Early Childhood

Education on Joe Hogsett’s mind as he announces mayoral bid

PHOTO: Scott Elliott
Democrat Joe Hogsett announced a run for mayor last month at the Landmark for Peace monument in King Park.

Democrat Joe Hogsett, a former U.S. attorney, announced today he would run for mayor next year, and education was one of the issues on his agenda.

Republican Mayor Greg Ballard said last week he would not be seeking a third term. Hogsett is expected to be a strong candidate to replace him. If he were successful, it would return the mayor’s office to Democratic control after eight years under Ballard, who defeated Democrat Bart Peterson for the job in 2008.

During his announcement speech at the city’s Landmark for Peace Memorial in King Park, Hogsett referenced some of the city’s hottest education issues: preschool, school discipline and teacher pay.

He called for city leaders to put aside partisanship, alluding to the sometimes intense debate over Ballard’s plan for city support of preschool, which  appears headed for city-county council approval after a compromise this week followed more than a month of discord.

Hogsett hailed “city leaders who put aside the need to get a win for their own political party in order to achieve a victory for the young preschool children across Indianapolis.”

Although Hogsett has said he disagrees with Ballard’s original funding mechanism for the plan, he said he could support the idea of expanded preschool if it can be funded a different way.

More than once Hogsett brought up a need to curb the city’s dropout rate and address what he called an “expulsion epidemic” that disproportionately affects black students, especially boys.

“Tonight in too many schools in this city, a teacher will plan for tomorrow’s class weighed down by the knowledge that more of her students will dropout than go to college,” he said.

As Ballard has done with preschool, Hogsett cited education as a way of decreasing violent crime. Studies have linked decreases in dropout rates and lower crime rates.

He called for more support for teachers in the forms of better resources and higher pay. But he also hailed innovation in education, an idea pushed by reformers who favor ideas like charter schools, praising “the teacher whose innovations in her classroom take her students and school to new and uncharted heights.”


Early investment

Foundations put $50 million behind effort to improve lives of young Detroit children

PHOTO: Erin Einhorn
The heads of the Kresge and W.K. Kellogg foundations, Rip Rapson and La June Montgomery announce a $50 million investment to support the new Hope Starts Here framework.

The two major foundations behind the creation of a ten-year plan to improve the lives of Detroit’s youngest children are putting up $50 million to help put the plan into action.

As they unveiled the new Hope Starts Here framework Friday morning, the Kellogg and Kresge foundations announced they would each spend $25 million in the next few years to improve the health and education of children aged birth to 8 in the city.

The money will go toward upgrading early childhood education centers, including a new Kresge-funded comprehensive child care center that the foundation says it hopes to break ground on next year at a location that has not yet been identified.

Other foundation dollars will go toward a just-launched centralized data system that will keep track of a range of statistics on the health and welfare of young children, and more training and support for early childhood educators.

The announcement at Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History drew dozens of parents, educators and community leaders. Among them was Detroit Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti who said one of the major impediments to improving conditions for young children has been divisions between the various government and nonprofit entities that run schools, daycares and health facilities for young kids.

Vitti said the district would do its part to “to break down the walls of territorialism that has prevented this work from happening” in the past.

Watch the video of of the announcement here.

Detroit's future

In a city where 60 percent of young children live in poverty, a ten-year plan aims to improve conditions for kids

PHOTO: Erin Einhorn/Chalkbeat

A coalition of community groups led by two major foundations has a plan to change the fortunes of Detroit’s youngest citizens.

The Hope Starts Here early childhood partnership is a ten-year effort to tackle a list of bleak statistics about young children in Detroit:

  • More than 60% of Detroit’s children 0-5 live in poverty — more than in any of the country’s 50 largest cities;
  • 13% of Detroit babies are born too early, compared to nine percent nationally;
  • 13% of Detroit babies are born too small, compared to eight percent nationally;
  • Detroit has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country;
  • Nearly 30,000 of eligible young Detroiters have no access to high-quality early learning or child care options.
  • That translates to learning problems later on, including the 86.5% of Detroit third graders who aren’t reading at grade level.

Hope Starts Here spells out a plan to change that. While it doesn’t identify specific new funding sources or propose a dramatic restructuring of current programs, the effort led by the Kresge Foundation and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, names six “imperatives” to improving children’s lives.

Among them: Promoting the health, development and wellbeing of Detroit children; supporting their parents and caregivers; increasing the overall quality of early childhood programs and improving coordination between organizations that work with young kids. The framework calls for more funding to support these efforts through the combined investments of governments, philanthropic organizations and corporations.

Read the full framework here: