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March 02, 2009
March 03, 2009
February 14, 2011
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March 07, 2011
For a couple weeks now, I’ve been obsessing over this map. It’s the product of a remarkable research project that collected and analyzed the incomes of the thirty-year olds who were born between 1980 and 1982.
The map shows, by small geographic areas, the likelihood that a child born into the lowest-income quintile ended up (as an adult) in the highest-income quintile.
This isn’t the necessarily the best indicator of economic mobility, but it is still edifying. (The fantastic interactive map from the Times allows you to look at mobility from a number of other angles, as well).
A whole lot of staring at this map and some additional research has produced ten thoughts—most of them gloomy.
Although long-term NAEP data shows overall reading scores haven’t improved much over the last few decades, we have seen a narrowing of the achievement gap.
So maybe today’s schools will help produce more economic mobility. That’s reason for encouragement.
But there’s also reason to be seriously concerned. The graph below shows the 2013 reading scale scores for low-income kids by state. I’ve put in red the states with the lowest economic mobility rates for kids born in the early 1980s.
Tragically, low-income kids in Mississippi, Alabama, and Alaska perform worse than the low-income kids in every state, other than Washington, D.C. Though low-income kids in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia are doing a bit better, this sadly suggests that the swath of red in the Deep South may be a stain that lingers unless those state’s leaders take dramatic action.