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Thread: Free college for Kalamazoo Public School Students for the next 12 years.

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    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
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    Free Ride to College and Local Community Development

    I posting this here to discuss the community development and economic results of this program. Mods if you think it should be moved go for it.

    The Kalamazoo Public Schools in Michigan just announced The Kalamazoo Promise. The program entitles all kalamazoo public school students who attend school from K-12 free college tuition to any public university. If you attend school from 9-12 grade you get 65% of your tuition paid for.

    This program will run through 2018.

    How do you think this will impact housing/property values, economic development, school involvement by parents, and investment in the community?

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Free college for Kalamazoo Public School Students for the next 12 years.

    Wow... now I know the city will change. In the short of it, starting in 2006, if you go through Kalamazoo Public School System from K – 12, private donors will pay for your college in Michigan.

    http://www.freep.com/news/statewire/...5_20051110.htm

    How do you think that this will influence the City of Kalamazoo?
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Mskis, I'm just thinking of the THREE different department employees who specifically moved out of the Kalamazoo school district in the last year so they could get their kids into our schools!!!! I bet they're a tiny bit frustrated at the news.
    Impact #1 - the value of a single family home in Kzoo just jumped astronomically.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
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    I made a similar post earlier under the economic and community development forum, to discuss the impact it will have on property values, etc.

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    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister
    Mskis, I'm just thinking of the THREE different department employees who specifically moved out of the Kalamazoo school district in the last year so they could get their kids into our schools!!!! I bet they're a tiny bit frustrated at the news.
    Are the schools bad there? Is the promise of free college worth going to Kzoo schools if they are bad? I don't know much about Kzoo, but I'm thinking this wouldn't work in say...Saginaw or Flint.

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    Are the schools bad there? Is the promise of free college worth going to Kzoo schools if they are bad? I don't know much about Kzoo, but I'm thinking this wouldn't work in say...Saginaw or Flint.
    Well, the schools in Kzoo have been in decline for some years now....but that's all about to change.
    Impact #2 - public school teachers in Michigan will be falling all over themselves for the privelege of teaching in Kzoo. The best and brightest will soon arrive.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister
    Well, the schools in Kzoo have been in decline for some years now....but that's all about to change.
    Impact #2 - public school teachers in Michigan will be falling all over themselves for the privelege of teaching in Kzoo. The best and brightest will soon arrive.
    I agree with both of your impacts so far. I just wondered about the quality of the schools. If they were a $&!# hole, I wouldn't care about the free college (ask me again in 16 years).

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    Cyburbian
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    Hmmm....

    Been thinking of leaving Mattoon, maybe I should take a look at Kzoo

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    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    I agree with both of your impacts so far. I just wondered about the quality of the schools. If they were a $&!# hole, I wouldn't care about the free college (ask me again in 16 years).
    I am a product of KPS from 5th grade thru graduation. The schools (physically speaking) are not brand new but city voters a few years back passed a millage committing millions of dollars to improvements. So they have some really great facilities and some that need more help.

    KPS like any other "inner city" school district has their problems with people skipping school, fights, and racial tension (underlaying or open). I think a lot of these problems are not a result of the school, teachers, or district but social issues that begin the the neighborhoods and at home.

    Yes I was a upper middle class student back in 1993 and all my friends were the same but I got good grades, went on to college, and felt that my education was fair. Furthermore, they did offer college prep classes (which I took) for students who wanted to learn and have the home life that directs and helps the students go in that direction.

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I do think that people realize that with this incentive to live in the city, the property values are going to increase resulting in an education desiring gentrification. Many of the low income residents who live in the historic districts will end up being displaced. I also think that it is going to cause a significant increase student enrollment.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    Are the schools bad there? Is the promise of free college worth going to Kzoo schools if they are bad? I don't know much about Kzoo, but I'm thinking this wouldn't work in say...Saginaw or Flint.
    I think this is brilliant, particularly for cities like Saginaw or Flint. This could restructure where people live, and provide incentives for those with some money to stop fleeing the central cities. This is also a heaven-sent gift to those thousands of poor children, giving them a chance to break from the culture of poverty, and attend college. I'd like to see this in 11 years to determine how it has impacted the poor kids (drop out and unwed teen mother rates).

    Now if I could only find someone rich enough to do this for the Detroit School district??

    Skiis, I don't think this would displace as many kids as you would think. There will still be the folks who won't live in the City no matter what. There are still areas that will remain less desirable. K-zoo has a real opportunity here.

