By Mayor Chris Coleman, February Guest Blogger
Just over a month ago, I began my second term as mayor with an inauguration ceremony. During my speech, I described how important it is that we in the Twin Cities evolve to think of ourselves as partners in an effort for regional growth and prosperity. This means that we must stop fighting each other and position ourselves to face global competition. Saint Paul can no longer compete against Bloomington or Minneapolis. Our future depends on our ability to compete with Shanghai or Stuttgart, Seoul or Sao Paulo.
This effort necessarily begins with education. A well-educated workforce is vital to attracting, retaining and expanding businesses in Saint Paul. We are fortunate to have a wealth of college presidents, corporate executives and church leaders who recognize this fact. Our partners in higher education, business and nonprofit training programs are developing fine-grained models that match people with training opportunities designed for specific jobs. In the next four years, we’ll continue to work together to demonstrate how cities and school districts can share the responsibility of providing high-quality learning opportunities for all children.
This approach requires us to work across barriers that have prevented us from forming partnerships that could help students. The Kellogg Foundation has recognized the city’s role in expanding the quality of and access to learning opportunities for all of our students. Thanks to Kellogg’s support, my office has launched the Learning in Cities Project, a partnership with the Center for Democracy and Citizenship. This initiative will allow us to expand the definition of youth success beyond the math and reading test scores mandated by No Child Left Behind. Our long-term goal is to create an organized system of after-school learning opportunities throughout the city that will allow young people to develop the skills — academic and otherwise — that they need to meet the expectations of 21st century workplaces and communities.
As one outgrowth of this work, the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers and Saint Paul youth workers will have the opportunity to engage in professional development side-by-side for the first time ever. As part of the federation’s annual Professional Development Conference, the talented individuals who work with students during the school day will learn more about the talented individuals who work with youth when they’re not in school. Youth workers and teachers are being asked to participate as speakers and presenters, so that all can benefit from the knowledge and skill-sets that each exemplifies.