Askwith Forum: How Mayors Are Leading the Way on Child Development and Education


(crowd talking) – Good evening. Let’s try it again, good evening. – [Audience] Good evening. – There we go. Thank you all for being here. My name’s Paul Reville,
I’m a faculty member here at the Harvard Graduate
School of Education. Proud to be the head of
the Education Redesign Lab. We’re thrilled to have
you with us for this last Ask With forum of this semester. Ask With forums as you know
are part of our conversation both in house within the HGSE community and in our larger community where we sort of encourage conversation, debate, the sharing of ideas about key education issues of our time. These sessions are free
and open to the public and we are aiming at
engaging our community in civil discourse about important topics that frame our future. We’re gathered here today
to talk about what’s a renaissance in leadership and education about mayors taking a major role in guiding their communities in the way our communities
interact with support and help educate young
people to be prepared to be successful in college and careers. We’ve had various waves and
phases of this kind of work but in particular in recent years we’ve seen mayors, sometimes
in the absence of leadership from other levels of
government step forward and take on the mantel of
focusing in on children and what it takes to prepare
children to be successful. This session actually this evening is part of a gathering
that’s being sponsored by the Education Redesign
lab of an initiative that we call By All Means and the forum mayors that
are before you tonight are part of a cohort of six
mayors from across the country who have been selected
and have been hard at work over the past couple of
years because of their vision of what they wanna do for their children in their communities in order to prepare those children to be successful. We have them here as we do twice a year with teams, children’s cabinets in each of these communities
who have come together for the purpose of taking a
holistic, 360 degree approach to what it takes to build
personalized systems of opportunity and support to
enable each and every child to come to school each and every day through their education
career ready to learn and ready to achieve at high levels, ready to be prepared to be successful whatever they choose to do moving forward in their lives and careers. So we’re really proud
of the work that’s here and you’ll hear about this evening. These mayors have a
vision about what it takes to make their communities prosperous and what it takes for their
young people to be successful. They’re in effect crafting
a new social compact between their communities
and their families and their children and they’re recognizing that schools alone just
can’t get the job done. Schools consume only 20%
of children’s waking hours they play a critically important part they’ve made a huge difference
in the lives of children. We had former U.S. secretary of education John King with us this morning and he said resonantly that
schools are about saving lives that’s how powerful schools can be so nothing in what is said this evening should in any way diminish
the importance of schooling but we are also being attentive
to all the other aspects of children’s lives in this society of growing economic inequality,
diminishing social mobility we have to pay attention to more factors in the lives of children
beyond what happens in schools. These mayors are committed to that as we are at the Education Redesign Lab where we’re committed to
changing the conversation on what constitutes education reform and thinking of it as child
development and education in a much broader a conversation
than we’ve had to date. So we’re thrilled to have you with us for this conversation this evening. We have a wonderful and ideal moderator a colleague from the
Kennedy School of Government Jorrit de Jong is a lecturer in public policy and management at HKS, he’s a faculty director of the Bloomberg Harvard City
Leadership Initiative which is a joint program of
the Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School, funded by and executed in collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies. In addition to co-chairing
executive programs for the mayors as part of the Bloomberg Harvard
City Leadership Initiative Jorrit is the faculty co-chair of two open-enrollment programs creating collaborative solutions and innovations in
government, in governance. In 2014, Jorrit launched
the Innovation Field Lab an experiential learning
and outreach project sponsored by the Ash Center
that connects HKS students with five cities in Massachusets through real problem solving efforts. Before coming to Harvard,
Jorrit co-founded Kafka Brigade a social enterprise in
Europe that helps governments diagnose and remedy
bureaucratic dysfunction. Jorrit holds a PhD in
public policy in management, a Master in philosophy and a Master in public administration. We’re delighted to have you with us chairing this important discussion Jorrit thank you so much for being with us. (applause) – Thank you so much, Paul. It’s a great pleasure
and privilege to be here with this great line-up of
inspiring public leaders. Also to be introduced by you also an inspiring public leader who has now come to academia
to do revolutionary things with the Education Redesign Lab and it’s been a pleasure to
work with you and your team. Thank you for introducing me and telling them that I’m from Europe so people don’t have to
worry where my accent is from I’m dutch. (audience chuckling) And I’ll do my best to
work on my Boston accent but I still have a lot to
learn from Joe Curtatone. (audience laughing) I have learned a lot from him already because he is my co-instructor
in the Education Reform in the Innovation Field
Lab, the other lab. I’ve also had the pleasure to work with the other three mayors in the Bloomberg Harvard
City Leadership Initiative so it’s great, as Greg Fischer said to get the band back together and see if we can have
an exciting conversation that doesn’t only involve
us but involves you as well. So we’ll have a conversation
for about 45 minutes and then we’ll turn over
to you for 30 minutes to hear from you, what’s on your mind and what you’d like to ask the mayors. So, first a couple of words about the topic of tonight, city leadership. So the Bloomberg Harvard
City Leadership Initiative is obviously a program
that was made possible by Bloomberg and Harvard and it’s not just a generosity
of Michael Bloomberg that made it possible but
also the collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies
who are invested investing in government
in the public sector to create better social outcomes. It’s been a great privilege to
work on this important topic especially in these times
where the confidence in federal government and
sometimes state governments is not as much as it used to be and where cities are
increasingly looked at as the leaders in reform,
not just in education but also in climate resiliency and immigration reform and in many other issues
that are on our mind and that are important to society. So city leadership seems
to be a very timely topic. But what does it mean? We all know what cities mean, but you know there is some confusion about what the definition of a city is. Some people say it’s the
absence of physical distance between buildings and people. That is actually a definition
that has been promoted. I prefer a different, less
cynical definition of cities. I’d like to think of cities as concentrations of human potential. But then of course, how do we
bring that potential to life? Leadership is needed for that but what does leadership mean? Leadership is not the
same thing as authority. We all know that authority people in authority don’t
always exercise leadership and that people who exercise leadership do not always have the authority to do so they take the initiative. So just being elected mayor
does not make one a leader. The people we have with us here today have demonstrated great leadership and it’s gonna be very
interesting to hear from them how they reflect on that
and how they do that. My Kennedy School colleague Marshall Ganz says that leadership is mobilizing others to engage in collective action
in the face of uncertainty. This is especially true for city leaders who have limited resources in authority and who shoulder significant expectations and where an unexpected crisis is always looming around the corner every day. So the purpose of city leadership is to realize the full
potential of cities. I believe that full potential is realized not just by city hall but
also by collaborations with other sectors,
with the private sector, with the non-profit sector and especially with the community. So we’re gonna talk about how to do that and what the role and
responsibility of a mayor is to kind of create those
collaborative solutions. So the mayor’s program
that we have created with the Bloomberg Harvard Initiative brings 40 mayors together every year in an executive education program and what we do as Harvard
is facilitate the learning among these mayors, the mayors
learn a lot from each other learn a little bit from
us maybe, hopefully but they especially learn from discussing the challenges and really, you know supporting each other in
the work that they do. We also have a senior leaders program ’cause mayors can’t do it alone so each mayor gets to nominate two people in their organization that they rely on most for making change and so we’ve also created this executive education program for senior leaders. You may ask yourself,
do mayors need training? Do they even want training? And of course that was in our mind when we created the program if we build it, will they come? They did come and I’ll read
you a quote from one mayor that may be familiar to you. The quote goes like this. “I’ve never said this to anyone. “I literally went home every night “for the first three months “and said, oh my God, what
have I gotten myself into? (audience laughing) “I couldn’t talk to anyone about it “because everyone around