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    Skiis, I don't think this would displace as many kids as you would think. There will still be the folks who won't live in the City no matter what. There are still areas that will remain less desirable. K-zoo has a real opportunity here.
    I hope it won't have too much of an impact. There is a few neighborhoods that are just now starting the up swing and I am thinking at buying next fall.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    I think this is brilliant, particularly for cities like Saginaw or Flint. This could restructure where people live, and provide incentives for those with some money to stop fleeing the central cities. This is also a heaven-sent gift to those thousands of poor children, giving them a chance to break from the culture of poverty, and attend college. I'd like to see this in 11 years to determine how it has impacted the poor kids (drop out and unwed teen mother rates).
    I completely agree, I think this is a great idea and I would love to see it work for both the schools and the city. But, having grown up near Saginaw, I don't know that I would send my child there, even for free college. I have family that has gone to some of the better city schools, and their stories are horrendous. (But maybe even the suburbs are worse since I was in school??)

    And because of school of choice, poeple wouldn't have to necessarily move to the City would they? Maybe that's a requirement of the program?

  14. #14
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    And because of school of choice, poeple wouldn't have to necessarily move to the City would they? Maybe that's a requirement of the program?
    There is a requirement saying that the parents have to live within the district. (Some people in the office were looking into it)


    I think that the quality of the schools will go up with more people who have to make the on where to send their kids. I think that middle class families will gain the most out of this because they will have enough to move into the city yet they might not have enough to send their kids to college. Wealthier people on the other hand will still pay for their kids college, so location will not have that much of an influence.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    Why does it take private donors. In a world where education is the key to national competiveness, shouldn't college be available as public education.

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    The flip side of the coin is that this generosity will likely hit surrounding communities pretty hard. Parchment, Comstock, Portage, Mattawan school districts will probably all experience significant declines in enrollment and therefore property values down the road.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    This is really a great program, though I'm with Wulf. A 4 year college education should be free in the US for anyone that can be accepted. That is a government subsidy I would whole-heartedly support.

    Quote Originally posted by Maister
    The flip side of the coin is that this generosity will likely hit surrounding communities pretty hard. Parchment, Comstock, Portage, Mattawan school districts will probably all experience significant declines in enrollment and therefore property values down the road.
    To be flippant:

    C'est la vie. The teeter-totter is just favoring Kzoo, now that it's the large kid on the playground.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman
    C'est la vie. The teeter-totter is just favoring Kzoo, now that it's the large kid on the playground.
    Too true! Kalamazoo has been on the sh*t end of the stick for the last four decades slowly losing students, population, businesses and declining property values and is now dishing out a healthy dose of revenge to the 'burbs.

    I expect in three years time we'll see open warfare between Kzoo and the surrounding communities. It'll be a post apocalyptic world much like Mad Max. I'm already forming up a batallion of volunteers who will ride around on ATV's and toss Molotov cocktails at any properties which have increased by more than 15% in a year (although my brother's outfit, the Schoolcraft 2nd Light Infantry has decided to destroy any property increasing more than 10% per year).
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by PlannerByDay
    The Kalamazoo Public Schools in Michigan just announced The Kalamazoo Promise. The program entitles all kalamazoo public school students who attend school from K-12 free college tuition to any public university. If you attend school from 9-12 grade you get 65% of your tuition paid for.
    A group of citizens interested in economic strength and quality of life in the City of Kalamazoo have made a tremendous contribution on behalf of KPS students
    Is this the only funding for this project? With 10,500 students in the Kzoo system, this must be one huge donation.

    Detroit Free Press
    According to Superintendent Janice Brown, the plan starts with the seniors who will graduate in June and is expected to cost about $3 million a year for each graduating class -- based on the current enrollment, which could grow. That's at least $12 million a year when four classes are in college at the same time, based on today's costs.
    $3 mil per year per class
    13 classes
    Need $156 mil
    If you can make 9% on your money, that a donation of $50mil
    This assumes all students will use the program. This does not take tuition increases into account. This also assumes enrollment levels stay the same.
    Last edited by noottamevas; 14 Nov 2005 at 12:57 PM.

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    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman
    This is really a great program, though I'm with Wulf. A 4 year college education should be free in the US for anyone that can be accepted. That is a government subsidy I would whole-heartedly support.
    Yes, let us proceed with turning the fantastic US university system into the failing US public schools. Great idea.

    At least Kalamazoo was a private venture. Now, as found in this Catallarchy blog post, Newton Iowa wants to do the same with tax money.

