“The focus of the new American localism on unlocking the latent capacity and creativity of public, private, and civic networks differs markedly from the focus of traditional federalism on relationships between levels of government, particularly the federal government and the states.” – Bruce Katz, centennial scholar, Centennial Scholar Initiative, The Brookings Institution
In this time of political transition and change, city leaders illustrate the power of collaboration and the pragmatic approach to partnership. At the National League of Cities’ City Summit in Pittsburgh, the Mayors’ Education Task Force met to identify the most pressing issues impacting educational opportunity for children and youth within their local context. The mayors highlighted solutions that are working in their cities and potential partnership opportunities with the incoming presidential administration.
The Mayors’ Education Task Force continues to represent the investment municipal leaders, in partnership with their local educational institutions, make to tap the human potential of their citizens to strengthen their cities economic viability.
“What are the workforce needs of the future…. and how do [we] work backwards in partnership with employers and educational institutions….how do we prepare high school [students] to be college and career ready…..working backwards to early childhood education.” – Mayor Betsy Hodges, Minneapolis, MN, Mayors’ Education Task Force Chair
The mayors recognized that early childhood education is the building block to educational success. They emphasized support must start with prenatal care and parental/caregiver education to improve outcomes for their youngest constituents. The task force laid-out three strategies that the federal government could continue to support or expand:
- The Federal Home Visiting Program, a locally-driven strategy to support families with young children.
- Cognitive and social-emotional assessment by age three.
- Universal Pre-K starting at three years old.
The task force highlighted the importance of integrating community supports alongside school districts. Homeless or impoverished school-age children and families can benefit from partnerships between civic, community-based nonprofit and education networks. The task force encourages federal incentives that promote local partnerships to provide safety nets for the vulnerable families and children in public schools.
The mayors held an in-depth discussion on the importance of developing pathways to postsecondary and workforce success. The task force detailed two strategies it feels the new administration could support:
- Continued support of high quality summer jobs and internship opportunities for youth and young adults, connecting them to real life work experiences and training opportunities.
- Workforce development investments that can open up pathways to credentials and certificates that lead to living wage jobs.
The task force will continue to pursue the critical issues of education and equitable opportunity within their cities to the national level. The National League of Cities will work closely with the task force and the new administration to forge a productive partnership that will support our nation’s children and youth.
About the Author: Miles Sandler is the Senior Associate for Education in the NLC Institute for Youth, Education, and Families. Miles can be reached at email@example.com.