Author Archives: Jason
Author Archives: Jason
Keeping your child safe online is a modern problem that many parents face today. After all, technology is moving faster than many people can keep up with. If you have a child, then you are well aware of the new devices that are becoming integrated in a child’s life. It may begin with your child using your personal device to play games, watch videos, read books, and learn about new topics online. That routine can quickly turn into a situation where your kids may have their own tablets and, before you know it, are asking for their own Apple iPhones and/or Google Android devices. When stress and overwhelm sets in, remember one thing: this is not a unique challenge that only your family faces. It’s something that families around the world are grappling with, and unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of history or experience to draw from.
With any connected device, regardless of age or experience using the device, security is a top concern. There are hackers looking to steal information, criminals looking to connect with people online, and a growing concern about the availability of information and the types of information that people may be accessing. Since children are inexperienced online, learning more about their world, and developing their own understanding of themselves, these factors can pose an even greater risk.
So, how do you, as a parent, ensure that your child is safe and secure when using a smartphone? Other than banning your children from using mobile devices, there is no way to completely remove this risk. With the right education for both yourself and your children, however, smartphones can be powerful, positive tools for both learning and connectivity.
The growth of the smartphone industry has been nothing short of amazing. More than 80% of American adults now have smartphones, which is more than double the rate from surveys conducted in 2011. Essentially, almost every household in the country has at least one Internet access enabled smartphone, and those numbers are only expected to continue growing as the remaining holdouts move from so-called dumb phone ownership to smartphones.
But how has this growth affected children? Smartphone ownership among children is lower than adults, but this rate is increasing rapidly year over year. Around age 9 or 10, many parents begin purchasing smartphones for their children. In fact, nearly half of kids between age 10 and 12 have a smartphone with their own service plan. This age makes sense as children become more independent around this age. They may begin walking home from school alone, spending some time alone while parents are out, and visiting friend’s homes. Most parents want to be connected to their children at all times, and the best way to accomplish this is with a mobile device.
As kids enter their teenage years, smartphone access spikes. In fact, up to 95% of teens have regular access to their own smartphone. This is a rate that actually outnumbers adult ownership in the United States. By the time kids are in their high school years, nearly every student will have their own smartphone, which means that smartphone security is something that should concern nearly every parent in America.
A lot of parents take the stand that their child doesn’t need a smartphone. However, this point of view often changes as children get older and becoming more independent. The most common reason to give your kid a smartphone is to stay connected when they may not always be in a location where you can easily reach out to them, like at school or at a daycare. A smartphone is a simple and effective way to keep a point of contact as kids begin to do things on their own like go to the park, visit friends, join sports teams, or take on volunteer opportunities. Location services alone can offer peace of mind that simply wasn’t available a decades ago.
It’s also important not to look past the usefulness of a smartphone when your child begins to increase their homework workload. Older kids can use smartphones to help them do research for papers, as an example. Plus, with many schools moving more towards online systems, a smartphone is a great way for kids to manage their class schedule, communicate with teachers, plan group projects with other students, and check their own grades or due dates on assignments.
Of course, there are some situations where you, as a parent, may not have complete say in the matter. For example, teens that work part-time jobs often have the means to purchase their own smartphone, without the help of a parent. Being proactive about smartphone security and online safety can help you and your family prepare for the inevitable day when a working teen has saved up enough money to buy a smartphone of their own. Plus, the smartphone can be very helpful for working teens as they manage work schedules, communicate with their employer, and organize transportation to and from work.
Not all scenarios involving smartphone use and children are positive. Smartphones have become powerful communication tools that essentially open up the entire Internet to your child, which also means opening up opportunities for risky situations to arise. It’s important to take all necessary precautions to try and keep your kids safe.
One of the main concerns when it comes to children being online is the potential for interacting with online predators. The Internet has made it easy for people to communicate and that includes those who may have negative intentions. Adults can use social media apps like Facebook and Snapchat to connect with children and pressure them into sharing information, engage in inappropriate relationships and send explicit content, and participate in illegal activities. Worst of all, many of these online encounters can become real life encounters if predators are able to advance the relationship in such a way. Startling numbers show that there may be as many as 500,000 predators online that target children, and more than half of younger children share personal information with strangers online.
Another growing epidemic in many countries around the world is cyber bullying. Cyber bullying can come from other children, people your child may know, and also complete strangers. There was a time that bullying was confined to the classroom or playground and children could escape bullies at the end of the day. With the growth of smartphones, your children can be contacted by a bully at all hours of the day, and bullies can – and often do – share information with others easily to make the problem even worse. Sadly, nearly 40% of children in the United States have experienced cyber bullying at some point, yet only 38% of those kids are comfortable going to their parents about the issue.
One extremely important concern you may have regarding your child using a smartphone simply comes down to privacy. While sharing information online doesn’t necessarily mean something bad is happening, many people of all ages are unaware just how much of their data they are putting out there. As kids sign up for online services, download specific apps, and make posts on social media, they are creating a detailed online footprint that can be used by advertisers, governments, and hackers. Plus, in most cases, this data cannot be taken back once it has been published.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and the same is true when it comes to online activity and mobile phones. Government’s around the world have begun to take the privacy and well-being of children online more seriously, which has resulted in a multitude of new laws and regulations being introduced.
Many experts and parents feel the current laws in many places around the world don’t go far enough, however. COPPA, as an example, was passed in 1998. While it may have been adequate at the time, a lot has changed since then and many aspects of online interactions may not be covered by the act.
Some countries have taken further steps to protect children online with new laws. In the European Union, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced in 2018 with sweeping new rules for online service providers. Within these new rules were laws specifically designed with underage Internet users in mind. Users under the age of 16 have specific protections, and online service providers must seek parental consent before opening accounts for children and teenagers.
The hard truth is that no law will ever be able to completely protect children online, and a lot of the responsibility ultimately falls on you as a parent to ensure that your child is safe.
When your child holds a smartphone in their hands, they are connected to the entire world. As such, protecting your child may seem like a daunting task, but there are a number of things you, as a parent, can do to ensure your child is enjoying the best that their smartphone has to offer while avoiding potential risks.
The most important thing you can do is to have honest and ongoing conversations about smartphone use and online safety. Take time to discuss the risks of communicating online and help your child understand that the people they are communicating with may not always have the best intentions. You can also help your child read and understand terms of service documents or privacy policies so that they are aware of just how much information they are about to share when signing up for a service or downloading apps in app stores like iTunes and Google Play. The same thing goes for in-app purchases. Many people, adults included, simply ignore the important details of these documents and don’t consider the reality of what they are agreeing to.
Setting clear rules around smartphone usage can also go a long way in ensuring your child’s security. Things like sharing passwords with you, limiting smartphone usage to certain hours, taking away phones before bed, and allowing review or approval of apps and services before they are used can be very effective solutions. Also be sure to make it clear that you are always available to answer questions and concerns for your child. It’s unrealistic to expect that any family rules can completely eliminate the risks associated with smartphone use, but if your child feels comfortable coming to you then you are able to help address situations before they get out of hand.
Many companies have also introduced tools to help your monitor and control what your child does with their smartphone. Some apps can be installed that block certain services or websites, limit smartphone screen times, and even monitor conversations for problematic keywords that may indicate your child is at risk. Tracking apps can be helpful in monitoring your child’s location. Many online interactions turn into real life meetings. A tracking app can help you verify that your kids are where they are supposed to be.
Ultimately, like implementing new laws, apps and services can only go so far in protecting your child when they use their smartphone. Education at home is key to ensuring that your kid has a positive experience online. Be available, be approachable, and stay up-to-date on the latest news and information regarding online security.
There are a number of services you can use to help you keep your child safe and secure when they begin using their own smartphone. Some of these services are free, while others may require a monthly or annual subscription.
Norton Family Premier is a paid service that costs $49.99 per year. With this service, you can protect and monitor an unlimited number of users and device, which is helpful if you have multiple children using smartphones, tablets, and laptops. While the service is one of the more expensive ones available, the peace of mind offered is priceless. Parents can set detailed rules and restrictions for blocking websites and inappropriate content, limiting device usage to specific hours, setting usage limits, tracking device location, and even remotely locking devices. In addition, Norton Family Premier can save a 30-day log of conversations on the device, including texting, so that parents can review who their child is talking to and the content they are discussing. This is an extremely valuable feature, especially if your the parent of a teenager, since sexting is becoming a rampant problem.
Qustodio, much like Norton Family Premier, offers a variety of different monitoring and privacy settings. Plan pricing tiers begin at $39.95 per year and the price increases based on the number of devices you wish to protect. With cross-platform support, Qustodio offers some of the boadest protection available in the industry. You can get detailed reports delivered to you that outline how much time your child is using their device, what services they are using, and the content they are viewing or sharing online. One major downside of Qustodio is the limited social networking monitoring, which only includes major social networks like Facebook. Smaller networks that tend to attract kids who are always looking for the newest trend may not be covered.
Another top rated parental control app is Net Nanny. The web interface on Net Nanny is among the easiest to use and parents can set schedules for device usage much like other competing services. The location tracking feature provides a look into the location history of your child and monitoring of where they are when they’re out of the home. The one major downside of choosing Net Nanny is the lack of call or text message monitoring, which means that your child’s messages aren’t reviewable unless you physically check the device yourself.
In addition to monitoring services and apps, you may want to consider educational tools designed to help children understand their role in their own online security. Many Internet service providers have created their own child-friendly education portals and other companies have developed both paid and free solutions. These services put topics in a way kids can understand and even offer gaming-style elements to keep kids engaged in the content. An online privacy education tool can be a great way to supplement your own discussions with your children and give them the opportunity to explore and learn in a way that may be, dare we say, fun.
With these solutions, honest discussions at home, and a good awareness of what your child is doing online, you can feel well-equipped to ensure your child is safe, secure, and happy when they begin using their own smartphone.
It can be tough to progress in modern society if one has a criminal record. For example, it’s much harder to find a job, rent an apartment, or obtain financing arrangements like a car loan or mortgage. Therefore, it’s wise to consider all options to possibly remove criminal records like expungement. Expungement refers to removing criminal offenses of a record or even diminishing them to lesser misdemeanors. For example, reducing a DUI to a wet reckless is a common way to lessen criminal offenses.
This alone will make it much easier to progress in modern society and know that each jurisdiction has its own rules regarding expungement. Use this guide to learn about expungement, eligibility, related terms and case studies by state.
Expungement or expunction is a process that entails erasing criminal history from one’s record. These criminal convictions can range from a variety of offenses from robbery, drug possession, prostitution, DUIs, petty theft, disorderly conduct and more. Generally, offenses that can be expunged are relatively minor, which is why they’re eligible for this treatment. Conversely, major crimes like child molestation, rape, murder and assault with a deadly weapon can’t be expunged as they have severe impacts on society,
After this has occurred, the individual doesn’t need to disclose this offense to prospective landlords nor employers. Some landlords conduct a background check, credit check, and require three references. They do this to ensure that the renter can pay the rent on time and has good character. However, fewer landlords ask about criminal backgrounds and it varies by company. Employers have asked candidates about criminal records in the past, via questions on the application form. Per legal website Nolo, 92% of employers check an applicant’s history for criminal offenses and this is more common in highly regulated industries like financial services.
Also, expunged offenses won’t appear on a background check, so important circles of influence won’t know about it. Applicants can legally answer “no” if they’ve been convicted of a crime if they have expunged offenses. This process can be seen as a second chance for the convicted party, as it won’t impact their societal progression.
However, keep in mind that expunged crimes are never truly gone as legal jurisdictions and other government agencies can still see these past offenses. Some government agencies ranging from local police departments, state highway patrol or even federal agencies like the DEA and FBI will be able to see expunged records. This access would be limited to just these groups. Unlike other similar terms, it can’t be accessed by the public, even with a court petition. These past offenses can be used by government officials against a defendant in a court of law for other crimes committed or even during immigration hearings.
For instance, immigrants that have committed new crimes and have expunged offenses could be deported. Legal authorities could use expunged offenses to push for deportation, which occurs in states with a high immigrant population like California.
Some minor offenses like parking tickets or petty theft that are expunged won’t have an impact on immigration. Conversely, major offenses related to undocumented entry, drugs, trafficking, and violent crimes can be used against a non-citizen. Another exception to this rule is for the nondocumented entry of asylum seekers waiting for approval.
Eligibility is based on many factors like the severity of the crime, state, and years passed. Also, each state sets its own rules for expungement, which is important to know. However, most states share common basic tenants for eligibility in their court records such as:
It’s also important to note that each state treats the expungement of minors and adults differently. Minors are considered children and apply to those who are under the age of majority. The age of majority can vary by state, but it’s usually around 18. Also, each state has different rules for ages when one can marry, file for emancipation, or enter into contracts.
Fortunately, most states automatically expunge most crimes for minors as they don’t want these youth to have their juvenile record impact their transition to adulthood. This simple step can prevent repeat offenders as those with criminal records are more likely to return to prison, as their records prevent them from accomplishing standard societal tasks.
Expungement can vary based on many variables, but it has a straightforward three-step process:
As mentioned above, many non-serious crimes are eligible for expungement after sufficient time and if the person hasn’t committed any additional offenses. It’s wise to use a site like a state’s courthouse or consulting with the defense and prosecuting attorneys on that particular case. Sometimes, defense attorneys will negotiate with the prosecution regarding expungement if the person meets all the requirements. Check with the defense attorney to see if this conversation occurred along with the specific terms of the agreement.
If the defendant is eligible, he or she has to file a petition with the courthouse. Then, the defendant will have to pay a fee, wait for paper processing and book a hearing with a judge. Keep in mind that the paperwork for each state is different with some states like Florida only requiring a certificate of eligibility form. Conversely, California requires three forms which are the petition for dismissal, order for dismissal and a declaration.
Be sure to meticulously fill out the paperwork as small mistakes can impede this process by months. Some large mistakes will force the defendant to start over, wasting both money and time. In many states, defendants have to file petitions in the counties in which they were convicted of a crime.
Working with the right attorney can save the defendant money and time. Attorneys might seem expensive, but they can save more money over the long term as they can expedite the process and ensure the paperwork is filled out correctly. Also, the attorney can accompany the defendant in the expungement hearing and speak on his or her behalf. Some counties have attorneys that specialize in this process like the team with the “New Leaf” program in Orange County, CA.
Expungement is a detailed process that has many moving parts and can be complex. Therefore, it makes sense to learn about these errors as this will prevent unnecessary hardship when removing it from the public record. Some common mistakes to avoid are:
There are some options that allow you to do this process by yourself, but these aren’t recommended. Expungement is an intricate process and there is significant room for error. For example, using one wrong form or incorrectly filling out the paperwork can delay claims by months. Also, most candidates will have to present themselves before a judge, which can be nerve-wracking and presents another challenge.
Instead, consider working with a competent attorney or even a public defender to find legal representation. Having professional guidance will alleviate any necessary headaches and streamline the expungement process.
Self-starters have a great advantage in many aspects of life from getting a job, starting a business, achieving fitness goals and even getting past offenses expunged. Many people erroneously believe certain offenses will automatically fall of their records. For example, they assume first-time DUIs will vanish after 7 years in California. This isn’t the case, making it crucial to start the process, use the right counsel and complete deadlines on time.
Expungement has many related terms like dismissal, sealing, and rehabilitation. Each process has similarities and differences. For instance, sealing records keeps them out of the public view like expungement. It differs as the records can be accessed by the public only via a court petition. Other times, it makes sense to seek a case dismissal if there is faulty or insufficient evidence. These terms and a few others will be explained in more detail below.
There are many related terms to expungement laws that can similar, yet different meanings. It’s important to understand these thoroughly as each one has a unique impact on criminal records.
A pardon is similar to expungement, but it still shows that the person committed the crime. Unlike an expungement, the crime isn’t sealed away and can be accessed by the public. So, if the defendant is filling out a job application asking about criminal offenses, he or she would have to mark that they’ve had a criminal offense. Also, they can explain the pardon and the reasoning behind it in these applications.
Pardons also restore certain rights like the ability to purchase guns or not have to register as a sex offender. These applicants must also complete parole, probation and not commit further crimes. Using pardons are becoming rarer as government officials fear a backlash. For example, President Clinton pardoned tax evader Marc Rich during his last week in office. Marc’s crimes could have made him eligible criminal charges like a life sentence, but President Clinton pardoned him, which caused controversy among both democrats and republicans.
Dismissal occurs when a court has insufficient evidence for a conviction. These can include having unscrupulous witnesses, poor DNA evidence or a lack of other reasonable evidence. This process can also occur if the defendant has completed community service or another treatment program. However, a dismissed case will still appear on a background check, but it will say that the person wasn’t convicted of a crime.
Sealing can be seen as a less extreme form of expungement as it still has the record of the offense. This record can’t be accessed through a background check although it still exists in a court database. So prospective lenders, landlords, and employers can’t access sealed records. Also, applicants can legally answer no if they’ve been convicted of a criminal offense. The only time these records can be accessed by the public is via petitioning a court order.
Rehabilitation shows that the defendant has committed the crime, but paid their debts to society and is rehabilitated. This process is used to recover important rights that were forfeited with a criminal record. Some of the most important rights that can be restored are not having to register as a sex offender and those related to occupations. For instance, many professional fields like nursing don’t allow people with criminal records to practice. A certificate of rehabilitation will help these people re-enter or train to become licensed professionals.
This program can even be used to automatically file for a governor’s pardon and can be obtained by filing a court petition with letters of character. These letters of character can be references from parole officers, former employers, and counselors.
A Certificate of Innocence goes beyond a pardon as it states that the person should have never been convicted or arrested and was innocent. Some states allow people to gain a certificate of innocence if their crime was already expunged. People can acquire this certificate if a court acquitted them or if the court dismissed their case. There have been times when courts dismiss cases due to lack of evidence or poor quality witnesses. Others suggest working with a public defender, petitioning the judge or asking the arresting law enforcement agency for this certificate.
Each state has different rules, and this section will highlight some of the rules from the largest ones like Texas, California, and New York. First, the person must ask the court for the records to be sealed. This process was explained above, but it generally means that the crime will not be available for the public.
In Texas, some offenses don’t have waiting periods while others do and this is based on the severity of the crime. For example, the following offenses have no waiting period:
More serious offenses, like the ones shown below, have a two-year waiting period. These include, but aren’t limited to:
Once the waiting period and the paperwork is filed, it can take an additional 6 months to a year to expunge a case.
New York is an interesting state as defendants can’t expunge their records there. Instead, defendants have the option to seal their records. These records won’t be accessed by employers but can be shown to government agencies. Like most states, New York allows juvenile offenders to seal most crimes committed under the age of 16. This is beneficial as this rap sheet won’t follow them into their adult years.
New York also has stricter rules for common offenses like DUIs (Driving under the influence) or DWIs (Driving while impaired). These two offenses are similar and many states define DUIs as driving with alcohol impairment and DWIs as being impaired via illegal drugs or prescription medication. New York doesn’t allow expungement for either offense, yet other states can have these records expunged after a certain amount of time. For example, most first time DUI offenders in California can get their record expunged between 4-7 years. Most people assume that DUIs will automatically be expunged after 7 years, but this isn’t the case, making it imperative to be proactive.
California is one of the largest states and has many expungement rules including prohibiting employers asking candidates about arrests that didn’t lead to convictions. So, these employers can’t ask interviewees if they’ve been arrested nor if they’ve participated in rehabilitation programs. Labor law also prohibits using this information when hiring, promoting or terminating an applicant. However, private employers in California can ask about past convictions on job applications.
The expungement process generally takes between 90 - 120 days. However, filing a petition for expungement can take 6 or more depending on the time passed, case complexity, if it’s a felony or misdemeanor, and case location. If a case is in the courthouse’s computer system, it will be processed quicker than a hard or even non-existent copy. Larger California counties like Los Angeles County have slower expungement times, with it taking 60 - 90 days just to retrieve the old case. Keep in mind that this usually applies to cases that are older than 10 years.
Conversely, smaller counties like Orange County are much quicker and can turn cases around in the 90-day range.
Nolo is a premier online legal resource that has many legal products like ebooks, software, and forms. It offers guidance on a wide variety of legal topics including dismissals, expungement, and sealing. This site is a helpful resource, but it’s not a substitute for formal legal advice.
The Innocence Project is an organization that exonerates innocent prisoners of crimes they didn’t commit. Many of these prisoners were convicted decades ago when technology like DNA testing couldn’t prove their innocence. Fast forward to the present day, technology has become very precise especially tools relating to forensic science.
This group also helps reform the justice system and prevent unjust convictions by identifying inadequate defense strategies, government misconduct, and false confessions. They also assist law enforcement agencies to improve their forensic processes to stop innocent people from being sent to prison.
The New Leaf Program is conducted through the Orange County Public Defender. This California based organization helps those that have been convicted of past crimes get on their feet through providing opportunities to obtain employment, improve credit and even professional licenses. This group also works with offenders by reducing felonies to misdemeanors and providing certificates of rehabilitation. These certificates of rehabilitation are available to those that have completed prison sentences and haven’t committed any additional crimes.
They can also assist past offenders with other related services like sealing arrest records, pardons, and dismissals.
Each state has its own unique government and rules. This link breaks down each state’s policy on topics like the age of majority, marriage, emancipation, and contracts. For example, South Carolina allows people as young as 16 to marry each other, provided they have parental permission.
Ban the Box is a civil rights campaign that strives to exclude questions about past crimes on housing and job applications. This organization was founded in 2004 and seeks to give past convicts that have been rehabilitated a fair chance in society. Fortunately, their efforts have been successful as over 45 counties and cities have banned conviction questions on job applications. Recently, Newark, New Jersey has banned this question on the housing application, leading to diminished housing discrimination.
Having a criminal record isn’t optimal and can set one back in society. It makes fundamental tasks like finding a good job or place to live much harder. Luckily, expungement or record sealing can reduce misdemeanor convictions or even eliminate these offenses, allowing people to get on the right track. Keep in mind that each state has different expungement rules, making it important to be able to adapt to those. There are also many mistakes to avoid when going through the expungement process and related terms like a pardon. This guide went into detail regarding case studies and criminal records after expungement as well.
Disclaimer: This guide is general education, not legal advice. Consult an attorney or legal advisor for legal advice.
What makes a great school district? Can a school district actually influence the success of its students? These are questions that parents, educators, and politicians have asked for years. Of course, gifted students can often overcome any challenges that are put in their way. However, is there anything school districts can do to push their students over the top when compared with other districts?
After taking a deep dive into the data and looking at school districts around the country, we have found some interesting trends that may suggest what factors play a role in making a school district one of the top districts in the country and what may leave some districts behind. While grades and test scores are important, there is more to a great school district than just the numbers on a report card.
One of the most noticeable facts about the top districts in the country is that 8 of the top 10 districts in the country are located in California, the most populated state in the Union. Further, most of those districts are located in major cities or suburbs of major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Barbara.
Does simply living in or near a big city mean that the school districts are automatically better? While that’s not necessarily true for all major cities, it does appear to be an advantage. It really boils down to dollars and cents. Areas with a larger population have a larger tax base to draw from and, in turn, have more money per student to dedicate to funding school districts. This is an important factor in our rankings and it also influences other factors that we consider for the rankings.
Simply put, districts with more money can buy better equipment and build better facilities. These districts can hire more teachers to keep the student to teacher ratio low, they can afford to hire experienced teachers that demand a higher salary.
Money isn’t everything but it sure is a good indicator about whether or not a school district will score highly. Having a large population is one thing but what is the state of that population? Wealthier cities not only have a large tax base to draw from but their tax base earns more income and, in turn, pays higher taxes. This means more money is available to help influence many of the important rankings we consider like funding per student, quality of teachers, and student to teacher ratio.
It should come as no surprise that cities appearing on the top 100 list like San Francisco, Fairfield, Santa Rosa, Honolulu, and New York also appear in the list of the wealthiest cities in America. Therefore, it should also come as no surprise that the poorest cities in America do not appear on the list of the top school districts in the country.
Of course, schools can’t do it all on their own. Home life can play a major role in a child’s success at school as well as later in life. Therefore, it would stand to reason that children raised in a home or city with a large number of college or university educated adults would be more driven to complete their schooling and move onto higher education.
Graduation rates play a major role in scoring school districts. After all, school districts can pour money into building fancy facilities, hiring the best staff, and keeping student to teacher ratios low but if they are not graduating a high number of students that all of the money has gone to waste.
With this in mind, it comes as no shock that some of the most educated cities in America also appear in the top school districts list. Conversely, none of the least educated cities in America appear in the list of top school districts.
There could be two reasons for this. First of all, kids with examples of educated individuals at home or in their community may see the benefits of completing high school right before their eyes. Individuals with college or university degrees are 117 times more likely to be multi-millionaires and college-educated individuals are expected to earn nearly a million dollars more than those who don’t attend college.
Secondly, kids raised in homes where adults may not have achieved higher education don’t necessarily have a worse home life. However, they may see their parents achieving good careers despite a lack of higher education or even completing high school. There may not be that push to follow in their parents’ footsteps and go to college or university. They may believe that a high quality of life can be achieved in spite of education level.
While the level of education in a community does not necessarily indicate students will graduate at a higher level, it would appear that cities with a lack of higher education degrees do not score as highly in our rankings. With graduation levels being an important part of that scoring process, it begs the question as to why some districts perform so well in this area while others do not.
We mentioned earlier that highly populated cities tend to appear more frequently on the list than rural communities. While this may largely be due to the tax base size funding the school districts, could there be more at play?
According to census data, urban communities have a higher median household income than rural communities. Combine that with the population factor and it’s easy to see why urban school districts have more funding to affect many of the factors we consider for our rankings.
Could this be a snowball effect that has been building over time? Every year this divide could be growing for a number of reasons. Wealthy urban school districts will graduate more students who, in turn, will seek higher education at greater rates, earn more money, and fund more of their tax dollars into school systems for the next generation.
There is also the phenomenon of people moving from rural areas to urban areas. In fact, the 50 largest cities in the United States have all experienced population growth in recent years. Every single one of these large cities have grown as people move into cities for better job opportunities, a higher quality of life, and perhaps even better school districts for their children.
With these statistics in mind, it’s understandable why urban school districts appear to be outperforming rural districts. Furthermore, it would appear to suggest that the trend could continue which would only widen the gap between urban and rural school districts and increase the pace at which this gap continues to grow.
The question must be asked whether conservative vs liberal states plays any role in determining whether a school district will appear on the list of top districts. Some people may assume that a blue state may perhaps collect more taxes and, in turn, fund districts more generously to achieve higher scores and rankings. We looked at the most recent presidential election to compare the red and blue states to see if there is any sort of trend.
While blue state California appears to dominate the top of the list, the distribution beyond that appears to be fairly even between red and blue states. Texas, for example, appears a number of times in the top 100. Other red states like Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania also appear several times in the top 100 list. There doesn’t appear to be a clear trend where politics would play a role in determining whether a state has more school districts in the top 100. Conversely, some red and blue states were entirely absent from the top 100 list meaning that politics also wouldn’t appear to play a role in preventing a state from making the top 100 list.
Our methodology considers a number of factors when scoring and ranking school districts. Strong graduation rates, the total number of students, high teacher quality, high school funding per student, and high test scores all positively affect a district’s score while high student to teacher ratios can negatively affect a school’s rating.
What influences all of these factors? There’s no one single factor to point at but it largely boils down to money. Districts with more students and higher funding per student would theoretically be able to hire better teachers, hire more teachers, and positively influence test scores and graduation rates using those methods. This is not to say that poorly scoring school districts necessarily hire bad teachers or deliver poor test scores consistently across the board but there is a definite visible trend.
Population also appears to play a role. More people means more students and tax revenue to fund school districts which, again, can positively affect many of the factors we consider when scoring and ranking school districts.
Is there a way to bridge the gap between the districts in the top 100 and the districts that fail to make the grade? Without some kind of redistribution of funding from populated, wealthy areas to rural, poorer communities, it would appear that it may be harder for rural school districts to crack the top 100 list despite their best efforts.
However, while rural districts may not be able to achieve the level of funding that urban districts enjoy, they can influence some factors in spite of this. Keeping student to teacher ratios low could strongly affect scores in that area of our methodology and perhaps increase scores in other areas like test scores and graduation rates. It’s unlikely we will see rural districts take over the top of the list any time soon but there is nothing saying that these districts cannot make improvements and challenge for a spot in the top 100 despite the clear funding challenges they face.
After all, for all the money talk, a great school district is built on people. The students and teachers in the district are what ultimately determines if a district is successful or not. Dedicated teachers, hard-working students, and passionate administration are all things that money can’t buy.
|1||San Mateo County Office Of Education||Redwood City||California||San Mateo County|
|2||San Francisco County Office Of Education||San Francisco||California||San Francisco County|
|3||Santa Barbara County Office Of Education||Santa Barbara||California||Santa Barbara County|
|4||Los Angeles Unified||Los Angeles||California||Los Angeles County|
|5||San Diego County Office Of Education||San Diego||California||San Diego County|
|6||Marin County Office Of Education||San Rafael||California||Marin County|
|7||Sonoma County Office Of Education||Santa Rosa||California||Sonoma County|
|9||Imperial County Office Of Education||El Centro||California||Imperial County|
|10||City Of Chicago Sd 299||Chicago||Illinois||Cook County|
|11||Clark County School District||Las Vegas||Nevada||Clark County|
|12||Broward||Fort Lauderdale||Florida||Broward County|
|13||Tehama County Department Of Education||Red Bluff||California||Tehama County|
|14||Fairfax Co Pblc Schs||Falls Church||Virginia||Fairfax County|
|15||Intermediate School District 287||Plymouth||Minnesota||Hennepin County|
|16||Mcmullen County Isd||Tilden||Texas||McMullen County|
|17||Houston Isd||Houston||Texas||Harris County|
|18||Copper Country Isd||Hancock||Michigan||Houghton County|
|19||Eaton Resa||Charlotte||Michigan||Eaton County|
|20||Eastern Upper Peninsula Isd||Sault S Marie||Michigan||Chippewa County|
|22||Kings County Office Of Education||Hanford||California||Kings County|
|24||San Luis Obispo County Office Of Education||San Luis Obispo||California||San Luis Obispo County|
|25||Clinton County Resa||Saint Johns||Michigan||Clinton County|
|26||Palm Beach||West Palm Beach||Florida||Palm Beach County|
|27||Glasscock County Isd||Garden City||Texas||Glasscock County|
|28||Dallas Isd||Dallas||Texas||Dallas County|
|29||Montgomery County Public Schools||Rockville||Maryland||Montgomery County|
|30||Hawaii Department Of Education||Honolulu||Hawaii||Honolulu County|
|31||Placer County Office Of Education||Auburn||California||Placer County|
|32||Rankin Isd||Rankin||Texas||Upton County|
|33||Gwinnett County||Lawrenceville||Georgia||Gwinnett County|
|34||Wake County Schools||Cary||North Carolina||Wake County|
|35||Cypress-fairbanks Isd||Houston||Texas||Harris County|
|36||Sutter County Office Of Education||Yuba City||California||Sutter County|
|37||Los Angeles County Office Of Education||Downey||California||Los Angeles County|
|38||Solano County Office Of Education||Fairfield||California||Solano County|
|39||Northside Isd||San Antonio||Texas||Bexar County|
|40||Charlotte-mecklenburg Schools||Charlotte||North Carolina||Mecklenburg County|
|41||Gratiot-isabella Resd||Ithaca||Michigan||Gratiot County|
|42||Katy Isd||Katy||Texas||Fort Bend County|
|43||Prince William Co Pblc Schs||Manassas||Virginia||Prince William County|
|44||Loudoun Co Pblc Schs||Ashburn||Virginia||Loudoun County|
|45||Livingston Esa||Howell||Michigan||Livingston County|
|46||San Diego Unified||San Diego||California||San Diego County|
|47||Austin Isd||Austin||Texas||Travis County|
|48||Frisco Isd||Frisco||Texas||Collin County|
|50||Fort Bend Isd||Sugar Land||Texas||Fort Bend County|
|51||Jericho Union Free School District||Jericho||New York||Nassau County|
|52||Va Beach City Pblc Schs||Virginia Beach||Virginia||Virginia Beach city|
|53||City On A Hill Charter Public School Circuit Street (distric||Boston||Massachusetts||Suffolk County|
|54||Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical||Lexington||Massachusetts||Middlesex County|
|55||Irion County Isd||Mertzon||Texas||Irion County|
|56||Karnes City Isd||Karnes City||Texas||Karnes County|
|58||Van Buren Isd||Lawrence||Michigan||Van Buren County|
|59||Lake And Peninsula Borough School District||King Salmon||Arkansas||Bristol Bay Borough|
|60||Plano Isd||Plano||Texas||Collin County|
|61||Humboldt County Office Of Education||Eureka||California||Humboldt County|
|62||Stanislaus County Office Of Education||Modesto||California||Stanislaus County|
|63||Cobb County||Marietta||Georgia||Cobb County|
|64||Essex North Shore Agricultural And Technical School District||Hathorne||Massachusetts||Essex County|
|65||North East Isd||San Antonio||Texas||Bexar County|
|66||Northeast Metro 916||White Bear Lake||Minnesota||Ramsey County|
|67||Lenawee Isd||Adrian||Michigan||Lenawee County|
|68||Conroe Isd||Conroe||Texas||Montgomery County|
|69||Byram Hills Central School District||Armonk||New York||Westchester County|
|70||Southern Worcester County Regional Vocational Technical||Charlton||Massachusetts||Worcester County|
|71||Wexford-missaukee Isd||Cadillac||Michigan||Wexford County|
|72||Lewisville Isd||Lewisville||Texas||Denton County|
|73||Round Rock Isd||Round Rock||Texas||Williamson County|
|74||Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical||Upton||Massachusetts||Worcester County|
|75||Mastery Chs - Lenfest Campus||Philadelphia||Pennsylvania||Philadelphia County|
|76||Assabet Valley Regional Vocational Technical||Marlborough||Massachusetts||Middlesex County|
|77||Fort Worth Isd||Fort Worth||Texas||Tarrant County|
|78||Allegan Area Educational Service Agency||Allegan||Michigan||Allegan County|
|79||Cheb-otsego-presque Isle Esd||Indian River||Michigan||Cheboygan County|
|80||San Bernardino County Office Of Education||San Bernardino||California||San Bernardino County|
|81||North Shore Central School District||Sea Cliff||New York||Nassau County|
|82||Syosset Central School District||Syosset||New York||Nassau County|
|83||Tuscola Isd||Caro||Michigan||Tuscola County|
|84||Locust Valley Central School District||Locust Valley||New York||Nassau County|
|85||Sturgis Charter Public (district)||Hyannis||Massachusetts||Barnstable County|
|86||Washtenaw Isd||Ann Arbor||Michigan||Washtenaw County|
|88||Baltimore County Public Schools||Towson||Maryland||Baltimore County|
|89||New Trier Twp Hsd 203||Northfield||Illinois||Cook County|
|90||Chesterfield Co Pblc Schs||Chesterfield||Virginia||Chesterfield County|
|91||Martha's Vineyard||Vineyard Haven||Massachusetts||Dukes County|
|92||Highland Park Isd||Dallas||Texas||Dallas County|
|93||Borden County Isd||Gail||Texas||Borden County|
|94||Prince George's County Public Schools||Upper Marlboro||Maryland||Prince George's County|
|95||Falls City Isd||Falls City||Texas||Karnes County|
|96||Shasta County Office Of Education||Redding||California||Shasta County|
|97||Klein Isd||Klein||Texas||Harris County|
|98||Jefferson County||Louisville||Kentucky||Jefferson County|
|100||Norfolk County Agricultural||Walpole||Massachusetts||Norfolk County|
Bullying is a pervasive problem that can appear in schools, workplaces, and even public spaces. The effects of bullying can be short term and long term, following people long after the occurrences of bullying have actually taken place with dire consequences.
While all states have implemented some kind of anti-bullying law, there are still many high-profile cases of bullying leading to suicide attempts among youth. The prevalence of cyberbullying makes it challenging for adults and educators to monitor bullying and gives youths unlimited access to their victims at all hours of the day. Cyberbullying can also fall in a grey area outside of school bullying policies and procedures.
Ultimately bullying is a quality of life concern and there are some shocking statistics that show just how devastating bullying can be.
Bullying, both those being bullied and those doing the bullying, leads to an increase in suicidal behavior
As many as 1 in 3 students report being bullied
Public health experts have called for bullying to be declared as a public health crisis
Bullying can lead to changes in eating habits, sleep disruption, poor school performance, chronic depression, self-harm, among many other consequences
Bullies can also experience difficulties in life including increased risk of substance abuse, future spousal or child abuse, challenges with building relationships, and more
Despite many changes, bullying has proven to be a challenging teenage crisis to manage in many states. Even as states have implemented new laws like the Missouri Cyberbullying Law and the Tennessee Anti-Bullying Law, there is still a clear problem with bullying that has not been eliminated.
Louisiana, for example, still leads the nation in incidents of bullying with nearly 1 in 4 students reporting being bullied and a staggering 1 in 10 students reporting being threatened or harmed with a weapon at school. Other states that have previously ranked poorly like Arkansas and Mississippi have failed to show much improvement with regards to their ranking on the list.
