Opportunities for Every Child

Mayor Rawlings-Blake and school children pose with a Safe Route to School footprint

Originally posted in The Rawlings-Blake Review #215

With the first day of school right around the corner, we must make sure all of our children will “Be Ready, Be There, and Stay There!” I believe an education system that provides opportunities for every child is the foundation of a growing city. That system must also implement safe options for transportation for all our kids to travel to and from school. If we want our children to succeed in school, our first priority must be to make sure they can get there quickly and safely.

That’s why this week I was proud to announce our Safe Routes to School program. This initiative provides pre-defined, foot-printed routes that—combined with improved traffic safety measures and infrastructure—will help our kids get to school on time and ready to learn! This strategic approach to improving our sidewalks and crosswalks will also make our streets safer for pedestrians of all ages, all year long to engage in physical activity, including walking and biking. This multi-agency initiative is just one example of how we are working together to grow Baltimore City Public Schools and build a stronger future for all of Baltimore’s students.

Earlier this week, I held my second community education forum with Baltimore City Public School System CEO Dr. Gregory Thornton to discuss how we can continue to improve Baltimore City schools for our children. I've been so pleased with the success of all the community forums we have held this year—this month's education forums, as well as the public safety forums and youth forums we held previously. Our frank discussion with community members gave residents an important opportunity to voice their comments about Baltimore City's schools ways to enhance the learning experience for Baltimore City youth directly to Dr. Gregory and myself.

One topic that came up during the forums was workforce development. While, we encourage our youth to pursue higher education after graduating high school, we must do all we can to make sure they are ready to enter the workforce as well. The Baltimore City Mayoral Fellows program is one program that is doing just that. College students who apply and are selected as mayoral fellows are placed in agencies based on their background and interests, as well as the needs of the agencies and departments. Fellows are assigned projects that focus on innumerable public policy issues and challenges. They complete these projects under the direction of senior-level government officials, who provide the fellows with immediate and direct feedback.

On Thursday, I had the pleasure of meeting with the 2014 Mayoral Fellows cohort for their final presentations. I was so impressed with the work these young professionals accomplished over the course of the summer. It is an inspiration to see the next generation of public service leaders in action, and to experience their eagerness to give back to their communities.

I believe it really does take a village to raise a child. My administration will stay committed to working with our communities and engaging in productive discussion with Baltimore's youth and their families. There is more work to be done, but together we can create an environment where Baltimore’s students can learn, thrive, and grow.

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