Thursday, November 29, 2007

Best Cities to Educate Your Child

Let's agree with wise experts that the quality of education any child gets comes down to just three things: their own motivation, their parents' support, and good teachers. Still, is there a way to compare America's metro areas for education strengths? Consider five factors.

1. School Support
Using the department's data, which come from each of the states, you can combine the metro area's average number of students per full-time equivalent classroom teacher (the lower the better) with its average instructional expense figure for student (the higher the better) to produce some interesting winners: Ocean City, N.J., Ithaca, N.Y., and Honolulu.

2. Private School Options
Yes, you can find a private school at another Department of Education site - and yes, you can rate each metro area's options for private school options. Winners in this category are Washington, D.C., Houston and Atlanta.

3. Library Popularity
Among metro areas, the perennial winners in library turnover are all out West: Portland, Ore., San Jose, Calif., Colorado Springs, Colo., and Salt Lake

4. College Town
Places like College Station-Bryan, Texas; Iowa City, Iowa; Lawrence, Kan.; and Columbia, Mo., come out very high on this criterion. Alas, there's only one game in town in Ames, Iowa (Iowa State University), in College Station-Bryan (Texas A&M), in Lawrence (University of Kansas) and in Columbia (University of Missouri). Something else is needed to reward higher-education variety.

5. College Options
Here, the top-ranking places are one, two and three in size: New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Combining all these criteria gives us the rankings of the top places in America to educate your children - led by Washington, D.C.-Arlington, Va., and followed closely by Madison, Wis., and Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, Mass.

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