me helped me get elected. (audience laughing) “So I couldn’t go to them and say “I’m not really thrilled about this job.” (audience laughing) Anybody? Who is this? Mayor Marty Walsh. (audience laughing) And he got reelected last week so so he told this to the
Boston Globe last summer in an unusually candid interview. (audience laughing) The mayor voiced what
many mayors feel though and think when they’re starting out in the most difficult, important and fascinating jobs in politics. He’s right, nothing is easy
about keeping cities safe and clean and making a diverse
population feel included and successful in education,
employment and life. Improving economic
development, infrastructure and public services takes time, effort and focused leadership. Lyndon Johnson said “When the burdens of the
presidency seem unusually heavy “I always remind myself it could be worse “I could be mayor.” So that sounds very, I don’t know why you guys signed up for this but we’ll hear in a minute. So the most successful mayors figure out how they can engage others in doing that important and difficult work. How can they engage their staff in working across silos? How can they engage the private sector and the non-profit sector
and citizens at large in co-producing public value? The great urban economist Jane Jacobs wrote that cities are,
and I like this definition by definition full of strangers but she also saw that the cities strength were entirely dependent on what she called a great and wonderful
crisscross of relationships. It is city leaders job to reinforce and grow that crisscross of relationships and to foster a sense of
common purpose among strangers. We have four very inspiring
city leaders with us today who have demonstrated great leadership not just in investing
in children’s well-being and education redesign
but also in realizing the full potential of their communities. We’ll talk about city leadership we’ll talk about education redesign and as I announce, you
will have 30 minutes to ask your questions so think about that and please join me in welcoming mayors Elorza from Providence Mayors Schaaf from Oakland Mayor Fischer from Louisville and Mayor Curtatone from Somerville. (audience applause) Mayor Fischer, let me start with you. You have not only worked
on educational reform and investing in child well-being but you’ve taken on many big issues that were bigger than
any single department could ever take on. What is the secret? (chuckling) of getting people to work
across departmental boundaries on such big issues, how do you do that? – Well, yeah, you have to, I think combine the head and the heart. You know, so when people think about challenges in communities it very quickly becomes evident
they’re very complicated and they cross many areas of society so it’s not like if you
take care of one thing it’s gonna take care of everything and in today’s world it’s tough Jorrit to get people to think
beyond a headline, right? So once you identify a
problem, let’s say for instance we’re working here in
Boston today and tomorrow on education and success for
every child by all means. Okay, so do your people in your community care about something like that? We’re not very persuasive sales people if we can’t get everybody in our community to agree that every child should have a chance to succeed in today’s world and when we take a look
at some of the challenges that we’re facing as a country right now in our streets since Ferguson, Missouri we’ve had a dozen or so
outbreaks of significant civil unrest in our city, in our cities. We see people basically saying
that they feel disconnected they feel hopeless about the future. I believe that’s what we saw in this last presidential election as well that came from rural America if we’re gonna be
stereotypical about that. So if we can’t get people to get fired up about something like this to look at each one of
their fellow citizens especially our youngest citizens and say I want you to
have every opportunity and privilege that my child has your child deserves that as well. So there’s a certain amount
of emotional connection that you have to try to
make with your citizens so they say yeah I may not know how to do this but sign me up. So that’s kind of starting
the culture moving forward then the question becomes harder okay, how do we do this? So when you try to move massive systems like education or healthcare or housing you’ve got a lot of adults
in these areas that own space that may not necessarily be ready to move toward a greater good. They might think they’re
part of a greater good but when it comes to
realigning what they do for something different,
that’s hard to do as well. So, we put systems into place in the case of our By All
Means in lieu of promise work it’s a governing body that talks about or that is designed to
make sure that every child succeeds, not just in
school but out of school with out of school time, with mentoring with internships, with apprenticeships coordinated with our public safety approach in the community and people come to the table because one, they might agree or two, they might be shamed
to come into the table and you know, sometimes in our cities we don’t hesitate to use shame to get people to do the right thing because the status quo is the status quo because it’s easy just to
keep doing the same thing. Our job is to disrupt the status quo so that we can advance
toward what the purpose of the city is and the
purpose of that city is to have a platform for
human potential to flourish. So it’s a combination of heart and head by developing systems and approaches. – So you talked about creating the energy and the support for doing
this important work. But when you get people
to pay attention to it when you get them energized to work on it. How do you structure the
effort to kind of continue that work in a systematic
and performance-oriented way? You mentioned the By All Means initiative which really means by all means so it’s not just education,
it’s public health, it’s neighborhood development,
it’s economic development and so a lot of different
parties have to come together around a newly defined
problem or opportunity how do you sustain that collaboration? – Well, in our case, we
have a collective impact is what we call this. There’s couple different words
that these initiatives go by but they’re cross-functional in nature. This case brings together
people from all aspects of life not just education but
social services, housing, public safety, business,
non-profits, foundations. It is resourced, you have to resource these efforts with finances. One, to show you’re serious
about it but then two to have the staff in place to
help you move the work along. You have to have a group of dedicated and passionate citizens that will serve on various board structures within this as well that meet on a regular basis to not only lay out the big goals and the visions for the community but also to make sure we’re monitoring and diagnosing and
moving forward that way. So it takes structure, it takes resources monitoring the diagnosis and then just continuous improvement and communication I would
say, one last thing. Most of these efforts are
not good at communicating both the challenges and the successes that are required then
to get the fly wheel of momentum going in the city so everybody buys into this and then whatever our objective is becomes the cultural norm
or the cultural expectation for the city, so you can imagine when you’re trying to change a culture around education and achievement that’s difficult to do but
that’s the ultimate aim of an approach like this. – So maybe I can build on that point and ask some of the other mayors how do you communicate the urgency of working on this problem? Or the opportunity you see for your city. Mayor Schaaf? – I think part of it has
to do with prioritizing it. A lot of people are interested in what the mayor’s priorities are and so when you say if
there were only one thing that I can do as a mayor of Oakland and it is the Oakland promise that has a certain power. I think that, I mean we all got elected because we are good communicators and we are good at hustling resources for lack of a better word. Some people would call
that political fundraising. (crowd laughing) – [Joe] That works too. (laughing) – So to apply that to your passion I think authentically we
all are truly personally passionate about this as an issue and whether that’s through
our own personal experiences with education or different supports that we got in our own lives or because through our
journeys to where we are now we have been so profoundly touched by what good interventions can mean in a young person’s life. We hopefully have the skills
to make that come alive and to rally people behind it and I love how you quoted Marshall Ganz that in a world of unknowns of a lot of unknowns but that is, kind of, I think
our secret sauce as mayors is to get people to
invest, to go, to believe in something that hasn’t
quite been proven yet. But that’s our jobs. – Major Curtatone? – Yes, you know, something and you’ll figure it out pretty quickly I’m a disciple of Heifetz and you’ll know why in a second. This to me is all about leadership and I think an example,
one I’ve used often today and in days before I recall come into
office as Mayor at a time when the nation has
released health reports that said our obesity rates have tripled over the previous 40 years and we just embarked on a partnership with the Friedman School of Nutrition Dr. Christine O’Connor was in TUFTS which, the report stated that 46% of high school age
children either are obese or at risk of being obese. My question to her is, all
right well, what do we do? What is the role I play? And so much about how you communicate and really the question is how do you get people to own the work? And the leadership isn’t
only in the work itself or you know, investing
in self-aggrandizement that you’re the only person
who can solve the problem and shape up Somerville
which was the worldwide model of reversing childhood
obesity in a generation was about giving the
community and the stakeholders the work, much like we’re
