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Contents:
  1. Beacon Press: Hollowing Out the Middle
  2. Many achieve, few return
  3. Hollowing out the middle : the rural brain drain and what it means for America

Vocational adjuncts to community colleges were all the rage 30 years ago and have all withered on the vine for lack of students.

The Rural Brain Drain

Well, dah. That's why the vo-tech schools closed. My community college has a going program in training wind-turbine technicians, something they recommend starting. All they had to do was look forty miles across the Mississippi to see what they recommend already in effect. Their recommendation for small towns to embrace immigration, while laudable, would simply distort the labor market even further, driving down wages already too low. They suggest incentive programs to get professionals back to rural areas, especially in health care.

The University of Illinois started just such a program forty years ago, building three regional medical schools precisely for the purpose of training rural family practitioners. Health care is thriving in my community but only because of gerontology and the movement of those who left as youngsters to return back.

My college town of 27, has TWO dialysis centers. That tells you a lot. Many people resent sociologists like these two and I suspect their data suffers from the "Margret Mead" syndrome if not the "observer effect. His take on Bloom? Bloom only talked to a few people and many of his conclusions were just wrong. I have a feeling that Carr and Kefalas made similar mistakes and that they went to "Ellis" with a preconceived idea and found anecdotes to support it.

They move to a small town, spent a short amount of time there, and then purport to tell the residents everything they are doing wrong. Note that Carr was born and raised in Ireland and Kefalas studied at Wellesley and the University of Chicago and they now live outside of Philadelphia, no doubt on the Mainline full disclosure: I grew up on the Mainline.

A very weak book with few new ideas. Funny thing. My father and mother grew up in Fayette, Iowa, not fifteen miles east of Sumner. View all 9 comments. Shelves: non-fiction. What an unfortunate book. Perhaps it's simply that a decade turns out to be too long for this kind of "research" and speculation to survive, or maybe it really is that the authors are so biased they couldn't see how flawed their premise was.

My initial issue is with the idea of "brain drain" which I find completely insulting to the many farmers, manual laborers, and others who are often smarter than most of the college professors I've ever met. If the authors had limited their point to specifica What an unfortunate book. If the authors had limited their point to specifically skilled work ie: physicians, attorneys, veterinarians, scientists, etc.

I might have bought in a little more but the idea that just being college educated somehow makes you superior is the typical attitude of academia that I abhor. I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, went to college in rural West Virginia, and currently live in what is technically a "city" but really is a small town on New Jersey population 10k yet the first thing that struck me about all the issues being presented was how much I identified with them.

The list of reasons that students determine why they stay or leave Iowa is the same list why EVERY American teenager stays in or leaves their hometown - regardless of location or size. There is nothing unique to Iowa in this set up, and there's nothing addressing the myriad of issues that make it clear that the book's premise has nothing to do with the mid-west and everything to do with class and privilege. While the authors often talk about one of the something like people "sample" - is that science? Perhaps if the authors had provided substantial statistics indicating that the folks who stay behind are unhappy in the long run, or even that those who leave are happier, maybe they could have bolstered some of their arguments.

If they had managed to prove, economically, how the town was dying out there's little discussion of what local business exists vs. But as it is, all they really did was critique the lives of handful of high school alumni in a small community. I sincerely hope none of those involved in the interviews took any of the author's conclusions ie: opinions to heart.

Jan 13, Neil Griffin rated it really liked it. This was an interesting book with a clear thesis about an important subject; namely, the process of young talent leaving rural communities for cities with thriving economies.

Beacon Press: Hollowing Out the Middle

Those that stay behind aren't equipped to deal with the modern economy, since the education system in their town favored those who were "destined" to leave and the new economy doesn't provide middle class jobs for farming and factories anymore. Setting aside the reasons our economy doesn't work for blue-collar workers anymor This was an interesting book with a clear thesis about an important subject; namely, the process of young talent leaving rural communities for cities with thriving economies. Setting aside the reasons our economy doesn't work for blue-collar workers anymore, which is obviously a huge deal, this book looks into how rural areas groom the kids they see as talented for college and then the coast, whereas they ignore other kids who aren't seen as having a chance for success.

How they come up with these disparate categories for young kids is quite problematic.


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It's mostly based on class and family history, meaning that if you were born lower class in a small town you probably won't get much of a helping hands from the institutions that are critical to educational success. After the authors show the mechanisms on how the young populace is sorted by the town, they show the effects this brain drain have on the towns with examples of a lessening population, schools closing down, and a tired economy. It then shows how some towns have tried to woo these "high achievers" back to town, while at the same time not making use of the kids who had stayed behind and are currently either looking for work or stuck in a low-paying job.

The lucidly show that incentivizing high achievers doesn't really work and that if they poured resources into young people who are already in town, they could do a little to invigorate the community.

Many achieve, few return

They then spend the last chapter talking about possible solutions and then an afterward that shows green shoots of hope for the small, rural area. Before one starts feeling slightly optimistic, however, they would do good to see when this book was written. Right at the start of the great recession and before the Heroin blight exploded in rural areas across America.

So I would take all signs of hope or optimism with a hefty grain of salt. Feb 18, Meagan rated it liked it. Borrowed Nick's copy of this book - thanks Nick! I enojyed reading it, but it's a little hard to categorize it. It seems like it is supposed to be a work of sociology, but the authors' choice to center their entire study around one town is strange for an academic work. Personally, I would h Borrowed Nick's copy of this book - thanks Nick! Personally, I would have enjoyed the focus on one town a lot more if there had been more personal detail in it more vivid descriptions of the people and places, and a few more personal narrative threads woven throughout the book.

Maybe I'm just wanting it to be something it's not though. It was also very interesting to read this at the same time as "The Worst Hard Time" which proposes that a large section of the country south of Iowa, but not far from it is best fit to be grasslands for grazing buffalo and not really fit for farming.

I obviously don't know enough about soil science etc. Nov 14, Brennan rated it liked it Recommends it for: Sumner, Iowa residents. I can't say that I hated reading this book, because I actually was very interested in the topic and could hardly put the book down. However, the reasoning behind my quick pace was not because this book was good. It was because this book is written about my hometown in Iowa. Although all names are changed, I could guess most of the individuals' true identities.

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Because I could do this, it made it that much more interesting to me. I do have many criticisms having grown up in this place and been ob I can't say that I hated reading this book, because I actually was very interested in the topic and could hardly put the book down. I do have many criticisms having grown up in this place and been obviously stereotyped and put in the "Achievers" category.

The one role that the community invests resouces, energy, and time in, but never returns or gives back to the community. I would argue that I gave 21 years of my life to that community. Although I have moved away, placing me distinctly into the category they describe, I think that they regreted to mention how many years I as many "achievers" do gave to the community.

From working with kids at the swimming pool for 6 years to girl scouts and all high school activities. I love my hometown and the wonderful people that continue to support me, even when I am not there. I think that anyone from a small town in the midwest or "Heartland" as they call it, should take the time to read this and reflect on how they are living their lives now, originally coming from rural America. This was an interesting academic study of small Midwestern towns' struggles with staying alive as their young, well-educated residents hit the road and don't look back.

The authors made some great observations on the different types of young people -- those who stay and those who go -- and why they act as they do. Most importantly, they hope to raise a discussion nationwide about why we should care that small towns are dying and how these towns may be contributing to their own demise. Interestin This was an interesting academic study of small Midwestern towns' struggles with staying alive as their young, well-educated residents hit the road and don't look back.

Interesting stuff. Interesting look at the rural "brain drain" through a community in Iowa. Rural high schools groom and nurture the best and brightest students who then leave for college and settle in urban areas, never to return. Schools and communities also fail to nuture those who stay, inadvertantly "hollowing out" small towns. Education reform and thoughtful investments in rural economies are some of the suggested solutions.

I learned that the authors were biased against rural America and working class people based on their labels of Achiever vs Stayer. I think this book has some validity and is worth reading but apparently the authors think anyone who returns to their rural roots have not achieved anything in their life even if they are police, teachers parents etc. Feb 24, Julie rated it liked it. I appreciated this take on the rural brain drain. Very reminiscent of a project I did in my last semester in college for a geography class. I'll admit to being a little defensive of some stereotypes presented, but in general there are truths to be told.

