School & District Management

Handbook Offers Advice to Mayors

By Catherine Gewertz — January 24, 2006 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Mayors who try to improve the schools in their cities can find themselves enmeshed in thorny issues and politics. But a new guidebook offers help as they try to figure out how best to play a role in education.

The guide, which was scheduled to be unveiled this week at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ winter meeting in Washington, arrives as mayors increasingly—and often controversially—press for school improvement.

“Mayoral Leadership and Involvement in Education” is scheduled to be released this week by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is the most recent example of a city leader who wants more power over schools. Mayors in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and New York already have it.

Even without the legal authority to appoint school board members or the superintendent, mayors can bring about change by using their high profiles to call attention to school issues, convene key community players to discuss problems, and coordinate city services to better serve schoolchildren, says the 35-page booklet, “Mayoral Leadership and Involvement in Education: An Action Guide for Success.”

In preparing the guide, the Conference of Mayors drew on advice from experts who study mayors’ roles in education, and from city leaders’ own experiences. The result is part how-to and part how-not-to.

“Be an education advocate,” the guide says, but “don’t overstep your boundaries. ... Don’t get involved in issues you don’t understand.”

In handling the challenges of improving curriculum, for instance, it counsels mayors to discuss with business and education leaders the importance of rigorous standards. But it cautions, in italic type for emphasis: Do not get involved in the specifics of curriculum and instruction.

The guide walks mayors through an assessment of themselves, their communities, and their powers of office to help them determine if and how they should get involved in schools.

Beverly O’Neill, the mayor of Long Beach, Calif., and the president of the Conference of Mayors, said she hopes the guide helps mayors realize that a constructive relationship with school superintendents benefits everyone. “We all want the same goals,” she said.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the January 25, 2006 edition of Education Week


School Climate & Safety K-12 Essentials Forum Strengthen Students’ Connections to School
Join this free event to learn how schools are creating the space for students to form strong bonds with each other and trusted adults.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
Future-Proofing Your School's Tech Ecosystem: Strategies for Asset Tracking, Sustainability, and Budget Optimization
Gain actionable insights into effective asset management, budget optimization, and sustainable IT practices.
Content provided by Follett Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management The Complicated Fight Over Four-Day School Weeks
Missouri lawmakers want to encourage large districts to maintain five-day weeks—even as four-day weeks grow more popular.
7 min read
Calendar 4 day week
School & District Management From Our Research Center Principal Salaries: The Gap Between Expectation and Reality
Exclusive survey data indicate a gap between the expectations and the realities of principal pay.
4 min read
A Black woman is standing on a ladder and looking into the distance with binoculars, in the background is an ascending arrow.
School & District Management From Our Research Center Here's What Superintendents Think They Should Be Paid
A new survey asks school district leaders whether they're paid fairly.
3 min read
Illustration of a ladder on a blue background reaching the shape of a puzzle piece peeled back and revealing a Benjamin Franklin bank note behind it.
School & District Management Q&A How K-12 Leaders Can Better Manage Divisive Curriculum and Culture War Debates
The leader of an effort to equip K-12 leaders with conflict resolution skills urges relationship-building—and knowing when to disengage.
7 min read
Katy Anthes, Commissioner of Education in Colorado from 2016- 2023, participates in a breakout session during the Education Week Leadership Symposium on May 3, 2024.
Katy Anthes, who served as commissioner of education in Colorado from 2016-2023, participates in a breakout session during the Education Week Leadership Symposium on May 3, 2024. Anthes specializes in helping school district leaders successfully manage politically charged conflicts.
Chris Ferenzi for Education Week