints of the South from the ones they got in ninth-grade social studies during the civil rights lesson.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:31 AM on April 5, 2008


Illinois, Lord Chancellor, has put a moratorium on executions.

Eff the south.

(Yes, yes, I know, I live in Michigan, blah, blah, blah, segregated, voted for George Wallace, yadda, yadda, but, still, seriously, eff the south.)
posted by John of Michigan at 3:11 PM on April 5, 2008


I wish I could read your message, but my current browser blocks materials under the "Tasteless" category. I wish I was kidding.

Anyway, I would bring up the rebuttal that was printed in your last thread about the problems in Michigan, Mr. John of Michigan, but there really isn't a point, is there? You don't care. Well, for the rest of, we do. We care about the South, which are our brothers, sisters, and – sometimes – us. But if you're going to damn an entire region regardless of evidence or compassion, so be it. We will still do whatever we can to save this whole country because we love it so.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:59 PM on April 5, 2008


So, let me see if I have this straight: Southerners are inherently racist, misogynist, queer-hating, child-abusers, and the one group that it's entirely acceptable to bash here on MeFi? Because, see, as a multi-racial, queer Southern mother, I think that's bullshit.
posted by notashroom at 9:19 AM on April 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Southerners are inherently racist, misogynist, queer-hating, child-abusers, and the one group that it's entirely acceptable to bash here on MeFi?

No, you have that wrong. People who are being one note jerks about "eff the south" stuff should take that crap to MetaTalk because as a constant refrain here it's tiresome and not particularly useful in a thread about education disparities in the US. The "your favorite US region sucks" comments without any other decent conversation or engagement are pretty much as unhelpful as "your favorite band/OS sucks" comments.
posted by jessamyn at 9:32 AM on April 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


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