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The Seattle City Council's "Big Ideas"

By Erica C. Barnett August 31, 2011

In response to the recent feature in which Seattle Magazine asked a bunch of local thinkers (plus our own Josh Feit) to come up with one "big idea" for the city, seven members of the Seattle City Council submitted "big ideas" of their own. (Josh suggested a "process tax" that would go to a city that actually gets things done; PubliCola alum Dan Bertolet suggested a weather machine).

Today, the council (most of them, anyway---Richard Conlin and Bruce Harrell declined to participate) weighed in.

Nick Licata suggests bringing European leaders in to the city to find out how they manage to pay for education, health care, housing, and paid vacations; Mike O'Brien would build housing near transit; Tim Burgess would create a cradle-to-college network of support services for the city's education system; Sally Bagshaw would build transit, bike lanes, and sidewalks throughout the city; Tom Rasmussen would house the homeless; and Jean Godden would improve the waterfront.

And in my personal favorite idea, Sally Clark says she would fund kindergarten for every child and a 13th year of education, dedicated to job skills training, a first year of college, or another year of core education.
Instead of graduating students out into the world after senior year of high school, I will offer them one of three tracks – another year of core studies, year one at a college or a year of job skills prep. Studies show that the longer you stay in school (within reason), the higher your lifetime earning potential will be. Too many of our kids in Seattle don’t graduate or they graduate, but pitch around rootless before realizing they’re out of step with the grades they need for college and the skills they need for jobs that pay a living wage. At the same time we are home to some of the best four-year colleges in the nation and we have a core of great Seattle businesses that report they can’t find enough home-grown skilled job applicants.

I will call this Project Bookends—Year K and Year 13. Later someone will rename it something better.
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