DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Mayor Nan Whaley started by paying homage to the 50th anniversary of the Beatles arrival in the U.S., but her first State of the City address set out to sing a different tune when it comes to education in the area.
“Together we will identify what the city can do to help ensure that every child in Dayton graduates from high school prepared to go to college, join the military or seek advanced training in a marketable job skill,” Whaley says.
As part of her goal to make Dayton a “City of Learners” Whaley unveiled the formation of a “City of Learners” Committee made up of 50 area leaders.
We asked what it will do that hasn’t been tried before.
“I think there’s a lot of best practices from other communities and I think just engaging the community,” Whaley says. “City Hall hasn’t taken a role in this so I think there’s a great opportunity there.”
We spoke with Tom Lasley, one of the members of the new committee and the head of Learn to Earn which is an initiative to improve education in the area, about what is lacking.
“What we’ve seen is we have a skills gap,” Lasley says. “We’re still acting as though it’s the 20th Century when in fact it’s the 21st Century.”
Lasley thinks the new committee and efforts like Learn to Earn can make a difference by creating a better educated workforce that will make businesses more likely to come to Dayton.
“I believe it can and will succeed,” Lasley says. “I think you’re going to see indicators of the success fairly soon.”
Whaley started her speech by invoking Beatles songs in honor of the 50th Anniversary of their visit to New York.
“Should I spend time this morning talking about “Yesterday” or should I address the “Long and Winding Road” that looms before us?” Whaley asked.
She also talked about ways to make the city more business friendly including roundtables with local business leaders and meetings with the CEO’s of the city’s top 25 employers.