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Learning in Cities – Saint Paul

September 24, 2009

When you think about what young people need in order to be successful in school–and in life after school–what’s on your list? It’s probably a long list including things that are outside the direct control of teachers, parents, and young people themselves.

A New Day for Learning, a report commissioned by the C.S. Mott Foundation, argues that we all have an interest in working now to ensure that young people are prepared for the workforce and society we want to have in five years, in 20 years, and beyond. In order to get there, the report concludes, things have to change. Young people need “multiple ways [to learn], anchored to high standards and aligned to educational resources throughout a community.”

The City of Saint Paul, Minn., is a national demonstration city for A New Day for Learning. Funding from the Kellogg Foundation is helping support a partnership between the Center for Democracy and Citizenship and the City of Saint Paul Mayor’s Office that involves the Saint Paul Public School District, many community-based organizations, and individuals, in continuing work to ensure that all children and youth have access to those multiple ways to learn.

To be successful in a 21st century workforce and society

This fall, with assistance from the Center for Democracy and Citizenship, the Saint Paul Second Shift Commission will bring together business people, parents, young people, teachers, cultural edlers, and others in a series of listening sessions. The expectation is that these stakeholders will define youth success in ways that go beyond grades and standardized test scores. What they say could be used to inform future policy and decision-making.

Using data to create a holistic picture of learning and achievement

Recognizing that Saint Paul has rich community resources to extend learning beyond the school day, the city’s Second Shift Initiative is also exploring the creation of a data management system that would connect community-based youth organizations and allow the city to map trends in out-of-school time programming and provide data for evaluating its impact on academic achievement. In June, the National League of Cities and the Second Shift Initiative co-sponsored a workshop for representatives from Saint Paul Public Schools, Minnesota Dept. of Education, City of Saint Paul Dept. of Parks and Recreation, community-based youth organizations, local foundations, and Ramsey County. The director of the Louisville, Ky., Metro Office of Youth Development shared insights into how Louisville’s city, school district, and community organizations collaborated to create a management information system. Other cities including Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Denver, and Providence, R.I., have also created shared data management systems.

Bringing school and community teachers together through professional development

The Saint Paul Teachers Federation (a professional union), Center for Democracy and Citizenship, and Second Shift Initiative are also developing a Citizen Teacher Fellowship, where youth workers and licensed teachers will come together for professional development and to build relationships. For the pilot session, to be held early next year, participants will be selected from communities where previous work by schools and neighborhoods has been building toward the vision of A New Day for Learning. (Read more about the Neighborhood Learning Community, the East Side Learning Collaborative, and efforts to create a comprehensive transportation system linking learning sites in Saint Paul.

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