Best schools vs lowest taxes; how closely do they relate?

Yesterday I blogged about a recent study by The Tax Foundation ranking state by the rate of state plus local taxes residents of each state paid. One commenter mentioned that there was a correlation between education and taxes paid- that is, better funded schools product better educated students. I thought I'd take a look-

Scott and Kathleen Morgan publish a yearly rating of U.S. Education by state, Education State Rankings, in which they use 21 criteria to create an overall score showing how far above or below the national average each state's students fall. in 2007, their smartest states were:

  1. Vermont 18.57
  2. Massachusetts 16.09
  3. Connecticut 14.46
  4. New Jersey 14.35
  5. Maine 10.79
  6. Virginia 10.07
  7. Montana 9.55
  8. Wisconsin 9.04
  9. Iowa 8.82
  10. Pennsylvania 8.69

Compare this with The Tax Foundation's ten highest state/local tax burdens-

  1. New Jersey, 11.8%
  2. New York, 11.7%
  3. Connecticut, 11.1%
  4. Maryland, 10.8%
  5. Hawaii, 10.6%
  6. California, 10.5%
  7. Ohio, 10.4%
  8. D.C., 10.3%
  9. Vermont, 10.3%
  10. Minnesota, 10.2%

Three states appear in both; Vermont, New Jersey and Connecticut. Of course, this is a very simple comparison of a complex problem, but a 30% correlation would cause me to at least ponder the question more.

Morgan's ten least smart states were (#50 is the least)

41. Georgia -6.92
42. Hawaii -9.31
43. New Mexico -10.6
44. Louisiana -10.95
45. Alabama -11
46. Alaska -11.91
47. California -13.1
48. Mississippi -14.78
49. Nevada -15.81
50. Arizona -17.61

Compare this with the ten lowest state/local tax burden states:

41. Alaska, 6.4%
42. Nevada 6.6%
43. Wyoming 7.0%
44. Florida 7.4%
45. New Hampshire 7.6%
46. South Dakota 7.9%
47. Tennessee 8.3%
48. Louisiana 8.4%
49. Texas 8.4%
50. Arizona 8.5%

Four of ten appear on both lists; Louisiana, Alaska, Nevada and Arizona.

Another ranking was prepared by Education Week and the Pew Center on the States. The top ten states in K-12 achievement were-

1. Massachusetts
2. Maryland
3. New Jersey
4. Vermont
5. Pennsylvania
6. Virginia
7. Florida
8. Minnesota
9. New Hampshire
10. Maine

Four out of ten states correlated with top tax burdens- NJ, MN, VT, and MD.

The bottom ten:

41. Rhode Island
42. Michigan
43. Arizona
44. Nevada
45. New Mexico
46. Louisiana
47. Alabama
48. West Virginia
49. Washington, D.C.
50. Mississippi

Three correlations with the lowest state/local taxes; LA, NV, and AZ. Interestingly, One, Washington D.C., has the 8th highest state/local tax and the 49th worst K-12 education. Residents of that non-state should be fuming.

Much as those who would correlate well-funded schools and well-educated children, the issue doesn't seem quite so clear cut.

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