Mayor Reed suggests free college for APS graduates | News
ATLANTA -- Right now it's just an idea, just an answer to an interview question, but it was clear from his answer that Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has given it some thought.
The question was what one thing he would do if he could fix the Atlanta Public School system?
His answer was a free college education for high school graduates.
Reed gave his answer Wednesday morning on V-103 radio's Frank and Wanda Show.
"We need radical reform," he said about the scandal plagued system.
"One of the most radical things we could do in the APS system would be to fund the absolute promise that if you graduate from an APS school, no matter what your GPA, that we'll pay for your secondary education," Reed said.
He suggested raising between $35 and $50 million from the philanthropic community to finance the idea.
When asked if the Mayor would elaborate in a TV interview, one of Reed's communications staffers declined, telling 11 Alive News it was not a formal plan and that Reed had not even discussed it with APS officials yet.
But the idea is spreading across the country thanks to what has happened to Kalamazoo, Michigan schools.
Called the "Kalamazoo Promise", that city's schools began a free college education program in 2005 thanks to three anonymous donors.
The Kalamazoo school system claims they've seen a 25 percent increase in enrollment, a lower dropout rate, a higher graduation rate and an increase in test scores as a result.
Their program guarantees 100 percent of college expenses, depending on how long a student has been in their system and as long as they attend a state college in Michigan.
So far, the program has sent about 2,000 Kalamazoo students to college at a cost of around $18 million in donations.
But their system has only 12,000 students compared to Atlanta's 48,000.
Private donors and corporations already contribute around $160 million a year to APS and the question is whether another $50 million could be raised for a full scholarship program.
About 20 U.S. cities have adopted programs similar to Kalamazoo's, but many provide only a portion of college expenses and some cities have had trouble raising donations.