We could take it as a wake-up call, an insult, or simply a case of misunderstanding us.
In any case, northeast Indiana got disrespected — “dissed” — last week in a study by Ball State University.
The Community Asset Inventory, based on 2018 data, gave us mediocre-to-poor grades in three categories, with better rankings in two others.
Grades for DeKalb, LaGrange, Noble and Steuben counties ranged from C-plus to D-minus in the category of education. Ball State said it looked at ISTEP passing rates (on the former, controversial state test for students), educational attainment of the population and high school graduation rates.
We ranked even worse in the category of government and economy, with a D-plus, two D’s and an F. The university said it looked at statistics on crime rates, effective tax rates and metropolitan development.
Our rating rose to middling for arts, entertainment and recreation, with three C’s and a C-minus. The category included per-capita income, average compensation, number of marinas, fairgrounds, athletic fields and golf courses, among other factors, Ball State said.
In the category labeled “people,” our grades ranged from B-plus to C-plus. Ball State based those scores on statistics such as population growth, poverty rate, unemployment, private foundation revenue and other nonprofit revenue.
At least we’re healthy — with one A and three B’s in that area.
We question the university’s reliance on ISTEP scores, since most educators in the state put little faith in the test’s accuracy.
It’s harder to argue with the less-subjective stats on high school graduation rates. Beyond high school, recent trends have experts thinking that college is not the only road to success.
As for our entertainment rating, we have to wonder if Ball State visited northeast Indiana. In the six years since its last survey, Trine has opened its Furth Center, welcoming dozens of big-name performers. Auburn added its James Cultural Plaza, and Shipshewana’s Blue Gate Theatre keeps boosting the quality of its concerts.
Oh, and don’t lakes count as entertainment? Maybe the rest of Indiana is just jealous.
Overall, the Ball State survey showed a bias toward urban-suburban counties in its grading scale. That’s fine if you like traffic jams on the way to your fun.
Yes, in northeast Indiana, we always should be examining ourselves and looking for ways to improve.
But life in the northeast corner of Indiana is good, and always best when summer is coming on.
Concerns about Hoosier health
Also last week, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce took a critical look at the whole state in its Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card.
The chamber said the picture is “simply poor and getting worse when it comes to the health of our state’s citizens.”
The chief problems:
• Indiana ranks 44th among the states in smoking rate — ours actually rose from two years ago to 21.8%;
• our state rates 39th in adult obesity, which also increased to 33%; and
• Indiana stands in 37th place for drug-related deaths.
Indiana is improving in education levels beyond high school, but still ranks 37th and 38th in two categories.
On the bright side, Indiana scores high for its attractive business climate, thanks to tax policy and regulatory freedom. However, the chamber warns that our efforts to lure business can only go so far if those employers have to insure workers with poor health habits.
OUR VIEW is written on a rotating basis by Dave Kurtz, Grace Housholder, Michael Marturello and Steve Garbacz. Publisher Terry Housholder is also a member of the editorial board. We welcome readers’ comments.