The Download: Where the grads are

Well-educated people tend to congregate together, and sometimes so do high school dropouts.

Portfolio.com scoured Census data for information on educational attainment and then ranked the 200 largest metropolitan statistical areas. The accompanying story – “Brain bounty or brain busted?” – doesn’t add much, but the list itself is something you just can’t help checking out.

Topping the list is Boulder, where five of every six adults have attended college and 26 percent hold advanced degrees. Rounding out the top five are Ann Arbor, Washington, DC, Durham, North Carolina, and Fort Collins, Colordo.

Boston is ranked eighth, but comes in third when compared to communities of at least 1 million residents. The data indicate more than two-thirds of Boston adults have attended college and 18 percent hold advanced degrees. Worcester comes in 40th and Springfield 97th, both of them ahead of Providence at 113.

At the other end of the spectrum, a number of communities in Texas and California have more high school dropouts than college graduates. In Merced, California, for example, just over 11 percent of the residents hold college or advanced degrees, while 34 percent are high school dropouts.

One commenter on the story said the high school dropout rates were more interesting than the concentration of academic degrees. “There are some tremendous variations, even among the cities with high ratings,” the commenter said. “Presumably all agree that ideally a high school education is the absolute minimum level that everyone should attain. Those cities with low dropout rates should be studied to identify what their school systems are doing, and what other factors help achieve low drop out rates.”

I scanned the list and discovered something interesting. Barnstable was the metro area with the lowest percentage of high school dropouts, at 5.46 percent. Is that because there are so many retirees on the Cape?

                                                                                                                                                                            –BRUCE MOHL

EDUCATION

What yesterday looked like a kerfuffle over the search for a new president of UMass today is a full-blown train wreck for the Patrick administration, thanks to Globe columnist Brian McGrory, who gives the mess a context it has lacked. The paper’s editorial page blames both Patrick and former UMass board chairman Robert Manningbut mostly Patrick. Meanwhile, state education secretary Paul Reville is open to hitting the reset button on the UMass president search, while university trustees wonder whether Gov. Deval Patrick bumped Marty Meehan out of the presidency race to clear the field for his former education adviser, Bridgewater State president Dana Mohler-Faria.

Scot Lehigh says there is no excuse for Beacon Hill waffling on letting towns unilaterally join the state health care pool to save money after a new report says education aid dollars have all been sucked up by soaring municipal health care costs.

The 6-year-old Lynn special education student who kicked a teacher in the head, knocking her unconscious, will be suspended for a day, the Item reports.

Mayor Scott Lang opposes a new charter school until the state provides a funding formula that is equitable for all New Bedford students.

Officials in Lynn are exploring the idea of a school uniform policy, the Item reports.

PROBATION

Howie Carr gets a call from irascible Governor’s Council member Mary-Ellen Manning – who, it seems, had a probation sponsor list-related dime dropped on her not soon after Manning took a run at outgoing Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshall. That’s on the heels of a series of calls to the Herald by the lawyer for embattled Probation boss John O’Brien, which tried to tie Probation patronage to the governor’s office and the judiciary. Carr dubs the battle “the biggest hack shootout in years.”

State Sen. Brian Joyce, a member of a State House working group which will deliver recommendations for a probation reform bill, says “everything is on the table,” but would not say which changes he would support.

The Supreme Judicial Court failed to appoint any Western Mass representatives to the new task force studying court system hiring. Sen. Michael Knapik, the Westfield Republican, is the only westerner selected to serve on a separate special commission named to overhaul the Probation Department.

COURTS

The Supreme Judicial Court rules that prosecutors can indict a DNA profile – and figure out who it belongs to later, the Globe reports.

WASHINGTON

President Obama tells NPR he’s confident the tax-cut bill will pass. Senate leaders are loading up the controversial measure with goodies designed to win over wavering lawmakers, the Globe reports. Charles Krauthammer calls the Obama tax deal the biggest stimulus in American history. The Eagle-Tribune says Democrats upset with Obama’s tax cut compromise aren’t paying heed to the results of the recent election.

The “Anyone but Sarah Palin” bandwagon is rolling along:  GOP voters in seven states including Massachusetts say they would go for any Republican but her in a match-up against President Obama. Public Policy Polling via Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish.

ECONOMY

Some explaining to do: State Sen. Karen Spilka, the Framingham Democrat, says the reason that the state Jobs Creation Commission that she co-chairs has never met is because she prefers “action over study.

A federal cap on the amount of fish that can be caught by fishermen is drying up the industry in New Bedford, say Mayor Scott Lang and commercial fisherman.

Bad construction loans keep dragging down area banks, the BBJ reports.

Palmer casino developers are still interested in the resort destination casino project if House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Gov. Deval Patrick can make a deal in the next session.

HEALTH CARE

Paul Levy highlights some possible effects of the new global payment contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield, and offers a preview of clinical outcomes statistics at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

TRANSPORTATION

Federal transportation officials have redirected $1.2 billion in high-speed rail funds rejected by Ohio and Wisconsin. California will get $624 million from that pot; Massachusetts gets $2.8 million.

ENVIRONMENT

Heads of state haven’t shown up to the UN climate change conference in Cancun.

POLICY

Governing magazine says the federal government is rethinking how to combat urban poverty with cradle-to-career programs.

REVOLVING DOORS

Peter Orszag, the White House’s former budget director, lands a gig with Citigroup.

Rep. Dan Bosley says farewell to supporters in Berkshire County.  The North Adams Democrat is retiring after 24 years in the House of Representatives.

PURITAN WATCH

From the recent Four Loko ban to the shuttering of dog racing and efforts to decide how many bank branches Cambridge needs, CommonWealth‘s Paul McMorrow says on the Globe op-ed page that we’re doing a good job at living up our to Puritan roots.

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