Author Topic: Red States (starring FL) Suffering Brain Drain  (Read 1163 times)


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Red States (starring FL) Suffering Brain Drain
« on: November 24, 2023, 01:50:43 AM »
This article in the New Republic highlights the damage the GOP is doing to red states and, ultimately, to the nation at large.  Leading the pack, Ron DeSantis.  It will take decades for Florida to recover from the damage he, and his lackeys in the Legislature, have done, if the State ever recovers. 

Culture wars ran the movie industry out of Jacksonville over 100 years ago and it never came back.  Expect the same on a much grander scale for Florida today.  Expect our quality of life and our economy to suffer for, possibly, the entire lifetimes of most of those reading this post.

Highlights are mine.

The Red State Brain Drain Isn’t Coming. It’s Happening Right Now.
As conservative states wage total culture war, college-educated workers—physicians, teachers, professors, and more—are packing their bags.

....Republican-dominated states are pushing out young professionals by enacting extremist conservative policies. Abortion restrictions are the most sweeping example, but state laws restricting everything from academic tenure to transgender health care to the teaching of “divisive concepts” about race are making these states uncongenial to knowledge workers.

The precise effect of all this on the brain drain is hard to tease out from migration statistics because the Dobbs decision is still fairly new, and because red states were bleeding college graduates even before the culture war heated up. The only red state that brings in more college graduates than it sends elsewhere is Texas. But the evidence is everywhere that hard-right social policies in red states are making this dynamic worse.

The number of applications for OB-GYN residencies is down more than 10 percent in states that have banned abortion since Dobbs. Forty-eight teachers in Hernando County, Florida, fed up with “Don’t Say Gay” and other new laws restricting what they can teach, resigned or retired at the end of the last school year. A North Carolina law confining transgender people to bathrooms in accordance with what it said on their birth certificate was projected, before it was repealed, to cost that state $3.76 billion in business investment, including the loss of a planned global operations center for PayPal in Charlotte. A survey of college faculty in four red states (Texas, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina) about political interference in higher education found a falloff in the number of job candidates for faculty positions, and 67 percent of the respondents said they would not recommend their state to colleagues as a place to work. Indeed, nearly one-third said they were actively considering employment elsewhere....

....The culture war moved slowly into state politics, because, at first, Republicans didn’t have much of a foothold there. From 1971 to 1994, Democrats held most governorships. That flipped in 1995, and for the next dozen years, Republicans held the majority of governorships. But Republican governors still couldn’t advance the culture-war agenda, because state legislatures remained dominated by Democrats.

That changed with the 2010 election. In a historic realignment largely unrecognized at the time, the GOP won a majority of governorships and legislative chambers. Today, Republicans control a 52 percent majority of governorships and a 57 percent majority of state legislative bodies, and in 22 states Republicans enjoy a “trifecta,” meaning they control the governorship and both legislative chambers (or, in the case of Nebraska, a unicameral legislature). At the time Dobbs was handed down, Republicans enjoyed even greater reach, with trifectas in 23 states.

The very last restraint on Republicans waging full-scale culture war—the presence of college graduates under the GOP tent—was removed by the 2016 presidential election. College graduates have always tended to be fairly liberal on social issues, but until the 1990s they were pretty reliably Republican, because college grads made more money and didn’t want to pay higher taxes. Even Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic presidential nominee caricatured by Republicans as an “egghead,” won only about 30 percent of college graduates in 1956. The Democrats’ egghead share crept up after that, but it wasn’t until 1992 that a Democrat, Bill Clinton, won the college vote (with a 43 percent plurality in a three-way race). Four years later, Clinton lost it to Bob Dole, and for the next two decades Joe College seesawed from one party to another. As recently as 2012, Mitt Romney eked out a 51 percent majority of college graduates.

