No Simple Gift : Neoliberalism and the Kalamazoo Promise
MetadataShow full item record
In November 2005, it was announced that a group of anonymous donors had contributed funds to provide the full tuition cost at any in-state college or university to graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools. This scholarship would come to be known as the Kalamazoo Promise. This research contextualizes the Kalamazoo Promise, situating it within national trends of neoliberalism and the infiltration of neoliberal ideology into education. The Scholarship was developed as a means of remediating the detrimental impact of neoliberal school policy and attitudes surrounding public schooling. In doing so, the creation and implementation of this scholarship made use of the same neoliberal ideology and has, since, actively served in its perpetuation. The presence of neoliberalism in public schools supports the economization of schooling, which benefits private enterprise while stripping public institutions of resources, imagines education as the production of the workforce, and invisibilizes underlying structural contradictions and inequality. Thus, this study focuses on the logic and ideology underpinning the Kalamazoo Promise by interviewing seven key stakeholders within, or working closely with, the education system in Kalamazoo. This paper uses relevant theory to understand how the Kalamazoo Promise became imagined to be so much more than a mere scholarship—a means of ensuring the viability of the school district and economically developing the city of Kalamazoo—and how these notions actively perpetuate the neoliberal paradigm on a local level, posing a threat to critical education, racial and economic equality, and democratic participation.