Land-use Planning and School Districts: Examining the Trends
Convening for action is an action oriented project that will create a countywide voluntary land use planning procedure" (McKinney and Cunningham). The project contains various missions, several of which I saw in action first-hand. Convening for Action stands for: 0 Preserving the natural and historic features of our community 0 Preserving key open spaces in our community 0 Revitalizing the urban core of our community 0 More coordinated planning by all levels of government and all government agencies 0 Managing growth and planning for the reasonable development of our community 0 The creation of as much consensus as possible within the county on land-use issues"(McKinney and Cunningham). The project was implemented in Kalamazoo County during February of 1999 and is currently expanding and developing programs that will be used for years to come. I had the opportunity to work with the project heads, Dr. Hannah McKinney and Dr. Kiran Cunningham, during the summer of 2002. Dr. McKinney is the Vice-Mayor for the city of Kalamazoo and a professor and chair of the economics department at Kalamazoo College. Dr. Cunningham is an associate professor of Sociology at Kalamazoo College and an active citizen in the Kalamazoo County community. My internship connected to several things in my life. As a lifelong Kalamazoo resident, I realized that many areas of natural habitat that I have enjoyed since I was a child are now becoming shopping malls or neighborhoods. I also realized that there are only limited efforts to stop development, and that often long-term effects are of little concern. In addition, I was able to connect economics, sociology, and psychology classes to the efforts of Convening for Action. Lastly, my internship helped me decide that I want to help others and assist my community through my future career endeavors, which is why I have decided to pursue Athletic Administration. The research section involves a topic that I feel will be both beneficial to me in my career efforts and a topic that should be addressed by many American communities: the effects of urban sprawl on school districts. The costs of education are continually rising in order to provide a high quality of education, but often school districts have difficulty obtaining these funds. Urban sprawl is causing middle-upper class citizens, who can afford the luxuries of suburban life, away from the cities. This provides even more of a hardship on inner-city schools. Inner-city schools are left with low socioeconomic (SES) families, which is important since research indicates a positive correlation between SES and educational attainment. There also appears to be an overwhelming percentage of minorities left in the urban areas, which may be a result of immigration. In addition, schools still face the problem of funding. In Michigan Proposal A is an effort to combat such hardships, but it really just shifts the objective of the school from obtaining more money to attracting more students. The research findings are supplemented by a local case study between Kalamazoo Public Schools and Portage Public Schools. The urban sprawl trends on SES, funding, and educational achievement are concurrent with the statistical data taken from these two school districts. Urban Sprawl effects many aspects of schools and many aspects of daily life, which should all be of future concern.