Leadership by mayors, city councilmembers and other city officials can greatly expand opportunities for learning and boost both educational achievement and attainment in their communities. As illustrated in this educational playbook, city leaders can lay the foundations for early learning (through parent engagement and family support, school readiness and early literacy initiatives), provide more and better learning time (through afterschool and summer learning, creative partnerships to remake learning and access to technology and nature), and help all children succeed (through community schools and wraparound services, reengagement of out-of-school youth and college access and completion efforts).
To get started on any of the 27 action steps presented in this education playbook, city leaders have many different options. They can use their “bully pulpit” to lift up the issue and build public support for local action. They can also convene key community stakeholders, creating the table that allows potential partners to identify common ground and explore possibilities for a joint strategy or plan. Mayors and city managers can set specific goals or targets for the initiative, promoting shared accountability for results and ensuring that city departments and agencies are doing their part to help achieve them. Finally, city leaders can work together to marshal the resources needed for long-term success, dedicating municipal funds when possible and reaching out to philanthropic, corporate, state, and federal partners for help in filling major gaps.
Mayors and other municipal officials cannot do it all, and they certainly cannot do it alone. City leaders support learning for children and youth most effectively when they tap all of their local strengths and assets as part of a well-organized, community-wide effort. Working with school and county officials, local faith and business leaders, civic groups, community-based organizations, parents and other concerned residents, city leaders can advance each of the recommendations included in this playbook. When they do so, they will be building brighter futures for children, youth and families as well as for their cities and towns.