Leonard C. Burrello
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Recall that, like healthcare, education is largely a state responsibility. Only naturally, then, it is the wealthier states which are best able to fund their students, leading, oftentimes, to better, brighter, and more financially stable futures for those students.
Yet while few sources actually track the disparities between just how much states across the U.S. invest in public education, the effects of those disparities—from graduation rates to college readiness to performances on standardized tests—are readily apparent. We recently followed Amazon’s national search for a site for a new corporate office and found, somewhat unexpectedly, an illustration of states’ investments in education—for in noting which areas a massively successful company like Amazon seriously considered, we found the mega-corporation itself tracking one of the greatest indicators of an educational system’s efficacy: local economic development.
And Amazon, of course, is not the only company to evaluate potential business sites in this fashion. Also recently but much more quietly, Google also established new offices. And again, the chosen sites are hardly surprising: one in New York—and in close proximity to New Jersey and Connecticut—and another in Arlington, Virginia—and in close proximity to D.C. and Maryland.
For beyond the obvious wealth of these chosen business sites, Google made these moves because they are searching for talent, and there is a definitive connection between a region’s wealth, its access to talent, and the quality of its educational system. Talent is what it takes to sustain innovation and development, and education, in turn, sustains talent.
As we discussed last week, funding is not the only guarantor of educational efficacy—but it is an undeniably important one and one which is highly correlated to post-school success. For part of the reason that money begets talent and educational success is because money attracts the most effective teachers, the most talented educators. Money also buys technological advancement, thus enabling more advanced educational practices in our increasingly tech-driven world. Money buys experiences and opportunities, thus expanding a student's worldview.
Just something to think about as we continue to work to improve the modern state of American public education. Let us know what you think in the comments below, and for a particularly astute and in-depth analysis of economic disparities—with examples and precise figures—check out a recent study by USA Today.