trying to give today in closing the achievement gap and giving every chance and opportunity to achieve and succeed. I played the role of that ambassador of putting out the information of talking about don’t we wanna see don’t we wanna grow the
healthiest generation in our society, not the
unhealthiest generation. I think that’s what we have to plan in terms of leadership sometimes. Sometimes it’s pointing to the data it gets people at the edge of their chair not let them fall off but turn up the heat enough to get them off the back of their chairs and I was excited to play that role before and it proved, and when I
always look back over the years and 14 years now, in my
14 years of being mayor I always ask myself what would leadership have looked like in that situation? Who do I bring along? Who got to own the work? Who do we lead behind? That’s what’s sustainable moving forward. – So Mayor Fischer mentioned
disrupting the status quo you said raising the heat,
you said communication. One of the priorities
for you, Mayor Elorza is to engage the public in this work. Can you explain what you mean by that and how you do it? – Sure, sure. I think that mayors are
perfectly positioned especially right now when
you look at our communities and you look at the country there’s so many forces that
are pulling us apart, right? And it seems like these forces
are becoming more and more intense every day, every year. But if you think about cities, right? We talked about the definition of cities. If there is one purpose
that cities have had from the beginning of time it’s to bring people together, right? So us as the figureheads and
us as the leaders for the city we’re in this perfect position that we can be this uniting force and so in our communities people care deeply about these issues and sometimes they care very
loudly about these issues. You know, we see this as an asset. So how do we engage this
energy into what we’re doing and turn it into this productive force that brings more unity to our cities? We’ve done that around education we’ve done it in a lot of different ways. But in particular about education and it ties into this
communication piece too. So, now we’ve had this constant challenge that we’ve set ourselves to and that’s how do we better communicate all the great work that’s
happening in the school department and around kids in education
throughout the city? Sure, part of it is we want people to know all the great work that we’re doing but it’s much deeper than that. It’s about how do we
convey a sense of optimism about the momentum that
we’re building in our city so that people feel
connected, people feel engaged and through this virtuous
feedback, feedback loop they can then be part of substantively making these initiatives even more impactful and even greater. I think that we heard
here that community change happens at the speed of trust and the more that you engage people, the more that you’re transparent about the work that you’re doing. I believe Paul has also mentioned that people support the things
that they help to create so the sooner that we engage the community the more they feel invested
in what we’re doing. Selfishly from our perspective the better they’ll see the
good work that’s happening. But unselfishly and substantively the more they are gonna be stakeholders and we’ll be able to leverage their energy to further what is our collective agenda. So I see this as vital
to getting our work done but I also see it as a great opportunity for mayors to step up and
play that leadership role in bringing communities together when at every other level of government it’s increasingly difficult
for folks to do that. – So when I hear you
all speak to this issue it seems like creating that energy both in your organizations,
in other sectors and among the community is a necessary condition to get the work done. You gotta raise the level of
heat, to quote what you said. But how do you turn that energy
then into productive work? How do you turn that
heat that you create into policies and into the
delivery of those services? So you can think about the
conventional structures that are in place for education
or support for children. How do you think about the balance between using those
conventional structures and new mechanisms such
as quasi public entities advisory buddies or what
the Education Redesign Lab has designed these children’s cabinets. So what’s the balance between old and new when it comes to harnessing
that energy in the community and really turning it
into better policies? Elorza? – So I think you have to have an openness and you know, when you open
up a process to the community there’s a messiness to it. You have to be willing to take that risk and trust the public. You really have to trust that people will come in with good intentions and I’ve made it a point that quarterly I have a community
conversation in a different neighborhood in my city
and I’ll stay there until all of the questions are exhausted. Sometimes folks are angry. Sometimes they’re angry
about legitimate issues sometimes it’s not my fault but I have to stand there and take it. – But then when you go home
after a night like that so the next day, you’re like that was an exhausting night, right? But I listened to everybody. Then the next morning in
office, what do you do to kind of take those concerns as
well as the good suggestions and turn it into improving service? – So I get that there’s this
power in the process itself. I think it’s so important
for our residents to feel as though they’re connected to what happens in city hall simply being listened to, my being there with all of my directors that in and of itself is helpful. Then you also have to listen, right? Folks have to see tangible
change as a result of that and so, we all structure
our administrations in a way that we can be
responsive to these needs. So if what we’re hearing
from the community is that there are rats
in that neighborhood well then our department of public works has to be equipped and ready
to go out and do that work. So a lot of the work that we do around simply running our administrations well, good government, using technology, using data to improve our systems to continually improve it all ties in to engaging the community so that they’re a part of what we’re doing and if they’re engaged and they’re a part of what we’re doing, we
exponentially increase the capacity of what we’re able to do. – So thank you. Mayor Curtatone was actually quoted as the Mayor of the best
run city in Massachusets and was actually helping to improve other cities do that work. So what is your approach? Your philosophy of turning that energy into actual operations and policies? – Well I don’t, there’s no
static formula or approach to it. I see it, again Ronnie Heifetz will say, you know there’s this beautiful waltz
happening on the dance floor when you’re up on the balcony today it feels more like a
mosh pit, quite honestly. (audience laughing) Then you decide whether
you’re gonna jump in but to launch from where
Elorza just mentioned there is no longer what is
conventional, non-conventional we want to identify as many
allies and stakeholders on a value proposition and
plug those value strengths and get them to own the work. The process isn’t easy,
leadership isn’t easy it’s a very lonely enterprise
at the end of the day the work is hard but you
can’t let people off the hook you’ve got to keep them there, in suspense in that constructive
stage at this equilibrium to do the work necessary. But when we land at the end of the day it’s so much stronger. So much more unified. I can point to examples,
again, when I go back and try to diagnose what would leadership have looked like in that moment? Even the circumstances and on the merits if you read a white paper on this about the mayor got it right I can tell you where
we failed on leadership because we left too many people
behind on the conversation. So it’s no longer who
should be at the table but as many allies and stakeholders both within the organizational structure with the community as possible. – Yeah and I want to add. I mean, the collective impact framework I think has been a great
tool for folks like us. – [Jorrit] Can you explain
to us what you mean by that? – It means having a
really big table, right? (chuckling) It means not being afraid
to kind of take it all on because we recognize that
everything is interconnected. In Oakland, you might
ask why I’m on the stage when I abolished the
Mayor’s education cabinet every Mayor had had an education
cabinet and I abolished it because I wanted to put my energy into strengthening
something that had existed for a long time but was kind of dormant which was a joint powers authority among the county, the
school district, the city. So again, a lot of the, kind of the leadership is spread
out a little bit more which can be scary for some people and it’s messy, it’s uncomfortable but like you said, it’s
so much more impactful. – I want to demystify it a little bit. I mean, so I’m a business person that just so happens to be mayor. (Libby giggles) The difference between running
a business and running a city is with a city, everybody
is on your team, right? I mean we get the full bell curve of life and it gets really
interesting on the edges of the bell curve, I can tell you. (Libby giggles) When you have a business, you
get to select your employees you get to select your customers so it’s a much narrower band
of variation that you have than in public life. But a lot of the same
principals apply, right? So okay, what are your
guiding values, number one. I think this is where a
lot of cities fall short and leaders in general,
they don’t start with what do we all have in
common as human beings? Talking about our value of compassion of kindness, love, hospitality that we all should start with then we can get into
tactical disagreements. In today’s world it’s like, boom it’s just, everybody
goes to their own corner you lock down, nothing gets done. How about if we remind ourselves that maybe we salute the same flag, we have the same values in our hearts and then we can go from there. But then the same kind of visioning starts and planning starts and
I think what we’ve done in particular that’s been effective is we dedicate resources
