Research by CEO’s for Cities shows a clear relationship between the rate of folks in urban areas who get a college degree and the economic prosperity in each of these city centers. This is an argument for education that is actually a bit different than I’m used to.
That urban communities can develop in part by increasing the number of individuals from these communities who receive college degrees seems like a no-brainer. In the U.S. we believe that college can do a lot of great things. But it strikes me as compelling that the argument here for increasing the rate of educational attainment is not made in terms of individual achievement or philosophical fulfillment. Rather the argument is made in the terms of tangible economic gains for whole urban communities.
If rates of attainment of 4-year degrees could rise in defined urban areas, then according to this report we should see a proportional growth in the community’s economic base, neighborhood income levels, community expectations, real estate prices, and the cutting back on spending on neighborhood assistance programs.
The report says nothing about making college accessible for all people. And I don’t know after reading this report that it makes any difference if the whole world is college educated or not—but that’s not really the goal here. Rather the goal is economic security in high-density urban areas. The goal is eliminating poverty and improving access to health and housing. In other words, the goal is social justice and public good.
This is not the idea of a college education for education’s sake. It is higher education attainment as something more practical, more tangible, and more meaningful for large numbers of individuals who live and struggle in the most densely-populated and most underdeveloped communities.