I saw this report mentioned a couple of weeks ago, but since I’ve been up to my ears in end-of-semester grading, I’m barely getting to it now.
Portfolio released a report in early December that ranked the “least brainy” cities in America. The cities are listed below; I added some demographics information because Portfolio conveniently left it out.
- Merced, CA [26.4% Latin@, 12.4% Asian (mostly Hmong)]
- McAllen-Edinburg, TX [88% Latin@]
- Brownsville, TX [91% Latin@]
- Visalia, CA [40.6% Latin@]
- Bakersfield, CA [32.5% Latin@, 9.2% Black]
- Yakima, WA [33.7% Latin@, 21.97% “other races”]
- Laredo, TX [94.9% Latin@]
- Hickory, NC [14.09% Black, 7.69% Latin@]
- Fort Smith, AR [at least 10% Latin@, 8.65% Black]
- Modesto, CA [50.8% Latin@]
Well well well…ain’t that a brown list?
Also: what the fuck is up with the picture HuffoPo picked to represent Brownsville?
I know there’s not much to do in Browntown, but shit, HuffPo…you could’ve picked something more representative than a dusty flea market. Jesus.
According to Portfolio, this is the criteria they used to determine where all the dummies are:
- Dropped out before high-school graduation (median of $19,405; 0.58 points)
- Stopped at high-school diploma (median of $26,894; 0.80 points)
- Stopped at associate degree or attended college, but stopped without any degree (median of $32,874; 0.98 points)
- Stopped at bachelor’s degree (median of $46,805; 1.40 points)
- Earned graduate and/or professional degree (median of $61,287; 1.83 points)
Okay. As someone who lives/works in the McAllen-Edinburg area, has a graduate degree (point #5), earns less than the median income of point #1, and teaches people trying to get to point #3–fuck knows where I fall into Portfolio‘s smartypants ranking system–I just wanted to say that this “report” really, really pisses me off.
All of the Texas areas mentioned are on the US-Mexico border. All of them are poor. Last year, Forbes ranked McAllen-Edinburg and Harlingen-Brownsville as the #1 and #2 poorest areas in the nation, respectively.
The closest metropolitan city to all the Texas areas mentioned is San Antonio, which is about a 2.5 hour drive from Laredo, and about a 3.5-4 hour drive from the other two areas on the list. Although I’m sure plenty of people would love to choose from the selection of schools around central Texas, due to the distance involved, most people around here have to choose between UTPA, UTB, STC, and TSTC. So while this study is naming only McAllen-Edinburg and Brownsville in its report on stoopid people and their half-assed education, what they’re really talking about is the entire tip of Texas (and more, when you add in Laredo, which is past Starr County):
And that is fucking offensive.
It’s not a nice list to begin with, but as I said earlier, I live here and I teach at one of the colleges here. Remedial classes, in fact. If you ask any of my friends, they will probably tell you how a small handful of students really tried my patience this semester with ridiculous bullshit.
But you know what, Portfolio? I am really fucking proud of my students, and I am in awe of so much of the student population here.
Maybe so many people in this area can’t get anything higher than a high school diploma because they can’t afford to pay the out-of-state tuition costs placed on non-citizens, even those who have lived here almost their entire lives (seriously, this country needs to pass the DREAM Act).
Maybe so many people in this area don’t have degrees yet because they had to try really damn hard to learn English first.
Maybe the lack of health care has slowed some people down in their studies, especially if they have disabilites.
Maybe some of the students who “stop without any degree” are struggling to juggle multiple full-time jobs, plus school, plus their families.
I don’t think any of these factors make the people who live here–or CA, or WA, or NC, or AR–“less brainy.” It just means that they need more fucking support.