The data gathered also shows that many of the states struggling with bullying on school property are also seeing that problem extend to the digital world. The states with the most students reporting being bullied online are the same states that tend to rank amongst the highest for students reporting being bullied at school.
|2||District of Columbia|
There are a number of metrics used to create the rankings for most bullied states. Each metric fits within a group of similar metrics and that group is given a weighting which is as follows:
Bullying occurrence score – 50%
School violence score – 25%
Bullying impact score – 20%
State bullying laws – 5%
After the weightings have been evaluated, each state is left with a bullying score. The states with the highest scores have the largest challenges with bullying currently.
There are a number of important insights that can be drawn from the bullying data collected. This can help indicate the trends regarding bullying and maybe even identify states where efforts are proving to be successful for other states to duplicate in their own communities.
An initial look at the rankings and scores seems to indicate that the fight against bullying is proving to be ineffective. Some states like Louisiana remain near the top of the list for most bullied states as they have in the past. For a few states, the scores have been trending even worse over time despite new laws and awareness campaigns aimed at bullying.
However, give the list more than a cursory look and it’s possible to see some positives as states work hard to address the challenges presented by bullying. Idaho is one example, moving from their position as the second most bullied state to find themselves in the middle of the rankings. West Virginia also made a similar move. In fact, aside from the topmost bullied states, other states have appeared to make important strides in reducing bullying in their state.
What can be attributed to this change? It may be hard to pick out any one reason but many states have stepped up enforcement when it comes to bullying. Take Missouri, for example. The state has made it a felony to bully someone and take charge of school bullying policies and procedures by making it mandatory for schools to report cases of bullying to the authorities.
California and North Carolina have gone a step further with legislation to target cyberbullying. Students can face significant fines and jail time even if their bullying extends beyond school property and into the online domain. Of course, laws cannot singlehandedly solve these deep issues as shown in Louisiana which also adopted laws addressing bullying in classrooms and online. Clearly, laws are just one piece of the puzzle.
Artificial intelligence is a buzzword being used a lot for everything from chatbots to diagnosing medical conditions to fighting bullying. In fact, Instagram announced in late 2018 that they would be implementing AI to help combat bullying on their platform.
The feature promises to proactively detect bullying in photos so that adults can quickly step in and stop the behavior before it progresses. Other apps for different social media platforms have been developed with varying degrees of success. Using AI, moderators can be notified of potential bullying much faster than if humans were to manually review all posts and comments.
Of course, technology can not do the job on its own. Most experts and bullying resources believe that stopping bullying begins with better education, communication, and understanding. Combined with AI, a complete anti-bullying strategy could prove to be successful.
Bullying has been around long before the Internet and it may continue to exist in some form despite the best efforts of educators, parents, and artificial intelligence. Here are some tips that teenagers can use online when they feel they are being bullied by trolls:
Block and report offending users
Share bullying incidents with trusted adults
Document cyberbullying with screenshots
Watch for signs of cyberbullying in youth like depression, changes in device use, and emotional changes
Many of the resources below can help educators, parents, and teens better understand the consequences of bullying, how to identify the signs of bullying, and how to prevent bullying in classrooms as well as online.
There have been a lot of hot button political issues in the United States in recent years. These stories dominate the news cycle and then make way for the next big story. But one topic in particular has been slowly bubbling just below the surface for many years: the rate of incarceration in the United States.
Everyone from political candidates to celebrities like Kim Kardashian have taken up the incarceration rate in the United States as their personal pet cause.
So, why has this become such a major issue for some, and what has happened to bring the discussion to this point?
Like many complex political and social issues, there is no one cause that anyone can point to the number of people who are currently incarcerated in the United States. Rather, this is a challenge that has been created over time as a result of a number of laws, social changes, and policy directives from government. Some may even wonder if this is even really a crisis at all.
When comparing the US prison population vs the world, is there much of a difference to note?
Politicians from both parties have often quoted Bureau of Justice statistics that the United States, despite having only about 5% of the world’s population, is home to nearly a quarter of the world’s prisoners. Hillary Clinton mentioned this statistic several times in the run up to her presidential run. Republican Rand Paul has also made similar claims in the past. And, for the most part, these numbers are fairly accurate according to The Washington Post.
Clearly, the imprisonment rate in the United States is disproportionate to the total population. If it were to be assumed that people around the world commit crimes at a relatively similar rate, then it would stand to reason that the United States should only be home to about 5% of the world’s prison population.
So why are crime rates - and the numbers - so out of line? And, more importantly, what can be done to change this? Or, for that matter, does anything even need to be done?
This article is going to take a deeper look at incarceration rates by country to see where other countries rank, what could be contributing to such a high incarceration rate, and what other countries are doing differently than the United States to keep their prison and jail populations low.
When looking simply at prison population totals by country, it is easy to see that the United States is not in good company. Just in terms of real numbers without accounting for per capita totals, the United States leads the list by a hefty margin with over 2 million people currently incarcerated.
Next on the list is China with over 1.5 million people in prison. As the most populous country on the planet, it would be expected that China should be near the top of the list.
However, it should also be noted that China is widely criticized for taking drastic steps including imprisoning journalists who go against the communist regime’s narrative, building detention camps for Muslims, detaining Canadian citizens in the midst of a legal dispute between the countries governments, and arresting political dissidents at a rate that leads the world.
After China on the list of prisoner totals comes Russia. This is another country known for jailing journalists, arresting political dissidents, and even making laws against “gay propaganda.” Following Russia on this list are Brazil, India, and Mexico with their own unique challenges regarding human rights and incarceration.
Of course, prison population totals only tells a part of the story. It stands to reason that countries with higher populations will, in turn, have higher prison populations. Therefore, an incarceration rate per 100,000 people is a statistic often used to help analyze which counties are actually jailing people at a much higher rate than their peers.
Even when sorting using this method, the United States still leads the world in incarceration rates with 737 people in prison per 100,000 citizens. Russia is second on the list with 615 and then there is a noticeable drop off with countries like Ukraine, South Africa, and Poland on the list.
Many people point to drug offenses and the War on Drugs, which was started by Richard Nixon, as a cause of the high mass incarceration rates in the United States. In fact, in the last 40 years, the prison population total in the United States has increased nearly 600%, while the overall population of the United States has only increased 51%. That is a drastic change that directly coincides with the beginning of the War on Drugs.
With the War on Drugs came many mandatory minimum prison sentences for drug-related crimes. And, according to the United States Sentencing Commission, mandatory minimum sentencing laws have had a significant impact on the size of the overall prison population in the United States.
Many critics of mandatory minimum sentences believe that this policy unfairly imprisons non-violent drug offenders and fails to address the root cause of drug crime. In addition, it can also lead to a first-time offender being sentenced the same way that a repeat offender would be sentenced.
With mandatory minimums, there is no room for creative sentencing that may help ensure offenders get the help they need to stay away from a life of crime.
Many also point to a racial disparity in prison populations to argue that there may be racial bias present when sentencing. For example, African Americans are jailed at a rate 5 times higher than whites and, despite only making up 32% of the population in the United States, African Americans and Hispanics make up 56% of the prison population total.
This racial bias is partially confirmed by a former Nixon advisor, who said this in a 1994 interview:
“We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
By looking at the clear statistics showing the US prison population vs the world and considering the factors like the War on Drugs that may have contributed to this, people can begin to get a grasp on why the United States is home to such a disproportionately high number of prisoners. But these basic statistics do not tell the full story. There are other smaller factors that must also be looked at.
One basic way to judge whether a sentencing and prison system is working is the rates of recidivism. This shows how many people end up back in prison after being released for their first sentence. Essentially, it tells people whether the prison system is reforming people or if it is only continuing the cycle of crime and incarceration.
