Promises

By now, you may have heard of a program called the Kalamazoo Promise during the past week. The city of my undergraduate alma mater recently announced that every Kalamazoo Public School student who can enter a Michigan public university or college will have their full tuition covered, subsidized by several wealthy donors who wish to remain anonymous (although many of us have guessed it's likely the families behind local companies such as this and this, among others).

Aside from the unusual nature of seeing the small-ish Midwestern city of Kalamazoo make some headlines from coast to coast, I found myself celebrating this as a lollapalooza of private sector charity. The drawback of a sudden drop in business for local private and religious schools notwithstanding, this gift was derived from the decisions of individuals who are voluntarily providing back to the community. The city itself should also see a boost in real estate construction and value, among other externalities.

But what concerns me a bit is when I see comments such as this one, posted on a local news and sports message board I tend to frequent:

(Michigan Governor Jennifer) Granholm should watch Kalamazoo, maybe if successful the state can replicate it!

No, she shouldn't.

I'm hoping this isn't the type of 'ripple effect' we'll see across Michigan and beyond. 'Free' college tuition being funded via a boondoggle of taxes just ain't the same thing, for multiple reasons I won't elaborate here.

Alex Watson, a columnist for Western Michigan University's student newspaper, The Western Herald, addresses why the private donation is to be applauded, and should not be a springboard for any tax-driven "bright ideas" in Lansing. Hints of government involvement in replicating this idea have already been floating around.

The donators of the Kalamazoo Promise are generous givers who made an individual decision and are spending their own treasure chest, their own way. I'd probably do something similar if I had hundreds of millions of dollars at my disposal. This action is not only an early Christmas present to the school kids of Kalamazoo, but also a victory for private sector community giving. And this is indeed the message that should not be distorted or twisted as the future unfolds.

Share this

As I see it, if this is

As I see it, if this is successful the governemnt is almost guaranteed to get involved because this sort of thing makes governments look bad. Anything that threatens to reduce people's dependence on the government is a Bad Thing.

There is already a huge

There is already a huge amount of government spending on post secondary education. Nothing new here. Move on.

What are the rules of the

What are the rules of the game? How long do you have to go to school in Kalamazoo? 4 years? 1 year? a week? How many years of college does it cover? 4? 8? 12? Any hidden catches? What's the most expensive michigan public college (price not cost, the crime colleges called jails probably have the highest cost.)