How can Metro better serve the kids of Nashville?

Monday, January 25, 2010 at 2:24pm

Jairus Cater, a senior at Martin Luther King Academic Magnet School, calls it a “generational gap.”

“Kids feel that older people cannot relate with them,” Cater said. “If we can get an intergenerational crowd together, and have the youth listen to the adults and the adults listen to youth, I feel like we can make an effective change in our city.”

Improving that line of communication is at the heart of a new 40-member task force unveiled Monday by Mayor Karl Dean. The group, composed of Metro officials, nonprofit organizers, business leaders and students, plans to work collectively in the months ahead to develop a Youth Master Plan for Nashville.

“The idea is to create a master plan for how we can better serve the kids of Davidson County in all facets of their lives, whether it’s in school or out of school” Dean said. “It’s just a recognition of the fact that our children, the youth in this county, are the most important assets we have.”

Issues to be tackled by the task force include all those that affect students’ success in school: health, home stability and out-of-school activities, for example. Chaired by Cater, At-large Metro Councilman Ronnie Steine and Renata Soto, executive director of Conexion Americas, the task force hopes to devise a final Youth Master Plan, complete with a wide range of recommendations, by July 28.

“Some of these things are some very big issues,” Dean said. “Whether we can do all of them immediately or some of them in the short-term, I don’t know yet. We’ll just have to see.”

For Dean, who was elected chairman of the Metropolitan Planning Organization last week, one of the task force’s most important assignments should be to explore youth transportation issues.

“Transportation is just vital to get children and youth to school, to nonprofits or after-school activities, and to get them to jobs and cultural events,” Dean said. “Transportation is an issue I’m very interested in for the city as a whole, and for our youth in particular because they’re probably least able to afford private transportation.”

Cater, the leading student representative of the task force, is prepared to help carry out a massive student survey to solicit the thoughts of both public and private school children.

An overall lack of support for Nashville’s youth tops his concerns.

“Without support, you’re lacking some resources that you need to succeed,” Cater said. “If those resources aren’t available to the youth, then there’s a big problem.”

Steine, who plans on holding a several community and town hall meetings to enlist others in the cause, said the hope is to present Dean with a document that can be a “blueprint” for both Metro government and the rest of the city.

“We’re going to put together a process that is so inclusive and reaches out to so many people that we will hear that voice rise to the top,” Steine said. “The process of participation is as important as the final document. I don’t want to pre-judge what our conclusions are going to be because we have an awful lot of folks that sincerely need to be at the table.”

Though Dean’s latest task force has a broader mission, its creation is strikingly similar to the mayor’s Project for Student Success, a 40-member group organized two years ago to develop steps to reduce the dropout rate at Metro schools.

7 Comments on this post:

By: AmyLiorate on 1/25/10 at 1:39

Is that really the last paragraph? I feel like there's sequel, a page two button, that I'm missing here.

"...its creation is strikingly similar to the mayor’s Project for Student Success, a 40-member group organized two years ago to develop steps to reduce the dropout rate at Metro schools."

What's the status of the Project for Student Success? Has it started showing signs of reducing the dropout rate?

By: idgaf on 1/25/10 at 4:19

Stop spending a billion dollars of the kids money is a good way to start.

By: richgoose on 1/26/10 at 1:49

Chances are that the dropout rate was established for the majority at birth.

By: michael thomas on 1/26/10 at 7:03

This forty member crew is made up by who? What actually needs to happen is for the mayor to get real people that does the work inside the schools that sees what goes on and what's not happening. These people are called the support staff. To be technical the custodians and the food service workers they see more and hear more than any other official in the school or at brandsford.

By: dogmrb on 1/26/10 at 7:38

These are the same "old" people except for the students. Unless the Mayor has some "new" initiative he plans for them to front, this group will come to the same "old" insights like the Mr. Cater's first comment. Youth have never felt adults understood them: this has been the theme of young/old relationships since the beginning of recorded history.

By: Anna3 on 1/26/10 at 8:36

Stein must need to feel superior to any group he leads. I guess he's hoping that these kids and bleeding heart adults will have forgotten his multiple shoplifting arrests. I have matter how shameless this creature is. As for adults relating to the kids...??? Kids need to also learn to relate to the adults in this world...thats one of the keys to success. I guess for Dean, Stein, and all of the others of their is never too early to teach the kids that the Government is here to help and cater to your every need. What a bunch of shameless, liberty sucking, freedom stealing, government dependent, apologists this county keeps electing? The voters should be ashamed of the Ronnie Steins of the world. We need a new Mayor if this is the best he can do as a leader...more liberal "Study Groups" feeding Pablum to the masses. This group willactually accomplish nothing but to make a few libs feel good about themselves. What a crock.

By: on 1/26/10 at 9:53

It is good to improve the services in the schools and the community. It is also good to improve the home and family life of these children. By the time they get to school, many patterns and habits are already established. And even while in school, they spend most of their time at home. Help the families be able to help their children also.