Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Lecture...

The constant whine out of the Board of Regents and the state universities concerning their perception of inadequate funding doesn't necessarily rally Iowan's to their cause. Chairman Gartner can go on, and on, about the dire condition of the quality of the universities and the essential need for more money, or else. But the primary issue they fail to address is just what does that state investment return to the average, non-university town, Iowa taxpayer?

The previous post is a copy of the 2004 Measuring Up data for the state of Iowa. It gives the routine 'F' for affordability; if you look at the report’s national map 36 states got an 'F'. It isn't hard to figure out that this is a policy group with an agenda. From the Iowa perspective, the more interesting, and problematic grade, is the 'C' for benefits. This little bit of number crunching finds that the economic value to the state of the percentage of residents with a four year degree or some college is less than it was ten years ago. How frightening is that? It is impossible to parse the exact meaning of the percentages without more information, but just a general gut-check suggests “that’s not good”.

And so, as the Regents rally around their cause for more money, it might be a wise strategy to come clean on their rate of return to the state. If nothing else, you have to assume that some politicos might actually appreciate an appropriations strategy built on somewhat more honest information.


Over Decade
Over the past decade, Iowa has made no notable progress in the benefits to the state that come from having a more highly educated population. This year Iowa receives a C in benefits.

BENEFITS IOWA Top States 2004
A Decade
Population aged 25 to 65 with bachelor's degree or higher 22% 28% 36%
Increase in total personal income as a result of the percentage of the population holding a bachelor's degree 7% 6% 12%
Increase in total personal income as a result of the percentage of the population with some college (including an associate's degree), but not a bachelor's degree 2% 1% 3%
Residents voting in national elections 61% 58% 60%
Of those who itemize on federal income taxes, the percentage declaring charitable gifts 89% 87% 92%
Increase in volunteering rate as a result of college education n/a 19% 22%
Adults demonstrating high-level literacy skills:
quantitative 26% 30% 33%
prose 23% 28% 33%
document 21% 25% 28%
Note: Indicators in italics are new for 2004.
*Adult Skill Levels for 2004 are estimated and are not used to calculate grades

The benefits category measures the economic and societal benefits that the state receives as the result of having well educated residents.

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