Seattle mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan wants to provide free college for all students who graduate from a Seattle high school and she wants you to pay for it.
She is calling it “The Seattle Promise,” a plan to pay community college tuition for Seattle’s public school graduates. Durkan, who is running for Seattle mayor, says this will help elevate young people in black and brown communities and will somehow provide affordable housing. She also says the money is already in the city budget to pay for it all.
Here’s the problem — she stole the idea from Kalamazoo, Mich. Ever hear of “The Kalamazoo Promise?” It’s a promise to provide free four-year degrees to kids in Michigan that graduate from a Kalamazoo high school. It is paid for by private, anonymous donations and all 15 state schools are on the menu. They have had tremendous success with the program in Michigan over the last decade and it is funded in perpetuity.
What Durkan is doing is taking a great idea, laying it on the taxpayer, and pandering. Why not a four-year degree if you really want to help kids? What about the trades? I know Durkan went to Notre Dame, but she also worked in the fisheries up in Alaska and she knows how important the trades are to us in the Northwest.
Here is my suggestion to candidate Durkan: Let’s see you do some real work here. Can you get on the phone and secure the funding for “The Seattle Promise without sticking to the taxpayer. There are plenty of tech millionaires and billionaires around town who would fund it like they do in Michigan. Also, call Yankee great Derek Jeter. It is rumored that he is one of the minds and checkbooks behind The Kalamazoo Promise.
It is easy to take another idea from another community and form fit it to appeal to voters. This is shameful. If candidates really want to help kids in the black and brown communities they need to show us that their ideas have wings, that they can fund them, and that they can really work.
I love the idea of The Seattle Promise, but I promise you it will never happen if candidates use minority communities to pander for votes and then forget them after they have won on Election Day, which is so often the case. That is the real promise most politicians can keep.