So I thought about testing it out. I took one of the corporate welfare queens that Markell's budget targeted from an investment from the Strategic Fund--Amazon.com--and took a look at Amazon corporate and distribution centers across the country.
Then I cross-listed them against Education Week's current Quality Counts rating of that state's public schools.
Here's what I got:
Amazon locations (State's education rating on a 1-50 scale):The average education ranking of a state in which Amazon places a corporate facility is 21. And there appears no particular rhyme or reason to the place with respect to educational quality. You could argue for numbers 3, 4, and 5 in New York, Virginia, and Arizona, but the company makes its corporate headquarters in Washington--#39.
New York (3)
New Hampshire (25)
South Carolina (26)
North Dakota (27)
West Virginia (9)
This kind of research is a bit more difficult for the other corporate welfare queens in Delaware, but it is possible to look at what corporate research says about the issue:
Notice the items that I have highlighted in bold: items #2, 7, and 9 are all in the Jack Markell "use your tax dollars to lure corporations" category. Item #10 might also be in that category if the State is involved.
Only Item #4 [Availability of skilled labor] is even indirectly related to education in corporate decisions to locate--and "skilled labor" is not the same as "entry level employees."
In other words, looked at from the corporate perspective it may make a great deal of sense to put out a lot of publicity about why corporations want a good educational system, but the reality is that this not really how it plays out in the boardroom.
I'd actually guess that the only education issue that plays any significant role in corporate decision-making about location is whether or not there are sufficient strong educational choices available for upper-middle and upper management types for their own children.
Given that this class of folks on the corporate ladder is still predominantly white and upper-middle class to affluent, I suspect that Delaware's current mix of non-publics, charters and magnets, supplemented by school choice, is just about spot on what they want.
Which goes a long way to explain Governor Markell's strategy for "reforming" education in Delaware, because whether he articulates it honestly or not, Jack knows exactly what corporations want.
You see: Kraft General Foods, or Citi, or JP Morgan Chase, or Amazon, or whoever INC really don't give a good crap about how excellent the inner city schools in Wilmington or the rural schools in Slower Lower are, just as long as they can find a good education for their kids.
[Remember, with truth in advertising, this is known as "pandora's law."]
It is, I suppose, possible that small businesses and entrepreneurs in Delaware are all upset because entry-level graduates cannot read or cipher, but I seriously doubt it.
Remember, with unemployment still at above 7% here and in neighboring states, it is an employers' market in terms of jobs. There are plenty of literate entry-level folks around. I meet DSU graduates managing fast-food restaurants and car rental offices and the like all the time.
Moral of story: the whole "corporations want great education" meme is a self-serving myth.
I've suddenly realized that Vision 2012, Vision 2015, and Vision 2020 HAVE NOT FAILED.
They have given Paul Herdman and his corporate buddies exactly what they wanted in the first place: a great education for the only kids who really matter to them.