But with the arrival of Donald Trump, college graduates left the Republican fold for the foreseeable future. Trump dropped the Republican share to 44 percent in 2016 and 43 percent in 2020. If Trump wins the nomination in 2024, the GOP’s share of college voters could drop below 40, and I don’t see any of Trump’s challengers for the Republican nomination doing much better. It isn’t clear they even want to, because today’s GOP sees college graduates as the enemy....

....Since January 2021, 18 states have imposed restrictions on how teachers may address the subjects of race and gender, according to Education Week’s Sarah Schwartz. These include most of the Dobbs Fourteen and a few add-ons, including Florida and New Hampshire. According to a 2022 study by the RAND Corporation, legislative action not only accelerated after 2021 but also became more repressive, extending beyond the classroom to restrict professional development plans for teachers. Let’s call these teacher-harassing states the Morrison Eighteen, in honor of the late Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, whose The Bluest Eye is number three with a bullet on the American Library Association’s 2022 list of books most frequently targeted for removal. (The 1970 novel ranked eighth in 2021 and ninth in 2020.)

Taking a tour of the Morrison Eighteen, we find Texas teachers quitting at a rate that’s 25 percent above the national average. In Tennessee, the vacancy rate for all public schools is 5.5 percent, compared to a national average of 4 percent. South Carolina has teacher shortages in 17 subject areas this school year, more than any other state.

But Governor Ron DeSantis’s Florida is the undisputed champ. A 2022 study led by Tuan D. Nguyen of Kansas State University found that Florida had the most teacher vacancies in the country, followed by Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama (all Morrison Eighteen states). Florida also logged the highest number of underqualified teachers.

The availability of state-level data is spotty, but teacher shortages in the Morrison Eighteen states would appear to be getting worse. According to Nguyen’s website, Florida’s teacher vacancies increased 35 percent in the school year after his study was published. Plugging in calculations from the Florida Education Association, teacher vacancies rose another 15 percent in the current school year. In Texas, the number of teacher vacancies more than doubled in the year after Nguyen’s study, and in South Carolina they increased 57 percent. (In fairness, this isn’t happening in all 18 states: Teacher shortages declined in Alabama and Mississippi.)

The culture-war capital of the United States is Tallahassee, Florida, thanks to DeSantis and his (thus far, frustrated) ambition to win the Republican nomination for president. Don’t Say Gay? Check. Don’t Say Race? Check. Pee Where Your Birth Certificate Says? Check. No Kids at Drag Shows? Check. No Preferred Pronouns in Class? Check. Go Ahead and Stuff a Permitless Glock Down Your Britches? Check. Florida also limited abortions to the first six weeks, but six weeks wasn’t quite reactionary enough to include Florida among the Dobbs Fourteen.

Frustration boiled over in Florida’s Hernando County last May, when hundreds of people showed up at a school board meeting to protest that a fifth-grade teacher named Jenna Barbee was put under investigation for showing her students Strange World, an animated Disney adventure film from 2022. Barbee’s offense was that one of the characters happened to be gay. “No one is teaching your kids to be gay,” a teacher named Alyssa Marano said at the meeting. “Sometimes, they just are gay. I have math to teach. I literally don’t have time to teach your kids to be gay.” After the meeting, 49 teachers, including Marano and Barbee, either quit or retired en masse.

Florida is also a recognized national leader in the harassment of college and university professors. Working with his majority-Republican legislature, DeSantis prohibited Florida’s public institutions of higher learning from maintaining diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI, programs; he effectively ended tenure at public universities by requiring post-tenure reviews every five years; and he seized control of New College, a well-regarded public institution in Sarasota, abolishing, through a handpicked board of trustees, its gender-studies program, pushing out the school president, denying tenure to five faculty members on political grounds, and abolishing gender-neutral bathrooms.

Amid this tumult, Hampshire College, in Amherst, Massachusetts, offered a place to any New College student who wished to transfer, at the same price they were paying the state of Florida. About 12 percent of the New College students applied for transfer, and in the end roughly three dozen students departed sunny Tampa Bay for the chilly Berkshires. About 40 faculty members left with them, and U.S. News & World Report dropped New College’s ranking from 76 to 100.

