(Michael Bartels of Decorah sent the following e-mail):
"Your article regarding the Iowa brain drain (click here) touched a nerve.
I agree with the premise of the talk (that career training with local business can help keep young people in the community, leading to more vibrant rural communities, and more jobs). I'm all for increasing the earning power of individuals through skills training and/or education.
The nerve that was touched was the idea that college educated Iowans want to leave Iowa. Not all young professionals want to leave Iowa—frankly there aren't enough jobs in the state.
Picture a 26 year old, recently married gentleman, looking for a teaching job in Iowa.
He is qualified: bachelor's degree from UNI (all seven social sciences); coaching endorsement; drivers education teaching endorsement; three years of substitute teaching; one year as a paraeducator.
Strong work ethic: put himself through college debt-free while earning a 3.5 GPA; supervisors cite his excellent preparedness; teachers specifically request him as a substitute.
Civic minded: befriended a bullied autistic student in high school; a mentor to another young man for 10+ years; routinely drives 30 minutes out of his way to help an elderly woman get to church.
High moral character: After frequent substitute teaching for two years in a district, he received a phone call that he had not been selected to fill the history teacher position. Ironically, he was already scheduled to substitute teach that very same history class in less than 30 minutes. "The students deserved to learn history that day," he said. So he taught for the students, even though his own hopes and dreams had been crushed.
Three years out of college and my brother is still looking for full-time teaching in this state (and he would prefer a rural community)—You're missing out Iowa."