In a letter published in Tuesday's Public Forum, a Lawrence resident praised Kansas and Kansas University for the wonderful springboard they had provided for his children.
His daughter, a physician, now lives in North Carolina. His son is pursuing a career in New York. Both are avid Jayhawk fans, and the father was impressed by how well KU prepared them for "life in a complicated world."
It was a highly complimentary letter, and yet, it left one question unanswered. How do we keep more of our motivated and successful Kansas students in Kansas?
It's wonderful that these young people are proud of their Kansas roots and are good ambassadors for the state. Unfortunately, they are among the many people who were educated here but left the state in order to pursue their chosen careers. Although many of us see Kansas as a great place to be, for many, many others, it is primarily a great place to be from.
Sometimes young people who leave the state decide to return, perhaps when they are ready to raise a family of their own. But they can only make that choice if they are able to find employment to support themselves and their families. Having a great education system is a wonderful asset, but, too often, Kansas is preparing students for jobs that are either more available or more lucrative in other parts of the country.
The letter's message of pride in Kansas is wonderful, but it also is a reminder that Kansas needs to work even harder to grow and attract businesses that will supply the kinds of job opportunities that will keep more of those proud Kansas young people right here in Kansas.