My commentary: A primary engine for economic and social revitalization proves to be free education. Kalamazoo, Michigan is one of many cities that have their own unique stories to tell at: citiesofpromise.com. Why not we?
“The Kalamazoo Promise”
The city where students go to college for free
“…Known as the Kalamazoo Promise, this one-of-a-kind program covers 100 percent of in-state tuition for students who attend Kalamazoo Public Schools from kindergarten to 12th grade; 65 percent for students who attend grades 9 to 12. The only requirements of the scholarship are that students live within the boundaries of the Kalamazoo School District and that they attend KPS continuously. Students can use the funds for up to 10 years after graduation from high school.…”
Why These Kids Get a Free Ride to College
”..Eberts, [Randall Eberts, an economist who heads the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research] for one, argues that if Kalamazoo prepares its students for college, the long-term return to the community will be an educated, innovative work force, a higher tax base and a more attractive business environment. Enrico Moretti, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, notes that well-educated people not only make more money individually; their interactions with everyone around them also amplify a community’s wealth. The biggest difference in salaries between highly and lesser-educated regions is not found in the salaries of the elite but in those earned by lower-skilled workers. The spillover effects energize the economy at every level.
“One of Brown’s [Janice M. Brown, executive director of the Kalamazoo Promise] roles is to enlist as much of the community as possible — businesses, government, neighborhood organizations, churches, health care providers, you name it — in providing whatever kids need to get through school and into college. This means more than better schools; it includes better nutrition for children, better housing, medical care and, most urgently, universal prekindergarten programs. But Brown’s is a delicate balancing act: businesses will not participate in anything that looks like an antipoverty program…”