In an effort to increase degree attainment across Chicago, Democratic mayoral candidate, Bill Daley, has recently proposed that the public K-12 and community college systems merge.
Daley’s proposal would magnify current Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago Star Scholarship, a benefit that covers tuition and textbook costs at the City Colleges for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students earning a 3.0 GPA or above.
However, implementing the proposal would be difficult and require changing state legislation, according to Chicago Sun Times.
Daley said that combining CPS and the City Colleges of Chicago could save the city a maximum of $50 million, enough to support all CPS graduates to attend community college within the city.
Other Chicago mayoral candidates believe the predicted investment return is not worth the effort and that the two entities have their own monetary and operational concerns.
The proposed initiative could have its own management and a board with both K-12 and higher education stakeholders, Daley said in a recent interview with Chalkbeat, adding that the savings would come from get rid of redundancies.
“If you have two widget companies and you put them together, and you have two accountants, you may be able to save on one of the accountants,” he said.
Other political candidates have recently promised reducing the cost of attending college. For example, Gavin Newsom, California’s new governor, has proposed to add an additional year of free tuition at California’s community colleges. Newsom’s proposed program supports legislation that was passed in 2017 that pays for a free year of community college for first-time, full-time students, Chicago Sun Times reported.
After being reelected in November, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo also promised to expand the state’s free college program to include two public four-year institutions if voters gave her another term.
Many other states, such as New York and Tennessee, began implementing a type of free college program, though many only cover the costs of tuition and fees. Consequently, critics of free college argue the programs don’t help low-income students as most of their tuition is supported by financial aid.