Thursday, May 13, 2010

Links for 5/13/10

Mike Mandel
Brains and education did not seem to count too much in success in the last business cycle. Overall, the top ten cities, measured by growth in per capita income, had an average college graduate rate of 17.7% The bottom ten cities had a college graduate rate of 31.8%.

Is this inverse relationship between growth and education going to persist into the future? Impossible to say. My personal view is that the lack of rewards for education–which show up in the individual income statistics as well–is correlated to the lack of commercially-successful breakthrough innovations, which would immediate sop up all the excess college graduates.

To put it another way, innovative industries tend to locate where they can get a lot of college graduates. That means high education areas attract new companies, boosting growth.

But without innovation, the whole economic development dynamic changes.
Felix Salmon comments on Mandel:
My feeling is that this is a historical anomaly, and largely a product of the beginning and end points that Mandel used: 2000 was the peak of the dot-com bubble, which artificially inflated tech salaries, while 2008 came at the end of a commodity boom which helped oil-rich states. The long-term trend is inescapable: the returns to education are large and growing, and if you’re not a college graduate and you don’t own your own company, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain a middle-class lifestyle.
Martin Ringle via Steve Kolowich
higher education is now reacting to popular technology and not the other way around
Kevin Carey
The government subsidies create huge incentives for for-profit colleges to enroll anyone they can find. The awkward regulation offers little in the way of effective oversight. The opaque nature of the higher education experience makes it hard for consumers to sniff out fraudsters up-front. And the fact that people don’t continually purchase higher education throughout their lives limits the downside for bad actors. A restaurant or automobile manufacturer that continually screws its customers will eventually go out of business. For colleges, there’s always another batch of high school graduates to enroll…

The gainful employment standard highlights some of my biggest concerns about the Obama administration’s approach to higher education policy. To its lasting credit, the administration has taken on powerful moneyed interests and succeeded. Taking down the FFEL program was a historic victory for low-income students and reigning in the abuses of for-profit higher education is a needed and important step.

But the administration has displayed no similar enthusiasm for addressing the many problems in the traditional public and non-profit sector where most students actually go to college. Attacking corporate interests is good politics for a Democratic administration. Challenging the academy to do a better job of teaching students and helping them graduate is a much bigger lift. But that’s what will have to happen if the administration is serious about meeting its 2020 goal for college completion.

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