Education Secretary, NLC Challenge Cities to Promote Excellence in Education
Kelsey, Serita R., Nation's Cities Weekly
NLC leaders and Education Secretary Lamar Alexander are challenging local officials to promote excellence in education.
Mayors and other local officials across the nation will receive a letter this week signed by Alexander and NLC officiers, asking them to support "break the mold" schools as part of President Bush's America 2000 program.
In June, 1992 a delegation of NLC officials led by First Vice President Donald Fraser, met with Secretary Lamar Alexander of the U.S. Department of Education to develop a cooperative action plan between local governments and the federal government to further American education.
From this meeting grew the idea of issuing a joint challenge from the U.S Department of Education and the National League of Cities to encourage cities and towns to develop or support their own break-the-mold" approach for promoting educational excellence in their communities.
During the meeting (see NCW June 22, 1992), the group agreed that education and family oriented goals will be better met if the federal, state and local governments collaborate and support each others efforts. NLC presented ideas, and strategies to Secretary Alexander to consider as his staff continues to strengthen and plan the national education agenda.
NLC's Task Force on Cities Roles in Education states that "education is everybody's business." NLC and the U.S. Department of Education wishes to encourage municipalities to create or promote activities that your own community supports:
* learning readiness
* lowering the dropout rate
* competence in core subjects
* world class status in math and science
* ending illiteracy
* drug and violence free schools
NLC previously asked local governments to send information on successful education initiatives in place in their communities, especially those programs jointly sponsored by local government, the education community and community groups and organizations.
Cities and towns have responded, for example:
* In San Diego, CA, the mayor's office has organized two youth summits that involved junior and senior high school youth in a two day problem solving discussion and included presentations before both the City Council and School Board;
* Six grade students in Gilbert, AZ and their parents participated in the development of their cities general plan. From their involvement, twenty-two summary recommendations were made to the Town Council for their consideration;
* The Sharon Lifelong Learning Council of Sharon, PA is a volunteer task force consisting of residents and individuals from the local government, education, and business communities. It was created to plan, implement and foster programs that involve the community in promoting education as a useful and rewarding lifelong process; and
* Virginia Beach, VA is actively involved in a partnership with the Local Educational Agency. One of their joint efforts is a before and after school program with breakfast included.
National Education Goals
By the year 2000:
All children in America will start school ready to learn.
The high school graduation rate will increase to at least 90 percent.
American students will leave grades four, eight, and twelve having demonstrated competency in challenging subject matter including English, mathematics, science,. history, and geography; and every school in America will ensure that all students learn to use their minds well, so they may be prepared for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment in our modern economy. …