Detroit makes Community College free


Its back to school time again – college students in Detroit have to report to classes on August 22.

CU Blog - Detroit makes Community College free - Photo 2

And now, if they enroll in a Detroit area community college, the tuition could be free.

Now that’s what I’m talking about!

This too, is a lesson learned from Detroit. The publishers of the book Go Lean…Caribbean have been in Detroit to “observe and report” the turn-around and rebirth of the once-great-but-now-distressed City of Detroit and its metropolitan area. The following article relates a strategy that is apropos for remediating and mitigating a failing community – education:

Title: Detroit makes community college free
Sub-title: Detroit high schoolers just got a free ticket to community college.
By: Katie Lobosco

Starting this year, any graduating high school senior who is accepted to one of Detroit’s five community colleges won’t have to pay a dime for tuition.

CU Blog - Detroit makes Community College free - Photo 1The Detroit Promise Zone program, officially launched on Tuesday, will make it possible. At first the funds will come from a private scholarship foundation. But starting in 2018, some of the money will come from property taxes already earmarked for the program.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a high school senior preparing for college now or a second-grader whose college career is years away. The Detroit Promise will be there to help make a college education a reality,” said Mayor Mike Duggan.

He hopes that the program will eventually expand to cover the cost of four years of college tuition at a state school for each Detroit student.

To be eligible, a student must have completed their junior and senior years at a public, private or charter high school in Detroit. It doesn’t matter how much their family earns, but the student must fill out the federal financial aid form called the FAFSA. The Detroit program will pick up the difference after any other federal and state grants and scholarships have been used.

About 500 students are expected to take advantage of the program and enroll at a community college each fall, according to a spokesman for the Detroit Regional Chamber, which helps administer the scholarship.

It will cost an average of $680 per person, annually, though each scholarship amount will vary depending on how much in other awards the student received.

The privately funded Detroit Scholarship program is already in place and has granted 2,000 students free tuition over the past three years. The Michigan Education Excellence Foundation raised the funds from a mix of companies, charitable foundations, and individuals.

CU Blog - Detroit makes Community College free - Photo 3But now that the Detroit Promise Zone has officially launched, scholarship funding will eventually move away from private donations toward earmarked tax funds. There isn’t an exact timeline for that transition, a spokesman said.

Detroit is one of 10 “promise zones” the state created in 2009 as a way to send more Michigan residents to college. The programs designate a share of state property taxes within the zone to pay for the scholarships.

“We are confident that Detroit’s future will be even brighter now that our city’s future leaders will be able to go to college at no cost,” said Detroit Promise Zone Authority Board Chairwoman Penny Bailer.

Tuition-free college is an idea that’s gaining traction. While President Obama has pushed for it nationally, Tennessee made community college tuition-free for graduating seniors last fall, and Oregon is set to launch a similar program next year.

High school seniors must register for the Detroit Scholarship Fund online by June 30 to be eligible.
Source: CNN Money (Cable News Network) – Posted 03-22-2016; retrieved 08-14-2016 from:

As related, other communities are launching similar endeavors to this Detroit initiative:

Tennessee is picking up the tab for community college students.

How New York City would make community college free.

Oregon is set to launch a similar program next year.

This Go Lean movement has always been a big proponent of college education for Caribbean citizens. Our one caveat is that the education takes place in the Caribbean.

So yes, this movement (book and blog-commentaries) is a big opponent of a college education for Caribbean citizens in foreign colleges and universities. The reason for this reticence, is the incontrovertible brain drain among the Caribbean college-educated population. Previous Go Lean commentaries related the proverb of “fattening frogs for snake” referring to the preponderance for Caribbean college educated citizens to abandon their tropical homes for foreign shores in the US, Canada and Europe, and take their Caribbean-funded education and skill-sets with them.

On the other hand, if the region is able to offer college education locally, then it is win-win for the Caribbean, as a college education brings social mobility, facilitating new economic opportunities. Yes, college education is great for the individual. The Go Lean book quotes proven economic studies showing the impact that every year of college education improves an individual’s earning power by 1 percent (Page 258). See related VIDEO here:

VIDEOUnderemployment rate for college grads drops

We need this upward mobility for Caribbean citizens in the Caribbean.

Since the Great Recession of 2008, the world – including the Caribbean – has seen a preponderance for income inequality: the rich has gotten richer and the middle class has shrunk.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean posits, along with most economists, that education elevate individuals and entire communities. The book states the Caribbean experience has been sour only for the reasons that so many students do not return home after matriculation; or expatriate shortly after returning for a short period. This has been measured by the World Bank; they reported that the Caribbean has a 70% abandonment rate among their college graduates.

This Go Lean book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). This represents the change that the region badly needs. The CU/Go Lean roadmap has 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.

