Monday, February 16, 2009

Mapping Kentucky educational attainment

Kentucky educational challenges -high school, associate and bachelor's degrees, plus a measure of generational gaps- are shown on this Education Needs Index map (with the larger original here.) Comparing our thirty Census "microdata areas" to similar areas across the country:
  • In green, three areas in central and eastern Jefferson and outer Fayette counties are in the top quarter nationwide.
  • In yellow, five areas (central Lexington, south-central Jefferson and adjacent counties, and the areas that include Owensboro and Bowling Green) are in the second strongest quarter.
  • In orange, ten areas are in the next-to-bottom quarter: far western Kentucky, areas that include Elizabethtown and Ashland, much of the central Bluegrass, and our northern Kentucky counties are in the next weakest quarter.
  • In red, twelve areas rank in the bottom quarter nationally, including most of our Appalachian counties, some others reaching well to the west, and two portions of Jefferson County.
This map is a clear reminder that Kentucky has plenty of work to do in building a stronger future for our children and ourselves.


  1. What do you believe is the common denominator for those counties in green? Those in orange? Those in red? Minus geography, is there a common problem that spans the red counties? Is it poverty? Is it educational institutions attended by teachers? I guess I'm asking what makes the greatest difference between the green counties and the red counties?

  2. I'd start by thinking of an age when rivers were essential to commerce and travel by road hugely difficult. The built-up towns went there and to the places that had the best water on the best horse trails. That produced strong schools early, and they've been reproducing ever since.

    We could have changed the pattern a century ago. If we'd kept the 1893 constitutional promise starting in 1893 and started building that efficient system of common schools everywhere, we'd be much closer to the national middle now.

    We've actually been investing for a while, so I ought to go look at the microdata areas to see the population under 35. Not today, though...

  3. Susan, what do you mean by outer Fayette Counties in the green area?

  4. I could have written that better, couldn't I? Here's a replacement version:

    "In green, three areas are in the top quarter nationwide: the outer part of Fayette County and the eastern and central portions of Jefferson."


Updates and data on Kentucky education!