The President of the national group Communities in Schools says the Kalamazoo Promise is potentially “a game changer.”
Dan Cardinali was in Kalamazoo Tuesday and Wednesday. He met with members of Kalamazoo Communities in Schools, educators and others. He also spoke with WMUK’s Gordon Evans.
Cardinali says schools have been designed in a way that assumes students are coming from stable families. He says research is showing that kids in high poverty areas face a variety of challenges in school. Cardinali says young people in Kalamazoo have come of age believing they can go to college. He says that also puts pressure on the education system to make sure children are ready for post-secondary education. The promise was started by anonymous donors to provide tuition and fees for Kalamazoo Public School graduates to attend state universities or community colleges in Michigan. Cardinali money won’t solve everything. He says when kids who grow up in poverty get help they can work through those barriers and can learn.
“It seems to me, Kalamazoo is creating the next iteration of the social contract.”
The current economy required some form of post-secondary education, according to Cardinali. He says that can be an apprenticeship program, up to a PhD or JD. Cardinali says the way the public education system operates across the country poor kids and kids of color come from schools where higher education is a thin possibility. He says the choice shouldn’t be made systemically for them.