Phi Beta Cons

Another political higher ed gimmick

Here is a story from Inside Higher Ed about gubernatorial races this year. One tidbit particularly caught my attention — the incentive plans that are supposed to counteract the “brain drain” when top students decide to go to college out of state.


It won’t make any difference.  Once a student graduates, he is apt, especially if he is one of those kids who could have gone to Harvard, MIT, Princeton, etc. to take a job wherever the career prospects are best. Keeping kids in Des Moines when other places beckon isn’t too likely. Furthermore, employers in states like Iowa are not limited to just home-grown talent.  They can and will hire the best candidates they can and even if the person chosen is the bright kid from in-state, how does that make the state any better off?  It just means that an in-state kid goes on the payroll instead of an approximately equal kid from somewhere else.


The idea that a state can pull itself up by the bootstraps by keeping its smartest young people from going to college out-of-state is just going to subsidize kids who would have stayed in the state anyway. This is one of the many political gimmicks candidates pull out to look like they have plans.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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