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    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    When we discuss urban school districts in areas like Flint, Detroit, Saginaw, Benton Harbor, and Kalamazoo, we must also acknowledge the complications that decades of strained race relations will have on the potential for urban school districts and their neighborhoods to improve. I could be very blunt about this subject, but I will show some restraint and suggest that certain homogenous populations do fear urban school districts and, furthermore, these populations will not move their families out of the suburbs, regardless of a free college tuition incentive. Families want to live in "safe" neighborhoods and want their children to attend schools that have highly-qualified teachers. (As an aside, yes there are many families in Michigan that don't know the difference between "unsafe" and "safe" neighborhoods. That is an entirely different discussion, but for the purposes of this post, "unsafe" neighborhoods includes the portion of the population that perceives certain neighborhoods as not being "safe," whatever that is supposed to mean in their minds.) It's wise to be skeptical of the Kalamazoo Promise and the assumption it will revitalize Kalamazoo neighborhoods. Unless there is a significant cultural shift in Michigan and its attitude toward urban school districts, including significant investments in the intellectual capital of staff and imrpovements to school facilities, I remain a skeptic that the Kalamazoo Promise, in the long term, will be a stablizer of neighborhoods.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Wani, did you happen to grow up in any of the fore-mentioned cities? I do agree that sometimes its funny what people classify as 'safe/good' and 'unsafe/bad' neighborhoods as well.

    Being one that grew up and still lives in one of those cities, I can attest that there are people who will be willing to move to those if given an added incentive. Millions of people can trace their heritage back one or two generations from Detroit alone. Not all are terrified of the city, though I suspect many are conditioned to be. There have been generations of people who have put words in the mouth of Coleman Young he never muttered, in a way of masking their own racism with a made up reverse racism.

    I acknowledge that not everyone will want to live in Flint, Detroit, or even K-zoo; but if a private group wants to support such an endevour, where is helps primarilly poor youth and stimulates participation in the public school system, I think its a great tool for economic development. Will it solve all the problems? Absolutely not. Will it help stabilize the schools and neighborhoods of the central cities? Its certainly worth a try.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Wanigas?
    I could be very blunt about this subject, but I will show some restraint and suggest that certain homogenous populations do fear urban school districts and, furthermore, these populations will not move their families out of the suburbs, regardless of a free college tuition incentive. Families want to live in "safe" neighborhoods and want their children to attend schools that have highly-qualified teachers.
    That's why you need to bring the "urban" school districts to the suburbs through a city-county merger or the regionalization of metro school districts. That's the only way that you will get suburban parents to care about inner-city schools. That is one great thing about NC. Most of the school systems are run by the counties. The cities and suburbs have the same curriculum, funding resources and teacher pool.

    On another note: Northeastern University in Boston promosed free tuition for four years to a class of students in a nearby elementary school in the 80s or 90s. The local press revisited the class shortly after they had reached college age and the news was pretty disappointing. Only a few had studied hard enough to be accepted to NEU and take advantage of the free tuition. Quite a few had dropped out of HS.

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    After several months of thinking about it, I do think that it will help the lower income and middle class, but the wealthy are going to be able to afford to send their kids to college regardless of where they live, so they are going to go for quality of life areas.

    Additionally, Kalamazoo has the highest property tax in the state, so I am wondering if paying high property taxes for 13 years would be significantly less than the average tuition rates for 4 years of college in Michigan.

    I also hear that the average days on the real estate market for most of the neighborhoods has increased over the past several months. If the taxes ever come down, then the city will completely turn around. Until then, I think that the impact of increasing the number of residents and providing incentives for redevelopment will not increase like everyone is thinks.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    but if a private group wants to support such an endevour, where is helps primarilly poor youth and stimulates participation in the public school system, I think its a great tool for economic development. Will it solve all the problems? Absolutely not. Will it help stabilize the schools and neighborhoods of the central cities? Its certainly worth a try.
    You are absolutely right. But I am throwing caution to the wind because of the Viewpoint article that ran in the Feb 2006 Planning magazine [APA membership required]. The Kalamazoo Promise is a wonderful gift to Kalamazoo and is being played as a strategic economic tool:

    Quote Originally posted by Viewpoint article in Feb 2006 Planning magazine
    An amazing local program has made all the difference in the world. It's the Kalamazoo Promise, a scholarship program that guarantees all graduates of the local public school system free tuition for an indefinite period at any public university or community college in Michigan. Yes, I said "free" and "indefinite." The program's anonymous donors cite economic development as one of their reasons for the gift...
    Fortunately, the article does acknowledge the challenges this program faces as an economic development tool (bold emphasis provided by me):

    Quote Originally posted by Viewpoint article in Feb 2006 Planning magazine
    To be sure, the public school system faces significant challenges, ranging from aging facilities to dropping test scores. By making this investment, the donors indicated their belief in this school system and this community... They will benefit from an educated workforce that will drawing new business and industry to the Greater Kalamazoo Community. And by providing scholarships to any public university in Michigan, the Promise has statewide implications as well.

    Now comes the hard part. The Kalamazoo Board of Education must make sure that the Promise has substance and that the quality of education remains high. The city and the two townships must be ready to provide the necessary services to current residents and to newcomers.
    As an aside: Google "Kalamazoo Promise" and look at the ads on the right. Already, three real estate organizations are rushing to provide "services" to families wishing to take advantage of the program. Interesting stuff.

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