Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson contends that a meeting she had with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan confirms the collaborative steps the city and school district are taking put them on the right path.
Freeman-Wilson and Gary Community School Corp. Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt were among dozens of city and school leaders from across the country who met in Washington, D.C., recently to discuss partnership opportunities between cities and the U.S. Department of Education to foster effective approaches to education reform.
Gary school and city officials have been talking about how they can work together to use the district's 12 shuttered school buildings. They have discussed the possibility of parenting programs, tutoring programs and other uses.
During the meeting, task force members highlighted the growing commitment by municipal officials across the country to promote educational achievement.
“It is pivotal for a meeting of the minds between these entities because it will take the strategic planning and implementation of educators and the government alike to change the course of education,” Pruitt said.
“Effective partnerships work. We’ve had an awesome example of such in the Gary Community Schools that started with a single email. Through technology and some willing workers, one of our schools received a donation of 4,000 books.”
The meeting with Duncan provided mayors with an opportunity to discuss how lessons learned at the city level can influence federal education policy. Among the key issues of concern identified by the task force include:
* Transforming schools into community centers 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.