Sean Kershaw's Weblog
September 1, 2006
Yesterday I helped facilitate a meeting called by Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman with the leaders of Saint Paul's higher education institutions.
The purpose of this conversation was to build the Mayor's relationship with these leaders (and their relationships with each other), to identify a set of priorities that will help close the achievement gap in Saint Paul, and to effectively integrate the Mayor's priorities like "Second Shift" into this process. (BTW: I was glad that our report on higher education, and on Saint Paul schools, came up by people other than me.)
It's my understanding that Superintendent Carstarphen said she'd be there. One of the Mayor's goals was also to introduce Dr. Carstarphen to these leaders and the opportunities they create for her and the City.
But Dr. Carstarphen was a no-show. The excuse was that she needed to prepare for a critical meeting that afternoon with African American leaders in the community later that afternoon -- ironically to talk about the achievement gap. I would agree that this meeting is timely and essential to our success as a community -- but am not convinced that it meant missing Mayor Coleman's meeting.
So...a meeting set up in part to talk about improving institutional coordination in closing the achievement gap was diminished because the institutions - or one institution - couldn't coordinate meetings to talk about the achievement gap. Fine -- my head hurts but I have to voice what I think everyone in the room was thinking: It was an enormous missed opportunity for the Superintendent.
I'm troubled by either the lack of organizational ability that would have allowed her to do both, or her political skills in thinking that it was a good meeting to effectively blow-off.
I hope I'm wrong on both accounts.
The Mayor was fantastic, and the other higher ed leaders were extremely insightful and practical. As Kent Pekel pointed out, the "good news" is that we aren't closing this gap in post-secondary success because we really aren't trying to close the gap yet. (More on this another time.)
Posted by Sean Kershaw at September 1, 2006 7:18 AM