Archive for May, 2010

President Obama Recognizes Kalamazoo

Posted on May 4, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

The White House announced today that President Obama will speak at the June 10 commencement ceremonies of Kalamazoo Central High School. The visit will mark the first time a president has addressed a high-school graduating class; the White House has said they were looking for a school that would serve as a model for preparing students for college. Kalamazoo Central was selected by the president from over 1,000 applicants to the Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge. 

While a skeptic by nature, I felt that Kalamazoo Central had a good chance of winning the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge. Of the six finalists, only two were typical high schools, rather than charter or magnet schools, and the other served a largely affluent suburban area. Central’s video was a bit rough around the edges, but clearly had been produced by the kids themselves and had some dramatic (even wacky) touches that were both meaningful and endearing.

The decision has a lot to do with the Kalamazoo Promise, but more important, it is about what the Kalamazoo Public Schools district has done in response to the introduction of the scholarship program four-and-a-half years ago. Against the tide of shrinking state funding for public education (thank you, farsighted Michigan State Legislature), and in a community where far too many children grow up poor, Kalamazoo has made a commitment to preparing every student for success in college. We have a long way to go (see future blog postings on the challenges we face in making the Promise a reality for everyone), but we are on our way. Thank you, Mr. President (and advisers) for recognizing our journey.

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