Jacksonville Puts Education in the Spotlight

February 14, 2013  

Mayor’s education summit seeks to rally community leaders and inspire students

Mayor Alvin Brown will focus on strengthening parents’ roles in their kids’ education at his upcoming citywide education summit featuring actor and education activist Dr. Bill Cosby.

The summit, a collaborative effort between the Mayor’s Office and Duval County Public Schools, will be held Feb. 28 and March 1. The initiative will continue the positive momentum in public education engendered by a host of recent successes, including better graduation rates, better school grades and unprecedented community activism.
 
As part of Mayor Brown’s vision and actions to enhance educational opportunities for Jacksonville’s youth, the summit will bring students, teachers, administrators, elected officials and community partners together in an effort to spur action supporting the summit’s theme, “Increasing Parental Involvement.” Learn more

 
“Studies show that kids with parents who are involved in their education are more likely to earn higher grades and test scores,” Mayor Brown said. “They also have better attendance records and social skills, and are more likely to graduate and pursue higher education. There are a lot of ideas when it comes to improving education, but increasing parental involvement is a key lever that will truly be a game-changer in Jacksonville.”
 
Developed in partnership with Duval County Public Schools, the summit’s agenda is an energetic and packed two-day program that includes school visits and an evening performance by Dr. Bill Cosby, as well as guest speakers, mini-workshops on topics related to parental involvement and a panel discussion with senior educational leaders. Day 1 involves a heavy emphasis on student engagement, and Day 2 shifts to community and stakeholder visioning about ways to increase parental involvement in Jacksonville schools. Day 2’s activities are open to the public, and those interested in participating must register at www.coj.net/edsummit.
 
On Feb. 28, Dr. Cosby will visit with students, teachers, administrators and key education advocates throughout the city, and give a public performance at the Florida Theatre that evening. During the four public high school visits, Dr. Cosby will speak with students about the importance of being a positive role model and will discuss how they can apply their own life lessons in the pursuit of success. He will also join Mayor Brown in working toward the summit’s $2 million fundraising goal for future local education initiatives.
 
The opening act for Dr. Cosby’s evening performance will be a drumline competition featuring five local public schools. Tickets can be purchased through the Florida Theatre Box Office or other online services, including Ticketmaster.
 
“This will be an opportunity for our children, parents, educators and community leaders to focus on the importance of education in Jacksonville,” said Bill Cosby. “I have seen this many, many times before. When everyone in a city pulls together, we get great results.”
 
The summit’s second day will be hosted at the Jacksonville Main Public Library and will focus on the theme of parental involvement. Florida Times-Union Editor Dr. Frank Denton will moderate a morning panel discussion, which will also include Mr. Gary Chartrand, chair of the State Board of Education, several Duval County Public School Board members and other community leaders. Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti will give a special presentation on establishing a parents’ academy as a means of increasing parental involvement.
 
“I am thrilled to be a superintendent in a city that has a mayor who champions public education,” said Vitti. “There is no doubt that the time is right for an education summit, and I am pleased to be partnering with Mayor Brown on this effort. We have worked hand-in-hand to build, what I think, is an exciting event. At the end of the day, it is the kids who will benefit, not only by seeing Dr. Bill Cosby visit schools, but also by having parents who are more engaged in the academic process. The theme of increasing parental involvement aligns perfectly with our emerging strategic plan.”
 
Day 2’s afternoon session will feature five mini-workshops designed to explore specific areas of enhancing education in Jacksonville. These workshops will include topics such as mentoring, energizing community and faith-based organizations, building a culture that values and celebrates young women, developing "early early" learning strategies from cradle to preschool, and promoting tools to help parents become more involved. The workshops will conclude with chair and co-chair reports, and then the summit will wrap-up with Mayor Brown issuing a call to action.
 
The mayor has made it a priority to ensure that the summit’s goal-oriented outcomes are both realistic and measurable. Following the summit, a group of stakeholders and community volunteers will receive periodic progress updates.
 
Since taking office, Mayor Brown has launched innovative initiatives geared at improving education in Jacksonville. They include Learn2Earn, which is a week-long college immersion program for low-to-moderate income students hosted at both the University of North Florida and Jacksonville University, and the Mayor’s Mentors program, which has trained more than 600 local volunteers to mentor Jacksonville’s youth.
 
For more information on Mayor Brown’s education agenda, visit http://www.coj.net/mayor/education.aspx