February 14, 2011

SO EARLIER I NOTED THAT Rick Perry’s educational cost-lowering program might mesh well with the Khan Academy’s new online expansion, and the more I think about that, the better I like it.

The weak part of the Khan Academy’s program is that it doesn’t produce a credential that employers will accept the way they accept a college degree. This — and other online ventures — produce an opportunity for an independent certification agency. So why not Texas? On the one hand, employers in other states may not want to take a Texas state certification. On the other hand (1) They already do where college, high school, etc. degrees are concerned; and (2) Maybe it doesn’t really matter anyway, since the jobs are in Texas, anyway:

In 2008, 70 percent of all the jobs in the country were created in Texas. In 2009, all of America’s top five job-creating cities were in Texas.

More recently, “Texas created 129,000 new jobs in the last year — over one-half of all the new jobs in the U.S. In contrast, California lost 112,000 jobs during the same period,” according to “Texas vs. California: Economic growth prospects for the 21st Century,” a new report by the Texas Public Policy Foundation released in October.

Texas is home to 64 Fortune 500 companies — more than any other state in the union. (California has 51 and New York has 56.) For five years in a row, Texas has topped Chief Executive magazine’s poll of the best state to do business.

So if Texas did this, it would handle most of the new jobs as is, and lots of employers would probably be interested. Just sayin’ . . . .

UPDATE: Reader David McCune writes:

The idea of Texas teaming with Khan or some other for-profit educational business to verify subject mastery and certify an online educational credential is disruptive in one additional way beyond what you have mentioned. Consider:

1) Early adopters of such an educational model are likely to be highly motivated and innovative individuals who are willing to tolerate some risk.

2) The degrees offered and skill sets gained will tend to be more responsive to market forces than a traditional “bricks and mortarboard” university.

3) As long as Texas is the one doing the certifying, the new grads will have an incentive to move there. (plus, with minimal debt, they will be relatively mobile)

Not only will Texas have the most jobs, it will also have its pick of the best employees.

Interesting dynamic.

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