Indeed, change has now come to the Caribbean. The driver of this change is technology and globalization. Under these tenants, many college institutions can provide e-Learning and Distant Learning schemes through internet deliveries. If the Caribbean regional education administrations could invest in more technological deliveries, they may be able to offer free (or reduced) tertiary education to worthy students. As related in the foregoing article, once private, charitable and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are factored in, more and more students would be able to enjoy the benefits of a college education.

As for governing administrations, the vision of the CU is a confederation of the 30 member-states of the Caribbean into a Single Market – a federal government – to do the heavy-lifting of championing better educational policies. Confederation would bring better leverage across the population of 42 million people, adopting more best-practices for education in all 4 regional languages (Dutch, English, French and Spanish). So we should cease-desist bad education policies, like government scholarships for foreign matriculation – as is the usual practice. The Go Lean/CU plan is for forgive-able loans only.

This would be a winning strategy for Caribbean communities; and appears to be the election for Detroit as well. This is a full reflection of the community ethos of the Greater Good.

The Go Lean roadmap provides turn-by-turn directions on how to reform the Caribbean tertiary education systems, economy, governance and Caribbean society as a whole. The roadmap opens with a Declaration of Interdependence, pronouncing the approach of regional integration (Page 12 & 14) as a viable solution to elevate the region’s educational opportunities:

xix.  Whereas our legacy in recent times is one of societal abandonment, it is imperative that incentives and encouragement be put in place to first dissuade the human flight, and then entice and welcome the return of our Diaspora back to our shores

xxi.  Whereas the preparation of our labor force can foster opportunities and dictate economic progress for current and future generations, the Federation must ensure that educational and job training opportunities are fully optimized for all residents of all member-states, with no partiality towards any gender or ethnic group. The Federation must recognize and facilitate excellence in many different fields of endeavor, including sciences, languages, arts, music and sports. This responsibility should be executed without incurring the risks of further human flight, as has been the past history.

xxvii. Whereas the region has endured a spectator status during the Industrial Revolution, we cannot stand on the sidelines of this new economy, the Information Revolution. Rather, the Federation must embrace all the tenets of Internet Communications Technology (ICT) to serve as an equalizing element in competition with the rest of the world. The Federation must bridge the digital divide and promote the community ethos that research/development is valuable and must be promoted and incentivized for adoption.

The Go Lean book details how education is a vital consideration for Caribbean economic empowerment, but with lessons-learned from all the flawed decision-making in the past, both individually and community-wise. The book details those policies; and other ethos to adopt, plus the executions of the following strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to deploy better education options in the region:

Community Ethos – Deferred Gratification Page 21
Community Ethos – People Respond to Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – Job Multiplier Page 22
Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Return on Investments (ROI) Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Foster Genius Page 27
Community Ethos – Ways to Help Entrepreneurship Page 28
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 28
Strategy – Mission – Facilitate Education without Risk of Abandonment Page 45
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Education Department Page 85
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Labor Department – Job Training Page 89
Implementation – Ways to Pay for Change Page 101
Planning – Lessons Learned from 2008 Page 136
Planning – Lessons Learned from Detroit Page 140
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Education Page 159
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Student Loans Page 160
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Governance Page 169
Advocacy – Ways to Better Managed the Social Contract – Education Optimizations Page 169
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Libraries – Anchors for e-Learning Page 187
Appendix – Education and Economic Growth Page 258
Appendix – Measuring Education Page 266

Detroit is presented in the Go Lean book as a cautionary tale for the Caribbean.. Previous blogs had detailed so many lessons from the City of Detroit, and other metropolitan Michigan communities. Consider this sample: An Ode to Detroit – Good Luck on Trade! Beware of Vulture Capitalists Detroit giving schools their ‘Worst Shot’ Flint, Michigan – A Cautionary Tale Before and After Photos Showing Detroit’s Riverfront Transformation Education & Economics: Welcome to Detroit, Mr. President Caribbean Diaspora in Detroit … Celebrating Heritage The Dire Strait of Unions and Collective Bargaining A Lesson from an Empowering Family in Detroit Ann Arbor: Model for ‘Start-up’ Cities De-icing Detroit’s Winter Roads: Impetuous & Short Term NEXUS: Facilitating Detroit-Windsor Cross-Border Commerce M-1 Rail: Alternative Motion in the MotorCity Detroit to exit historic bankruptcy Michigan Unemployment – Then and Now A Lesson in History: Community Ethos of WW II Blue is the New Green – Managing Michigan’s Water Resources JP Morgan Chase’s $100 million Detroit investment

The above list features a lot of examples of Detroit’s bad behavior, but this commentary here is highlighting something positive, investing in community college education for young people. This is good, and for the Greater Good.

Now is the time for all of the Caribbean, the people and governing institutions, to lean-in for the changes described in the book Go Lean … Caribbean. This presents a win-win for the Caribbean. This is conceivable, believable and achievable. Educational options can help to make our homeland a place to live, work, learn and play. 🙂

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

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