The tagline for this story is: “Here in a corner of Missouri and across America, the lack of a college education has become a public-health crisis.”
1. This is a long-ish story. 2. This is not a happy story. Damned depressing, in fact. I share it because it’s about Kennett, Missouri, the small town where I grew up in the 50s and 60s and to which I returned as an adult in the 70s.
Kennett was a swell (yes, we used words like ‘swell’ back then) place to grow up. The good example of small town America in the mid-twentieth century. It was fraying around the edges by the time Barb and I left in the early 80s and these days I hardly recognize it on my infrequent trips back.
This story (from the Chronicle of Higher Education) paints a bleak picture of Kennett and thousands (?) of little towns like it across the country. The focus of the piece seems to be the link between education and health.
“People with less education are twice as likely, for instance, to die of lung cancer or COPD. Heart attacks and strokes are far more common for those without much schooling — one study found that heart-attack rates for middle-aged adults who hadn’t finished high school were double those with a college degree.”
Lots of well-documented factoids like this and while they’re hardly surprising, the author does a nice job of putting human faces on the data.
But for one fateful phone call back in ’84, I might still be living in Kennett, MO. Some of my lifelong friends still do. So this is a “what might have been” story for me in some ways.