Two professors, Gary Sands of Wayne State University and Laura Reese of Michigan State University, have completed new research that calls into question almost all of the economic development tactics that Rust Belt cities have thrown at decline over the years, including casinos and programs aimed at luring the so-called creative class. They found little or no relationship between those trendy investments and broader community-wide economic growth.Emergence is like that.
Instead, they suggest a back-to-basics strategy: Invest in good schools and public safety, and don’t bet on the trendy stuff.
The challenge, of course, is that politicians don’t win elections by connecting clusters. They’d rather be cutting ribbons on aquariums or casinos or downtown malls.That's not to say that taking care of the basics is easy. Look at the Distressed Material coming out of government high schools in Oklahoma.
Yet researchers like Sands and Reese are on to something here. It may not be sexy. And it’s not short term. But in urban economic development, as in life, if you take care of the basics, the frills tend to take care of themselves.
In 2013, nearly 40 percent of incoming freshmen at Oklahoma colleges and universities needed to pass a remedial course before taking classes in their major.What's missing from the article is the news that Oklahoma City and Tulsa are receiving bills from the community colleges for having to provide the courses the high schools were unable to offer. Or perhaps the high schools had to deal with a lot of recalcitrant students who didn't learn proper life-management skills from their parents, or didn't get those skills reinforced in elementary school.
Oklahoma’s two largest school districts — Oklahoma City Public Schools and Tulsa Public School — are the darkest examples of an education gone bad. In Tulsa Public Schools, 58 percent of the 646 students entering college had to take remedial classes in 2013 In Oklahoma City Public Schools, 58 percent of the 792 students going to college took remedial classes.
The two districts graduated 2,654 seniors. Only 54 percent choose to attend a four-year college, and only 10 percent of the 1,438 college-bound seniors attended the state’s flagship universities — the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University.
Thousands of students can’t meet the requirements of those two universities. Students also look at the tuition at four-year universities, and decide to attend a less expensive two-year college to take the remedial and general studies classes they need.
Yeah, I keep posting on the same things all the time. But sitting by the river waiting for your enemies' corpses to float by is like that.