Washington--Mayor Eugene Sawyer of Chicago, saying that the nation’s youths “have been force-fed a steady diet of benign neglect,” last week announced the formation of the “National Task Force on the Next Generation” at a press conference here.
Mayor Sawyer, who will serve as chairman of the panel, said it will collect testimony and make recommendations to the Congress. They will reflect, he added, the perspective that problems such as poor educational performance, drug use, and juvenile crime are interconnected phenomena that cannot be dealt with in isolation.
“So many problems this nation faces have a trail that leads directly to children,” he said. “Yet there is no single Congressional committee or cabinet agency that deals directly with the interrelated problems of youth.”
Mr. Sawyer said he had been assured in a letter from Speaker of the House Jim Wright that the panel’s recommendations would be “carefully reviewed” as the Congress considers developing legislation on youth issues.
The task force is scheduled to hold hearings this month in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and one Eastern city, which has yet to be named. It is expected to complete its work by March.
Among the prominent leaders who have accepted appointments to the panel are Willie Brown, speaker of the California Assembly; Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers; and Alonzo Crim, former superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools and currently the Benjamin E. Mays professor of urban educational leadership at Georgia State University.
Mayor Sawyer, who was appointed by the city council in 1987 to succeed the late Harold Washington, is facing a hotly contested election to determine who will serve the two years remaining in Mr. Washington’s final term.
Several political leaders who are not members of the task force made brief appearances at the press conference to voice their support for the project. They included three members of Chicago’s Congressional delegation and Mayor Marion S. Barry of Washington.
The other members of the task force are:
Paula Banks, vice president of foundations, Sears Roebuck & Company; Joyce Gillie, a representative of the Roman Catholic archbishop of Chicago; William H. Hayden, senior managing director, Bear, Stearns & Company; Dorothy I. Height, president, National Council of Negro Women; S. Martin Hickman, president and chief executive officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois; Earvin “Magic” Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers; John H. Johnson, chairman and chief executive officer, Johnson Publishing Company; Peter MacDonald Sr., chairman, Navajo Tribal Council.
Louise W. McHardy, executive director, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges; David J. Paulus, senior vice president for government and community affairs, First National Bank of Chicago; Weldon J. Rougeau, vice president for sales, American Express; Christopher Sinclair, president, Coca-Cola--Central; Dewey Stokes, president, National Fraternal Order of Police; and Samuel F. Vigil, president, Luna Vocational Technical Institute and chairman of the education committee of the New Mexico House.--ws
A version of this article appeared in the January 11, 1989 edition of Education Week as Chicago Mayor To Lead Panel on Youths