to what we call the job. When I got in government, what I found was there was a serious lack of training offered to people to optimize
their human potential. There was functional training
on how to better do your job but there wasn’t training on how to be a better project manager, how to be a better
problem solver, let’s say. Skills that you can take with
you into any environment. So we’ve done that with our city and I’ve done three transformations
in the private sector and we’re doing a transformation
in the public sector here and I can tell you,
government employees respond just the same way, maybe in
an even more appreciative way because they’re not used to
getting that type of training. So we say the job, there is daily work, continuous improvement
work and innovation work. Why do we say that’s the job? Because when you ask
somebody to do something they can’t say, that’s not my job, okay? (audience laughing) Depending on where you’re
at in the organization you spend different amounts
of your time in daily work and improvement work through
our LouieStat organization Theresa Reno-Weber’s here,
she designed that for us. Then our innovation work and by resourcing each of those areas you can methodically go about knocking off your big goals and your daily goals and that’s how you get
big stuff done over time. – So you created Cradle to Career support structure in Louisville so everybody who’s working
in that support structure knows what their job is, it’s
innovation and what are– – Continuous improvement. – Continuous improvement, right? So how does that relate to
the conventional structures? Are they still in place? Or is this structure replacing
that conventional mechanism? – Well in Cradle to Career I know it’s a hybrid that’s in transition because there is no
organization that exists to bring all resources together to bear on the success of
each and every child, right? So you have this school system that most people misidentify
and mischaracterize as the solution to everything whereas the reality is, we just
drop our kids off at school with all of the beauty
and flaws that they have and then they’re in
under-resourced schools, maybe very challenging situations, high free and reduced
lunch, traumatized kids and then we’re supposed to pick them up at the end of the day and expect the school
system to take care of that? So we’re redesigning how
people look at education in an advancement of a
full and healthy child in all characteristics,
not just in the classroom where we’re familiar with language let’s say like kindergarten ready or third grade reading level. What’s the language that we use around physical and
mental health readiness, social and emotional learning readiness? We’re not used to having
that conversation in society. But what we know is when we see the gaps the achievement gaps that our kids have between those most well off and
those that are not achieving which is primarily our community of color we don’t have the language to discuss that and share it in a
non-judgemental type of way where people don’t look at it and say this is a real inclusion
problem for us as a society of course we’re gonna
resource in these areas so each and every one of our children have an opportunity to succeed for us. We’re having to create that framework create that language, this is difficult because people aren’t used
to a language like this. We’re creating the Cradle
to Career, if you will with its own governance structure of which our public school system our superintendent Marty Pollio is here many of our JCPS partners, are
a critical, huge part of that as well as early care and pre-K and then our post-secondary
and then our employers because what’s going on through all this is our workforce needs
are pulling us through. Then when the business
folks are at the table then all of a sudden it seems like the rest of the community takes it more seriously. Otherwise it’s just some
social do-gooder program is what some people characterize it as. – Thank you. I’d like to go to Providence. So when you first got elected as Mayor you started an initiative,
Providence reads, right? And you’ve done a lot of efforts that make investing in child
well-being more equitable across the city, especially
minority communities. What was the challenge in terms of building a structure to support that work? It was all cross-boundary work
and it was new and innovative so similar to Mayor
Fischer, what did you do to sustain a support that worked? – Sure. So it wasn’t a program that I started. It was started by the
previous administration but it wasn’t achieving the
results that it was intended. So when I came in, we fully adopted it and said we’re gonna make this work. So the program is called Providence Talks and picture a pedometer
but instead of something that measures your steps, it
measures the number of words that you hear and that you speak each day. So inference from zero to 36 months they wear this word pedometer and after a month, they
submit the pedometer and we give them a print-out and we give it to the
parents and we show them this is the level of interaction that you have with your children and this is how it
compares to other families with children this age. It’s amazing because you might think that you communicate more
or less with your child but when it’s given to you on paper there’s data you can’t debate or fight it it’s led a lot of parents to say wow okay I didn’t realize
we interacted so little we have to up our game here. So there’s this competitive
aspect that kicks in and what’s so interesting
about this program is that when it was originally designed it was designed as an intervention for children aged zero to 36 and while I do believe it ultimately met those original goals what we’ve found is that really it’s an intervention for parents and what we’re doing now is
we’re doing a lot of research on parental involvement and whether that parental involvement carries on even after they’re done with the program and the children begin
the K through 12 system. So it’s amazing but little things that parents pick up along the way when a child starts saying ball we have a home visitor
that has gotten to know the family and the child and is able to coach the parent and say well, when they start saying
ball, have them combine words big ball, red ball and this sort of, like, sets
of a light bulb in the parents in the parents mind and they
gain this agency, right? It’s empowering to know that the work you do as a parent
is having a measurable impact and you can measure it over time. So that sense of agency has
been really heartening to see and we don’t have the data yet but I strongly anticipate
that this is going to carry on even after their children
begin the K through 12 system. So it’s a very exciting project and we have a couple of other
cities who have replicated it and we have our whole shop and we’re ready to share
all of our information, our systems, our technology
with any other city. It’s a program that, for
a fraction of the cost of Headstart is having
very similar outcomes so we’re really excited about it. – So that project is a
success and does that success translate into an appetite
for more innovation? If so, how does that work? – I think so, but you know something that is really
important to distinguish of course we’re all
committed to innovation but there’s innovation where there’s
this shiny brand new object this new initiative that
no-one else has tried there’s also a different
kind of innovation in many of our administrations you have bureaucrats who have been doing the exact same work for 20 years and if we can bring a growth mentality to the work that they do no more of I do this because that’s the way it’s always been done but we’re gonna think of new and better ways to get this work done I’ll take that innovation,
culturally throughout the entire system any day over this sort of one-off product. So of course there’s
a spirit of innovation that we’re continually fostering but innovation has a lot of different takes a lot of different shapes. – So we’ve heard a
couple of things, right? One is to create the
energy, to raise the heat to redefine the job for
staff working on these issues and you know, at the end of the day the question is will
communication and co-ordination across these departments be enough to get these new
innovations off the ground and to keep improving continuously or are new resources needed as well? That’s a question I have
for you, Mayor Schaaf ’cause you’ve been thinking about this. How to create sustainable financing for those initiatives that are
so badly needed in Oakland. – Yeah. Well, so in Oakland, the Oakland Promise is our kind of Cradle to Career initiative where again, we want to
have certain innovations that are very equity focused for example, we want every
single baby born into poverty to get a $500 college savings account during their first year of life as well as immediate $500 of immediate assistance for the families and the offering of financial
coaching for families. We want every single kindergartner regardless of their income
to get $100 scholarship during their first year of kindergarten and for the school community,
teachers, parents, community to use that as a tool to really build a college-going culture and to infuse a college-going identity and expectation in every single child in our whole city. We also are working on future centers that are middle schools and high schools to demystify the college
acceptance and funding reality as well as get kids
excited about career paths and why education matters, how it’s gonna get them
to where they wanna go. Then finally, to make sure that they go to and through college. You know, college drop-out is a huge issue we were just talking about that. We not only provide
multi-year scholarships but also, mentors and
other persistent supports to ensure that our students
are finishing college. Right now, in Oakland, only
10% of my ninth grade class will have a college degree
by the time they are 25. That is shameful. In the Bay Area economy with so many opportunities right there it is particularly shameful. So we have this interesting problem because this is a pretty
