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Top 10 Worst Cities for Education in America
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One of the toughest decisions to make when choosing a place to live is determining which school will best suit your children. While parents rank factors like class size and special programs differently, in the end we all want our kids to get the skills they need for a successful future. Unfortunately, the recession has led to major cuts in education spending, including a reduction in the amount allocated to training teachers. A 2011 report from the Secretary of Education outlined troubling trends in our children's achievement, predicting that if we don't improve our education system "the next generation will not be ready to be world-class inventors, doctors, and engineers." When we looked at specific measures such as graduation rates, math and reading scores, per-student spending and class sizes, we came up with the following list of poor performers.
1. Las Vegas, Nevada
When tough economic times hit a city, the school districts feel the pain. Thanks to Las Vegas' declining tax revenue and state aid, the school district was recently downgraded by both Standard & Poor's and Moody's, thereby thwarting plans for $5.3 billion in school maintenance needed over the next decade. Meanwhile, the school district was at the bottom of our list for pupil/teacher ratio and was in the bottom third for per-pupil spending.
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2. Jackson, Mississippi
With a higher than average pupil/teacher ratio, and paltry spending per student, Jackson also has the distinction of a location in the state of Mississippi, which scores low for proficiency in math and reading as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
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3. Mobile, Alabama
One of two Alabama cities on this list thanks to the state’s overall low proficiency in math as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Mobile also has the sorry distinction of low per-pupil spending and big class sizes.
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4. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
A below-average graduation rate and low spending per pupil pushed Oklahoma City into fourth place on this list. Not helping matters is the state's spot in the bottom third for math and reading proficiency as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
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5. Phoenix, Arizona
Two Arizona cities made this list; the state admittedly has fallen behind the rest of the country when it comes to science, prompting Arizona companies to express concern about a lack of potential qualified workers in the state's pipeline. Phoenix scored in the bottom third for both its high pupil/teacher ratios and low accredited day care centers per capita.
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6. Billings, Montana
With the lowest ranking on our list when it comes to pupil-teacher ratios and a poor spending per student, Billings has the unfortunate combination of small city budget with big city class sizes. Not helping matters is the utter lack of National Association for the Education of Young People accredited day care centers and the comparatively high expense of day care as a percentage of income.
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7. Tucson, Arizona
This is the second Arizona city to make an appearance on this list due to the state's overall low score, due to higher child/staff daycare ratio and high percentage of income for the cost of full-time care. Tucson is also near the bottom of the list when it comes to per-pupil expenditures and unfavorable pupil/teacher ratios.
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8. Fresno, California
Coming in at the bottom for both spending and class sizes, Fresno also ranked low for proficiency in math and reading for eight-graders, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
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9. San Antonio, Texas
Near the bottom of the rankings for spending per pupil, San Antonio also scored in the bottom third for its graduation rate, a problem that state officials are taking note of. According to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, population projections in the state point to a less educated work force if things continue on this path. And a less educated workforce means it will be harder for Texas to keep businesses in the state.
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10. Birmingham, Alabama
Along with Mobile, Birmingham secured a spot on our list due to its state’s dismal ranking on our list when it comes to proficiency in math as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.