Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said they plan to focus on early childhood development as a way to improve education in minority communities.
The mayors joined The Daily Circuit Tuesday to discuss their plans for the new term.
By age 3, a poor child will have heard 30 million fewer words than a child from a more wealthy family, research shows. Coleman said that "word gap" causes problems that can continue throughout that child's education.
"So that when they get to kindergarten, their vocabulary skills are so weak that for the rest of that child's education, it seems like you're doing remedial work for what happened in the first couple of years of a child's life," he said.
Coleman said the answer can be as simple as reminding expectant mothers to read to their children. Hodges agrees. She wants to expand a city program called Healthy Starts.
"Which are visits with pregnant moms that continue with those families for the first couple years of life to really make sure that kids are getting that start," she said.
Hodges and Coleman also discussed pledges to reduce racial disparities in the Twin Cities.
The city's need to narrow wide disparities between white residents and minority communities -- in education, employment, health and other areas -- was a recurring theme as the city swore in a diverse new City Council on Monday. Although such gaps exist throughout the country, they are worse in the Twin Cities than just about anywhere else, a problem that Mayor Betsy Hodges mentioned to President Barack Obama when she met with him last month. (MPR News)
Sounding very much like fraternal twins repeating the same talking points, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges advocated Wednesday for a half-cent, metro-wide sales tax to fund transit, transportation and road improvements. (Pioneer Press)
During a speech at Friday's inauguration, Coleman praised city leadership for supporting the recent expansion of local transportation systems, improving building and business infrastructure and planning new environmental initiatives. (Twin Cities Daily Planet)