Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Economic Engine of Maryland, Part Five

Montgomery County and Fairfax County, the economic engines of their respective states, have much in common. One characteristic they share is excellent schools.

Residents of Montgomery and Fairfax are virtually obsessed with their school systems. Most parents do whatever they can to get their kids into the best schools with the best programs and the best teachers. Both counties use their schools as selling points for new residents and new businesses. And the sales pitch is warranted because these two counties have some of the best public schools in America.

Consider the following benchmarks:

Newsweek Top 100 High School Ranks, 2008

55. Langley, McLean, VA
59. George Mason, Falls Church, VA
74. W.T. Woodson, Fairfax, VA
95. Lake Braddock, Burke, VA
99. McLean, McLean, VA

32. Richard Montgomery, Rockville, MD
60. Wootton, Rockville, MD
64. Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Bethesda, MD
69. Walt Whitman, Bethesda, MD
76. Walter Johnson, Bethesda, MD
98. Winston Churchill, Potomac, MD

SAT Scores, Class of 2008
Fairfax: Critical Reading 547, Math 565, Writing 542, Total 1654
Montgomery: Critical Reading 532, Math 549, Writing 536, Total 1616

Composite ACT Scores, Class of 2008
Fairfax: 23.7
Montgomery: 23.8

Total Public Schools Budget, FY 2009

Fairfax: $2,685,250,588
Montgomery: $2,543,224,621

Cost per Pupil, FY 2009
Fairfax: $13,340
Montgomery: $15,252

Percent of Graduates Continuing Education, FY 2009

Fairfax: 91.2%
Montgomery: 92.6%

Dropout Rate, FY 2009

Fairfax: 1.67%
Montgomery: 2.9%

Montgomery may not be able to compete with Fairfax on low tax rates, but it can and does compete very well on the basis of school quality. In fact, Montgomery’s high level of educational investment is one of the best things it can offer the business community. We asked a number of our leaders about the importance of the schools in attracting business. We’ll find out what they had to say in Part Six.