Why Promise Programs Should Cover Everyone

Posted on February 16, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I have written lately about the value of universality in Promise scholarship programs — why programs available to EVERYONE within a given school district or city are more effective agents of change than the traditional, merit-based scholarship model.

At this point close to 40 communities have established or are planning Promise programs, and about half of these have opted to limit their scholarships to students with 2.5 or 3.0 GPAs. IMHO this is a mistake.

For any community serious about 1) creating a college-going culture in its schools; 2) education-centered economic development; or 3) opening up opportunities for those kids least likely to attend college, universal programs have merit-based programs beat. Programs limited to the more successful students aren’t even much cheaper than universal programs, and their impact is far more constrained.

I am happy that I will have the opportunity to explore and strengthen this claim over the coming two years, as I embark on another book project. Thanks to Grand Valley State University for granting me a sabbatical, and to the W.E. Upjohn Institute and W.K. Kellogg Foundation for supporting my research. I will be posting interim findings here and on the Upjohn Institute web site, so stay tuned.

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