County ranks on least educated list

Published 8:30 am Thursday, February 24, 2022

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Lunenburg has made a top 50 list but one it might not want to be known for.

In a recent report compiled by Stacker listing the least educated counties in Virginia, Lunenburg came in number five; just two spots from neighboring Charlotte County, which made the list as the third least educated county in the Commonwealth.

Greensville County ranks number one.

According to Stacker, the list was compiled using the U.S. Census Bureau data. Counties are ranked by the lowest percentage of the population 25 years and over that has a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

According to the U.S Census Bureau, only 8.3% of Lunenburg residents have a Bachelor’s degree. Only 3% have a graduate or professional degree while 40.4% are High school graduates and 22.2% have less than a high school diploma.

Having a college degree has long been viewed as a way to increase an individual’s income, as college graduates typically earn 65% more than those with only a high school degree.

However, not everyone chooses the college path. Most recent studies find that high school graduates opt for trade schools or simply enter the workforce upon graduation but with less pay than their degree-earning counterparts.

The U.S. Census Bureau shows that those in Lunenburg County with a Bachelor’s degree have a $36,136 median earnings while a high school graduate is earning $29,346 median income.

Lunenburg resident Trudy Berry who ran for election to the Virginia House of Delegates to represent District 61 against Tommy Wright in November 2021, said she feels there are several reasons as to why the county made the least educated list.

“Our rural schools need more teachers, higher teacher pay, modern schools equipped with today’s technology and solar energy, and affordable high-speed broadband in every home,” Berry said.

According to Berry Lunenburg’s low rating on the list is not merely pandemic-related.

“Pre-pandemic, I’ve seen our public schools, and others, lose accreditation and work to gain it back,” Berry said. “Virginia’s rural county public schools lack the tools and opportunities that our students need for a high-quality education, much of which requires additional state funding.

Berry said other factors include high teacher turnover due to teacher pay that is below the national average, too many students per classroom that precludes meeting individual students’ needs, outdated school buildings, and many students who don’t have a broadband connection at home.