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By Robert Bell, John Jung, Louis Zacharilla: Intelligent Communities are those which have - whether through crisis or foresight - come to understand the enormous challenges of the Broadband Economy, and have taken conscious steps to create an economy capable of prospering in it. They are not necessarily big cities or famous technology hubs. They are located in developing nations as well as industrialized ones, suburbs as well as cities, the hinterland as well as the coast.

Good News on Income Inequality from Austin, Texas, USA

February 15, 2012 By

It would be a classic “good news, bad news” joke if it weren’t so serious.  A new study of American educational achievement from the Center for Education Policy Analysis at Stanford University shows that…

“We have moved from a society in the 1950s and 1960s, in which race was more consequential than family income, to one today in which family income appears more determinative of educational success than race.”

That is how Sean F. Reardon, the study’s author, described a gap in standardized test scores between affluent and low-income American students, which has grown by about 40 percent since the 1960s, and is now double the testing gap between blacks and whites.  The good news is that the color of our skins is no longer an automatic indicator of our educational achievement (see Obama, Barack).  The bad news is that the contents of our wallets increasingly are.  

Income inequality – with all of its educational, cultural, ethnic and social impacts – is the new American problem, and to a lesser extent, is a problem in all developed economies.  It is the direct product of globalization in the broadband economy, made worse by policies popular with an anxious electorate filled with nostalgia for a golden age that never was.  

Which makes Austin, Texas all the more remarkable.  Austin is the first of our 2012 Top Seven Intelligent Communities to be profiled on our Web site.  (You will need to log in or complete the free subscription form to read it.)

In Austin, they have recognized that their "home-grown" population largely does not participate in the community's red-hot technology economy – and that this is a threat to long-term prosperity and social health.  The public and private sectors together have developed multiple programs with ambitious goals to increase the number of native Austinites who graduate from secondary school, enroll in a 2-year or 4-year college and graduate successfully from that.  And they are getting results.  For the secondary school class of 2009, the graduation rate of low-income students jumped 14% to 75% overall.    

For any community struggling with similar issues, Austin has lessons to teach.  And the start of those lessons is just a click away

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tigerbill    |    Commented February 17, 2012

So, as I understand the circular logic, Austin has discovered and Stanford has confirmed, low-income causes low educational achievement, which in turn causes low income, and that we can now safely take race or any other decision factors completely out of the equation since people are absolute hapless, witless victims of this vicious cycle. Wow, GENIUS!!! Can I have a large order of the stuff they are eating/smoking/drinking down there? Not sure it's worth stealing but surely must be some lessons to learn there.

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Intelligent Communities

About the Intelligent Community Forum
The Intelligent Community Forum is a think tank that studies the economic and social development of the 21st Century community. Whether in industrialized or developing nations, communities are challenged to create prosperity, stability and cultural meaning in a world where jobs, investment and knowledge increasingly depend on advances in communications. For the 21st Century community, connectivity is a double-edge sword: threatening established ways of life on the one hand, and offering powerful new tools to build prosperous, inclusive and sustainable economies on the other. ICF seeks to share the best practices of the world's Intelligent Communities in adapting to the demands of the Broadband Economy, in order to help communities everywhere find sustainable renewal and growth. More information can be found at

Robert Bell
Robert Bell is co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum, where he heads its research and content development activities. He is the author of ICF's pioneering study, Benchmarking the Intelligent Community, the annual Top Seven Intelligent Communities of the Year white papers and other research reports issued by the Forum, and of Broadband Economies: Creating the Community of the 21st Century. Mr. Bell has also authored articles in The Municipal Journal of Telecommunications Policy, IEDC Journal, Telecommunications, Asia-Pacific Satellite and Asian Communications; and has appeared in segments of ABC World News and The Discovery Channel. A frequent keynote speaker and moderator at municipal and telecom industry events, he has also led economic development missions and study tours to cities in Asia and the US.

John Jung
ICF co-founder John G. Jung originated the Intelligent Community concept and continues to serve as the Forum's leading visionary. Formerly President and CEO of the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance and Calgary Economic Development Authority, he is a registered professional urban planner, urban designer and economic developer. He leads regular international business missions to US, European, Asian, Indian and Australian cities, and originated the ICF Immersion Lab program. John is a regular speaker at universities and conferences and serves as an advisor to regional and national leaders on Intelligent Community development. The author of numerous articles in planning and economic development journals, he has received global and Toronto-based awards for his work in collaboration and strategic development and sits on numerous task forces and international advisory boards.

Louis Zacharilla
ICF co-founder Louis Zacharilla is the creator and presenter of the annual Smart21, Top Seven and Intelligent Community Awards and oversees ICF's media communications and development programs. He is a frequent keynote and motivational speaker and panelist, addressing audiences of tech, academic and community leaders around the world, and writes extensively for publications including American City & County, Continental Airline's in-flight magazine and Municipal World. His frequent appearances in the electronic media have included both television and radio in South Korea, China and Canada. He has served as an adjunct professor at Fordham University in New York and is a Guest Lecturer at Polytechnic University's Distinguished Speaker Series. He holds a Masters Degree from the University of Notre Dame.