big ambitious initiative it’s gonna cost money to send
that many kids to college and to pop out all these $500
college savings accounts. So we designed a four-year pilot and we took that out to
both public sector partners the county is actually
putting some money into this the school district is
putting some money into this and for the first time,
the city allocated money in its own budget for
scholarships for kindergartners. Isn’t that beautiful? – [Jorrit] How did you
get them to do that? – Again, it’s our job, right? It’s our job to make them see– – But we wanna know how you do that. (laughing) – You know, again, the
idea that it’s a pilot and you’re only allocating
for the first two years $100,000, it was a small ask to begin with then when you have those public sectors small investments, then you
go out to the private sector and then you get funders
excited about the innovations and they wanna invest in this pilot. Meanwhile, while you’re running the pilot you have to pull in some
really good expertise to build the financial models holy moly, what is this
gonna cost us at scale? Because all children means all children and I don’t know about you
but I am tired of programs. I am tired of programs that help the children
that are lucky enough to find their way to that program. We are in government. We control these major public institutions and we know that they have to be changed. They have got to shift. The inequities, the racial inequities that our public institutions are producing are completely unacceptable and so when you cost out
what is this gonna cost for every child in my city
for at least one generation it is true that that’s a big number and so we figured out
that there are a kind of combination of funding sources that we thought we could sell publicly to actually get this big
hairy audacious goal done. The first piece of it,
again this four-year pilot was 35 million dollars
and again that was funded through a combination of
public and private sources mostly private and that’s
your pitch to philanthropy help me prove how awesome this is then I will change the way the
government spends its money. That is what philanthropy wants to hear because we control vast
amounts of resources. If we can get better results
with the public dollar we are all better off. So that pilot was a big piece of it. Now, as we go for our sustainability model we are doing two things and again we’ve spent some money on an
expert to figure this out. We believe that we can raise,
in the next couple of years a quasi endowment of 50 million dollars. We think that that wealth
exists within the Bay Area and that as the Mayor,
I have committed myself to raise a 50 million
dollar quasi endowment. Quasi means it will earn interest and the way we’ve designed the spend on it is the spend is weighted
towards the late years but it is designed to
be spent entirely down within 30 years, but that
buys us 30 years, oh my gosh. Then the second piece,
is to get our residents to pass a tax, yes,
Oaklanders, they’re smart. They get why investing in kids
is a worthwhile investment and so we are gonna be
asking them next November to potentially put, again
this is still in development it’s a little secretive, I
know we’re live streaming. (audience laughing) – Well we call that a fee. – Okay. Like, around $190 per parcel and that would produce 30
million dollars a year. With that money, in
partnership with a coordinated sales tax increase that our
county government is looking at we can then fund affordable
access to quality pre-school for every four-year-old in our city and possibly three-year-olds. It all depends how this all works out. As well as have a dedicated funding source for the Oakland Promise’s
Cradle to Career supports so that combination, quasi endowment. Yes, yes, let’s hear it. (audience applauding) – So that’s really encouraging to see this level of entrepreneurship
and innovation and optimism at the local level, at the city level. At the same time, I think we should also address the elephant in the room is that at the federal level there’s a very different situation. – The orange elephant. (audience laughing) (audience applauding) – Everybody get it? Right, okay. So, I think, you know we should talk a little bit about that. What has changed since the last election in terms of your ability to
care for your communities, to invest in your communities, to do your work as a city leader? May I start with Mayor Curtatone? – I think there’s a lot of uncertainty on many different levels on a human level, we’re
a very diverse city in Somerville, we speak about 60 languages in our neighborhoods and our schools. We have a strong undocumented population and you know, every time President Trump or Jeff Sessions ranches up
a rhetoric against immigrants or to attack DAPA or TPS participants kids don’t go to school,
families don’t seek health care maybe they don’t go to work. Right now there’s uncertainty
with this absurd tax plan which would really kill
any housing production and preservation efforts in our region and these 435,000 units of housing by 2040 that people have been displaced or ability to deal with
critical infrastructure. Really it’s the uncertainty. This job, I always tell people my job certainly in the last 14 years but even in the last five or one year has become more complex, you know? It’s the uncertainty in
what the future holds. So you can just imagine the impact the greatest impact, the negative impact has been on the human level,
to the people in our community. Children are wondering what
the future holds for them we’re all wondering does this nation still believe in its
value of being a diverse and tolerant society? Immigrants wonder is it still a place to chase that American dream? There’s some, like Somerville
is progressive as it is it’s still that city
of hope and opportunity so for us to deal with the very
technical pieces of our job and that’s the easy part of it now but it’s really the negative and impactful things that are really
hurting us on a human level that make the job more complex. And on the education side, I mean we’re seeing, not just a dismantling of the education advances this country and this nation has made over the last couple of generations we really have democracy. So I think that’s, when we
think about value proposition and how to mobilize our
licensed stakeholders to do necessary work on a nation level it’s these things, as Mayors,
at least I find my role I have to speak up more
often on a national level because it impacts my
folks on a local level and people say, does
anybody give you a hard time when you’re battling Trump on national TV and I see you on immigration but not talking about potholes and stuff. It’s those important local transactions are always important but
at the end of the day people are looking to
us to stand up for those core community and I
believe American values. It gives the immigrants in my community a bit more confidence that
we’re gonna fight for them. It let’s people know that
we’re not gonna sit back and see those important
pillars of our institutions just be dismantled over time so I find my job, at least
I’m sure the other Mayors would concur to be more complex and somewhat exhausting and
we haven’t even gone to a year of this administration, it
feels like its been a lifetime. – All right. (audience applauding) – Sorry, Jorrit, Jorrit? – So we know that Mayor Curtatone got reelected last week by 73%. – Nobody else wanted the job! (audience applause) – So you’re doing something right. Maybe people don’t want
to hear about potholes as much as they wanna hear
about community values. So I think that’s a great testimony to. – Well that’s my point. What Mayor Joe just demonstrated there was extraordinary leadership by leading with human values, right? I mean, that’s what the
United States of America is supposed to all be about that we have some kind of common purpose embedded in liberty and justice for. – [Audience] All. – All. Not some. Of course, we’re living in a world where the data is so much more persuasive about what we know and we don’t know. We’ve seen our communities of color just taking it for centuries now in a way that they have been
tremendously under-resourced. Where we’re from, in Louisville racism, institutional racism
is in all of our cities but we’re leaning into
conversations around racism. After the Charlottesville demonstrations I mean, the underbelly of our country in terms of white nationalism
really was on full display. So the question is, for us in cities is what, do you kind
of look the other way? Or do we have conversation
and activities and actions so that we elevate our
community consciousness around these issues and
then lean into these issues from the lens of equity that
Mayor Schaaf spoke about which is really, if we don’t do that I mean we’re in deep
trouble, folks, as a society. Now I’m very optimistic
that we will get it right as a country but the question is how much pain and suffering
is gonna take place between now and then? There are people that agree
with the equity perspective because they just, morally
it’s the right thing to do. If I can’t get people on that lens and I talk to them about the economic development imperative. we have to have a trained workforce in order for us to remain
competitive as an economy that means everybody has to participate whether you agree morally or not. Secondarily, from an economic
development standpoint if you raise the wages of people below the medium wage in our country in our city it creates an additional economy of two billion dollars in GDP. That’s good for everybody! We’re living in an age right now where people look through
a lot changes as win, lose. If they win, I lose. As opposed to saying no, there’s
abundance, everybody wins. If we get everybody up to medium wage and create an additional two
billion dollars of economy in our city, that’s good for everybody. So we’ve got to stop people
having to look at this from a win, lose perspective. So there’s a moral reason,
there’s an economic reason and the third is a public safety reason. I referred to it earlier in terms of the civil unrest in our streets. People are fed up, people
