Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Luring the Middle Class back to Baltimore through Free Tuition

The Baltimore Sun reports that the Abell Foundation is proposing to guarantee free college tuition to city public school students which could increase graduation rates and lure jobs and the middle class back to the city.

"The program, known as Promise, aimed to attract middle-class families and jobs back to the city, keep the best students in state schools and encourage academic achievement at both the secondary and college levels. The results were immediate: Graduation rates went up, college enrollment increased and families with children began moving back to the city to take advantage of savings that could reach six figures in college tuition costs. Since then, half a dozen other cities have adopted similar programs, including Pittsburgh, Denver and El Dorado, Ark."

There is one big catch to the story though:
"The Abell Foundation estimates that duplicating the program here could cost up to $43 million annually, a sum that might tax even the most generous local philanthropists."

If this program were to get past the funding hurdles this could be a terrific program for not only bringing the middle class back to Baltimore but keep the new middle class that has recently moved to Baltimore here. One noticeable trend especially to those who live on the edges of Baltimore City is that young families and professionals having been moving back to the city because they can no longer afford to live the surrounding suburban counties. With the rise of charter schools many young families are now choosing to stay in the city.

The big if in this story is whether parents will allow their children to go public schools and not charter schools for the chance of a free public education. Also would the promise of college help raise the expectations of students already going to city public schools and entice more parents to the idea of city schools?

I think if this program where to pass, the issue of whether some of the charter schools (some are are quasi-public) would be included will cause a heated debate. What if parents started to take their kids out of the charter schools?

What is you opinion?

No comments: