Nov. 22, 1996 - To The Mayor From The Executive Director
J. Thomas CochranNovember 22, 1996
E-Day--our national education day to emphasize the importance of mayoral and public school partnerships throughout the country-- was a resounding success. Hundreds of mayors in every region of the nation came forward to make a statement that strengthening our public schools and educating our children must be up front and center, an integral part of local strategies to make us competitive in the nation and the world.
Our President, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, is committed to push the public school and mayoral involvement agenda forward. Yesterday, mayors, in their own way, made statements within their cities. The school situation at the local level is a mixed political bag. In Mayor Daley's case, he put his political life on the line when he accepted the Illinois legislature's charge to operate and be responsible for the public schools of Chicago. In other cites, it's totally different. Our national Education Day yesterday was about mayors standing up and saying, "we want to be more involved." We have a long way to go. In a meeting I had with Mayor Daley last week, he said that we are at the "crawling stage" nationally. Without question, his leadership, along with the other mayors who are directly involved in our public schools, is putting a new focus on the need for a closer working relationship between our public schools and our city governments. But we do have our leaders on the local education front, and as I travel I hear that a lot of our problems go back to young persons not being able to read or do basic math. The problem comes up in our discussions about welfare to work, crime and drug control, and in a number of other areas. Leaders in the business community will tell you that if a young person can't read, they can't be hired. It sounds so simple, yet it is quite complex.
On the day before E-Day, Boston Mayor Tom Menino, Chair of our Task Force on Public Schools, along with Seattle Mayor Norm Rice, stood before the television cameras here in our headquarters to report on mayoral efforts to promote local government and public school partnerships across the nation. In Boston, Mayor Menino had to fight in this Fall's election to keep a mayoral-appointed school board. Using his personal leadership skills he campaigned to keep the mayor in the center of the Boston public schools -- and he won. Mayor Rice has been a pioneer in his city with his "Ready to Earn" program, making sure that kids in Seattle are equipped with basic skills to secure jobs when they graduate from high school.
The public schools question within The United States Conference of Mayors is not going away, and we are in this arena to stay. At our 65th Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., January 17-19, we will devote a large part of our agenda to our continuing national conversation on education. Already, since Mayor Daley brought the education issue to the forefront in our organization, mayors are feeling more empowered to be a voice and a catalyst for school improvement even though their political structure may not permit any official responsibility. Yesterday's national E-Day was no more than that. Together in our diverse organization, mayors will continue to share and to learn and be stronger in their efforts to lead all sectors of their cities to the table for active participation in, and "ownership" of, their public schools -- and the fate of the young people in their home towns.
I am pleased to publish a letter from Mr. Richard J. Budelman on page 11. Please read it. Thank you, Mr. Budelman.
San Antonio/National League of Cities
I look forward to seeing many of you at the National League of Cities Annual Meeting, December 7-10 in San Antonio. We will have our membership and activities booth going strong and our hospitality suite will be open to you and your guests.
USCM Washington Winter Meeting--January 17-19
If it's January, we're at the Capital Hilton for our Washington Winter Meeting, and you should be there! If it's the January after a national election, it's even more important that you be there, so register now. Inaugural plans are underway. A new Clinton team is being put in place so there will be new members of our Cabinet for you to meet. Plus, I have been working very closely with Mayor Daley to make sure that our meeting is focused on our key priorities. So, if you have not done so, get your registration forms into Carol Edwards, our Director of Conference and Convention Services. She can be reached at (202) 293-7330. We need you with us. The bipartisan United States Conference of Mayors is needed now, more than ever. President Clinton is in The White House. He has asked all of you this Fall, during the campaign, to build a bridge into the 21st Century. Those involved in the campaign believe they have built the bridge. As mayors, through our organization, we have to make certain that the priorities for the people who live in our neighborhoods and walk our streets are carried across that bridge and into the 21st Century. This is an historic time for the mayors of the United States. This Winter Meeting is a beginning. With President Clinton in the White House, Senator Trent Lott running the Senate and Speaker Newt Gingrich running the House, Mayor Daley will need your personal help over the next few months to make certain that our key priorities are placed on the bridge and don't get thrown off the bridge due to partisan bickering. Mayors of the nation, your personal participation is needed if we are to forge a bipartisan political strategy to implement our priorities and make things happen as we enter the 21st Century. The challenges we face are great, but we can do it if we have your close political attention. So, please, come to Washington next January. Join our team, Mayor Daley's team, and let us go forward to do what we do best -- getting things done for the people we serve.
Happy Thanksgiving to you, your family, your loved ones and your staff members who serve day and night to make our cities safer and stronger for our people.
Copyright © 1996, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.