The rate of recidivism in the United States is 70% within 5 years. Simply put, 70% of freed inmates will be arrested again within 5 years. This is in stark contrast to Norway, which boasts the lowest recidivism rates in the world at just 20% within 5 years.
What is the cause of this massive difference? Norway puts a heavy emphasis on rehabilitation. Inmates are given opportunities to train and learn new skills so that they can be better positioned for success when released. Prisoners have enclosed washrooms within their cells, excellent workout facilities, and on-site medical access.
American prisons also claim to rehabilitate rather than punish but there are some policies like solitary confinement suggest there is still much work to be done. Prisoners in some states can be made to work on factory lines during their sentence for far less than minimum wage. In other states, some felons are unable to get back some basic rights like the ability to vote, even after they have served their time. These challenges can make it difficult to integrate back into society and, ultimately, may contribute to increased recidivism rates.
There are some interesting juvenile incarceration statistics that may play a role in the significant incarceration rate in the United States. For starters, the United States has the most imprisoned minors of any country in the world with 60,000 in juvenile detention facilities and 95,000 in adult facilities.
In addition, studies have shown that up to 57% of juvenile offenders will re-offend in adulthood. With the high rates of recidivism among adult offenders discussed above, the significant imprisonment of minors may be a starting point for many long-time offenders who are continuously in and out of the prison system throughout their lives.
Not all juvenile offenders may end up in prison facilities for minor crimes like petty vandalism. However, intervention is an important tool to ensure that young offenders have positive outcomes later in life.
Studies have shown that treatments like mental health counseling can greatly improve future results for juvenile offenders and keep them out of the prison system. Unfortunately, these services are not always available or affordable for those who need them. As a result, important intervention opportunities may be missed and youth criminals may eventually graduate to more serious crimes throughout their teenage and adult years.
The quality of a prison system can play a major role in recidivism outcomes, as mentioned above in the example comparing Norway and the United States. While the United States is not home to the worst prison systems in the world like those found in China, Russia, Thailand, and Venezuela, there is an opportunity for improvement.
One main criticism of the US prison system is the for-profit prisons. These are privately owned and operated prisons that are contracted by the government to house prisoners. In a for-profit prison system, there is an obvious risk of prison operators cutting corners to boost profits at the expense of inmate care.
In fact, the United States is only one of a handful of countries that actually makes use of for-profit prisons. Some critics even go as far as to suggest that for-profit prisons have little incentive to rehabilitate prisoners as it would harm their business model.
Some policies in the US prison system are also being eliminated in other countries. For example, Canada has moved to eliminate solitary confinement in its prison system while the practice is still widely used in the United States. While solitary confinement isn’t physical torture like what can be found in the worst prison systems in the world, it can have long-term, negative mental health outcomes for prisoners even after they are out of prison.
Much like with the male prisoner population, when looking at female incarceration by country, the United States leads the world for number of women in prison with more than 200,000 women currently serving time. Once again, this only adds fuel to the fire when comparing US prison population vs the world. For context, China sits in second place with just over 100,000 women in prison despite their much larger population.
The consequences of putting women behind bars can be felt throughout the entire family. Since women are most often the main caregiver, their incarceration can lead to very negative outcomes for their children. Kids with parents in prison face a number of challenges including economic hardship, expulsion from school, psychological changes, and even turn to criminal behavior of their own. If the father is unable or unwilling to parent alone, the children can end up in the foster care system, which also increases the risk of criminal behavior and mental health issues.
Once women are released from prison, they may face challenges with finding secure employment and stable housing which makes raising children a challenge. Those that do not have children may still have to battle homelessness, poverty, and hunger. By imprisoning women at such a high rate, the United States may unintentionally be driving future generations toward a life of crime as well which only further worsens the already staggering incarceration rate in the country.
The United States leads this category by a fairly wide margin. The incarceration rate in the United States is 737 inmates per 100,000 people. This exceeds countries like China, Russia, and Mexico which all have a dubious history with human rights. Despite only having about 5% of the world’s population, the United States is home to almost 25% of all prisoners in the world. Countries like China and India with much higher populations have both a lower incarceration rate and total prison population than the United States.
The United States far outpaces other countries for total prison population with over 2.1 million jail inmates. China is second on this list with just over 1.5 million people in prison.
Russia is home to about 870,000 prisoners, Brazil has more than 370,000 prisoners, and India rounds out the top 5 with a little more than 330,000 prisoners. Despite some countries like China and Russia going so far as to imprison gay rights advocates and political dissidents, they still do not match the prisoner totals seen in the United States.
The United States prison system is made up of federal, state, and local facilities. Within that, there are women’s facilities, men’s facilities, and juvenile facilities that may all be subject to different reporting standards and timelines.
According to recent information, there are 6,125 prisons in the United States including federal prisons, state prisons, local jails, juvenile correctional facilities, and Indian Country jails. This number does not include other facilities that may be relevant, including military prisons or immigration detention facilities.
It is widely estimated that the United States spends a total of $80 billion per year on public and private prisons. These numbers are a combination of federal, state, and local spending on prisons within their own jurisdictions. That figure has also been quoted by politicians including Bernie Sanders and former President Barack Obama. Some facilities may not be reflected in this number.
For example, immigration detention facilities would not fall under a federal prison budget and would, instead, be part of the homeland security budget. Military prisons and prisons like Guantanamo Bay would also not appear in these figures, as they would be a part of the military budget.
Alabama isn’t known for fantastic schools, but state districts have improved dramatically in recent years as funding has increased. While Alabama’s still a long way from the top state school systems, its best districts outperform even average ones in most states.
Alabama offers a mix of urban, suburban, and rural school districts. Districts close to metropolitan areas, like Birmingham, tend to benefit from higher funding. However, for those avoiding city life there are still high performing districts in suburban and rural areas.
Mountain Brook City is first among Alabama’s 129 school districts and located in an affluent suburb of Birmingham, with four elementary schools, one high school, and one alternative school. Test scores are high, with the average standard test score across grades, subjects, and schools well into the eighties. Mountain Brook High School performs particularly well, with an average standard score of 99.9 in 2018.
Also a Birmingham suburb, Vestavia Hills City is rated third in the state and serves 7,015 students across five elementary, two middle schools, and a single high school (the highly regarded Vestavia Hills High School). The district has the third safest schools in Alabama. Vestavia Hills schools currently achieves averages of 73% reading proficiency, 78% math proficiency, SAT scores of nearly 1,400/1,600, and average ACT scores close to 30/36
The number two district in Alabama and roughly 100 miles north of Birmingham, the suburban Madison City serves around 10,000 students divided between seven high performing elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools. Madison City performs well. 67% of students are considered proficient readers and 72% at math. The graduation rate is high at 97%. The district is rated highly for both teachers and athletes (third in both within Alabama). Advanced Placement (AP) courses and Gifted Programs are available.
