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October 29, 2007

Richard Florida

Drop Out Factories

« Generation Innovation | Main | CEOs for Cities Weighs In »

Bill Gates says U.S. schools are "broken." Alvin Toffler calls them relics of a by-gone industrial age. Now, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers, 1 in 10 American high-schools is a "drop out factory," where 60 percent of freshman do not even make it to their senior year. What a colossal waste of human talent. The U.S. has been living off the educational investments of other countries, particularly China and India, for the past several decades.  What happens if the supply of foreign talent dries up or decides to head elsewhere?


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Gary Dare

David Heenan wrote on this topic a few years ago in his book Flight Capital (URL provided off my byline), that the US not only cannot live off of a brain drain from India and China (Canada has suffered, too, but that tide has been turning) but is seeing a reverse brain drain of repatriates. (Lots of talk about that in Silicon Valley now.) Graduate student engineering interns of the 90's in the US, UK and Canada are now design team managers back home in India.

Many of the diaspora who urged them not to go home, have since lost their jobs and are working in Bay Area Indian restaurants.

Any US citizen or permanent resident who chooses to pursue graduate study in science or engineering will have access to 2-3 fellowships or scholarships from which to pick. But the reality is that all but the best awards now go begging, unclaimed. Probably not that different in Canada and Europe.


Great article/stat -- the sad truth that it is now every family/parent(s) for themselves. pick your location wisely (where the schools/communities support education), homeschool, or have big $$ for a private education.

I am not a historian, but govt provided education is a 'relatively new' concept for the US; perhaps we are going to revert to the traditional mean?

Charles Rostkowski

The battle over school reform is just heating up. Here in Utah the legislature passed a voucher program ($3,000 voucher to students to help defray the cost of private school tuition) and the anti-voucher side got the issue onto a referendum for this election. The NEA has poured a great deal of money into the campaign for a "no" vote to keep the camel's nose out of the tent. I look for that 10% "drop-out factories" to grow in the future. And it wouldn't surprise if the Deans of Schools of Education begin to lobby university admissions teams to not accept students who have been home-schooled.


Charles -- Keep us informed on how things turn out on the vote. Your prediction on the coming clash is scary. I hope it doesn't come to that.

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