We all seem to love to toss out labels for people. Especially when it comes to politics. This generally means we call folks “conservatives” and “liberals” even though most of us have no real clue what either means.
I well remember a forum in Opelika one night when each candidate was asked to define conservative and liberal. Ex-Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard quickly retorted that liberal and Democrat were one and the same. And no doubt, many in Alabama agree with him these days.
How would I describe myself? If we are dealing with fiscal issues, I am extremely conservative. Which causes me to winch some times when I watch so-called conservative Republicans spend money excessively. Like in Mike Hubbard sparing little expense to redo offices or Del Marsh handing out staff raises.
But on social issues, I tend to be more progressive. And there is little doubt that my brother, sister and I are all more to the left than daddy was on many issues. But then, Attila the Hun was probably left of Daddy.
This brings me to a Gallup poll that lists the ten most conservative states and the ten least conservative. According to them, Alabama is the reddest state in the country. While Vermont is the most liberal, followed by Massachusetts.
Now for some fun. Here is a ranking from WalletHub of the best through the worst state school systems. And here is another state ranking from Education Week. Though they use different methodology, the rankings are quite similar. For instance, Massachusetts is No. 1 in both, while Alabama is No. 42 with WalletHub and No. 47 with Education Week.
However, it is evident that the more liberal states have much higher rated education systems. In the WalletHub survey, the No. 1, 2, 3 and 4 states for schools are in the top 10 least conservative. And in the Education Week ranking, No. 1, 2, 3 and 5 are also in least conservative. If you add up the 10 education scores from both groups of states, with the smallest overall number being best (just like we scored cross-country races when I ran for Auburn University 50 years ago) liberal states beat their conservative counterparts hands down.
Definitely food for thought. And another very real factor in why those who seem to think we can be just like Massachusetts when it comes to education are whistling in the dark.