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Strong public education is the lynchpin of high-road cities. Excellent schools attract young families, build the skills of future workers, and reduce costs of social services and criminal-justice systems. On the other hand, weak schools undermine property values, reinforce ruinous inequality, and provide weaker human capital for future development. In addition, the location of schools directly drives housing markets, neighborhood quality, and transportation systems. At best, public schools help counteract our nation’s ruinous inequalities. At worst, they exacerbate the social problems they inherit. The quality of local schools and the vibrancy of cities are linked.

While public schools are of tremendous importance to cities, most city governments have no direct control over the school systems that serve their citizens. School taxes add to the local tax burden and school district decisions influence infrastructure and other costs for cities. The reverse is true as well: Local government decisions about infrastructure, planning, zoning, and transportation affect school districts with little to no control over these areas. And despite these close links, schools and cities, with unique governance, have not always worked together on common issues. The good news is that the strength of the common interest is increasingly overcoming the tradition of separation. Throughout the nation, partnerships and innovation are bringing new models and success.

Saint Paul’s Right Track Initiative Information Sheet, City of Saint Paul, MN, January 1st, 2014. Read more.

Education Initiatives Overview, Office of Mayor Chris Coleman, City of Saint Paul, MN, January 1st, 2014. Read more.

Why is Early Learning So Important, Collaboration for Early Childhood, January 1st, 2014. Read more.

Integrated Early Childhood System, Collaboration for Early Childhood, January 1st, 2014. Read more.

Key Outcomes and Benchmarks, Collaboration for Early Childhood, January 1st, 2014. Read more.

Early Childhood Education is a Top Priority for Voters, Second Only to Increasing Jobs and Economic, First Five Years Fund, January 1st, 2014. Read more.

On the Road to School Success, Michael Hancock, Kevin Johnson, Angel Taveras and Julián Castro, Politico, October 15th, 2013. Read more.

Early Childhood Ed will be Major Focus of City’s Anti-poverty Plan, Sonia Giebel, Philadelphia Public School Notebook, July 18th, 2013. Read more.

Markers that Matter: Success Indicators in Early Learning and Education, Hallie Preskill, Nathalie Jones, and Afi Tengue, Foundation Strategy Group, July 17th, 2013. Read more.

Private Preschools See More Public Funds as Classes Grow, Motoko Rich, June 13th, 2013. Read more.

Real Economic Development: Early Childhood Intervention on a Large Scale, Arthur J. Rolnick and Rob Grunewald, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, June 1st, 2013. Read more.

Virginia Beach GrowSmart Program Wins National Innovation Award, Karen Kehoe, April 11th, 2013. Read more.

Building a Stronger Commonwealth: The Business Case for Investing in Pennsylvania’s Youngest Learner, ReadyNation, April 9th, 2013. Read more.

In D.C., public school for 3-year-olds is already the norm, Susan Svrluga, The Washington Post, February 20th, 2013. Read more.

Better Together: Building Local Systems to Improve Afterschool, The Wallace Foundation, January 1st, 2013. Read more.

Oak Park Villager of the Year: Collaboration for Early Childhood, Anna Lothson, Wednesday Journal, January 1st, 2013. Read more.

Network Helps Diverse Communities Improve Third Grade Reading, Deborah l. Cohen and Lee Mullane, January 1st, 2013. Read more.

Cities Develop New Strategies for Reengaging Dropouts, Boosting High School Graduation Rates, Clifford M. Johnson, National League of Cities, December 10th, 2012. Read more.

Invest in Early Childhood Development: Reduce Deficits, Strengthen the Economy, James Heckman, December 7th, 2012. Read more.

PLUS Leadership Initiative: Final Report, Deborah McKoy and Ariel Bierbaum, The Center for Cities and Schools, University of California - Berkeley, November 1st, 2012. Read more.

Early Childhood Education Initiative, City of San Antonio, Pre-K 4 SA, September 21st, 2012. Read more.

The State of Preschool 2012, W. Steven Barnett, Megan E. Carolan, Jen Fitzgerald, and James H. Squires, June 1st, 2012. Read more.

Educational Alignment for Young Children: Profiles in Local Innovation, National League of Cities, Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, April 30th, 2012. Read more.

Making the Case for Early Ed, Art Rolnick has had Enormous Impact, Sharon Schmickle, April 16th, 2012. Read more.

Finding Common Ground: Coordinating Housing and Education Policy to Promote Integration, Deborah McKoy & Jeffrey M. Vincent, October 1st, 2011. Read more.

Opportunity Rich Schools and Sustainable Communities: Seven Steps to Align High Quality Education, Deborah McKoy, Jeffrey Vincent, and Ariel Bierbaum, What Works Collaborative, Center for Cities and Schools, University of California - Berkeley, June 1st, 2011. Read more.

Report to Mayor Karl Dean, Mayor's Advisory Council On Early Childhood Development and Early Education, April 13th, 2011. Read more.

Youth Master Plans Guide Action in Nashville, Grand Rapids, and Berkeley, Michael Karpman, National League of Cities, November 15th, 2010. Read more.

Syracuse: Urban Revitalization Through Education, Innovation and Preservation, Stephanie Miner, NYREJ, October 26th, 2010. Read more.

Joint Use of Public Schools: A Framework for a New Social Contract, Mary Filardo, Jeffrey M. Vincent, Marni Allen, and Jason Franklin, 21st Century School Fund and Center for Cities and Schools, University of California - Berkeley, April 1st, 2010. Read more.

Long-Run Economic Effects of Early Childhood Programs on Adult Earnings, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Katherine Magnuson, and Jane Waldfogel, Partnership for America's Economic Success, February 20th, 2009. Read more.

Promising Practices to Improve Schools and Communities, Heather Kinlaw, Deborah McKoy, and Jeffrey Vincent, The Center for Cities and Schools, University of California - Berkeley, July 1st, 2007. Read more.

Building a Healthy and Sustainable Community for Berkeley Youth and Families, Mayor Tom Bates , January 26th, 2007. Read more.

Kindergarten to College: Local Innovation, National Impact, The Sallie Mae Fund. Read more.

Sprockets 2011-2012 Out-of-School-Time Report, Sprockets. Read more.
accessed January 2014

5 by 5 Program Replication Manual, City of Denver, CO. Read more.
accessed January 2014

Vision and Goals, Denver Education Compact, City of Denver, CO. Read more.
accessed January 2014

Summary of Highlights from 2011-2012 School Year: 2020 Vision for Berkeley’s Children & Youth, City of Berkeley, CA. Read more.

2020 Vision Indicators: Tools for Guiding Our Work and Measuring Our Progress, City of Berkeley, CA. Read more.


Ceri Jenkins
Read more about strengthening the education system in your city in our report Cities at Work: Progressive Local Policies to Rebuild the Middle Class.