I was reminded by an Anonymous commenter that in my pieces about Obama's visit to Kalamazoo Central High's graduation (here and here), that I didn't fully detail why the President was there. Yes, KCHS won the video competition sponsored by the White House as part of the Race to the Top educational reform program. But one of the reasons for KCHS's success was due to the Kalamazoo Promise. A pool of anonymous local donors ponied up the money to guarantee that every qualifying KCHS graduate would be able to attend a Michigan college or university -- 100% covered for those who spent K-12 in the KPS system, down to 65% for grades 9-12. Test scores are up since the program was announced in 2005, as are graduation rates and even enrollment. While other cities like Grand Rapids have been losing students, KPS schools are up 16%.
Yes, there are many ways to pay for college if you don't have the money. But think about it -- if you are the first person in your family who might go to college, which would you rather have? A system of forms and hoops and programs to try to qualify for, go through paperwork and deadlines, and wait for weeks or months to find out what aid your college application pool is offering... Or to know that 65-100% (and you'll know how much beforehand) of the cost of going to college is going to be covered. Flat out. All you have to do is graduate from high school and get into the Michigan school you want.
The program has been copied by other cities and Governor Granholm set up a Michigan Promise scholarship to provide some money statewide for students -- only budget cuts and fights with the legislature got that axed in the middle of the 2009-10 school year, leaving a lot of students with sudden extra tuition bills they weren't expecting. Nice.
So yeah, go Kalamazoo. You earned it.
Along the Highways
When you're commuting every day you see incremental changes, especially during the summer construction season. When you're coming down to office hours only once a week, changes sometimes hit you like a brick. M-45, Lake Michigan Drive, from Allendale to Standale, has had a fleet of orange cones along the eight miles or so. Some of it had to do with sidewalk upgrades -- new curbs with cutouts for wheelchairs at the intersections and plates with raised nubs so that the blind can find the corners without stepping into traffic. Between May 26th and June 2nd, they also managed to repave four of the five lanes along some stretches. And from June 2nd to today the 9th, they paved not only the center turn lane, but also did most of the right and left turn lanes along the boulevard section.
It's funny. Since I've traveling to/fro WMU in Kalamazoo for most of the past 18 years, that's a long enough time for some roads and expressways to be into their second major repaving cycle. Some stretches that I think of as "the new pavement" have been worn down by traffic and the brutal free/thaw late winter breakup seasons. If we'd had a kid when we moved down to West Michigan, they'd be graduating high school and starting college by now. That's plenty long enough to wear out a road. Yet the rolling circus of summer repaving projects sometimes feels like it never ends -- and it doesn't, because after many years you do have to go in and do it again.
Damn you, Entropy!
The Cost of Weather
I may have mentioned this, but Bill Steffen at Channel 8's column in the Sunday paper said that 23-30 May 2010 was eight days of weather above 85°F. Last year it took until 3 August 2009 to get to the 8th day of 85°F+ weather. Yeah, it was a coolish summer. Since we had 80s and 90s so often this early, one wonders what the rest of the summer is -- once summer officially gets here. However, this week has seen highs in the 60s, and the lows down to 46-50°F. It's made for some very pleasant days -- and then there have been the cold rainy ones. As we move into the weekend, it's supposed to leap up to 88°F+ and humid again. And thunderstorms.
You take the weather that you can.
Oh, THAT'S Who That Is
Yesterday I posted a review of the Alembical 2 SF/F novella anthology and talked about writer David D. Levine davidlevine. I noted that he'd won a second place finish in WOTF XVIII in 2002. Well, when I started spelunking around his website, I discovered that I'd already discovered David D. Levine years ago. His blog postings on attending Clarion West in 2000 and WOTF in 2002 had been crucial in providing his experiences and links to others which got me involved in applying to Clarion and to keep on submitting to WOTF. Oh, that David D. Levine. Actually, I wouldn't have paid attention to try to remembering the name back then -- I am very bad with names -- so his narratives would've been links and cut-and-paste bits stored in my working files. I'd even read his article "How the Future Predicts Science Fiction" in the last IROSF. (grin)
So I'm pleased to note that this writer whose story "Second Chance" had intrigued me so much was someone whom I had a passing Internet page acquaintance. There are times when I am so amazed at how small the SF writing community is and how amazing it is that I am a part of it. (grin)
Oh, and another reason to be jealous of David's successes? He spent two weeks on Mars this year. No, really.
How cool is that?
One More Thing
It was over a month ago on 2 May 2009 that I ranted about the BP oil spill. I wasn't optimistic then about BP closing that gusher off -- and sadly I was all too right. I'm sure I'll post more about that later.