Friday, October 23, 2009

Children's Health Magazine Rates Salt Lake City Only 79th In A Harshly-Criticized "100 Best Places To Raise A Family" Survey; Jersey City Is 13th

The editors of Children's Health Magazine obviously need their own mental health examined. They've just published a survey entitled "100 Best (and Worst) Places to Raise a Family" in the United States, and Jersey City finishes much higher than Salt Lake City. An October 23rd story published by tipped me off to this report.

In fact, Salt Lake City is rated only number 79, while Jersey City is incredibly rated number 13.

There are some logical selections, though. Here's the top 20 from the list (see the full list HERE):

1. Burlington, VT
2. Madison, WI
3. Fargo, ND
4. Lincoln, NE
5. Fremont, CA
6. Lexington, KY
7. Honolulu, HI
8. Cheyenne, WY
9. Omaha, NE
10. Yonkers, NY
11. Austin, TX
12. St. Paul, MN
13. Jersey City, NJ
14. San Francisco, CA
15. New York, NY
16. Little Rock, AR
17. Washington, DC
18. Minneapolis, MN
19. Colorado Springs, CO
20. Billings, MT

But the inclusion of Jersey City, Little Rock, Yonkers, and Washington DC so high on the list can be considered questionable. At least Detroit is number 100, though, but even a blind person could figure that one out.

Criteria categories used were employment, health, and housing. Factors considered include cost of living, unemployment rate and recent trends, travel time to work, median family income, fast food restaurants, obesity, housing affordability, and the kicker - four different air quality measurements. The latter may be responsible for driving Salt Lake further down the list than it deserves; the Wasatch Front's air quality deteriorates during the winter due to the Salt Lake Valley's bowl shape, particularly when a strong high enters the area and sets up an inversion, trapping pollution at the surface.

But let's get real, gentle and not-so-gentle readers alike. If you had to choose between living in Jersey City and living in Salt Lake, would you choose Jersey City? Of course not, unless there were some unusual circumstances. Under normal circumstances, no sane person would choose Jersey City over Salt Lake. Consequently, the survey is biased far too much in favor of radical environmentalism.

And I'm not the only one questioning the survey. Most public comments are also critical; here's a small sampling:

It would be very helpful if you actually posted the scorings for each of the cities in all of the categories. That way it would be more meaningful for those of us that might place lower emphasis on some categories, and higher emphasis on others.
Posted by: Karla on September 15, 12:44pm

This is a completely pointless waste of space...this so called "survey" is no more than a "fluff" piece with the smell of an underlying adgenda...underscored by the fact that they do not tell us:
1) what were the criteria to identify the 100 noteworthy American cities
2) What were the 30 factors that parents deemed important
3) what parents were used to deem the importance of the 30 factors above
4) What are the actual rankings of the cities listed
5) Comprehensive? Prove it!
I find it hard to believe that out of all the suburban localities in Virginia, including the wealtiest county in the united states, you only picked Richmond as a location to survey. Richmond is a backwater hick-town compared to places like Fairfax or Great Falls. And Honolulu? Did you even consider Hana? or Kihe? Princeville? Or Ewa? Obviously not but Honolulu...not a good choice considering that Waikiki is the bustelling city of Honolulu which is rife with crime, prostitution and homelessness. And did you ignore cities in Colorado like Durango or Silverton?
Reading something like this is like me saying that the color "red" is the best color in the world because I rounded up 30 of the best colors and using 100 different criteria, determined that Red is the best color....does that make sense to you? Of course not, same with this survey! You do a disservice to your readers by not giving them facts instead of opinions.
Posted by: Ed on September 15, 3:43pm

I find these rankings quite misleading. Some of the cities you ranked (both high and low) are so large with many individual neighborhoods within the city that someone's experience raising a child in one part of the city is going to be vastly different than another's experience in a part of the city a mere mile or two away. Additionally, one's income bracket is going to matter. I can assure you that if your household income is under a certain amount, you will not enjoy raising your children in Burlington, VT.
Posted by: john on September 16, 8:19am

Are the authors on CRACK??? I am living in Jersey City and trust me it is not anywhere you want to bring your kids. The crime, cops getting shot left and right... I can't even bring my kids out after dark for fear of being robbed. And let's not get started on car theft rates and how Jersey City's test scores are far lower than the New Jersey average. This list is ridiculous.
Posted by: Marissa on September 24, 3:48pm

Jersey City is not as bad as it once was. Parts of it are being improved and gentrified. But many parts remain dangerous; Children's Health has obviously attached too much weight to the gentrified areas. The same analogy probably applies to Yonkers and Washington DC.

It looks like registration is not required to post comments on the Children's Health site, so you can share your thoughts about your city's ranking. I would strongly encourage Utahns to express their disagreement with Salt Lake's ridiculous ranking.

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