The plight of the homeless in America, and the need for public school reform are at the heart of two separate compelling Reports issued by Living Cities – a result of their Distinguished Urban Fellows program launched in 2008.
Despite decades of calls for reform, America’s public education system remains the target of sharp criticism for failing to adequately prepare young people for higher education and the jobs of the new economy. But there is hope, as evident in the report, “Transforming Urban Public Education through Education Entrepreneurship.” Written by former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, the report argues that the energy and innovation needed to transform America’s public schools must come from the outside – from talented and dedicated entrepreneurs with ideas that produce results.
In his paper, Peterson makes a strong case that the source of change in U.S. public education must be America’s mayors in partnership with philanthropists and education entrepreneurs. He lauds the record of charter schools, plus the achievement of organizations such as Teach For America, which has brought well-educated younger people eager to teach in today’s classrooms, especially in underachieving urban schools. The ultimate goal of entrepreneurs like Peterson is to bring the innovation, urgency, flexibility and focus on educational outcomes that characterize charter schools and their allies to traditional public schools.
The second Report, titled “A Human Connection”: How Portland, Oregon Made a Big Dent in Chronic Homelessness” is written by former Portland, city commissioner Erik Sten who says that policies to reduce homelessness, although well—intentioned, treaded water for decades because the architects of those policies did not consider the perspectives of the homeless themselves.
Using Portland, Oregon. as an example, Sten describes a plan known as “Home Again” which gave a voice to the homeless and bridged a human connection that didn’t previously exist. As a result, a dedicated team of officials rethought their policies, and spawned a new program that has reduced the number of its chronically homeless by 70%.
Neil Kleiman, Director of Policy and Research for Living Cities, says, “The Distinguished Urban Fellows program and these two resulting Reports are a critical knowledge component of Living Cities’ approach. The idea behind them is that the Fellows bring real-world governing and executive experience to help shape Living Cities’ agenda to transform America’s cities into engines of opportunity.”
AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW: Bart Peterson and Erik Sten
Filed under: FMR | Tagged: Charity, Children, Community, Homelessness, Living Cities, philanthropy, Report, Urban | Leave a Comment »