NLC Mayors’ Education Reform Task Force Meets with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

NLC's Mayors' Education Reform Task Force Meets with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
July 15, 2013

By Michael Karpman

Mayors participating in NLC's new Mayors' Education Reform Task Force joined U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and school superintendents from several cities in Washington, D.C., today to discuss partnership opportunities between cities and the U.S. Department of Education to foster effective approaches to education reform.

NLC First Vice President Chris Coleman, mayor of Saint Paul, Minn., and NLC Second Vice President Ralph Becker, mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, formed the task force in March 2013 to explore how cities can and should be involved in local education reform efforts.  During today's meeting, task force members highlighted the growing commitment by municipal officials across the country to promoting educational achievement.

"Mayors and elected officials can bring together all the stakeholders in the education conversation in their cities," said Mayor Coleman.  "The perspectives from mayors of cities large to small are valuable to local and national policymakers.  I'm glad we had an opportunity to talk with the Secretary and his staff about the role mayors can play in education transformation."

Local leaders shared examples of city-school partnerships they have formed in their communities in areas such as school improvement, early learning, afterschool programming, and postsecondary success. 

"The trajectory of learning begins at birth and extends over a lifetime," said Mayor Becker, who was unable to attend the meeting.  "Cities now experience an unprecedented level of collaboration and discussion in formulating specific plans for postsecondary access and success and productive out-of-school time learning."

The meeting with Secretary Duncan provided mayors with an opportunity to discuss how lessons learned at the city level can inform federal education policy.  Among the key issues of concern identified by the task force are:

  • Finding a "third way" in education reform that balances a commitment to accountability with a spirit of collaboration among school administrators, teachers, and cities;
  • Transforming schools into centers of community that support parent engagement and provide wraparound services to children and families;
  • Building on successful "cradle-to-career" models to develop a strong educational pipeline;
  • Securing adequate and equitable funding for local education initiatives; and
  • Promoting college access and completion.

"In this global economy, cities and towns depend on an educated workforce and schools are depending us. We need to work together to ensure that our children graduate high school ready for postsecondary education and career success," said NLC President Marie Lopez Rogers, Mayor of Avondale, AZ. "As city leaders, we have an important message that must be heard and we must be at the table in guiding federal and local education reform policies."

In addition to Mayors Rogers and Coleman, participants in today's meeting included: Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson of Gary, Ind.; Mayor Edna Branch Jackson of Savannah, Ga.; Mayor Dwight Jones of Richmond, Va.; Mayor Pedro Segarra of Hartford, Conn.; Mayor Paul Soglin of Madison, Wis.; Riverside (Calif.) Unified School District Superintendent Rick Miller; Gary Community School Corporations Superintendent Chery Pruitt; and New York City Deputy Chief Academic Officer Josh Thomases.

To learn more about the Mayors' Education Reform Task Force, contact Marjorie Cohen at (202) 626-3052 or cohen@nlc.org.