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4 cities' weekend retreat results in action plans.

Pittsburgh, Pa.--New community partnerships in three cities emerged from a unique NLC roundtable on education last weekend. Not only did community leaders meet, talk, and learn, but they made a specific plan of action to take home.

A team of community leaders from Newport Views, Virginia, made plans for an Education Alliance--as a new way of addressing education.

Shreveport, Louisiana's team prepared an action agenda for the mayor.

The team from Lancaster, pennsylvania figured out how to bring key community leaders together.

Pittsburgh officials served as host of the roundtable retreat which was held on November 15-16. Community leaders from Pittsburgh made presentations regarding their city's experiences in developing partnerships that focused on what they had learned.

Mayors of the participating cities each pulled together a team of six key players. To provide technical assistance on a team by team basis, the number of participating cities was limited.

Developed by NLC to help cities explore new ways for becoming advocates for children's education in their communities, the roundtable brought together community partners to clarify municipal roles, learn from each other, and create an action plan for implementation.

The participants included local elected officials, school board members, business leaders, educators, city administrators, local community organizations and parents.

Led by Ruth Scott, an educational consultant and former President of the Rochester (NY) City Council, community partners quickly discovered that to bring about change, they had to challenge the existing patterns or paradigms. The video "New Paradigms," by Joel Barker set the tone for the work and caused several community partners to remark that "the video alone was worth the trip."

Participants met in small groups, large groups and learned from each other, as well as from one-on-one contact with the consultant.

The community partners returned to their cities with exciting new approaches, and workable solutions for their community's education agenda.

Newport News, Va.

This team will recommend to the mayor the creation of an Education Alliance. This Alliance would include representatives from the school board, parents, students, city council, city manager, teachers and the school superintendent. The goal is to eliminate duplication of efforts and fragmentation through communication and the creation of collaborative agreements.

Other recommendations included:

[subsection] the city's public acknowledgement and adoption of the goals developed by the school board and others in the community as published in the brochure "Forward 2000;"

[subsection] promoting and marketing existing programs through schoolboard and city council cable television channels; implement initiatives that showcase educational programs.

Shreveport, La.

This team set as their goal to meet with the mayor and the University president and other community leaders to discuss future steps. They also recommended that the group be expanded beyond those interested in grades K-12 to include vocational technical schools, colleges, and companies in the area.

The Shreveport team acknowledged that although some cities can take a strong role on education, the school system in Shreveport may be the more appropriate managing partner.

Lancaster, Pa.

This team with Mayor Janice Stork as a member plans to meet with city administrators and school district officials to discuss each of their agendas and define the role of city government in city education. In addition, Lancaster plans to implement the following strategies:

[subsection] decide on a community wide education agenda that answers questions such as where do we want to be in the 21st century; what are our priorities; what partnerships are needed?

[subsection] convene an education meeting similar in structure to this roundtable, including a facilitator and preliminary reading materials; meet with newspapers to get a team and plant the seed with the media;

[subsection] follow-up with a meeting with NLC staff in Washington.

Common denominators

Ruth Scott noted the following common denominators in her summation to the community partners.

[subsection] Recognize that the responses you get from other people may be varied.

[subsection] Decide who you are and where you are going.

[subsection] Create a positive climate of passion and inspiration.

[subsection] Recognize the importance of grass roots involvement.

[subsection] Create a system of rewards and awards targeted at parents, students, teachers, neighborhoods, and individual schools.

[subsection] Develop ongoing monitoring mechanisms and yearly assessments.

[subsection] Remember that parental effectiveness and economic opportunity are married.

[subsection] Supportive policy changes come faster in the city than in the state governments or school districts.

[subsection] Utilize to your advantage business support, facilitators, and consultants.

[subsection] Use both bottom up and top down strategies.

[subsection] Your plan must be tailored to fit your community;

[subsection] Education requires life long access.
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Title Annotation:National League of Cities' Education Roundtable
Author:Kelsey, Serita R.
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Nov 25, 1991
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