|1||Mountain Brook City||Jefferson County||Mountain Brk||Alabama|
|2||Madison City||Madison County||Madison||Alabama|
|3||Vestavia Hills City||Jefferson County||Vestavia Hills||Alabama|
|4||Hoover City||Jefferson County||Birmingham||Alabama|
|5||Homewood City||Jefferson County||Homewood||Alabama|
|6||Auburn City||Lee County||Auburn||Alabama|
|7||Trussville City||Jefferson County||Trussville||Alabama|
|8||Shelby County||Shelby County||Columbiana||Alabama|
|9||Mobile County||Mobile County||Mobile||Alabama|
|10||Muscle Shoals City||Colbert County||Muscle Shoals||Alabama|
|11||Baldwin County||Baldwin County||Bay Minette||Alabama|
|12||Arab City||Marshall County||Arab||Alabama|
|13||Cullman City||Cullman County||Cullman||Alabama|
|14||Madison County||Madison County||Huntsville||Alabama|
|15||Hartselle City||Morgan County||Hartselle||Alabama|
|16||Florence City||Lauderdale County||Florence||Alabama|
|17||Winfield City||Marion County||Winfield||Alabama|
|18||Huntsville City||Madison County||Huntsville||Alabama|
|19||Jefferson County||Jefferson County||Birmingham||Alabama|
|20||Saraland City||Mobile County||Saraland||Alabama|
|21||Alabaster City||Shelby County||Alabaster||Alabama|
|22||Brewton City||Escambia County||Brewton||Alabama|
|23||Enterprise City||Coffee County||Enterprise||Alabama|
|24||Oxford City||Calhoun County||Oxford||Alabama|
|25||Oneonta City||Blount County||Oneonta||Alabama|
The following contributed to the ranking: number of students (K-12), graduation rate, teacher quality, school funding, student to teacher ratio, standardized test results (reading and math; the percentage of students scoring at or above state proficiency level). Data from a total of 10,728 school districts had sufficient values for the variables above.
Arkansas has historically performed very poorly among American states in education, with underfunding, frequent political meddling in curriculums, and poverty all contributing factors. However, just as in Alabama, recent reforms are improving the situation along with funding increases. Arkansas has been praised repeatedly for its efforts to improve early-childhood education, and college and career readiness.
Top in Arkansas, Haas Hall Bentonville - or Haas Hall Academy - includes only the academy itself and serves around 300 students of grades seven to twelve. Haas Hall Academy students frequently score excellently in standardized college admission tests (ACT), particularly in English (97.4 average in the 11th grade). The location in Bentonville, the home of Walmart, means graduating students can expect to find jobs relatively easily.
At number two and sharing the city of Bentonville, Bentonville Public Schools district has five elementary schools, five junior or middle schools, and one high school. The district is also number one for student athletes in Arkansas This highly rated district has achieved averages of 65% reading proficiency, 58% math proficiency, and a 91% average graduation rate. The teacher-student ratio is also better than the national average (17:1), at 15:1.
Located to the northeast, the state’s third best school district - Valley View School District - is centered on Arkansas’ fifth largest town of Jonesboro (population around 71,000). With a good 15:1 teacher-student ratio, Valley View delivers a safe learning environment across two elementary schools, and single junior and high schools with 74% reading proficiency, 67% math proficiency, and a 95% average graduation rate. Graduates may take advantage of ample local opportunities in manufacturing, agriculture, and medicine.
Top School Districts in Arkansas, 2019
Rank School District County City State
1 Haas Hall Academy Washington County Fayetteville Arkansas
2 Bentonville School District Benton County Bentonville Arkansas
3 Valley View School District Craighead County Jonesboro Arkansas
4 Greenbrier School District Faulkner County Greenbrier Arkansas
5 Valley Springs School District Boone County Valley Springs Arkansas
6 Salem School District Fulton County Salem Arkansas
7 Nemo Vista School District Conway County Center Ridge Arkansas
8 Fayetteville School District Washington County Fayetteville Arkansas
9 Bismarck School District Hot Spring County Bismarck Arkansas
10 Greenwood School District Sebastian County Greenwood Arkansas
11 Bryant School District Saline County Bryant Arkansas
12 Harrison School District Boone County Harrison Arkansas
13 Cabot School District Lonoke County Cabot Arkansas
14 Genoa Central School District Miller County Texarkana Arkansas
15 Emerson-taylor School District Columbia County Emerson Arkansas
16 Searcy County School District Searcy County Marshall Arkansas
17 Conway School District Faulkner County Conway Arkansas
18 Pottsville School District Pope County Pottsville Arkansas
19 Rogers School District Benton County Rogers Arkansas
20 Benton School District Saline County Benton Arkansas
21 Mccrory School District Woodruff County Mccrory Arkansas
22 Clinton School District Van Buren County Clinton Arkansas
23 Melbourne School District Izard County Melbourne Arkansas
24 Estem High Charter Pulaski County Little Rock Arkansas
25 Eureka Springs School District Carroll County Eureka Springs Arkansas
The following contributed to the ranking: number of students (K-12), graduation rate, teacher quality, school funding, student to teacher ratio, standardized test results (reading and math; the percentage of students scoring at or above state proficiency level). Data from a total of 10,728 school districts had sufficient values for the variables above.
Arizona has impressive graduation rates in certain districts and it’s possible to find schools with above average test scores.
Chandler Unified District 80 is the top Arizona school district centered on Chandler, a suburb of Phoenix, serving around 42,000 students through thirty elementary schools, six middle schools, and seven high schools.
Although the teacher-student ratio of 20:1 is slightly below the national average of 17:1, the district performs well academically with 56% proficiency for reading, 57% for math, and an impressive graduation rate of 94%.
Deer Valley Unified School District in Phoenix is Arizona’s second highest performing district. It’s large, with thirty elementary, eighteen middle, and seven high schools with 34,153 students total.
Despite its size the district provides a good environment for students, with college prep considered its strongest feature, closely followed by the sports scene. Academics here are acceptable, with reading proficiency at 54% and math slightly trailing at 51%.
Further out from Phoenix, the suburban Gilbert Unified School District ranks third in Arizona. Another large district, Gilbert contains twenty-seven elementary, eight middle, and seven high schools.
Nationally, the district is considered above average, with proficiency for reading and math both at 53%, but a graduation rate of 93%. The district is also recognized for its excellent college prep, health and safety, teachers, administration, and sports.
Top School Districts in Arizona, 2019
Rank School District County City State
1 Chandler Unified District #80 Maricopa County Chandler Arizona
2 Deer Valley Unified District Maricopa County Phoenix Arizona
3 Gilbert Unified District Maricopa County Gilbert Arizona
4 Scottsdale Unified District Maricopa County Scottsdale Arizona
5 Catalina Foothills Unified District Pima County Tucson Arizona
6 Mesa Unified District Maricopa County Mesa Arizona
7 Vail Unified School District Pima County Vail Arizona
8 Peoria Unified School District Maricopa County Peoria Arizona
9 Higley Unified School District Maricopa County Gilbert Arizona
10 Paradise Valley Unified District Maricopa County Phoenix Arizona
11 Cave Creek Unified District Maricopa County Cave Creek Arizona
12 Queen Creek Unified District Maricopa County Queen Creek Arizona
13 Tucson Unified District Pima County Tucson Arizona
14 Dysart Unified District Maricopa County Surprise Arizona
15 Tanque Verde Unified District Pima County Tucson Arizona
16 Tempe Union High School District Maricopa County Tempe Arizona
17 Glendale Union High School District Maricopa County Glendale Arizona
18 Peach Springs Unified District Mohave County Peach Springs Arizona
19 Palominas Elementary District Cochise County Hereford Arizona
20 St Johns Unified District Apache County St. Johns Arizona
21 Fountain Hills Unified District Maricopa County Fountain Hills Arizona
22 Snowflake Unified District Navajo County Snowflake Arizona
23 Sierra Vista Unified District Cochise County Sierra Vista Arizona
24 Thatcher Unified District Graham County Thatcher Arizona
25 Amphitheater Unified District Pima County Tucson Arizona
The following contributed to the ranking: number of students (K-12), graduation rate, teacher quality, school funding, student to teacher ratio, standardized test results (reading and math; the percentage of students scoring at or above state proficiency level). Data from a total of 10,728 school districts had sufficient values for the variables above.