Thursday, December 14, 2006

The (Post-Secondary Educational) Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Post-secondary education (University or trade school) in the United States is very expensive compared to a post-secondary education in other countries. In some countries, a post-secondary education is free for its citizens. There is a revolution happening in a few US cities, including the city in which I live - Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh is offering an educational plan for its citizens called The Pittsburgh Promise. If you live in the city of Pittsburgh, and you graduate from their public school system (and don't get into legal trouble), you will get a FREE post-secondary education. The idea was inspired by a plan that was launched in 2005 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and the results in Kalamazoo were amazing (reversed attendance declines, reduction in the school dropout rate, and increased home sales in the city).

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Pittsburgh Public School's Superintendent Mark Roosevelt are hoping to implement this plan for the 2008 graduates of the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

If this works, I believe that this will start a trend in other cities in the United States to do the same thing because of the benefit for the city, school district, and citizens.

  • Declining cities making a comeback (like Pittsburgh) will see this as a way to increase residency, which will increase the tax base.

  • The school district will get a surge in student population, which will get them more federal funding.

  • Parents will not have to worry about how they will pay for a post-secondary education for their children, and children will be inspired to do their work.

I know what critics will say - "well, people's taxes will go up, and we're already being taxed enough!" Right now, it is too early to tell whether the existing taxes will be raised to cover this program. In Pittsburgh, Mayor Ravenstahl is currently looking for private funding from corporations to help launch this program.

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