The Repository has an excellent topic in today's edition: Combating 'brain drain' no easy task.
Notice I say topic and leave my description at that.
Because all the prescriptions for the Stark County phase of correcting the problem of Ohio's "brain drain" are the samo-samo, "in-the-box" thinking that is the equivalent of continuing to dig the hole deeper.
If one wants to get out of a hole, what is the first thing to do? You[ve got it: quit digging. If one wants to get something other than one as always gotten, then "change" is what the doctor orders.
For starters readers of this blog should CLICK HERE and read the Fordham Institute (Fordham) report on Ohio's brain drain, which, of course, includes Stark County.
Brain drain is a topic near and dear to yours truly. As the father of three daughters who graduated from Lake High School and Ohio colleges (Kent State University, The Ohio State University and the University of Akron (also NEOUCOM) and all young professions), yours truly knows firsthand that Ohio is not a lure for our university graduates. One daughter is in Colorado, another in Oklahoma and the third in Texas)
Fordham's analysis of the problem based on a thoroughgoing survey is right on, but the SCPR doesn't think much of Fordham's prescription especially for Stark County.
However, the focus of this blog is to parse the comments of Stark's college graduate retention leadership as published in The Rep's piece.
Let's start with Doctor Adrienne O'Neill. She is one of Stark County's most respected educational leaders and is president of the Stark Education Partnership.
Here's what she had to say:
Adrienne O’Neill, president of the Stark Education Partnership, said many of the county’s college graduates receiving associate’s degrees plan on staying in the area.Nothing against folks with associate degrees, but one of the key points of Fordham is that the higher up the degree scale one goes, the least likely the graduates are to stay in Ohio. So Ohio puts a lot of taxpayer money into educating our "best and brightest" and they are leaving in droves.
“We are trying really hard to make our area attractive to young people,”
No personal disrespect intended, but O'Neill's comment is clearly of the educational leadership deadhead variety.
Another one of Stark educational leaders in the area of keeping Ohio college graduates in Ohio is Ann Motayer, director of Kent State's Career Service Center.
Here is what she had to say:
Ann Motayar ... said the university is working ... with area businesses to provide more internships and co-op opportunities for Kent students.Director Motayar has to be kidding.
“We have been well aware of the trend and working, in many ways, to help connect students with local experiences to help retain them in the state, Many students would prefer to stay local. They are connected to their families and their communities.”
“We know that is No. 1 — that employers recruit our graduates, And it’s a way for students to get hands-on experience, moving them from the college experience into a full-time position. We hope to be the driver to help employers connect with graduates, who are key in helping rejuvenate our communities and our state.”
Internships and co-ops as a solution? No, these are absolute perequisities to even be in the game.
What Motayar and her fellows at Kent State have failed Ohio and Stark County in is a lack of visioning a comprehensive plan which would include area universities working collaboratively with local government, business and industry to create an "attractive community model" (a la Richard Florida's Creative Class model) that would likely be the compelling lure to keep the majority of Ohio graduates in Ohio.
Again, no personal disrespect intended, but Director Motayar with her prescription is indicative of more Stark deadhead educational leadership.
The one spark of life in The Rep's article comes from the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce's Aimee Belden who is director of the Chamber's "Brain Gain" initiative.
His is what Director Belden had to say:
... the chamber has focused its efforts on maintaining young people through initiatives, such as YStark!, [a network of about 900 professionals] a group which aims to engage young professionals in Stark County through social gatherings, a newly launched fellowship program and more.
“We certainly haven’t fixed all of the challenges we face, I would agree with the study in that, at some point, I think it is going to come down to the job, and I hope we can deliver on that.”
A more skillful reporter would have drawn Director Belden out on her description of the Chamber's effort. Belden should have been asked about the economic/cultural/lifelong learning aspects of the YStark! seemed to be implicit in the reporter's all too brief description of the specifics of the initiative.
Perhaps Director Belden might want to be in contact with the El Paso, Texas Creative Class Leadership Project (CCLP). Here is what the group has to say about itself:
“The El Paso CCLP raises the consciousness of our community's quest for a better business environment based on a creative approach to technological businesses. The interaction of our participants and their ideas is generating communication across cultural, professional and personal roles and allows our region to look at ourselves in a fresh manner.”Could Director Belden and the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce the first in Stark County to break the "deadhead educational leadership" cycle in the county?
Let's hope so.
Stark County's future depends on keeping our "best and brightest" at home putting their thinking power to work for a better Stark County for future generations.