Pensacola can compete in new economy, at least some can

Cities have found that one of the most critical ingredients for a successful transformation is college graduates. Metropolitan areas with fewer graduates are falling behind in the economic recovery. (See NY Times)

Only 24 percent of the adult residents of metropolitan Dayton have four-year degrees. The average for American metro areas is 32 percent. Pensacola could be in good shape with 33.4 percent of its adult population with college degrees.

However, the racial disparities in the community could grow even wider, unless the public school district can improve the inner-city schools. According to the 2010 Census, 22.6 percent of our African-American population doesn’t even have high school degrees. Last year, only 58 percent of our black students graduated from our public high schools, as per the No Child Left Behind reports.

If the gap between the haves and have-nots, whites and minorities, then Pensacola and Escambia County are doomed. The key is education yet few want to closely examine the entire Escambia County public school system. Whites can negotiate the system by getting their children in the better schools.

Superintendent Malcolm Thomas is up for re-election, but has no Republican challenger. On the Democratic side, Claudia Brown-Curry, who ran against Thomas in 2008, has pre-filed. Only two school board seats are up for re-election – District 5 Bill Slayton and District 3 Patty Hightower. To help them win their races, Thomas has announced that he is rebuilding schools in their districts—even though the next new school was to be in the overcrowded west side of the district. The pair have no opponents.

The qualifying period is Noon, June 4, 2012 – Noon, June 8, 2012.