There may not be a single relationship in cities more complex than that between mayors and their schools. Living Cities hit the road with former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak to survey the state of mayors and schools with an eye toward improving outcomes for kids. See more from Mayors and Schools Field Trip 

The most visible public official in cities and, arguably, the most important way families judge their cities, coexist in the same space but frequently have no formal relationship. Mayors, often pushed hard by their constituents for visible results, seek ways to improve schools, and schools in turn seek support from mayors. However, the terms of engagement are often vague and tied precariously to the mayor, an elected official whose time in office is limited. The question of how city governments and school systems can sustain resilient working relationships across departments and beyond individual administrations is therefore a critical one.

That’s why we hit the road to survey the often complex relationships between mayors and urban school systems that develop in reaction to tough problems in education. By meeting with mayors and school officials to better understand these relationships, we aimed to learn more about what’s working and what isn’t in these models of school governance.

The goals of the Living Cities Mayors and Schools Field Trip were to:

  • Catalog the current state of mayoral impact on educational outcomes in key cities
  • Identify the primary governance models and determine their effectiveness
  • Create a body of work that can raise the bar for mayor-school relationships
  • Look at building a learning community of mayors and school officials

To see what we learned, read Mayor Rybak’s blog series. He shared regular dispatches from the Mayors and Schools Field Trip on the Living Cities blog.