Also doesn't hurt that Steve and I are included in the category of hopeful signs for the rural community. Nov 23, edh added it Shelves: adult , nonfiction. Note: this review was written about three books thematically linked. See titles in content: Separately, these are all well-written and readable studies of Midwestern life.

The authors have taken their time to interact and even live with their subjects, lending their portrayals of small-town folks touches of realism rather than resorting to caricature. Methland, naturally, deals with the methamphetamine epidemic in Oelwein, Iowa: one small town among many ravaged by the eponymous drug.

The citiz Note: this review was written about three books thematically linked. The citizens of this small community are also struggling to find decent-paying jobs that will keep food on the table. The argument is extended by pointing out that the lack of a spokesperson or solid regional identity also prevents the midwest from being a business or tourism powerhouse in any meaningful way.

On the surface, these books deal with issues that seem very disparate. How do drugs, lack of infrastructure and leadership, and youth cultivation tie together? They have much more to do with each other than you believe. All of the authors champion these separate crises as major reasons for the death of the American small town and its culture.

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Hollowing out the middle : the rural brain drain and what it means for America

But considered together, these books are a call to action for a leader or group of leaders to step up and start making the changes that are needed to preserve the Midwest as a heartland that adapts effectively to the unique circumstances of the 21st century. Try this interactive map — click on any county and see both out- and in-migration data. This is a perfect complement to Hollowing out the Middle. Nov 08, Nick Klagge rated it liked it.

I got interested in this book after reading a review in the Wall Street Journal. Essentially, it is a case study of people who grew up in a small town in Iowa, tracked down about twenty years after graduating high school. The authors are interested in the pressures and resources put into high-performing kids in small towns to get them to leave for better opportunities elsewhere, and the effect this has on the towns--in essence, the authors argue, these small towns are digging their own graves. I I got interested in this book after reading a review in the Wall Street Journal.

I was a little daunted by the prospect of reading a work of sociology, but this is very light on the academic terminology and reads like a popular book. A few takeaways: 1. Convert currency. Add to Basket. Book Description Beacon Press, Condition: New. More information about this seller Contact this seller. Seller Inventory M Never used!. Seller Inventory P Book Description Beacon Press. Seller Inventory NEW First Edition - may be Reissue. Ships with Tracking Number!

Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory n. High-Flyers are much sought after by states experiencing significant rural outmigration, and several marketing campaigns are underway to encourage Achievers to return home. These highly educated, professional people are seen by many as the key to economic revitalization.

Some disliked more urban places or college, and others simply missed their communities and proximity to family. Boomerangs, who tend to be female, obtain more education than Stayers but less than Achievers, earning degrees from vocational schools or community colleges. Upon return, Boomerangs tend to settle into rural adulthood quickly, marrying and having children early.

Like Stayers, Boomerangs far prefer rural life to other alternatives. Teachers encourage able elite students, who leave town, rarely to return. The less educated but more locally invested stay, or leave for a short while before they return, filling the low wage jobs that remain in diminishing economies. Only a very few professionals are lured back, and then often for reasons more personal than economic, belying the assumptions behind marketing campaigns intended to woo High-Flyers. As the cycle continues, fewer people remain in small towns, fewer still with the training and support to attempt revitalization.

Ultimately, rural places become ghettoized. But sociologists are wont to offer hope, and so Carr and Kefalas offer some suggestions for how rural places might do a better job of retaining their youth. Importantly, they note the irony of investing heavily in youth who are destined to leave rural communities for opportunities elsewhere. As some rural education researchers have observed, many rural educators buy into the cosmopolitan view of educational purpose, wherein education is divorced from place and local knowledge and instead lionizes cosmopolitan values and individual achievement.

Carr and Kefalas encourage policymakers, educators, and others to turn their attention to Stayers and Boomerangs, those who will remain in rural places and will be most interested in their viability. The authors recommend, for example, stronger relationships between local high schools and community colleges and the establishment of career academy, dual credit or transition programs for potential Stayers and Boomerangs. In my mind, such investment also includes place-based approaches to K education that link curriculum and instruction to local community needs, including economic development.

Carr and Kefalas offer other recommendations, including thoughtful management of immigration to encourage local growth while mediating hostilities between newcomers and oldtimers.