Mayor Pushes to Close the Achievement Gap

Mayor Coleman Pushes to Close the Achievement Gap in Saint Paul

Mayor Chris Coleman joined former Minneapolis Mayor and U.S. Representative Don Fraser today to discuss the current state of education and the City’s efforts to close the achievement gap. The second of three meetings centered on Saint Paul, Mayor Coleman highlighted the City’s work in out-of-school-time learning and the Promise Neighborhood initiative.

“There is nothing more important for the strength of our city than ensuring all youth receive the tools they need to succeed in school and in life. Saint Paul's out-of-school-time learning, early childhood education and Promise Neighborhood initiatives have positioned the City as a national leader, focused and committed to working with the Saint Paul Public Schools to close the achievement gap,” Mayor Chris Coleman said.

Minnesota currently has one of the widest achievement gaps between white students and students of color in the nation, threatening the future prosperity of Minnesota. Without a highly educated workforce, the ability of our state to compete in the global economy is jeopardized. In Saint Paul, a close partnership has formed between the City, County, neighborhood non-profits and the Saint Paul Public Schools focused on innovative initiatives that have placed this community at the forefront of the national conversation on education.

"Saint Paul Public Schools is working aggressively to close the achievement gap, a goal that is at the heart of our Strong Schools, Strong Communities strategic plan," said Saint Paul Public Schools Superintendent Valeria Silva. "A critical component of our plan is to align what happens during the school day to the City of St. Paul's out of school time initiative. Our vision is to create high quality opportunities for learning and enrichment in every neighborhood in Saint Paul, which we believe will ultimately help us close the gaps."

Now in his second term, Mayor Coleman pushed Saint Paul to be a national leader with his efforts to extend the learning day through quality out-of-school-time learning opportunities in arts, sports and academics. Ensuring every child has equal access to quality education, Coleman launched an early childhood learning scholarship preparing children to enter kindergarten ready to learn as well as expanding public transportation by offering free rides to young people to their after-school programs or other locations that provide learning opportunities.

By forming a unique partnership with the County, neighborhood non-profits and Saint Paul Public Schools, the City has been able to align services to work with the school district, enhancing the learning opportunities for every child.

In addition to this work in out-of-school-time programming, Saint Paul was one of 21 communities nation wide to receive a Promise Neighborhood grant from the Obama administration.

Inspired by the Harlem Children's Zone in New York City, The Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood is a community-wide effort to ensure all children succeed in school and in life through seamless coordination of cradle-to-career educational, family, and community resources. Encompassing a 250-block area in the Summit-University and Frogtown neighborhoods, the Promise Neighborhood effort is led by The Wilder Foundation and supported by a variety of community partners.

"The achievement gap demands a sense of urgency among leaders from all levels of government and the collective community and today's meeting is further confirmation. I am proud of the level of partnership we've been able to achieve through the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood planning process thus far. I am heartened by the widespread support for our work and look forward to improved academic outcomes for all of Saint Paul's students."

Superintendent Valeria Silva, City Councilmember Melvin Carter and Hamilton Bell, Project Coordinator for the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood Planning Initiative also presented before the committee.