A financial news and opinion website 24/7 Wall Street just released an index that ranked the city of Battle Creek Michigan the 2nd worst city to raise your child.  Last year Battle Creek came in at 22nd.

Let us first talk about the methodology.  According to the study 24/7 Wall Street reviewed a number of:

  • Educational measures
  • Health measures
  • Safety measures
  • Preschool enrollment figures
  • High school graduation rates
  • Access to areas for physical activity
  • Violent crime rates.

The city of Battle Creek Michigan numbers came in as follows:

  • Preschool enrollment: 16.3% (lowest 10%)
  • High school graduation rate: 74.9% (lowest 10%)
  • with access to areas for exercise: 77.5%
  • Violent crime rate: 746.7 per 100,000 (highest 10%)

The 24/7 index stated the following about Battle Creek, Michigan:

Preschool attendance has been shown to improve academic preparedness in children and help cognitive development. Battle Creek, Michigan has a very low rate of three- and four-year-olds in preschool. The 16.3% preschool enrollment rate is nearly one-third the U.S. rate of 48.0%. Only two other metro areas have a lower preschool enrollment rate. The Battle Creek area’s median family income is $60,365, falling more than $10,000 short of the national median. Some 26.8% of Battle Creek children live in poverty, compared to 19.5% of children nationwide. Children who are raised in poverty tend to have lower educational attainment rates and less economic mobility.

I would first like to say that I raised my children in Battle Creek and found it a wonderful city to raise our children.  My children did not go to school in downtown Battle Creek so that might be what this index is referring to.

The large jump from 22nd to 2nd is explained by the CEO Douglas McIntyre as:

If you look at the methodology, it would only take one or two things to move by much, so a city could jump up or down a lot…And another thing is a lot of these rankings are close together. What separates cities from one another is not a huge gulf, so it's not as if the 2nd one and the 22nd one are 500 miles apart in terms of results.

It is important to point out what he said concerning the difference between these cities is not much so a slight move in one of their numbers means a large jump up or down in the rankings.

Lakeview School District's superintendent, Blake Prewitt, questioned the validity of the ranking when he was quoted in the Battle Creek Enquirer stating:

It always depends on how they’re getting their information…I look at their high school graduation rate. Well, in Lakeview we’re at 94%. We’re one of the tops of the state. They have us at 74.9. If I were to take all the high schools in the area and take the graduation rate, it would be far higher than that, so where are you getting your data?

Superintendent Prewitt went on to say in the article:

Anytime that you have these rankings, I think you always have to dig and be a little suspect of the data and what they’re comparing…I’d say, for all of us who live in the Battle Creek area, we know it’s a great area. We love living here and our kids get a great education here, and we’re not going to let the data they come up with in some other part of the country dictate what we do or what our students get.

It is important to note that Lakeview High School received a bronze rating from the U.S. News & World Report for best high schools in the United States and that it's on the AP District Honor Roll.

At least we can say the city did not rank #1 in this index Farmington, NM did.

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