Short take: How valuable is an education? Check out this tool

  • Article by: LORI STURDEVANT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 5, 2011 - 1:58 PM

There’s new online encouragement (as if any were needed) for one of my favorite conversational pastimes. I call it “Policy Wonk What-If.” 

In this version:  What if more Minnesotans finished high school? What if more earned college degrees? What if fewer did?

What would happen to the state’s average income, crime rate, health, even voter turnout?

The new interactive Common Good Forecaster, a project of the American Human Development Project and the United Way, lets players pick their educational attainment fantasy goal and see what’s likely to result, according to the latest research.  

It lets you play the what-if game for any county in the state, and any state in the union.

That means it’s also fodder for another popular Minnesota public policy game, which I call “At least we’re not (fill in the blank with a disfavored state).”

This online tool has particular utility just now, as the Legislature considers deep cuts in higher education and social services spending.

It serves as a reminder that there’s a long-term cost to cutting state spending in ways that lead to lower educational attainment.

And that cost hits the whole society.  

Lori Sturdevant is a Star Tribune editorial writer and columnist.


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