14298-Childrens learning center technology-2232…, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Texas A&M University-Commerce…’s photostream

Secretary, Mayor and stakeholders to address education initiatives in Hill District August 13

PITTSBURGH, PA (Aug. 13, 2014) – U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will travel to Pittsburgh today on the first of a two day community forum to discuss early childhood education initiatives in Pittsburgh.

Children who receive high-quality early childhood education are better prepared to succeed in elementary and secondary classrooms, and be positioned for employment. Yet of the 10,000 children in Pittsburgh between ages one and five, less than half are provided with any form of education before kindergarten.

To help rectify that the U.S. Department of Education, National League of Cities and the Peduto Administration are jointly holding two days of community discussions on best models for providing high quality early education opportunities for all city children.

“Pittsburgh Public Schools and Mayor Peduto are working tirelessly to expand access to high-quality early childhood programs across the city,” Secretary Duncan said. “I commend the mayor and other city leaders for their work to give Pittsburgh’s babies a strong start for success in life.”

The Department of Education and the NLC announced in March that Pittsburgh was one of 15 cities nationwide receiving support for “community conversations” on education, designed to strengthen partnerships among federal and local governments, schools, parents and others. Mayor Peduto, who attended the March announcement with the Secretary in Washington, D.C., is a member of the NLC committee that oversees education policy and advocacy.

“Pittsburgh is already a leader in providing college opportunities for all through its Pittsburgh Promise initiative. Now we have to work on the other end of the pipeline — the 5,000 youngest city residents who do not get high-quality early education — and make them Promise-ready,” Mayor Peduto said. “Once we successfully tackle that issue we will be a beacon for educational opportunities that the entire nation can look to as a model.”

The Secretary and the Mayor will visit Hug Me Tight Childlife Center in the Hill District, then address a 4:30 p.m. community forum and question-and-answer period in the Elsie H. Hillman Auditorium at the Hill House’s Kaufmann Center, 1825 Centre Avenue. The public is invited to attend the forum, but space is very limited.

The Secretary will be in Pittsburgh for the first day of the two day forum. On Thursday, August 14, other officials from the Department of Education, NLC and the city will convene stakeholders for a day-long, private focus group on early childhood education. Participants will include local government, foundation, nonprofit and corporate representatives, and educators and parents.

‘‘National League of Cities is pleased to partner with the U.S. Department of Education to raise the visibility of mayors and cities across the country who are committed to improving the quality of education. Providing high quality early childhood opportunities is key to ensuring young children have the necessary skills to enter school to ready to learn. NLC commends Mayor Peduto for taking leadership on this issue, recognizing that young people are the future of the city,” said Audrey Hutchinson, Program Director, Education and After-school Initiatives, National League of Cities, Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.

“The community conversations forum is our proactive stance on helping foreground policies and processes, while carrying out Mayor Peduto’s vision for improving the early childhood educational system in Pittsburgh,” said Dr. Cosette Grant-Overton, the Mayor’s manager of educational policy and workforce development. “The Education and Neighborhood Reinvestment office is working to improve equity and high quality early childhood educational opportunities, by promoting improved support and professional development and training of providers, in order to foster better preparation of all children for school readiness and beyond.”

“Outcomes from the consortium meeting on day two will reflect a constructive and collaborative agenda on creating a robust vision and shared set of goals and plans for early childhood education,” Dr. Grant-Overton continued.