Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Kalamazoo Promise: Great Idea! Michigan Promise: Terrible Idea.

A couple of years ago, a few wealthy Kalamazoo philanthropists got together to create the Kalamazoo Promise. Putting up their own money, they created a scholarship fund that would provide a free college education for any child in the Kalamazoo Public School district who achieved minimum grade standards. Kalamazoo is fortunate to have such generous contributors to their community.

Now the Legislature is considering HB5375, "Promise Zones for the Poor". This is very bad legislation. It picks winners and losers, it offers huge potential government growth, and it tries to do something that government should not even attempt.

Under this bill, certain children will qualify for a free college education IF they live in the right district, one with a certain minimum poverty level. But if your child attends a Public School Academy (charter school), a private or parochial school, or if your children are educated at home, do not bother to apply, you are not included.

The Department of Treasury will oversee this boondoggle (there is your government growth), and each district that qualifies will have to set up an "authority" with a board of eleven members (more government).

Do we want poor children to have an opportunity to attend college? Of course we do. But we already have in place, numerous grants, scholarships and loans for those who do not have the finances to attend. There was a time when most kids who went to college did so only because they spent all their free time working to help pay for the education they were getting. In addition, the state already provides $1.7 billion of the taxpayers dollars to support public universities across the state.

State government was not intended, and our Constitution certainly does not mandate the provision of a free college education to certain poor students.


Anonymous said...

I've heard an idea recently to revamp funding public universities by putting control of the dollars in the hands of students similar to how K-12 schools are now funded. There have been several governmental attempts to copy the Kalamazoo Promise and none of them have matched what the Kalamazoo Promise does. The Kalamazoo Promise simply rewards ACHIEVEMENT and ignores class status. If you attend Kalamazoo Public Schools and maintain a "C" average, you got to college, its that simple. Where other plans have failed is in trying to pick and choose who gets rewarded based on income, not achievement.

Nick said...

As a broad rule of thumb, the best task of a Government is very much like an insurance company, namely, distributing the burden of financing necessities, including, clean and waste water infrastructure, civil peace, and transportation infrastructure. Virtually everything that Government sets its hand to, to manage, is a fiasco.

Government and special interest bureaucracies, including the NEA, MEA, and KCEA, have already mutated public education to the point that it now takes five years of college to acquire a high school education! The only place for Government in Education is GENERAL funding, not SPECIALIZED funding. Simply allocate so many dollars per EVERY child and let each child’s family decide where that child will attend school. If you home school, sorry, you get to pay taxes and receive no direct personal benefit. If a child attends school out of state, sorry again, you get to pay taxes and receive no direct personal benefit. Schools will quickly learn that quality education is the desired product in the market, just as has been shown in Europe. Open market works in schools too!