Policy Advisors Meet, Discuss Education Issues
Frant, Nina, Nation's Cities Weekly
More than 30 senior staff members from mayors' offices around the country gathered for roundtable discussions, cross-city sharing, a site visit and presentations from national experts on key education issues related to reform, school improvement and academic achievement during a recent meeting of NLC's Mayors' Education Policy Advisors' Network (EPAN) in Washington, D.C.
Launched in 2003, EPAN--hosted by NLC's Institute for Youth, Education, and Families with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation--has grown to include more than 63 cities from 31 states and the District of Columbia.
James Shelton, program director for education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, kicked off the meeting by providing a keynote address where he challenged city leaders to find answers to key questions.
He argued that by knowing the answers to the following questions, city leaders could provide effective support for reform efforts through public engagement and use of the bully pulpit:
* Do you know the real graduation rate in your city at the aggregate level? Not how many children start 12th grade and graduate, but start eighth or ninth grade and graduate?
* Do you know graduation numbers for each ethnic group?
* Do you know graduation numbers for each gender?
* Do you know how many children in foster care are in your school system?
* Do you know how many children in your school system are in the criminal justice system?
* Do you know how kids in your city--who fall out of the system--find their way back in?
The agenda for the two-day meeting also included a site visit to Bell Multicultural School in Washington, D.C., which is part of the Early College High School Network.
This is a network of schools through which students earn both high school and college credit and graduate in four years with both a high school diploma and two years of college credit.
Many topics were included in the two days of discussion. …