Sunday, November 06, 2005

Arizona named dumbest state in the union

Now there’s a superlative I could live without. To those unaware, Bob and I are in negotiation over where to buy a house and raise our little family. Since I was raised on the east coast and he on the west and our extended families are located accordingly, it’s obvious to see how we might conflict. Thankfully our discussions are usually rationally based, and we consider cost of living, employment opportunities and the like. It’s the subjective quality of life "discussion" where we can get a bit heated. This recent article though may be one of the best arguments in my favor.

I'll be honest, I'm usually the one who goes off on the quality of life rants. For example, I can get past the fact that it’s still too hot here in November to bake cookies. I can get past the fact that scorpions thrive all too close to intimate spaces in our home. And I can even get past the fact that the newscasters here are, at best, amateurish. Call me spoiled but growing up watching NYC news has made me yearn for newscasters who can manage more than 3 syllable words and, more importantly, who don’t seem to be going for the Pam Anderson look.

Now that we have Sam, the education issue is a new salient one for both of us. Bob argues that he went through the public school district in Arizona and he’s reached a level of academic and professional success. Several family members are prominent members of the Tempe public school system, to the benefit of their students. Finally, the public school system has experienced some difficulties in part to two issues that are often extremely localized -- illegal immigration and the explosive rate of growth.

I argue that I’d rather my son be part of a school district where his peers are higher performing, presumably as he is. In this environment, I’d hope he’d be challenged to learn and grow more than one where he’s the brightest. According to my sister in law, the level of challenge for her smart boys in Chandler isn’t adequate. And the immigration and growth issues aren’t going to change anytime soon. I view those as a failure of the local government here to put priority on educating their student population.

For two people who value education and critical thinking, this debate will rage on. In the meantime let me extend my congratulations to the great state of Connecticut. I’ll settle for Salutatorian.
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