Knox Marlow, a "retired" tax attorney, recently blogged about Tom Geoghegan's article in the WSJ regarding Boeing's plans to locate their new 787 Dreamliner aircraft plant in South Carolina, and Boeing's related problems with the NLRB. In Geoghegan's article, titled "Boeing's Treat to American Enterprise", he comments on the "union busting" motivations of Boeing. Boeing's commercial plane operations are in Seattle (union), while South Carolina is a right-to-work state (non-union).
Tom Geoghegan is a Harvard-educated labor lawyer practicing in Chicago. The byline to his article is "When major firms move to the South, it's usually a harbinger of quality decline", and goes on to suggest that Southern union-busting has resulted in inferior schools and, in turn, "poorly educated and low-skilled workers that are simply unable to compete". I would point to BMW's success in South Carolina, or Mercedes in Alabama. I also think Geoghegan's agenda is fairly transparent. And, as a Southerner, I was of course offended by his remarks.
But, education IS important to firms who consider relocating. How does the quality of education (whether or not caused by the presence or absence of unions) in the South compare to the rest of the country? I've seen various surveys, for example this one from U.S. News and World Report, which suggests the South is behind the rest of the country. Of course, it’s a subjective question. Perhaps you can point me to more encouraging statistics.
North Carolina has recently made state-wide reductions in education funding, and those reductions are having dramatic effects locally. Fortunately, here in Salisbury/Rowan County, we have talented and capable administrators who are willing to "take one for the team" and reduce administrative costs first to make sure teachers and classroom resources aren't cut. But, their bag of tricks may have been all used up for 2011-2012. It’s 2013 and forward that I'm worried about. Once the central office is cut to the bone, and the fund balance is used up, what then?
I don't know if more money translates to a better education, and I don’t have any answers for improving our education system. I do think that education has never been more important than right now. What we do today will affect our children and grandchildren for decades. We owe it to them to do the best we can, regardless of the cost.
Meanwhile, I’d like to personally invite Mr. Geoghegan to Faith for the Fourth! Son, you just haven’t lived until you’ve had a deep-fried Twinkie! Later, we’ll get us a mess of contraband fireworks and go blow something up.