Map #2. The Southernization of America: Percent of adults without at least a high school degree.
This map shows the percent of adults who’ve graduated from high school by state. The lighter-colored areas represent communities with fewer people who’ve managed to graduate high school. Why do fewer folks from the South finish high school? It has little to do with their intelligence. Southern states generally spend less on their public education systems. They also do less to alleviate childhood poverty, which strongly correlates with poor outcomes for students.
But thanks to the Southernization of America, budget cuts, and rampant income inequality over the past four decades, guess what? The decline in high school graduation rates have begun spreading outwards from the Old Confederacy. This may have a lot to do with the fact that in 2013, children living in poverty became the majority of students in the South’s and in the West’s public schools for the first time since before the Great Society programs of the 1960s.
Many Southerners lament the sorry state of their public schools. But an increase in poorer, less educated folks doomed to low-wage jobs suits the Powers that Be just fine.
Continues on the next page: Map #3. The Southernization of America: Poverty rates by state.