Smart Talk Aug. 18 

The South rises The National Center for Education Statistics’ recent report that the nation’s 9- and 13-year-olds are scoring higher on math and reading is good news on two fronts: Not only are scores higher, fueling the higher rates are scores by children in the South. An article in the Christian Science Monitor last week, noting that Southern 9-year-olds had gained 24 points in reading over the past decade, compared to 10 points in the Northeast, credited “a new generation of leaders, who came of age during the civil rights struggles” and made education a top priority. Among them: then-Gov. Bill Clinton, who like several Southern governors “poured resources into public schools and, in return, promised taxpayers higher student performance,” and then-Gov. Richard Riley of South Carolina, whom Clinton appointed Education secretary when he became president. Liquid assets With the average price of regular unleaded in Arkansas running at $2.50 a gallon on a recent weekday (price courtesy of gas-tracking website arkansasgasprices.com), we’ve been doing a lot of grumbling these days about petrol. Still, in the grand scheme of things, $2.50 per gallon ain’t all that bad. Below are some per-gallon prices for common liquids, as calculated from the shelves at Harvest Foods at 2510 Cantrell Road and Cork and Bottle Liquor at 8507 W. Markham. • Wesson vegetable oil — $9.18/gallon • La Choy soy sauce — $22.95/gallon • Coca-Cola — $2.63/gallon • Knott’s Berry Farm Boysenberry syrup — $32.95/gallon • Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey — $77.99/gallon • Heinz distilled white vinegar — $6.76/gallon • Head and Shoulders dry scalp shampoo — $69.45/gallon • Welch’s Concord grape juice — $8.59/gallon • Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce — $31.87/gallon • Louisiana hot sauce — $15.89/gallon • Scope mouthwash — $18.89/gallon • Newman’s Own salad dressing (Ranch style) — $39.12/gallon • Tropicana orange juice — $7.58/gallon •Mrs. Butterworth’s maple syrup (original) — $17.01/gallon • Coleman Dairy 2 percent milk — $4.38/gallon • Corona Extra beer (in 12 oz. bottles) — $12.78/gallon • Dasani bottled water — $4.88/gallon • Pepto-Bismol (liquid, cherry flavored) — $47.84/gallon OK, so maybe you’d save by buying in bulk at Sam’s. Still: • Indian Summer Tart Cherry Juice — $23.33 for eight 46 oz. bottles or $8.32/gallon • Tassos Greek Olive Oil — $9.87 for three 17 oz. bottles, or $24.59/gallon

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