State Supe is Smarter Than a 5th Grader

September 09, 2008 1 min read

I was a little worried for Kathy Cox, Georgia’s school chief, as I watched her struggle with one of the early round questions on the TV show Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? She seemed to hesitate on the 2nd grade animal science question--True or False: crawfish are fish--before answering false. As you all know, they are crustaceans.

Then the spelling question seemed to really stump her: How many Ds in the word granddaughter? She guessed right, but would have been able to fall back on the answer of her teammate, a 5th grader, if she hadn’t.

A couple of questions later she almost overthought the answer to the question, What is the two letter abbreviation for the word doctor?

Hmm. Could be M.D., she said. She took a deep breath and gave the correct answer: Dr.

The former social studies teacher went on to correctly answer questions in 3rd grade health, 4th grade geography, 5th grade art and U.S. history. Then the million-dollar question, in 5th grade world history: Who was the longest reigning British monarch? I would have blown the answer on that one, and the $500,000 pot. But Cox knew that it was Queen Victoria and walked away with $1 million for her charity of choice: state schools for the blind and deaf. She is the first contestant to win the big prize on the show.

You can read more about her victory here, including her reasons for risking it all for the million-dollar question: she was unwilling to “drop out.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.