When we last left D.C. Councilman David Catania's Promise proposal to fund college for students in the nation's capital up to $60,000 for families earning $215,00 a year or below there was some doubt that the legislation would make it into law. The main obstacle was that Congress, turned on to the notion that the District is now awash in surplus money, would end its own D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant (D.C. TAG) that for years has provided limited tuition for kids attending out of state public universities, private colleges in the city, and historically black institutions of higher learning.
Well, that's exactly what happened. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton wrote a letter to the Council stating that if it passed the Promise program the cash from the Federal government would vanish. In response to her concerns Mr. Catania has scaled back his generosity somewhat, and now the Washington Post has said that the entire idea should be junked.
But there is a more fundamental reason that the bill should not be passed by the Council today. It was just last week that Deputy Mayor for Education Abigail Smith released the final version of the highly comprehensive Adequacy Study. Her fine serious attempt to finally bring funding equity to the traditional schools and charters comes with a cost of $182 million for one year alone. Because total local dollars available for spending are not unlimited all of our efforts should be concentrated around solving one of the greatest injustices to exist around public education in this town.
Anyone following Mr. Catania on Twitter knows that he has been advocating for the Promise scholarships on almost a daily basis, pointing out that similar aid is successful in many jurisdictions. What he has failed to mention, and what the Washington Post editors reveal, is that other places these college affordability plans are privately funded. This is the avenue that we should take here in the District.