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.