are fed up in our cities our minority populations
have been disadvantaged and mistreated for hundreds
of years in our community and you see the same unrest
in our rural communities in this last presidential election. So there’s a way to come together here, Jorrit to pull all this together but we’ve got to get together
to keep our country safe. – I think you guys are
being way too polite. (audience laughing) – Now we’re gonna have it. – I do not think we should mince words when we are talking
about the bully in chief. His behavior is so
antithetical to Oakland values and that in some ways,
it’s actually brought the fight out in us. It was about a year ago,
we have an annual gala for the Oakland Promise and
we made the stupid mistake of having it two days after election day. So literally, nobody
was in the mood to party until the students got up to speak. Those students talked about what the American dream really is. It actually was one of
the most energizing nights I have ever experienced because we realized in that place that no matter who was in the White House they could not take
away our American dream and that we, in our
city, could take that on claim it, live it and
do something about it right in our community
and we have not stopped. This year, I held my
state of the city address in our Islamic Cultural center as a symbol of how much this whole city
is standing against everything the tone that has come
out of that administration and I hope that we all make the lemonade out of this orange lemon. (audience laughing) That is energizing our basis,
getting people to get engaged in the work that we are doing,
that is the opportunity. – Yeah, so that’s the
final question, thank you. (audience applauding) Before you respond Mayor Elorza. – I can’t let this go by. (audience laughing) – Well maybe you can answer
this question as well and you get the final word here. What you’ve done is remarkable not just in Providence but you’ve also been involved in
discussions about creating a national children’s accord for Mayors to support
an integrated approach to improving the lives of children. So talk to us about the potential of kind of a bottom-up movement for improving the well-being of children and what cities and city
leaders like yourself can play a role in that. – Can I talk about Trump first? (audience laughing) – Talk about anything you want. – Only if it’s funny. – So yeah, I mean. There’s so much anxiety in
our communities right now and one thing that has changed for me since Trump got elected,
is that I realized that you can’t assume that the public and people know what you’re fighting for and where you come from,
so this question of values. So I made it a point to
be much more explicit in every conversation
and speech that I gave about where I’m coming from and why we’re fighting this fight. In fact, so between the
election day and inauguration my team and I, we basically
went through every group that candidate Trump
insulted during the campaign. – And the list was long. – And it was a long list. (Libby giggles) So each week between the
election and inauguration we rolled out either a new initiative a new program or a new
announcement or a new gathering where we specifically
addressed those communities and reassured them that
they’re home in Providence. So we’ve been a lot more
intentional and a lot more vocal about articulating where we come from and what we’re fighting for. Another thing that has
changed since election day and I think this is true across
the board with all Mayors is that whereas in the
past, perhaps we would have seated ground on some spaces thinking well this isn’t
necessarily a very local issue it’s an international
issue, it’s a federal issue. Now we’re realizing that all these issues are absolutely local and I think immigration
is the perfect example. If kids are afraid to go
to school because of ice we deal with it at the local level. If parents are afraid to call the police or to testify as witnesses,
we feel it at the local level. So we’ve seen it there, we’ve
also seen it on climate change as the federal government has retreated from its leadership role,
mayors have stepped up and said we are more than
willing to lead in this space and by amplifying each others voice we’re able to drive the conversation and drive the agenda at a national level. One other area where
we’re looking to drive that national conversation is around education and social mobility. The truth is that we’re getting
our butts whipped right now when compared to other developed countries on social mobility. Think about what that says
about something as core as our national identity, right? What does it mean to be American? If anything, it means
that if you bust your tail you work hard and you play by the rules you can work your way up
to a middle class lifestyle and provide for your family. But that’s not only less
likely than not to be true but is becoming progressively
less likely to be true. So what direction are we heading in on social mobility and
inequality in our country? We’re definitely heading
in the wrong direction. So that’s another area
where I believe us Mayors we are ready to lead, we’re
ready to take a stand. So once again, that’s a very local issue. Cradle to Career approaches,
early childhood learning, K through 12 systems, summer
learning, after school, blended learning, online learning tools, workforce opportunities afterwards. Those are all levers
that we as Mayors control and what we’re looking to do is similar to the climate accord
where you had 300 plus cities sign on to these set of principals that in spite of government stepping back from its leadership role,
we are gonna step into it. We want to do the same
thing around social mobility and have a national,
maybe even international children’s accord where
we help kids go from kids get to middle class by middle age. Middle by the age of 40. We hold the most important
levers that can impact that so we want to amplify each others voice to make that a reality. – Thank you so much. (audience applauding) I’d like to open it up to the audience. Please if you have a question,
come up to the microphone and identify yourself, just say your name and your affiliation and
address your question either to one Mayor or to all of them. Please, questions only. (chuckling) So if you have more thoughts than can be contained in 30 seconds we’d love to talk to you afterwards but please keep it concise so multiple people can have
a chance to get a word in. Thanks. – Hi, my name is Kevin
Evans, I’m a student here at the Harvard Graduate
School of Education. I’m glad you started
off the discussion today talking about the
ambiguity of what a city is because the idea of a city can be distinct and sometimes at odds
with the actual people that make up that city. So I’m wondering how you navigate conflict here, where, like,
economic development in a city that could theoretically
marginalize and push out price out populations that have
been there for a long time. I know Oakland has dealt with this I assume the rest of you have? – Yeah we’re dealing with it in Somerville we’re in this region,
the Metro-Boston region we’re the second most gentrified
region outside of Oakland I mean, there’s some
dynamics impacting that. One, we’re in a housing crisis. We’re also reaching to try and grow if we don’t grow and
stay stagnant and static we’re gonna die because
we can’t raise a revenue to invest in all these incredible programs and needs we have as a community. But when we think of, Mayor
Fischer mentioned cities as incubators of human opportunity. Are we giving people a real
and authentic opportunity and choice to live there? To rent a home, to buy a
home, to start a business, to send their kids to school and so forth and we’ve taken this
distance-based approach which has led us into this conversation by all means as a community understand how do we, how do we guided by our orienting
value being an exceptional place to live, work, raise a family. Is that true? Is that an opportunity for
everyone living in our community? It’s a difficult challenge. Conversations and the systems
at work in the community work and the adapted work is
local but it’s also regional. So as we think about development we want to leverage development back to the human scale, not
just how it impacts how we move but we invest in back in the community. It’s difficult because
Somerville for example and every state is different. Somerville was a city
of very little resources up until a few years ago. The city set out a plan for growth over the next couple of decades and we’re starting to realize
that we’re taking that revenue source and we invest
it back into community values. However, there is displacement happening across every neighborhood and
every city in this region. While we’re making
advances on the production of housing side and on
my street, for example we’re losing, we’re
somewhat affordable still and we’re trying to deal with that so one of the things we’re leaning on say for this Metro region here is myself, Mayor Walsh and others will be making announcements soon enough leading a regional housing
plan tied to mobility in workforce development
because if we don’t tie really at an assistance level
approach across the region what’s going to happen is
we’re gonna concentrate probably more intensely and more remotely. Big challenge and this
is one of the challenges of our time in this region. – To answer your first question if you want to make everyone happy this is not the job choice for you. (audience laughing) So that’s, just to get that out the way. – Work in a pet shop. – Yeah. (laughing) That’s a good one. (laughing) Raising housing affordability
is absolutely relevant to this conversation
because at least in Oakland the displacement and housing insecurity absolutely are impacting
our children’s ability to learn and thrive. So it is, just to add on to what he said it’s not just one thing
that’s gonna fix it. I wish that 20 years ago,
we on a regional level had fixed it because the
Bay Area has been adding eight new jobs for every
one new unit of housing and we’ve been doing that for years so it’s very important to
