It’s amazing to think that Tacoma, Washington, which is less than 40 miles from Seattle, is leading the country in the strength of its local government and economy. While city after city goes bankrupt in California, this suburb of Seattle remains financially healthy. Though some of that can be attributed to the state’s overall financial health, there are a number of cities in Washington State that aren’t operating as well as Tacoma. Now, a lot of people would look at Tacoma’s economy and say that it was the reason why this city has such an excellent educational system. In fact, it may be the Tacoma educational system driving the local economy.
Take a look at the number of universities and other postsecondary education institutions in Tacoma. One thing is evident regardless of which school you are looking at: they’re all well-funded and they all have an intelligent student body. The funding is obviously a result of the city’s economy; the intelligence of the student body, however, is clearly the result of higher academic standards and tighter control of the admissions process. This indicates a level of emphasis on education that you cannot easily find throughout the rest of the U.S. Unfortunately, this presents a “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” question. Are the academic standards higher because the city’s a local economy is stronger? Or, is the city’s economy stronger because Tacoma schools are putting out more intelligent and skilled graduates?
It’s doubtful that we will ever move forward as a country without taking a close look at shining examples of how well democracy and capitalism can work like Tacoma, Washington. By studying the way the local government functions and by attempting to understand the dynamics of Tacoma’s economy, we may be able to climb out of this recession much more quickly than most financial analysts predict.
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