Four Rising Stars Highlight Solutions that Have Worked in Their Cities; Mayors: "We strongly believe these approaches are replicable in other cities and can be scaled to impact countless children."
With the United States falling further behind other nations in nearly every category of educational achievement, the mayors of four major U.S. cities who are embracing innovative, unique education programs today launched the first-ever Mayors for Educational Excellence Tour (MEET).
The tour is enabling these leaders in education innovation to learn how each city is helping spark significant turnarounds in their different regions of the country, and how to scale these achievements to impact children nationwide. All four mayors involved are themselves products of public education, having attended schools in the cities they now lead.
The first stop today kicks off with a series of meetings on the campus of one of the schools in Denver experiencing a significant turnaround, as well as a town hall with administrators, parents and education stakeholders, and other public events highlighting Denver's education achievements. Understanding that schools in the Far Northeast area of Denver were in desperate need of improvement, officials and community leaders in that city focused efforts to turn around a network of schools and open high-quality new schools.
"We are extremely proud of the change and growth happening in each of the cities we represent, and want to continue down this path of success for our children," said Mayor Michael Hancock of Denver. "The changes brought innovations to drive improvements for students, including high-intensity tutoring and a redesigned transportation system to increase access to these schools. In the three years, there has been a dramatic increase in enrollment, and there are now several more high-performing schools to serve the community."
"The tour offers us an opportunity to share innovative strategies and overhaul how we approach education. Providence is focused on the strategies necessary to dramatically raise the percentage of students reading on grade level by the end of third grade," said Mayor Angel Taveras of Providence. "Working with a coalition of community partners, we are placing hundreds of high-impact volunteers in city classrooms, boosting kindergarten readiness, expanding meaningful summer learning opportunities and working to address chronic absenteeism. Providence's comprehensive plan to invest in young people and improve third grade reading proficiency has earned national recognition."
"I look forward to learning how other mayors have achieved such staggering successes that will have a wide ripple effect. Within just one year, we recruited prominent national organizations such as City Year, Teach for America, StudentsFirst and College Track," said Mayor Kevin Johnson of Sacramento. "Each organization has had an immediate impact on schools and the policies that impact student learning, and the influx of talented individuals invested in student success has created a promising environment for collaboration and innovation."
"I look forward to joining the other mayors as the tour moves forward," said Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio. "With the average student to counselor ratio in Texas holding at a staggering 420 to 1 in Texas public schools, we set out to change that by creating cafécollege, which has provided college advising and test preparation to more than 30,000 area students. In August, the City of San Antonio also opened the doors of Pre-K 4 SA, a voter-approved Pre-K initiative that is providing teacher training and high-quality, full-day Pre-K to more than 22,000 four-year-olds over the next eight years."
The mayors will continue to highlight fresh policies and programs at each of the stops in Sacramento, Providence and San Antonio. Over the course of the next several months, MEET and the Mayors hope to be the voice and start of nationwide change in public schools.
A first-of-its-kind endeavor, MEET was founded to share successful education policies and programs from each mayor's K-12 public school system that can be implemented in school districts across the country. Though the mayors have employed different educational policies and programs in each of their cities, they are united in purpose: bringing the most transformative, successful measures to schools across the country.