have that regional lens. Then to recognize you can’t just build your way out of the problem although building is very important. You’ve got to strengthen
renter protections so we’ve got Just Cause,
we’ve got rent control and we’re trying to modify
California state law that prohibits cities from expanding a lot of those protections while we build. – Can I just add a quick comment to that? – Sure. – It’s more of a cultural comment. As a society, we’ve really lost balance in a lot of these areas, right? So right now people think
about what’s most important is the maximum return on capital deployed. Therefore, let’s have more expensive homes in Oakland and Somerville
and that’s what we should do versus saying no that’s
not the value of the city we want affordable housing
throughout the city in every neighborhood, we think everybody should have an affordable place to live, they should have food security, etc. These are alien conversations in America right now unfortunately. They’ve become more and
more so as we’ve advanced over these last couple of decades so we’ve really got to
bring it back to the basics to say, do we really think everybody should have an affordable place to live? Should everybody have food on the table? Should everybody have a
shot at a good education? Again, I think we’ll come back
to that at some point in time but that needs to be integrated more in the national and local dialogues. – Can we also hear from Mayor Elorza? I know you’re working
on economic development and inclusive growth for Providence. So how do you respond to this dilemma? – Yeah we come at it from the same place. Providence is at an
interesting moment right now you know, we’ve lagged behind our economies have lagged behind both Massachusets and
Connecticut for a long time but we’re catching up. Already we’re seeing prices
rise on rent and property values this is before the jobs have come. Now that the jobs are coming we anticipate that the prices
are going to rise even faster. So this is great that
our city is on the move we’re growing, we’re progressing but the last thing that I would want is for us to find ourselves in a position where that progress can’t be enjoyed by the people who grew up there, who lived there, who worked
there, who are invested there. So we’re trying to be
as proactive as possible and we’re doing a lot around
abandoned properties right now. We have a growing homelessness challenge but how can we have a
homelessness challenge at the same time that you have hundreds of abandoned properties? It just makes no sense. They’ve been abandoned for 10 years. So we’re very aggressively working on that so that we have a built-in
affordable housing strategy to address many of the challenges that we see coming down the pipe. – Thank you. – Hi, thank you so much
for being here today. I have a question about
engaging communities. So most of my work, I spend
pretty much all my life in helping communities
with cultural competency and really just developing
a sense of empathy in terms of understanding each other and where they’re coming from. You mentioned about engaging
communities yourself how do you do that in
the most effective way when so many members of your own community don’t speak even English? How do you do that when culture gestures are maybe misinterpreted
from one person to another? So how do you do that in that macro level? I’d love to know that
and after you answer that you’ll see me leave but it’s
not because of what you said. (audience laughing) – So, I’d like to start. We found about, a few years ago we pride ourselves on
our communication ability how we get data out to the public. We like to say we have
360 degrees capacity of communication and 10 miles deep but we found that more than our foreign-born
population wasn’t receiving more than 90% of those communications. So how can we earn and gain credibility and trust with the people we need to help solve issues around public health, public safety and to grow a community? How can I have them feel comfortable about engaging me as their Mayor and letting them know that
this is their community Mayor and this is their police department. So we developed a program in Somerville and the school’s done this,
done a tremendous job in this getting engaged parents, call it SomerViva and we started to do a
lot of in depth analysis about what is the best way
to engage people one on one so it’s as simple as how
we communicate with them with technology that they’re used to or going to the supermarkets that really a lot of our foreign population go to or to the houses of worship. We hold health fares, for example we held it at the Brazilian
Church this past weekend and we do a lot of, we do our
resident statistic meetings we do across the city but we
do more culturally-focused on foreign speaking populations as well. So we try to compound and
embed a very thorough approach to engage this population’s understanding the cultural sensitivities
and really what are the I guess the conduits to best reach them. So we’ve seen a greater
uptake, much more participation from our different populations
which we hadn’t seen before and the response back is they’re hearing more about city programs,
they’re gaining better trust they’re feeling safer in Somerville not to withstand what’s
happening in Washington. – Two quick things. One, Oakland has long
had an equal access law and that means we have a legal mandate to provide translation,
to translate materials and to provide bilingual employees in public contact positions. So if you don’t have that
in your city, check it out. Specific to the Oakland Promise we’re really excited about
our ambassador program so we have ambassadors that
are from the communities that we most want to impact. A number of our ambassadors
are not English speaking so we accommodate that
and that was intentional because that’s a population
we specifically want to reach and the ambassadors not
only are like, you know celebrated ambassadors of the program to actually go out and communicate but they actually have,
kind of a co-creation and leadership role with us. They tell us if we need to
change things about the programs if the program is not
working for their community. So, it’s not just that you want people of different cultures
to hear your information you want to also listen to them. – So. – Sorry, yep, go ahead. – So you also have to be
comfortable giving up control so I’ll give you an example. On a different topic but I
think it speaks to the question. So, I was listening to a presentation about this group that
addresses violent crime. The point that the presenter made is oftentimes we say,
this person is so far gone he doesn’t care about anyone. The point is that’s not true. He doesn’t care about us,
he could care less about us but there’s someone out there in the community that can reach them. One thing that I think we’ve
done well in Providence is that we’ve been comfortable giving up complete control and using community leaders
to help deliver our message or using community leaders
to engage the public that we wouldn’t be
able to reach directly. There’s some very difficult very difficult communities to reach. It might be very difficult to get the undocumented immigrant
community to come to a forum where we’ll have the state
police, so the Providence police or, you know or other groups. So understanding that sometimes we might have the message but
we aren’t the best messengers. – Thank you, question over here. – Hi, thank you for being here. I really appreciate
all of your commitments to collective impact,
to breaking down silos, doing more interdisciplinary work to push forward all the issues that we care about in education
and child development. But I also, from experience,
know that it’s so much harder to make that table bigger and to kind of bring more people in sometimes. Would love to get any advice you have about sort of tactically or what sort of leadership practices
you’ve been able to employ to make that work and to get results out of kind of that, maybe a bit more chaotic or messier process? – Great question, who’d like to start? (laughing) You’ve already revealed
one of your secrets. – Well it’s just intentionality
has gotta be there to make sure that your table looks like the faces of the community and oftentimes it looks
more like people like me than the broad swath of the community so we’re alert and attentive to that and try to make sure
that that is not the case in the community and
there’s also an issue there of, you know, who’s
ready to be at the table and there’s capacity building required so that’s perfectly okay. Everybody brings a different lens so I may not be ready to be at the table in terms of understanding, let’s say the difficulties of an
undocumented community but an undocumented
community might be ready to be at the table to
broaden that lens for us so how do you get as many
perspectives as possible there so that you can really
make your solutions rich. I haven’t found an easy way to do it. – Yeah I like to think
that one of our successes has been letting people
see how it benefits them. So for example, with rolling out these college savings accounts for babies. We work with implementation partners so when Alameda County’s home visit nurse goes to visit a client, she’s not only he or she is not only showing up to provide health care but now gets to say hey and guess what? I’m offering your baby a
$500 college savings account. Like how fun, to deliver that news. (audience chuckles) We have a long time non-profit that’s been doing scholarships
and persistent supports we’ve helped fund, we didn’t create a new scholarship delivery and management system we just have raised
money to let them scale to a much larger audience. We’ve tried to help people see themselves in this continuum, in this
Cradle to Career continuum and to see how when we are
all coordinating our efforts we all are doing a better job and that’s what we all came to do. – Mayor Curtatone, you’ve used a term institutionalizing curiosity. – Yeah. – That’s a signature Curtatone phrase. (laughing) So, can you explain, to this question what does that mean? So how does that work? Because it seems to be a crucial
