Thursday, November 20, 2008

Promise will be decided in March

Davenport Promise program headed to ballot -QCTimes

People have asked where I stand on this, and I have made various comments about it in the past, but when it really comes down to it I'm undecided. I have several thoughts on both sides of the issue:

My biggest criticism of many of the people who oppose this idea is their frequent repeating of this idea that college shouldn't be publicly financed. For one, it already is. But even more importantly, why is the space between 12th grade and "13th grade (Freshman year in college)" inherently important? Its a completely arbitrary line to draw between one type of school that people apparently are ok with taxes going towards, and another level of school where the idea of taxes going towards it seems to enrage them. When trying to get a job in today's market, a college degree is the equivalent of a high school education 40 years ago. Modern times require more education, yet our attitudes towards how college is paid for haven't changed.

Another criticism is that this is only going to draw students away from other schools, like Bettendorf or North Scott. I'm fine with this, because they've been doing their best to steal away our students and residents for years. If all the QC-area communities end up doing this, it will put the QC as a whole on the map.

On the other side of the issue, I very much disagree with the study that was commissioned to prove that the Promise must be done. The idea that Davenport will lose 9,000 residents without the Promise is bizarre to me. We're on an upswing without the Promise, and our downtown is being revitalized and re-populated without the Promise, so why would these things suddenly reverse? The Promise may very well help Davenport, but I can not agree that we are doomed without it.

Finally, there's the money. People say that private money is unwilling to invest in this, and that's untrue. However, it doesn't appear that any person or company, or group of people or companies, is going to be able to come up with the large amount of cash required to fully fund the Promise. So we're left with some form of tax money. I don't care for temporarily (hopefully) gutting the capital improvement budget to pay for this. I think I'd actually rather see a partial-cent increase in the sales tax rather than a partial-cent decrease in capital projects. I would suggest that putting $1 million into the skatepark may have attracted as many new residents as $1 million in college tuitions. Others will say, to hell with amenities, its all about sewers and roads! I have never in my life met a person that moved to a town because it had smooth streets and free-flowing sewers. People move for quality of life, and that includes parks and amenities. And potentially, free college tuition.

One more thing I want to point out, is that Promise only pays tuition. When I went to WIU in Macomb, tuition was a small part of the cost compared with room and board, books, and meals. My point is that the idea we're giving people a free ride to go off to college is simply not true. A free ride to stay here and go to Scott Community , maybe.

This ended up being longer than I intended, but its a pretty important issue for our community. I'm currently undecided, so I'm hoping one side or the other can convince me with well-thought out and reasoned arguments.


Anonymous said...

When was the last time that the worst possible outcome of a project like this was that additional citizens received greater education?

I actually believe it will have the affect we want it to, but there are countless other projects which equal monies have been poured in to over the years whose worst outcome certainly wasn't educating more people.

Could another project get more money if we choose not to do this? Sure, but I think this is about as good as any plan I've heard to simultaniously boost our educational system, as well as our economic status.

Your point about the arbitrary age/grade issue is a good one too, as well as your point about the surrounding cities.

That aside, the statistics show that other cities who have implemented thsi have seen positive results. All of the data projecting our own good results is based on having 1/4 - i repeat - 1/4 of the success that Kalamazoo has seen.

That means we can still be one-quarter as successful as they've been, and still see both a financial and educational benefit form this program.

It's not a new tax, and as far as I'm concerned, it's a good re-use of this particular portion of the sales-tax.

Frankly, we're a community that says it cares about education, and I think it's a wise investment in our future while we still have the ability to implement it.

Anonymous said...

Im running late to a seminar but let me say that as an academic I find the UpJohn study appalling and dubious. that said Im not sure where I stand on the promise issue. On face I like the idea but what about opportunity cost? Couldnt that money be very well spent on programs for the elderly and poor? More on this later.

Anonymous said...

I don't like the idea, don't like the funding and doubt it will work. That said, I am voting for it. Status quo sucks, and something is better then nothing. Just think what we might be today, if the Illinois Quad Cities voted "yes" on the "Super City" idea.
Sometimes goofy ideas work!

pioneer98 said...

No worries, QCI, I've tried and failed to do short blog posts about the Promise, too. It doesn't work.

The question I keep coming back to is: What is Davenport going to do to end or reverse the trend of losing students? If we lose just 100 students, we lose $533,300 in state funding that year. But if these students stay out of Davenport for 10 years, then our schools have lost $5.33 million. And guess what? Davenport has lost THOUSANDS of students, not just 100.

If we continue on this trend, we'll continue to close schools and lay off teachers. How many of you liked it when your neighborhood school was close a few years ago? Would you like that to happen again over and over? Or maybe should we try something different? If not the Promise, then what?

Private money will be needed to fund the administration of the Promise if nothing else. This is by law, I believe. Rumor has it that there are private donors lined up to pay for the administration. I wish they'd come forward already.

Anonymous said...

I attended several meeting and find there are still more questions then answers. There are many specifics that have not been worked through, and too many tag alongs with this program. What are the guidelines for the senior property cap? This cap can be changed at anytime by the council. What are the guidelines for the Vet's who wish to buy a home? The 400 hours of community service can be substituted with extracurricilar activities. However, at one of the meetings it was stated that there would be no problems with providing all of the students with community service. If students who choose the Promise Program, they should do community service - this would provide them insight to other areas of Davenport - good or bad, which would help learn another form of disipline.

Why are students leaving the Davenport School System for other local schools? Maybe this is what needs to be addressed.

I would of like to have seen more of the details worked out before voting on this issue. Unfortunately that is not an option.

Anonymous said...

Im voting against it. Its reckless spending.

Anonymous said...

