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Opinion: With free college we lead way to brighter future

Opinion: With free college we lead way to brighter future

Jane Kim, District 6 Supervisor, speaks during a press conference on the steps of San Francisco City Hall on Sept. 14, 2016, introducing her Free City College initiative. Photo: Izar Decleto/The Guardsman

After months of undermining democracy and the will of the majority of San Francisco voters who approved Proposition W, Mayor Ed Lee has finally agreed to disburse $5.4 million to make City College of San Francisco (CCSF) accessible to local residents.

His decision comes after the Board of Supervisors twice approved the initiative, after mounting pressure from community activists and the CCSF Board of Trustees, and after a recent Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) resolution supporting the initiative.

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Given that it’s one of the few measures that would have an immediate (and positive) measurable effect—and that the mayor should support something that can help address the affordability crisis that his administration presided over—it’s a little surprising it has taken Lee this long to endorse and finance it.

Since Lee assumed office in 2011, San Francisco has significantly changed. Homelessness is at an all time high, longtime residents have been served with evictions and it seems corporate interests are consistently met before that of San Francisco at large.

This goes without saying, it is about time the mayor served the real needs of the majority of San Francisco residents rather than corporations. It is about time the mayor demonstrated our city’s principles are as strong as our economy. It is about time he prioritized the public services he has vowed to provide immigrants seeking sanctuary. And it is about time Mayor Lee served the needs of the people who gave him the power he holds today: the residents of San Francisco.

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Free City College, like many other progressive initiatives that make San Francisco a world renowned, politically liberal safe haven, is the direct byproduct of the competent and consistent leadership of people like District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, who proposed the bill in November, of the CCSF Board of Trustees and of the community members leading grassroot efforts for the initiative.

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Despite political opposition, we are officially the first city in the country to make college free. This is a win for students, residents, and anyone on the quest for upward mobility and better quality of life. Hopefully San Francisco is not an anomaly and has instead set a precedent that cities across the country will soon follow.

In a new age of democratic skepticism, and despite crumbling trust in the American political process, let this serve as a reminder that although capable leadership might not always be present, there are always collective and viable ways to push for a more progressive tomorrow.

Story by: Gabriela Aleman

El Tecolote is 51 years strong this month!

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