Thursday, February 15, 2007

School Days, Part 2

Back to schoolSo, as I mentioned yesterday, we had our most recent Leadership Ann Arbor day on Wednesday. This one was all about education. Due to the snow up here, we missed out on the K-12 presentations (though we will supposedly be making it up at some point), instead we focused on higher ed and pre-K information.

All of the presentations were quite informative. Unfortunately, most of the information was pretty depressing. Still, I would rather know where we stand. Here are just a few of the points we covered:

  • In Washtenaw County about 48% of adults between the ages of 25 and 34 have at least a bachelors degree. That compares to 22% for all of Michigan.
  • According to census data, lowering taxes does not lead to more prosperity. In fact, those states with the lowest taxes also have some of the lowest personal income per capita.
  • According to a report presented by Michigan Future, Inc.'s President, Lou Glazer, prosperous regions tend to have three characteristics in common:
    1. Focus on knowledge/export-based sectors. Where growth in these areas exceeds the national average (29%), prosperity follows. Michigan currently has growth in these areas of around 13%.
    2. High proportion of four-year degree holders.
    3. Anchored by a central city with an even higher percentage of four-year degree holders.
  • In the same report, the authors came to the conclusion that for Michigan to succeed, it must focus on two policy priorities:
    1. We must invest in the higher education system, especially our research universities.
    2. We must develop the welcoming aspects of our central metropolis (Detroit), in order to retain existing talent and attract new.
  • These are the two areas which Michigan has cut the most in recent years.
After this pile of sobering facts, it was a relief to listen to my friend, Jerry Bowman of NSF International talk about the "Scrub Club", a program developed by NSF to encourage kids to wash there hands adequately in order to reduce the spread of contagious diseases in schools. Ironically, the poor guy was having trouble speaking because he had come down with a cold and had largely lost his voice!

So, what can we do to get talent to come back to Michigan?

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