element to your leadership. – Well there’s two things. How do you get people
doing the work to give back it’s that value statement,
that’s creates a value stream. Mayor Schaaf said, not only
20% of the ninth graders will be moving on to
secondary higher education. 10%, that for me got me
on the edge of my seat and if I’m in Oakland,
how can I help and work and be part of that, sort of
how you raise a disequilibrium and then, how do you enable
collaborate creativity? How do you create that fun factor? I mean, people bring these qualities sometimes they’re inherent,
you’ve got to bring them up I always look for folks who
have a passion for curiosity willingness to be abnormal. Two variables I think
that spark innovation. In Somerville– (Jorrit mumbling) Yeah. You’re very abnormal, you
just don’t know it yet. (audience laughing) But, you know, how do you
institutionalize that? Is really, I go back, how do you enable collaborative creativity? By getting people to own the work is really sparking the disequilibrium it doesn’t have to be negative it can be the opportunity that’s at hand. – Okay, thank you, over here. – Hi. I just wanted to first say thank you to Mayor Elorza. I’m a high school English teacher and hearing about the positive message you’re trying to send about public education is very exciting. Also, my question had to do with rhetoric. A lot of those discussions
around the rhetoric in politics has been heavy in my classes and I think in terms of education policy there’s been a lot of rhetoric around no child left behind
and a lot of negativity in terms of educational change. I’m just curious the trickle down effect at the state and local level whether you’ve had to combat even the names of your
movements are really positive and so are some of the federal ones that haven’t necessarily actually been positive. So how have you kind of combated that federal versus local rhetoric? – Before you answer, let’s
get two more questions in and those will be the final questions and give all of you an opportunity to answer any of the
questions that were posed. Okay, sir? – Hi. Thank you. So much question is a
two-part question around looking at education, I’ve
been wondering two things. Does size matter and also the time that the Mayors are in office? Specifically looking at New York City I was part of the Bloomberg administration seeing the transformation in education and one of the questions
that it was curious for me is education became a strategic arm of the Bloomberg administration in the transformation of New York and there are areas where great progress was made in small schools and their communities
development in areas where the education in just a couple
of blocks were very strong and people moved to those communities. The city improved but I
wonder if the size of a city can impact the transformation or the longevity of the Mayor in office. The other question with
that is, I live in Newton and it’s amazing to see how
the systems are so aligned the library is connected with the schools and the YMCA is the most
amazing center for the community and there’s art programs
and it’s so embedded but I question is it
possible, is it only possible because of the size or is it possible because of education is
part of the strategic arm of the administration because it empowers the community to become more wealthy because people move to the communities based on the capacity
of the education system? So that’s the two-part question. Is it the size or. (chuckling) – Rhetoric, longevity, size. Sir? – Hi, Graduate School of
Education, U.C. Berkeley. Just really I’m glad to have made it and catch part of the conversation thank you really for sharing. My question is kind of related
to the previous question and the earlier segment on gentrification and the role of arts and
artists in this whole process of institutionalizing curiosity,
creativity, creative design and what happens when artist
communities get displaced through the effects of gentrification. Thank you. – Great question. Who would like to start? (audience laughing) – So I’ll take a, I guess
this will be my parting shot. – May I remind you, we have
three minutes on the clock. (audience laughing) – All right I’ll be very quick. – It’s hard being a Mayor and being confined to
a little bit of time. But let’s try it, okay, Mayor Elorza. – On this question of rhetoric, sure. We all play the game to, you know if we need to make a
statement about our values and you know, make it a pointed
point, we do that as well but at the end of the
day, we get evaluated on the brass tax issues. Are we balancing budgets? Are we filling potholes? Are we educating our kids? And providing public safety? So it’s often said that there are three main political parties
in the United States. There are republicans, there are democrats and there are Mayors. (Libby giggles) and Mayors, we’re just
focused on getting things done we’re not focused or we’re not interested in winning arguments. We’re interested in solving problems and we’re not driven by ideology,
we’re driven by evidence and so that’s what’s so encouraging and what makes me so optimistic about the state of our country that you have Mayors stepping
up with this attitude and this mindset and they’re
taking leadership roles. – Thank you, Mayor Fischer? – Just comment on the
arts part of it there where we have been increasingly investing in under-invested areas of our cities relative to arts and
the type of creativity and innovation that’s
coming when we’re colliding non-traditional areas
with traditional areas. It’s producing all types of
new art forms in our cities new partnerships as well that
then expand the consciousness of the community about
what else is available so it’s a very encouraging area for us. – I’ll chime in on that too. This, might stay the city this year the theme was resilience
and I talked about how in Oakland it’s not just
the strength of our roads and our physical infrastructure it’s the strength of our social cohesion, our connectedness as human beings and there is no stronger
builder of that than culture and the arts, it is truly
where we come together and that is why we’re about to celebrate
the one-year anniversary of the Ghost Ship fire, I
don’t know if any of you remember that tragedy from last year it has been just such a deep,
deep wound for our community because it touches on so many
of our challenges right now. But this idea of not just thinking about holding people in their communities and allowing them to put down their roots but tending to your
vulnerable communities first and artists are one of
those vulnerable communities that play such an important role not in, we like to say
in Oakland, place making but in place keeping. – Thank you. – Just briefly in the arts thanks for the question we pride ourselves in
Somerville for our creativity, our originality, our diversity
in the artist community. We’re second per capita for
artists just to Manhattan but we’re concerned about displacement because if we’re not
giving a real opportunity for people to stay in
part of our community and with our diversity,
our creative population we start to lose the sole of the community so certainly in our priority list of how we try to allow those opportunities to be real for artist as well. I did want to speak to the question about the size of the city and longevity. It’s not about size but I
think you get great lessons in terms of systems
based analysis about what you know, great cities
like Boston, New York that have seen great gains there are still quarters of neighborhoods that are on the opposite
side, the losing side of the equity argument
and the question is why. We had this conversation briefly with Paul about really the failures of Boston and how they never
addressed the inequities in those neighborhoods
but moved students around to so called better schools. So there are great lessons
to be learned there. But on the duration, I think we spoke to a longevity in office. I think it’s an important point, you know I can’t tell you how many decisions I still have to deal with from some Mayor 30 years ago,
’cause I have two-year terms. When I go some day, I will change it move the change to be four-year terms. Some Mayor said you know
I’m not gonna fight for that major real estate expansion project because that’s 15 years out I probably won’t be the Mayor I’m gonna cash in my
political chips for X, Y, Z. I’m not gonna take this
important systems-based community-based work, adapt it really I just wanna get my money for this school to be built. We need people to take long-term risks based on community values and to work hard and diligently for that so I believe, elect people to office but give them the terms
necessary to do the job. Whether we want to limit it or not I mean we could have those
conversations in the community but we shouldn’t have
to run every two years. I want them to act today
when an eye on tomorrow. That was a good question, thank you. – Thank you so much. This brings us to the
end of our conversation. I think we can be very fortunate to have public leaders such as yourselves and we have a lot to learn from you. It’s very encouraging to see the energy and the new ideas and the
efforts at the local level. To you, if you want to be
involved, engaged in this work there are a couple of opportunities. Joe Curtatone and I teach a field course at the Kennedy school that’s
open to all of Harvard so if you wanna really
roll up your sleeves and work in Massachusets communities on better management
practices, better policies do take a look at that,
we’d love to see you. We’re also hiring a lot of students in fellowship roles and assistants to work with the other Mayors
that are represented here and 37 other Mayors around the country with the Bloomberg Harvard
City Leadership Initiative. So if you’re interested in
getting engaged in work in cities please do contact us and look us up and you may have an
opportunity to work with any or all of those inspiring leaders. (audience laughing) So thank me. Help me in thanking our Mayors. (audience applauding)

1 thought on “Askwith Forum: How Mayors Are Leading the Way on Child Development and Education”

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