October 8, 2002

Mayors Lead Efforts to Improve Public Schools Across America

Cleveland, OH -- Highlighting mayors' successful efforts to improve urban public schools, 15 mayors from across the nation met here today to showcase best practices and discuss leadership strategies, in a forum sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and The Broad Foundation.

"Mayors are and should be our cities' and our nation's biggest boosters of public schools," said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. "Mayors are not a panacea for distressed urban or suburban schools. They cannot single-handedly eliminate poverty, equalize education funding between cities and wealthier suburbs, or replace aging schools overnight. But one thing is certain. Without mayoral leadership, any steps to improve our public schools are much more difficult."

Increasingly, mayors play critical leadership roles in improving public schools. Mayors have direct responsibility for public schools in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Trenton, and, most recently, New York City. In cities where mayors do not directly control the schools, they are leading in other important ways - encouraging more parental involvement (Nashville), improving student health (Rochester), seeking additional resources for schools (Akron), promoting literacy campaigns, expanding after-school facilities, supporting alternative schools, and pursuing other education goals.

"Education is essential to the success of any city's future," said Cleveland Mayor Jane L. Campbell, who chairs the Conference's Education Committee and hosted the forum. "We have seen the progress of mayoral leadership in several cities across the country and know that it works. In Cleveland, we have experienced an increase in attendance and graduation rates since the switch from an elected school board to an appointed one. I am pleased to share best practices with other mayors as we strive to make our public school systems stronger, more productive, and more effective for our children."

Today's forum was the first in a new partnership between the U.S. Conference of Mayors and The Broad Foundation, which together will publish reports on mayoral efforts to improve public schools, develop new ideas for federal education policymakers, and hold a mayors' education summit next spring.

"At The Broad Foundation, we recognize that leadership - bold new leadership - is critical if we are ever going to see the dramatic gains in student achievement that children across America deserve," said Eli Broad, founder of The Broad Foundation. "Schools that fail to teach our children the skills necessary to participate and to succeed in our changing economy are infringing on each student's civil rights."

Also participating in today's forum were Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, Chair of the Conference's Advisory Board, Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, Long Beach Mayor Beverly O'Neill, Rochester Mayor William Johnson, Boise Mayor Brent Coles, San Bernardino Mayor Judith Valles, Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy, Manchester Mayor Robert Baines, Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer, Irvington (NJ) Mayor Wayne Smith, North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Henry Hays, and Garfield Heights Mayor Thomas Longo.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,139 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. The primary roles of the Conference of Mayors are to promote the development of effective national urban/suburban policy; strengthen federal-city relationships; ensure that federal policy meets urban needs; provide mayors with leadership and management tools; and create a forum in which mayors can share ideas and information. More information about the Conference is available at

The Broad Foundation is a Los Angeles-based entrepreneurial grant-making organization, established in 1999 by Eli Broad and Edythe Broad. The Foundation was started with an initial investment of $100 million that was recently increased by the Broad family to $400 million. The Foundation's mission is to dramatically improve the K-12 public education through better governance, management and labor relations. More information about the Foundation is available at

Press Contacts:

Andy Solomon, U.S. Conference of Mayors
(202) 861-6766

Melissa Ratcliff, The Broad Foundation
(310) 954-5057


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