What’s wrong with this conversation?
“Smart” Person: I just bought a car, and I way overpaid for it!
Admirer: You did? Brilliant!
OK. You know what’s wrong. Unless the admirer is being sarcastic, what kind of idiot congratulates someone for getting ripped off? Actually, this kind of idiot.
That’s right, the professional rankers at Morgan Quinto Press have produced a “Smartest State” report for 2006 (their full education report is available for only $59.95!), and have deemed Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut their three “smartest” states.
There is, actually, some logic to the rankings, which consider students’ proficiency on a few standardized tests — hardly enough on which to base a designation of “smart,” but at least there’s some connection to actual knowledge. It’s after that, though, that we really see who’s not so smart: In addition to test results, the rankings give positive credit to the states that spend the most money on their schools, the most on their teachers, and have the largest portion of their population in public schools (apparently kids in private schools can’t be that smart).
Now, maybe I missed something (and there’s no way I’m paying for the full report to find out), but it sure as heck seems that Morgan Quinto is telling us that the smartest states are the ones where kids maybe get decent scores, but where they definitely spend the biggest wads of cash.
There’s a term for that, of course, but it isn’t “smart.” I believe, in fact, that the word is “dumb.”