The Power of a Promise: Education and Economic Renewal in Kalamazoo

By Michelle Miller-Adams | Go to book overview

5
Impact on Students and Schools

In the months following the unveiling of the Kalamazoo Promise, a growing number of communities, large and small, announced plans to develop their own programs inspired by what was happening in Kalamazoo. The first cities to signal their intentions did so only a few months after the introduction of the scholarship program. These included Newton, Iowa, a company town adjusting to the imminent departure of the Maytag Corporation; Hammond, Indiana, a shrinking industrial city on the south shore of Lake Michigan; and Flint, Michigan, the distressed former home to General Motors’ main production facilities and the setting for Michael Moore’s movie Roger and Me. Leaders in these communities saw in Kalamazoo something akin to their own challenges and recognized the potential of the scholarship program to transform both a struggling school system and a troubled economy.

By the first anniversary of the Kalamazoo Promise in November 2006 the floodgates had opened, with city after city announcing its own version of the program. From large, industrial cities in the Northeast to small, resource-dependent towns in the South, this movement was reinforced by two local indicators released in the summer and early fall of 2006: an enrollment jump of close to 10 percent over the previous year for KPS, and an apparent increase in housing prices within the district. Newspapers across the nation printed leads like this one, which appeared in the Warren, Ohio, Tribune-Chronicle (2007): “Since the ‘Kalamazoo Promise’ began in November 2005, the school district has had the biggest enrollment growth in the state, and home prices rose 6.8 percent, even though the rest of Michigan has seen home prices decline.”

These two developments—the reversal of an urban school district’s long-term enrollment decline, and the potential economic benefits of a scholarship program as reflected in the real estate market—offer an ideal rubric for assessing the initial impact of the Kalamazoo Promise. This chapter surveys what has happened to Kalamazoo’s students and schools as an immediate result of the Promise, while Chapter 6 turns to the question of economic impact.

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The Power of a Promise: Education and Economic Renewal in Kalamazoo
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Part 1 - Origins xv
  • 1 - A Not-So-Simple Gift 1
  • 2 - What Came before 29
  • 3 - The Kalamazoo Promise in Context 59
  • Part 2 - Impact 101
  • 4 - The Challenge of Community Alignment 103
  • 5 - Impact on Students and Schools 141
  • 6 - Prospects for Economic Change 177
  • Part 3 - Looking Forward 203
  • 7 - Assessing the Impact of the Kalamazoo Promise 205
  • References 225
  • The Author 237
  • Index 239
  • About the Institute 257
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