Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Education and Youth Development to HD Committee Discussions

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Education and Youth Development to HD Committee Discussions

Article excerpt

Issues of education and promoting youth development dominated the meeting of NLC's Human Development (HD) Steering Committee as it met May 30-31 in Lynnwood, Wash. Committee Chair Patsy Jo Hilliard, mayor of East Point, Georgia led the committee through its multi-point agenda as they directed preparation of policy amendments in a number of areas. Committee member George Janecke hosted the committee in Lynwood, a community of 29,000 located just north of Seattle.

The meeting opened on Friday, May 30 with a greeting from Lynnwood Mayor Tina Roberts, two presentations and a tour that focused on the two top priorities established by the HD Policy Committee in March at the Congressional City Conference.

Mayor Rice of Seattle

Seattle Mayor Norm Rice outlined for the Committee some of the initiatives the City of Seattle has undertaken under two programs: Ready to Learn and Ready to Earn.

The Ready to Learn initiative, financed by the city through a special voter-approved tax levy, funds a variety of service-needs which help equip students to learn while they are in the classroom. Services enhanced by the seven-year levy, such as counseling, safety and health services remove barriers to student success and free up the resources of the separately financed and independent Seattle School District to focus on student instruction in the classroom. A revised and re-targeted levy will be up for approval soon. Mayor Rice provided this as an example of how a city can be involved in schools in a supportive and creative manner.

A more recent initiative, Ready to Earn, has recently been launched to ease the transition to the new federal welfare law and is targeting city money, redirected from other programs, to provide to supportive services required by individuals moving from welfare into work.

Kids Count Project Supplies Alarming Numbers

Richard N. Brandon, project director for Washington Kids Count presented a summary of recent trends affecting the welfare and status of children in the United States. Educational proficiency scores in math and science show average scores for U.S. students below the levels achieved by students in Pacific Rim nations, France and Canada. Perhaps more unsettling was the wide divergence in math proficiency among students of different income and ethnic groups. For example, for students whose parents are not High School graduates, only five percent perform math at proficient levels in Grade Four and 69 percent fail to perform at basic levels. These percentages are not significantly altered when similar tests are given to Grade Eight students.

Policy Directions Given

In the area of education the committee stressed the importance of life-long learning and directed staff to come back to the Fall meeting with alternative ideas on how individual training accounts and tax incentives might be fashioned to give greater federal support to these endeavors. …

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