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Username: Genesyxx

Post Number: 422
Registered: 02-2004
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Posted on Wednesday, February 01, 2006 - 10:04 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

From today's Free Press:

The most significant news event in the history of the universe is just five days away, and I think I speak for most Free Press readers when I say that the eyes of everyone who cares about Michigan's future are fixed on ... Kalamazoo.

"Say what?" you ask. "Kalama-who? Can television sets even pick up the game there? Has Snoop Dogg and his entourage's tour bus ever stopped in Kalamazoo for a potty break?

OK -- so maybe Detroit has the lion's share of celebrities, satellite trucks and souvenir T-shirt vendors this Super Bowl week. Maybe the vast majority of journalists pouring into Michigan won't get within 100 miles of Kalamazoo.

But when the last XL afterglow flickers out -- when the Maxim party girls have blown town and the temporary retail outlets lining Woodward Avenue have reverted to check-cashing storefronts and boarded-up wig shops -- what happened in Kalamazoo this week may matter more than anything that took place at Ford Field.

Three months ago, Kalamazoo Public Schools Superintendent Janice Brown announced that an anonymous group of benefactors had agreed to provide 4-year, full-tuition scholarships to KPS graduates who are admitted to any public college or university in Michigan. The deal starts with the current senior class.

The scholarship program, dubbed the Kalamazoo Promise, is designed to reward families who enroll their children in Kalamazoo Public Schools as kindergartners and keep them there through their senior year. But students who transfer into the district before their sophomore year are eligible for scholarships covering up to 65% of their college tuition and fees.

Like many urban school districts, Kalamazoo has steadily lost enrollment in recent years. This week, in its first assessment of the new scholarship program's impact, KPS reported a 22% increase in the number of students transferring into the district and a 31% drop in the number transferring out.

Historically, enrollment has declined as the school year progresses. This year's reversal of that trend marks a positive swing of 254 students compared with the same 3-month period in 2004-05. If those numbers hold up in the head counts scheduled for February and September, the district will reap a $1.8-million increase in state aid.

Interestingly, enrollment has increased despite the fact that, under the new scholarship program's eligibility rules, students who transferred into the district after the school year began won't get credit for this year's attendance. Kalamazoo school district officials anticipate an even bigger spike in enrollment next September, the beginning of the first full school year since the Kalamazoo Promise was unveiled. A developer recently announced plans to build 500 homes in the district by the end of 2008.

Kalamazoo isn't Detroit, and duplicating its promise to students on a Motor City scale would require an investment the size of, well, the Super Bowl.

Five years from now, I wonder, which community's investment will look smarter?
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Username: Islandman

Post Number: 52
Registered: 08-2004
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Posted on Wednesday, February 01, 2006 - 11:24 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Great article. No blinders on, and an objective look and comparison to this "flash in the pan" XL mumbo jumbo vs. the greatness of a promise of higher education.
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Username: Lghart

Post Number: 90
Registered: 03-2004
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Posted on Wednesday, February 01, 2006 - 1:09 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I must say that since growing up in the Kalamazoo area the downtown and city has come a long way in the past 10-15 years even while battling the Upjohn/Pharmacia/Pfizer events of the last decade. While I'm not up on the particulars, I sense that there has been a lot of good leadership both privately and publicly going on in that city. Hopefully, Detroit can start to rally aroung some good leaders to continue to get the ball rolling even faster.

One question: Why can't Detroit have leaders such as a Roger Penske, the Ford family, Karmanos, Barden, etc. get together and work on a project like this? Many of have seem to come together to work on SB XL, they should step up to this type of challenge.

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