Monday, January 3, 2011

Education front and center for Mayor Taveras

I was delighted to be part of the crowd that witnessed Angel Taveras' inauguration this afternoon as the 37th mayor of Providence, and our first Hispanic mayor. I enjoyed a moment of photojournalism, result to the left, and appreciated the extra pair of socks I'd put on this morning. It was chilly out there! But the sun was shining on our city today in all possible ways.

Providence public school students played prominent roles in the inauguration ceremony itself, which featured third graders from Mary Fogarty Elementary School reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and a recitation of Richard Wilbur's "On Freedom's Ground" by Classical High School student Amber Rose Johnson, the 2010 Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

Taveras' speech* emphasized his commitment to education, declaring that Providence's schools will "become the envy of American urban education." I particularly appreciated Taveras' discussion of the idea that our city's schools cannot be "one size fits all." To insist that they be otherwise is to deny the value of the diversity of the people of our city. That diversity is in fact our greatest asset, and to honor it, we must identify a wide range of what works for all of our schools in all of our neighborhood serving all of our young people and their families.

Carrying his education first message into the week, Taveras is holding inaugural neighborhood events at the schools that he attended (details here). Taveras is living proof of the force that strong schools and caring, challenging teachers can be in the life of a young person. He needs to transfer the power of his personal narrative into policies and momentum that will allow all young people the same kind of positive experiences and corresponding opportunities for achievement. With Mayor Taveras and many others, I want to be a part of creating a system of education in our city in which our children attend school to become their best selves, knowing how to use their minds and able to translate skills and knowledge into self-sufficiency, participation, and meaningful contributions as they move into adulthood.

I just returned from the inauguration celebration at the Convention Center all hopped up on the great music and energy. Tomorrow, once we all settle down, I'll remain hopeful, excited, and ready to join our new mayor to get to work to make it happen.
Felicitaciones, bienvenido, y gracias, Mayor Taveras!

*GoLocalProv has the full transcript of Taveras' speech. Read it if you weren't there or haven't heard it yet.

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