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Louisiana's public education system ranked next to the bottom of states in a 2019 ranking of "States with the Best & Worst School Systems" by the financial web site WalletHub.

Louisiana ranked 50 out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Only New Mexico was lower at the very bottom — 51.

Others that ranked near the bottom were District of Columbia, 45; Alabama, 46; West Virginia, 47; Mississippi, 48; Arizona, 49. Our neighboring states ranks, besides Mississippi, were: Texas, 33, and Arkansas, 41.

Are these kinds of surveys really fair?

Probably not since the socioeconomic factors can vary widely. But neither is it wise to ignore such surveys. Surely we should face the reality that Louisiana public schools need a lot of improvement.

The most troubling ranking in the survey for Louisiana is that the state ranked 51 in "safety," rock bottom. The safety category included such metrics as threatened/injured high school students; high school students not attending school due to safety concerns; and families who agree their children go to safe schools. Other factors in safety include illegal drugs, violence, armed students, bullying rate, disciplinary rate, incarceration rate, safety plan, safety audit and grade of roads around schools.

Among other highlights were in overall quality of education Louisiana ranked 49th; dropout rate, 47; math test scores, 51; ACT scores, 44; threatened/injured high school students, 45; and bullying, 46. Ironically, Louisiana scored 29th in state spending on education, but still ranked almost rock bottom overall. What are we doing wrong?

Louisiana officials also need to be asking themselves such questions as: Why does Louisiana rank so consistently low in such surveys? How can the state improve school safety? Why is the quality of public education so low in spite of spending near the national average on public schools? The states with highest overall rankings were Massachusetts, 1; New Jersey, 2; Connecticut, 3; Virginia, 4; and Vermont, 5.

The WalletHub methodology was: "We evaluated those dimensions using 29 relevant metrics, which are listed ... with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scaled, with a score of 100 representing the highest quality of public K-12 education."


The entire survey can be found at wallethub.com/edu/e/states-with-the-best-schools/5335/

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