Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Polls: Dumbest Poll Headline? CNN.

On my homepage:
States Ranked: Smart to Dumb
The smartest state in the union is Massachusetts. Find out which state has landed in 50th place--for the third time in a row.

Hmm. I wonder. What's the criteria here? Where is Connecticut (where I grew up), New York (where I used to live) and Michigan (where I live now)? Let's see...
1. Massachusetts
2. Connecticut
3. Vermont
4. New Jersey
5. Wisconsin
6. New York
31. Michigan (yikes!)
50. New Mexico

But here's what the results are based on...
These are the findings of the Education State Rankings, a survey by Morgan Quitno Press of hundreds of public school systems in all 50 states. States were graded on a variety of factors based on how they compare to the national average. These included such positive attributes as per-pupil expenditures, public high school graduation rates, average class size, student reading and math proficiency, and pupil-teacher ratios. States received negative points for high drop-out rates and physical violence.

So this ranking isn't based on a state's actual population at large at all. This is pretty much a ranking of school systems, if anything, not a reflection of the smartest or dumbest states. and I'm not sure I trust it for an accurate ranking of schools either. I know small classes and more money generally mean good things for students, but is that a direct correlation to "smarter" and "dumber"?

Keep this garbage poll in mind the next time you see a poll trumpeting "Bush's 8-point lead" or "Kerry Closing Fast." These jackasses often don't know what they are talking about, and when they do, they skew the presentation to fit a predetermined storyline.

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