About the Author
Mike Kanin is the Publisher of the Austin Monitor. As such, he doesn't report on much--aside from the workings of the Monitor--any more. In his previous life as a freelance journalist, Kanin has written for the Washington City Paper, the Washington Post's Express, the Boston Herald, Boston's Weekly Dig, the Austin Chronicle, and the Texas Observer.
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Dashboard to present overview of community’s health, well-being
The City of
“This dashboard will knit together both our combined resources as well as our combined talents,” said Eckhardt. “So (that) activist A can be morally outraged on thing one and activist B can be morally outraged on thing two and recognize through this dashboard how thing one and thing two are interrelated.”
“That is exceedingly important as we see our dollars diminish,” she added. Eckhardt was speaking at a press conference called to announce the project’s unveiling on Thursday.
In her remarks, Council Member Laura Morrison was also enthusiastic about the Dashboard. “The dashboard indicators are going to guide our work (at) the CAN organization for 2010 and beyond….I hope that the public will really take an opportunity to take a look at (the report) because it gives a great picture of where we are and where we want to go.” Morrison serves on the Community Action Network (CAN) board of directors and Eckhardt is the Chair-Elect of the group.
CAN will produce the dashboard annually. According to the report, CAN “enhance(s) awareness of community issues and support(s) collaboration to maximize our community’s resources and the impact of our efforts to help individuals and families.” It has 17 partners, including the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Capital Metro, Capital Area Workforce Solutions, and the
The dashboard is centered on a series of 16 indicators that cover a wide range of social issues. These include the percentage of Austin Independent School District (AISD) students who graduate from high school in four years, the percentage of Travis County households that use 30 percent or more of their household income to pay for housing, the number of Travis County residents who are under the age of 65 and have no health insurance, and a demographic look at the arrest figures for Travis County.
For this year, at least, the picture it paints is not exactly rosy. Eckhardt told In Fact Daily that this was the general idea. “That’s the point of the dashboard, to look for places where we need to improve,” she said.
In the 2010 edition of the Community Dashboard, trouble areas included:
§ The four-year AISD graduation rate. This steadily declined from 2005-2008, dropping the district to a low for the region of 74 percent in 2008.
§ The fact that 37 percent of
§ Though at just under and just over 25 percent, respectively,
§ The report also offered the succinct conclusion that “arrests (in
In better news,
Eckhardt says that she anticipates wide returns from the community dashboard. “Through (this) process, I see the three biggest dividends at this point, although I’m certain there will be many others that redound to us, (as) our ability to hold ourselves accountable, our ability to identify what’s working and what’s not working, and our ability–and this is key, I think–to identify strategies over in issue one that could be migrated over to issue two,” she said.
“I think that this is going to be a very, very powerful tool for us going forward.”
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