City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

November 13, 2012
Literacy program launched by Mayor Johnson recognized

A third grade literacy program launched by Mayor Kevin Johnson has received a national accolade.

Sacramento Reads, which places volunteer tutors in city schools, was recognized today with a Pacesetter Honor by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. The mayor's initiative seeks to have 80 percent of third graders reading at grade level by 2020; fewer than 40 percent read at grade level now.

"We can and we must get our kids reading by the end of third grade if we are serious about having them graduate from high school, ready for college, ready for careers, ready to contribute to our nation's participation in the global economy and to end intergenerational poverty," said Ralph Smith, the managing director for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

October 9, 2012
Mayor Johnson, Berkeley chef Waters start 'edible schoolyard'

Mayor Kevin Johnson launched an "edible schoolyard" at Sacramento Charter High School this morning. He was joined in the venture by renowned Berkeley chef Alice Waters.

The Edible Sac High program was coordinated by Johnson's Greenwise clean technology initiative. As part of the program, students at the Oak Park school will operate a garden, a kitchen classroom and a cafeteria on campus. It is modeled after the edible schoolyard program launched by Waters at Berkeley's Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School.

Johnson said the Sac High school yard will "teach our children the skills and knowledge necessary for them to be healthy for life." Winter crops will be planted soon and plans call for the garden - along with trees provided by the Sacramento Tree Foundation - to be in place by next summer.

October 3, 2012
City Year mentoring program launches in Sacramento schools

Mayor Kevin Johnson's job description doesn't call for a lot of involvement in city schools.

But in another sign that Johnson considers the state of public education in Sacramento his key concern - perhaps above all other issues - the mayor presided Wednesday over the launch of City Year in five city schools. The national non-profit will place 50 young tutors and mentors in challenged urban schools who will focus on improving attendance records and course work for students who are falling behind.

Johnson spearheaded a movement to raise $4 million that will fund City Year here for the next three school years.

September 12, 2012
Mayor Johnson, Ed Secretary Duncan meet in Sacramento

But will they play hoops?

Mayor Kevin Johnson is hosting a California Mayors Education Summit in town today, with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as the featured guest. Johnson and Duncan will be joined by more than 40 mayors and school district superintendents from around the state at the event in the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria.

Duncan - who played basketball at Harvard and later professionally in Australia - is kicking off his national "Education Drives America" bus tour with the stop here.

February 28, 2011
Mayor to hold 'State of Schools' meeting tonight

Mayor Kevin Johnson will step out of the tense Kings arena issue for a time this evening when he holds a 'State of Schools' summit at the Guild Theater in Oak Park.

Tonight's event, which runs from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., is scheduled to be the first in a string of monthly meetings. The mayor and other organizers want to give community members a chance to weigh in on the state of city schools.

Russlynn Ali, the assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education, will join the mayor at tonight's event. David DeLuz, the president and CEO of the Greater Sacramento Urban League, will also be on hand.

February 9, 2011
Sac High getting recruitment go-ahead

Sacramento Charter High School is as big a political lightning rod as anything in this city. A part of that has been the debate over whether the school - operated by a nonprofit formed by Mayor Kevin Johnson - should be allowed to recruit students from city middle schools.

After years of being prohibited from that practice, the Sacramento City Unified School District is changing its policy.

District Superintendent Jonathan Raymond told The Bee's Melody Gutierrez today that "from here on in, it's not an issue. It's not a roadblock they will have to fight or deal with."

About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at


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