August 09, 2013

Rahm Emanual and other US Mayors on Rethinking Education

Charlie Rose hosted a ‘Mayor’s Roundtable’ featuring some of America’s leading civic leaders. Education topped the discussion with each mayor bringing forward some fascinating insights into how their administration is tackling under-achievement and low expectations. The Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel (pictured above) made a particular impact, saying on the show:

“For too many kids, the link between school, college, job, there’s gaps. The way I try to explain it to people is this: I got kids who live 4 miles from down town and down town is just a world apart from them. Now all the possibility is there. And the education system: finish high school, so you can go to college. It’s (the business world) not part of their experience.
And so now we’ve set up systems (STEM high schools) 9th grade to 14th , it has the counselling, the mentor, and you finish all the way to the 14th grade till you’re at college. You get your first job interview at the school. Oracle, Motorola Solutions, Microsoft and IBM – all have taken a high school. 
When I announced this, one high school on the south side, had a person specifically to answer phone calls from parents trying to figure out how to enrol their kids. But for these kids, they don’t see high school, finishing and relating to a job or a college. The things we have in our experience, it’s not there for them. 
We have to put the package together for them: he tutoring, the mentoring, and the job experience: All part of the single package so they can get the continuity of it and the value at the end of the process.”

Rahm Emmanual also explained the programme 'Urban Prep'. He put it like this:
"Setting expectations – and driving towards that goal." 
Greg Fischer, Mayor of Louisville gave an insights into how his community is addressing problems in his jurisdiction:
"One thing: Lifelong learning - some of the most satisfying conversations I have is when people say: “The world has changed, I gotta’ learn something new every day to be relevant and competitive.” So cities that are lifelong learning cities are cities that are going to win.”
Alvin Brown, Mayor of Jacksonville made the following contribution to the discussion:
“It also starts with the Superintendent – I think you need to have visionary leadership. And I believe that that Superintendent has to have the ability to go beyond the immediate job.

We’re working with the public schools. We’ve launched several programs including the ‘Learn to Earn’ program that is going to expose young people to going to college by living on the college campus in the summer time. Literally being on that campus and envisioning themselves that they too, one day, may be able to go to college; and have a summer job – I think that is very very important. 
My mayor’s mentor program pairs caring adults with students and they have to meet with them once a week minimum for several hours. Working with them and helping them. 
I think the linkage of seeing success and being with successful people is very important.”

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