Tennessee Ranks 41 in Child Well-Being

For over 20 years The Annie E. Casey Foundation has collected data on the overall well being of children.  The 2010 Kids Count Data Book was released July 27, 2010.  New data has been recently added… how well do you think Tennessee rates?

There have been overall improvements for Tennessee, we now rank 41 out of 50 for 2010.  Although I should be thrilled with the improvements, I don’t quite understand how the “Volunteer State” ranks so low.

If you’ve ever complained about a child having “bad parents,” you may want to do a comparison of the Service Delivery Systems of high ranking states.  It’s all about you get what you pay for; below minimum standards equate to low state rankings.  For instance the data reported the expenditure in the United States per pupil average is $10,557.  Tennessee’s average expenditure is $7,756.  Only Utah reported below Tennessee at $6,228 spent per pupil, while the highest expenditure per pupil reported was Wyoming at $16,386.

Care to learn more of the statistical information in Rutherford County, the data is provided by The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.  Or you can look at all the numbers at Kids Count.

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4 Responses

  1. Welcome Deborah!

    I always have a problem with these kinds of studies. I understand no one wants to be ranked near the bottom, but any study that compares states will always result in one state being number 1, and one state being number 50.

    I don’t understand the “expenditure per pupil.” Is this about kids or is it about students? I have 2 kids who are not school age, does Annie just assume I got a check of $7,756 for each kid since their not in school?

    And I don’t really understand the data since most if it compares numbers and not percentages. Plus it stops in 2007, and I think we all know a lot changed in September 2008.

    I don’t know the point of the data, but if the point is to say we need to spend more $$ on education I would have to disagree. If Tennessee is only spending 50% as much on education as Wyoming, why is our graduation rate only 10% worse than theirs? Our graduation rate is actually better than California! And by the way, the state that spends the least (Utah) has one of the highest graduation rates (77%).

    http://www.edweek.org/ew/dc/2010/gradrate_trend.html

    I don’t know what the solution is, but we’ve been giving out government checks since LBJ was in office to try and address poverty and failing schools; I don’t know of many people who think either situation has improved drastically in the past 40 years.

    • Hi Michael,

      Thank you for the welcome, I would like to see you become writer on TiLaV; your thoughts are always interesting.

      The “expenditure per pupil” is the number of enrolled students. The State of TN uses the ADA [average daily attendance] of enrolled students to calculate the daily expenditure. A child that is not enrolled in public school would not be included in this calculation.

      I would suspect that the data is behind due to the fact the school year typically runs August through May and the time it takes for the data to become available.

      It’s just my opinion; I do feel a need to invest in our future, whether it is education or health care. I have always been alarmed by TN high infant mortality rate, 8.3% is too high, I’m no expert in the field, but would suspect that the lack of pre-natal care contributes to this alarming rate, in 2007 only 61% of TN babies born received appropriate pre-natal care.

      There are probably many factors that do affect the graduation rate, the above referenced link indicated TN graduation rate in 2006-07 at 65.8%, and data reported for the same year on the kids count report shows a dropout rate of 10.2%. Tennessee has a long record of low ranking in education; 42nd in the Nation for 2009. The success in Utah might be because of higher standards, education laws, higher household incomes or lower poverty rates.

      “Like you, I don’t know all the answers either.” I do know that it would benefit all if we could achieve higher standards.

  2. I think there should be a push to better educate people about the importance of good nutrition to early childhood development in this state. Apparently, the state agency that oversees daycare facilities considers tater tots to be a vegetable. And when I went to tour one of the supposedly better daycares in the area last year, they had freakin’ Pop Tarts on the menu!

    • Sarah, I agree 100%. My daughter, who is now 17, went to a pricey daycare in Brentwood (solely because it was right next door to my office) and their breakfast menu consisted of doughnuts about half the time. Lunch and snacks were always healthy, so I just made sure she ate a big breakfast at home. Usually she managed to force down a doughnut once she got there, though! :)

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