NBC DFW: Fort Worth Mayor Touts Successes, Says Education Needs Attention

Fort Worth Mayor Touts Successes, Says Education Needs Attention

 

There was of course talk about making the city easier to travel and healthier to live in, but the mayor focused her passion on a topic the city usually doesn't work on.

"Education is economic development," the mayor told the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

The city continues to grow with people and businesses coming in from out of state. The city, the mayor said, has worked to add more parks, make healthier choices easier, add a sixth patrol division in far north Fort Worth and improve transit in the last year. But she says if the city doesn't improve education, particularly keeping residents with bachelor's degrees living in the city, those gains in economic development could be lost.

"Education is the backbone of everything, if you really start digging down, it has to be the strength to make a strong city," Price said.

She said her bully pulpit as mayor allows her and the city to help improve schools throughout the city by bringing the business minds that attended the luncheon into the fold.

"No child's zip code should determine their future success," Price told the attendees. "I know you'll be engaged and I know you'll be helping."

She says there are already some efforts underway, but that the focus should be on career and technical education training and early education.

"We have a definite vested interest," she said. "The city won't grow without a work force."

"The connection between education and the economy is inextricable," said Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner. "As go the school, so goes the city."

Scribner says he's working with the mayor to help bring the community into the fold of improving education in his district.

"We're going to connect with business leaders, with the philanthropic community, faith-based leaders, (and) non-profits to create a collective focus on improving schools and our students, preparing them for success in college, career and community leadership," he said.

The mayor's remarks were focused on how all the healthy initiatives, like Blue Zones and Fit Worth, and budget balancing have made the city great.

She shared a slide with the audience about the investments businesses have made in the city in the last year, including Facebook's data center in north Fort Worth and that they recently bought 39 more acres in the area.

The mayor also touted that two more California companies will be moving to Fort Worth, set to be announced next month.

However, her passion for improving education is underscored in what two companies not coming here told her recently in Las Vegas.

"I had two separate companies tell me, they said, 'you know we looked at Fort Worth, but we need very technical, post-graduate people, so we're going to Austin,'" the mayor said. "Well, there's no reason for that, we need to grow that gap that we have, too."

Another number concerning education the mayor focused on was the percentage of Fort Worth residents with high school diplomas or better, it stands at 81-percent. However, the mayor said 19-percent of citizens fall beneath the federal poverty level and that is concerning for her and should be for the city.

The mayor believes that if you can improve the schools in the city, the percentage of college degrees and post-graduate degrees will increase as they choose the schools in the city limits and not the suburbs. Those numbers, will in turn, keep businesses coming and Fort Worth flourishing, she said.

About FitWorth Healthy City Initiative: FitWorth is a family-focused initiative of Mayor Betsy Price and the Fort Worth City Council launched in September 2012 to address the growing trend of childhood obesity in the city.  In 2014, FitWorth became an independent program of Foundation for Wellness, Texas, tasked with promoting health and active lifestyles through an individualized and sustainable approach to community wellness.

Release date: 
February 16th, 2016