Will higher ed cuts cause brain drain … or something worse?
Wed, Feb 9, 2011 (2:10 p.m.)
It’s cutting time, thanks to the state’s dramatic budget deficit and the governor’s refusal to revamp our tax structure, and once again, the proposed solution is to siphon money from universities and colleges. Gov. Brian Sandoval’s suggested slash translates to a 17 percent cut to higher education and would cripple the system in Nevada.
Nowhere else in the county is education a lower priority, says Brookings Institute Director Robert Lang. “There are super-conservative Republicans out there who haven’t tried to touch education the way this state has.” Only about 20 percent of the workforce here sports a college degree, so few are around to defend higher ed when it comes under the knife. Those who do tend to argue we should be concerned with our best and brightest high school grads leaving the state. But the real concern isn’t the 1 percent going to the Ivy League. It’s the masses of high schoolers graduating with a B-minus average, a group whose answer to expensive or inadequate in-state college is to skip it altogether, not leave. Fail to educate them and you create a greater strain on governmental services and economic diversification. Forget tax breaks, argues Lang, nothing attracts businesses more than a high concentration of skilled potential employees. You know, ones who can count higher than 21.