The State of Cuba

Not that Cuba. The Cuba a couple of hours west of St. Louis on old Route 66. I visited there on a Marketplace assignment precisely ten years ago. The other day I went back to check up on these good folks. There are new murals with old-timey scenes up along 66, meant to act as flypaper for tourists in the warmer months. There is an additional industrial park in the town since I visited last. Missouri Hick BBQ, home of the "finest smoked meats in the Ozarks," is going strong.

It is, however, customary when visiting with folks you have not seen in some time to ask, "How are the kids?" It turns out there is data that answers that question. A project called Missouri Kids Count has been tracking statistical information on the children of that state over time.

When you plug in Crawford County, which surrounds Cuba, the resulting graphs show that children in the area are clearly facing challenges. Much of it is economic. The percentage of kids poor enough to be eligible for cheaper or free lunch at school in that part of Missouri is 52 percent, much higher than the state average of about 41 percent. The high school dropout rate in the county starts a worrisome climb beginning in 2006.

If you are interested in an answer to "How are the kids?" question near you,
similar data is available for places nationwide.

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio

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