Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Cities Can Help Bridge the Education Divide

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Cities Can Help Bridge the Education Divide

Article excerpt

As a superintendent of a regional vocational technical school district, I am acutely aware of the importance of education and what it takes to develop a well-trained work force.

It's hard to overstate the importance of a high-quality education. A good education is an important equalizer that enriches the student, the local community and the local economy in countless ways.

But we have a long way to go before we can be sure that all students are getting the education they need and deserve.

Today, 50 years after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision, which overturned the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson doctrine of "separate but equal," our communities and schools are again becoming more segregated along racial and economic lines. And the farther we divide by race, class and geography, the farther we depart from the ideal of giving every child an equal opportunity to achieve the American dream.

As president of the National League of Cities, I plan to speak out this year about our widening divide and the need for the federal government to respond. Success on the education front depends upon progress at the federal level as well as in our cities and towns. The President and Congress must keep their promises to fully fund the No Child Left Behind Act.

At the local level, we need a shared sense of responsibility and accountability from all community stakeholders. That means teachers and administrators, community and faith leaders, business leaders and civic leaders, including local elected officials. Mayors, council members and other local elected officials have a crucial role to play in improving public schools, even without authority over the school district,

In many cities and towns, municipal officials are already using their leadership roles to address the conditions teachers confront in the classroom. …

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