Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Surprise! Kids want to go to college

When I was a kid, my parents and teachers taught me a fundamental American value: Anyone can become successful in this country as long as they are willing to work hard, regardless of their background or economic situation. Almost everyone agrees that hard work should be rewarded, and that it should be possible to improve our lives and economic condition through work.

These days, this economic mobility is derived through higher education. Higher education is the key to finding a rewarding job and earning a higher income. Despite the numerous benefits to higher education, the chance that an average ninth grader in Michigan will enroll in college by the age of 19 is 38%, compared to the national average of 53% (source).

Evidence suggests that this value is not low because students do not want to go to college, but rather because they are unable to.

Thanks to something called the Kalamazoo Promise, all students who have been attending Kalamazoo Public Schools since kindergarten receive full-tuition college scholarships for Michigan schools. The Kalamazoo Promise has generated nationwide interest in their community and provided students with an opportunity to attain the social mobility that higher education provides.

According to the Kalamazoo Gazette, this was the first year that the Kalamazoo Promise went into effect. Apparently, a lot of kids decided to use it:
This year, the first year The Kalamazoo Promise college tuition guarantee went into effect, fully 78 percent of the Class of 2006 applied to take advantage of it. And that doesn't count the school district's graduates who are going to out-of-state colleges or private colleges this fall and can't use Promise money.
Over 78 percent of Kalamazoo students from the Class of 2006 took the opportunity to go to college, as opposed to the statewide probability of 38%. This tells us that high school students opt not to go to college because it is expensive, not because they don't want to.

In today's world, providing a path to the middle class means getting a good education. When this education is no longer affordable, it becomes much more difficult for individuals to improve the quality of their life and pursue the American dream.

(cross-posted on Daily Kos / fp on Michlib)

EDIT: My bro David Wishinsky has a well-reasoned response, which may be found here.

EDIT AGAIN: Jon Koller responded to David's essay over at Michigan Liberal:

but it's really a patchwork of success and failure. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. If your parents never had enough food on the table and you do, sure, the american dream makes a whole bunch of sense. But it there isn't enough food on your table, there wasn't enough food on your parents' table, or their parents.... the "American Dream" just doesn't ring as true.

While I take issue with your ROI analysis, I won't go into that here. Clearly, if you are smart enough to make the decision to attend college and graduate, you'll make lots of money. If you can't see that, your prospects probably aren't as good.

I like the idea of loans, and I like the idea of the government forgiving them if you do what they want (like stay in state and work) after you graduate. But there has to be hype. People don't go to college unless their parents tell them they should. Not everybodies parents tell them to. The media needs to get involved. That's why the kalamazoo promise is good. Not because the money, but because the newscasters and journalists that kept saying: "finally these kids have a shot" and "you can feel the hope." After you hear enough of that shit you start believing it, and isn't that really the American Dream?


At 2:09 PM, Anonymous The Disembodied Head of Dick Devos said...

Why do you hate Michigan?

Your precious "facts" are making the state look bad. Can't you have the decency to sweep them under the carpet??

And by the way, the middle class is dead.

At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Interrobanger said...

Heads up: Granholm on Daily Kos tomorrow, 9/13 at 11:15. Should be awesome.

At 5:46 PM, Blogger David A Wishinsky said...

see the dissent on my blog withgodallthingsarepolitical.blogspot.com


Post a Comment

<< Home