Missouri is by no means a stupid state; a recent study by The Washington Post found that it’s actually the 16th smartest state in America, with above average scores in every metric of intelligence except for college grads.
So which cities in Missouri are holding the state back from being better the national average in this category? It’s the cities that have lots of folks who never even completed basic education.
After crunching the numbers, we came up with this list of the ten dumbest cities in the Show Me State:
- Bonne Terre
- Carthage (Photos)
- Aurora (Photos)
- Poplar Bluff (Photos)
- De Soto
- Cameron (Photos)
- Lebanon (Photos)
- Caruthersville (Photos)
- Dexter (Photos)
Where Does My City Rank On The Dumb Scale (1 Is Dumbest)?
For more Missouri reading, check out:
How we determined the dumbest cities in the Show Me State
We realize that formal education isn’t everything when it comes to being smart, but on the other hand not knowing the difference between they’re, their, and there is always going to make you look pretty stupid.
So we narrowed down our criteria to focus both on a city’s educational opportunities and what percentage of the population takes advantage of those opportunities.
In short, we came up with these criteria to determine the dumbest cities in Missouri:
- % of city’s population with less than a high school education (Age 25+)
- % of high school dropouts (Ages 16-19)
Note: We only looked at cities with populations greater than 5,000, leaving us 128 cities in Missouri to rank. We also looked at the graduation rates of the entire population, not the current rates for high schoolers. We used the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010-2014 American Community Survey to gather our data. If you disagree with these numbers, email them, not us.
1. Bonne Terre
Adults Without High School Diploma: 29.3%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 44.7%
According to the data, Bonne Terre is the dumbest city in Missouri. How’d it earn such a disreputable title?
It’s mostly due to the absurdly high rate of teenagers dropping out of high school; roughly 45 out of every 100 high school students drop out each year in Bonne Terre, a rate almost twice as high as the second dumbest city in Missouri and ten times worse than the state average.
Bonne Terre also has the second highest rate of uneducated adults in the state, with 29.3% of residents over the age of 25 lacking a GED.
With the current dropout rate even higher than this, Bonne Terre is guaranteed to continue being the dumbest city in Missouri for years to come.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 30.9%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 24.7%
Trailing Bonne Terre by a small margin, Carthage has the highest rate of uneducated adults of all Missouri cities with populations over 5,000.
Nearly 1 in 3 adults living in Carthage never completed high school, which, in a city where food manufacturing and processing are the major industries, might not be so important.
What is important is that almost 1 in 4 teenagers are following in the footsteps of the preceding generation in saying no to basic education.
That means about five times as many students are dropping out of high school in Carthage as the rest of Missouri – yikes.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 29.2%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 14.8%
The largest city in the “Bootheel” region of southeastern Missouri, Kennett also has the distinction of being the third dumbest city in the state.
It’s mainly an agricultural community, so formal education may not be as important in Kennett, but it’s still a fact that nearly 3 in 10 of adults living in Kennett don’t have a high school diploma.
The teenage high school dropout rate is also the fifth highest in the state and roughly three times higher than the state average, with 14.8% of Kennett students opting out of basic education.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 23.2%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 18.1%
Located in southwestern Missouri, Aurora is the fourth dumbest city overall in Missouri, with the third highest rate of teenage high school dropouts in the state.
18 out of every 100 Aurora high school students drops out, meaning the city’s future population is going to be seriously under-educated.
On top of that, 23.2% of adults living in Aurora don’t possess a GED, which is the sixth highest rate in the state and double the state average for cities we looked at data for.
5. Poplar Bluff
Adults Without High School Diploma: 21.1%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 14.8%
Poplar Bluff’s motto might be “A City of Opportunity,” but, educationally, that’s a bit misleading.
The city has the sixth highest rate of teenage high school dropouts in Missouri, with just fewer than 15 of every 100 students dropping out each year; that’s about triple the state average for Missouri cities with populations over 5,000.
The adults living in Poplar Bluff don’t do anything to help the city’s smartness score, with about 1 in 5 residents over the age of 25 lacking a high school diploma.
6. De Soto
Adults Without High School Diploma: 22.7%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 8.8%
Located in eastern Missouri, De Soto is the sixth dumbest city in the state.
The rate of GED-less adults in De Soto is twice as high as the state average for cities with populations greater than 5,000.
The current rate of teenage high school dropouts isn’t quite twice as bad as the state average, but it’s close enough to land De Soto among the dumbest cities in Missouri.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 17.2%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 17.6%
A city in northwestern Missouri, Cameron’s population has increased rapidly since the 90’s.
The high school dropout rate for teenage students is the real reason Cameron is featured on this list. 17.6% of teenagers drop out high school each year in Cameron, a rate higher than the GED-less adults living in the city.
With a teenage dropout rate more than three times as high as the state average, Cameron is on track to have an even dumber next generation than the current one.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 19.3%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 11.0%
Lebanon’s known as a friendly place, but it’s far from being the smartest place in Missouri.
About 1 in 5 adults living in Lebanon never completed high school, which is well over the state average.
The high school dropout rate for teenagers is even worse; at 11%, Lebanon’s dropout rate is more than double the state average and ranks as the 11th highest rate in Missouri.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 27.6%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 7.4%
Located along the Mississippi River in the “Bootheel” region of Missouri, Caruthersville is mainly on the dumb-list for its high rate of uneducated adults.
Now, 60% of the economy in Caruthersville is related to agriculture, so the fact that 27.6% adults lack a high school diploma might not matter.
But the current dropout rate in Caruthersville isn’t fantastic either, and with the fourth highest rate of uneducated adults in the state, it’s hard for Caruthersville to avoid being dubbed as dumb.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 20.7%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 8.9%
Located in southeastern Missouri, Dexter is the tenth dumbest city in the state, ranking in the bottom 15% in each category.
More than 1 in 5 adults lack a high school diploma, which is a full 9% higher than the state average for cities with populations over 5,000.
The current high school dropout rate for teenagers is also about twice as high as the average for Missouri cities, making Dexter a dumb city overall.
Putting a dunce cap on our analysis
If you’re measuring the locations in Missouri where there are a high number of teenage dropouts and adults who never received a formal education, this is an accurate list.
If you’re curious, here are the five smartest cities in Missouri, in order: Glendale, Des Peres, Dardenne Prairie, Lake St. Louis, Chesterfield. All of these cities are suburbs of St. Louis, which itself ranked as the 27th dumbest city in Missouri.
Other notable cities: Missouri’s capital, Jefferson City, ranked as the 47th smartest city in the state, with above average rates of high school completion in both generations.
Kansas City ranked as the 51st dumbest city in the state, with slightly below average rates in both categories.
Springfield is right behind Kansas City, ranking as the 52nd dumbest city in the state.
On a lighter note, we found a video of California snobs taste testing Missouri food for the first time. It’s actually pretty hilarious. Click here to watch it.
On a serious note, we feel it’s important that all kids have a home. If you’ve ever considered adopting a child, the Missouri State Adoption Services team can help. Now is the time.
Detailed List Of Dumbest Cities In Missouri
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