You have your right not to agree with the program, but I don't think there's anything "reckless" out it. It's may or may not work, but it's structured in a way that won't bankrupt anyone, and at worse, the percentage of funding it's using from the sales tax can be re-allocated with another vote.

pioneer98 said...

Um 12:20 - you asked why are Davenport students leaving the district? A big reason is because Davenport keeps losing funding. How can Davenport have a chance to improve their schools when funding keeps decreasing?

It's like a downward spiral. Once things get bad, you lose more funding and things get worse. Again, if the Promise is not the thing to break this cycle, then what is?

Anonymous said...

Lets make every neighborhood in the City of Davenport clean, safe, and functional and raise the level of our schools performance. Lets not try and bribe people to come to a city even our police and fire personnnel will not live in.

Anonymous said...

First, enrollment is declining in all school districts, except PV. Next, and I'm am NOT saying that people are blatantly racist, but people are more comfortable having their kids in schools, living in neighborhoods, going to church, etc, with other people who are like them. Whether it be the way they look, socio-economic, whatever, that is how people are. That is why some people choose not to go to Davenport schools. The misperceptions are huge, and having kids in Davenport schools I can say that because I hear them from my Bettendorf friends. It is amazing the things I hear.

Next, I dispute the notion that Davenport schools are not good. Davenport schools produce more all state members in choir, band and orchestra; they have show choir teams and garner many more scholarships and scholarship dollars than all the other districts combined. The curriculum is significantly better and the quality of teachers are superior than those in PV, Bettendorf and Scott. Several of the elementary schools have better test scores than their counterparts in the other districts with a far more challenging population.

The things that the critics say need to be done cannot be done without more money (hire more cops, clean up neighborhoods, build more infrastructure, etc.) The Promise is the only plan being put forth that proposes to do something without more taxes, including adding more cops.

The idea of including extracurriculars is brilliant. The kids that are involved in band, sports, drama, are the kids who are engaged and successful. Isn't that what we want? If I can get money for college why wouldn't I get a little more involved in my school?

To the 'academic'. The Upjohn study is far from 'appalling'. It is the only piece of work that is based on data with very reasonable assumptions by one of the leading employment economists in the world. When was the last time you were a co-editor of an international economics journal? I find his qualifications a little better than adequate don't you think?

Finally, this group has answered every question put to them. The only questions coming forward now are insignificant. Get the information you need to vote but keep this at the forefront, what is best for the community? Everyone needs to answer that question for themselves.

Anonymous said...

QCI - You soon may have to change the heading of this post to a later election date, as it seems that Cruiser has uncovered another blunder by the City Council.

Because of the date change, it should just be moved to November 2009, and make it an issue for the people running for aldermen.

Anonymous said...

With Gluba and his council it is not about doing their jobs, it is just about reigning.

Anonymous said...

The schools have a larger budget then the city council. They just need to spend smarter, but thats something the teachers union is unwilling to do.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that when you have the best and brightest minds anywhere making a recommendation, it is bashed by the 'masses'?

We should feel fortunate that we have Dr. Rogalski, et. al. spending so much time and thought on this issue.

Anonymous said...

Dr.Rogalski is no where near the best and brightest mind in Davenport.A hustler maybe.

Anonymous said...

I pulled my kids from the Davenport school system due to the fact that the class rooms were constantly disrupted and slowed by the thugs that show up once in a while. I can say that because I was a product of that type of schooling. There where fights in the halls each day, thugs would badger the weaker kids for their lunch money, and every other word was the "f" word. I didn't want my kids being subject to that kind of neanderthal behavior.

Anonymous said...

I think the promise is a great economic development tool for Davenport. We are forunate we have some people thinking outside of the box to bring this idea to Davenport. I am sure that when everyone understands what this can do for Davenport they will want to support the promise.

Anonymous said...

Probably bring in a bunch more people who can never learn to spell. Unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

I will vote no!! One thing the current council keeps on addressing is growing the city bringing in more people and taxes. I guess it never occurred to them that most people that live here don't want to live in a larger community. This is one of the reasons I moved here from a much larger metropolitan area. And I think everyone is forgeting there are already ways to get funding to go to college people tend to forget about federal student aid like pell grants, student loans, scholarships etc.

QuadCityImages said...

If you insist on living in a community that doesn't grow, then I hope you like ever-increasing taxes. With the costs of healthcare, gas (until lately), and just about everything else going up lately, how can a city pay these higher costs without either a. spreading it among a growing population or b. raising the taxes of the existing population. Cities have to grow or they fall behind as other cities advance. That doesn't mean they have to grow out of control, just planned, steady growth.

Anonymous said...

Not supporting growth in your community is absolutely suicidal. You moved here for a smaller community? Great. That's just dandy, but unless you want your taxes to skyrocket in this nice smaller city we've got here, you'd better at least be fore basic sustained growth.

Nobody is talking about making us the next Chicago. When growth is talked about, it's concerning growing a few percentage points per year like we're supposed to, as opposed to stagnation, or worse, declining.

There won't be a City left for you to enjoy if you oppose the fundamental philosophy of positive growth in a community.

We can argue all day long whether you think Promise will help that growth, but there is no good defense of being against positive economic and population growth itself for the sake of "keeping the community smaller"

Anonymous said...

The promise shows no proof it will stimulate growth. Its only known is that it will increase taxes and or reduce basic city services. Davenport schools are poor. Grades are low and too much violnce in the schools. Only the school board can fix that. NOT MORE OF MY MONEY!

Anonymous said...

Sir, Is the Iowa State University report a reasoned arguement for you?

QuadCityImages said...

What report? I saw 2 people from ISU quoted in a QCTimes article today saying that the doom and gloom population estimates are bunk. I said the same thing in this very post. Is there a full report somewhere?