An August survey sponsored by the American Association of University Professors demonstrated low morale among faculty in the Morrison Eighteen states of Florida, Georgia, and Texas. But nowhere was morale worse than in Florida, where 47 percent said they were seeking positions in another state. “I’m a professor,” one Floridian who called himself “Brodman_area11” posted on Reddit in late September. “My university is like watching all the rats escape from the sinking ship. My department alone has lost two pediatricians, and we can’t seem to be able to recruit any qualified replacements. It’s going to be a diaspora.”

And good riddance to them, Florida Republicans would likely say. But that fails to recognize how important university communities, public and private, are in creating and sustaining a state’s economic growth. “The college,” Karin Fischer noted in a recent report by The Chronicle of Higher Education titled College as a Public Good, “has become the one institution that remains in cities and rural regions alike long after the factory shuts down or the corporate headquarters pulls up stakes.” A college isn’t an easy thing to move. And although colleges sometimes go out of business, it doesn’t happen a lot. Of the nation’s 3,600 nonprofit institutions of higher learning, only about five to 12 close each year. We lose more factories than that every day....

....At this point in the discussion, someone is bound to ask: If red states are so awful, why are so many people moving there? It’s true. Between 2020 and 2022, the five states with the biggest net population growth were all red: Idaho, Montana, Florida, Utah, and South Carolina. The two biggest net population losers, meanwhile, were blue states: New York and Illinois. I just got done telling you what terrible places Oklahoma and Tennessee have become to live in. But Oklahoma and Tennessee are two of the fastest-growing states in the country. How can that be?

Part of the answer is that not many of us move at all, so broad migration patterns are not so consequential as you might think. The big migration story is that Americans have grown steadily less geographically mobile for most of the past century. As the Berkeley sociologist Claude S. Fischer pointed out two decades ago, the idea of the United States as a rootless nation, promoted by writers as varied as Vance Packard and Joan Didion, is simply wrong—a fantasy derived from the historical memory of westward expansion during the nineteenth century. Today, even immigrants tend to stay put once they arrive in the United States. During the past decade, the percentage of the entire population that moved from one state to another in any given year never rose above 2.5 percent, not even during the Covid pandemic. Even movement from one county in a given state to another is about half what it was before 1990....

....But there’s an exception to the American reluctance to migrate: Joe (and Jane) College. College-educated people move a lot, especially when they’re young. Among single people, the U.S. Census Bureau found, nearly 23 percent of all college-degree holders moved to a different state between 1995 and 2000, compared to less than 10 percent of those without a college degree. Among married people, nearly 19 percent of college-degree holders moved, compared to less than 10 percent of those without a college degree. More recent data shows that, between 2001 and 2016, college graduates ages 22 to 24 were twice as likely to move to a different state as were people lacking a college degree.

The larger population may prefer to move—on those rare occasions when it does move—to a red state, but the college-educated minority, which moves much more frequently, prefers relocating to a blue state. There are 10 states that import more college graduates than they export, and all of them except Texas are blue. (I’m counting Georgia, which is one of the 10, as a blue state because it went for Joe Biden in 2020.) Indeed, the three states logging the largest net population losses overall—New York, California, and Illinois—are simultaneously logging the largest net gains of college graduates. It’s a sad sign that our prosperous places are less able than in the past—or perhaps less willing—to make room for less-prosperous migrants in search of economic opportunity. But that’s the reality.

Meanwhile, with the sole exception of Texas, red states are bleeding college graduates. It’s happening even in relatively prosperous Florida. And much as Republicans may scorn Joe (and Jane) College, they need them to deliver their babies, to teach their children, to pay taxes—college grads pay more than twice as much in taxes—and to provide a host of other services that only people with undergraduate or graduate degrees are able to provide. Red states should be welcoming Kate and Caroline and Tyler and Delana. Instead, they’re driving them away, and that’s already costing them dearly.