Sunday, June 10, 2012

Missouri's education problem

Missouri GDP growth in 2011 was 0.04 percent, which is pretty dismal even relative to the dismal national economy. Generally speaking, when you look at growth across states, the ones doing well are energy (oil and/or natural gas) states and those on the west coast, who are best poised to trade with Asia. Those doing the worst tend to be in the South and up through Missouri to Montana and Idaho.

My view about Missouri's slow growth is that it is largely about education. But not just overall educational attainment, which doesn't really capture the situation. Missouri's economy is dominated by two large metro areas whose core cities are served by absolutely awful school systems. This doesn't harm just those cities, but their metro areas as a whole. My view that education is the problem appeared in an article in the Post-Dispatch ("Mo. Economy Barely Grew in 2011. Why?" St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 6).

The editorial board then used the quote in an editorial to bash the governor and state Republicans ("Editorial: Focus on Education to Jumpstart Missouri's Economy," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 10). I doubt, however, that they would use a quote from me to justify the specifics of improving education. Such a quote would include research results that money is not the problem and that school choice would help. It might even include a suggestion to dissolve the school districts altogether in some areas and to seriously consider eliminating tenure.

I was interviewed on KMOX, where I was able to give some of my broader views (Listen).