|College tuition scholarships for all high school graduates|
First some background information collected from Mr. Fishman's article and from "The Value of Universal Eligibility in Promise Scholarship Programs" by Michelle Miller-Adams in Employment Research, the Newsletter (October 2011) of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research:
- 39% of its students are white;
- 44% of it's students are African-American
- 1 of every 3 students in the district falls bellow the national poverty level
- 1 in 12 students is homeless
- Kalamazoo has one of the highest pregnancy rates among black teens in the state
"...for the vast majority of the 500-plus students who graduate each year in Kalamazoo...[their] high-school degrees come with...free college.
"...in November 2005...the superintendent of Kalamazoo's public schools, Janice M. Brown...announced that unnamed donors were pledging to pay the tuition at Michigan's public colleges, universities and community colleges for every student who graduated from the district's high schools...The Kalamazoo Promise...[is] blind to family income levels, to pupil's grades and even to disciplinary and criminal records... [and] would be the most inclusive, most generous scholarship program in America."Aside from the philanthropic aspect of this program for Kalamazoo's youth, the Kalamazoo Promise is a bold social experiment aimed at boosting the community and Kalamazoo's economy as it is designed to keep families living and working in Kalamazoo with its long-term investment in human capital.
Some Background Information about Kalamazoo:
- Kalamazoo population is 74,000 and is located half-way between Chicago and Detroit
- In the early 1900's it was called "Celery City" and Gibson Guitars and Checker Cabs were made near downtown
- By the late 1950's Kalamazoo was "Paper City" housing one of the most productive paper-mill town in the world
- In 1966 General Motors opened a stamping plant employing 4.000 workers.
- For decades, Upjohn Company controlled by the Upjohn family cushioned blows to Kalamazoo economy
- By 1974, Checker, the paper mills and G.M. were gone
THE KALAMAZOO PROMISE:
"...students who start in the Kalamazoo school district as kindergartners receive enough money to cover their entire tuition to public in-state schools. Students who enter...in later grades get less, based on a sliding scale; entering high-school freshmen, for example, get 65% of their tuition covered...To date, the Kalamazoo Promise has paid out $35 million for post-secondary study for 2,500 students...Students are responsible for their own room and board."
|Length of attendance||Proportion of full tuition|
EDUCATION Changes resulting from the Promise:
- The city's middle schools - several near the bottom of Michigan's rankings - have rearranged schedules and moved 120 hours a year into core-curriculum instruction enabling more remedial instruction in math and reading - after which 70% of the middle-schoolers increased their proficiency by at least one grade in math and reading.
- High-school test scores have improved four years in a row.
- GPA's have edged higher and there is an increased enrollment in advanced placement (AP) courses.
- There has been a reduction in the number of days of student suspensions and an increase in a student's probability of being promoted to the next grade.
- A higher percentage of African-American girls graduate from the district than they do in the rest of the state, and 85% go on to college.
- More than 90% of Kalamazoo's graduates go on to higher education: 6 in 10 go to Western Michigan University of Kalamazoo Valley Community College and over time a greater number of students are attending the more selective University of Michigan and Michigan State.
- The Promise enlists businesses, government, neighborhood organizations, churches, healthcare providers and in turn generates better schools, includes better nutrition for children, better housing, better medical care and universal prekindergarten programs.
- Sevices such as tutoring and mentoring have proliferated within and outside the schools.
- In the first year after the Promise, 1.000 additional students enrolled in the Kalamazoo schools
- Altogether, the student population has increased by 2,450 students, or 24%.
- With every added student, the school district gets another $7,250 from the state.
- A new teacher can be hired for every additional 25 students; 92 have been hired so far.
- Many argue that not all young adults need a college education, especially those going into specialty fields and family businesses.For more discussion you may want to read: The UnCollege? The Five Minute College? Or Traditional Liberal Arts?
- Students from low-income families have had an especially hard time finishing.
- Many of the high school graduates are still underprepared academically and attending college (free or not) imposes opportunity costs (delayed wages) as well and pose living costs as room and board are not covered.
- A disproportionate amount of black males still drop out of high school (only about 44% graduate).
- As of 2011, half of the students who entered the program have dropped out before finishing
- Many people in Kalamazoo are saying that while the Promise is...promising, intervention must begin much earlier - they want to target early childhood education to complement the program and help prepare students academically, especially black males.
- Similar programs have been established in El Dorado AK; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; New Haven, CT and Pittsburgh, PA. These communities have joined PromiseNet, a network of communities that run or plan similar place-based scholarship programs.
|Image from"The Value of Universal Eligibility in Promise Scholarship Programs" by Michelle Miller-Adams as found in Employment Research, the Newsletter (October 2011) of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research|
"We may never know those donors' names, but we know how they helped bring this community together and how you've embraced their Promise not just as a gift to be appreciated, but a responsibility to be fulfilled." -President Obama
WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN FOR US AS A WHOLE?
Clearly we will have to wait to see the long-term ramifications but I applaud the concept of investing in educations, in students, and in the future. If I were looking for a place to live/move, this would certainly carry weight in the decision. Furthermore their results seem to indicate greater teacher and student involvement.
Research has shown that quality education increases a child's lifetime income and based on growth in academic measures noted by the Upjohn Institute, there appears to be significant progress. I hope their good numbers continue to grow and improve. What is so impressive is the interest in INVESTING IN OUR CHILDREN. Building strong educational incentives and strong educational systems is vital to our national health, wealth and security and I would like to see this taken further.
What do you think? Please leave you opinions, experiences and ideas in the comments and thank you for your visit!!!
Here are some links to visit to find out more about the Kalamazoo Promise
- 10 Things You Need to Know about the Kalamazoo Promise
- Reseach on the Kalamazoo Promise
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