- Joined Jul 15, 2006
Mr. Geoffrey Canada
The fight against poverty produces great programs but disappointing results. You go visit an inner-city school, job-training program or community youth center and you meet incredible people doing wonderful things. Then you look at the results from the serious evaluations and you find that these inspiring places are only producing incremental gains.
That's why I was startled when I received an e-mail message from Roland Fryer, a meticulous Harvard economist. It included this sentence: "The attached study has changed my life as a scientist."....
They found that the Harlem Children's Zone schools produced "enormous" gains. The typical student entered the charter middle school, Promise Academy, in sixth grade and scored in the 39th percentile among New York City students in math. By the eighth grade, the typical student in the school was in the 74th percentile. The typical student entered the school scoring in the 39th percentile in English Language Arts (verbal ability). By eighth grade, the typical student was in the 53rd percentile.....
Let me repeat that. It eliminated the black-white achievement gap. "The results changed my life as a researcher because I am no longer interested in marginal changes," Fryer wrote in a subsequent e-mail. What Geoffrey Canada, Harlem Children's Zone's founder and president, has done is "the equivalent of curing cancer for these kids. It's amazing. It should be celebrated. But it almost doesn't matter if we stop there. We don't have a way to replicate his cure, and we need one since so many of our kids are dying - literally and figuratively."
The Harlem Project� (Long read but WELL worth it)
''When I first came here in the early 1980's,'' Canada said, ''we felt that District 3'' -- which stretches from the Upper West Side into central Harlem -- ''ran a system almost of apartheid, where below 96th Street, the schools were doing great, and the schools we cared about were doing lousy.''
Canada's new program combines educational, social and medical services. It starts at birth and follows children to college. It meshes those services into an interlocking web, and then it drops that web over an entire neighborhood. It operates on the principle that each child will do better if all the children around him are doing better. So instead of waiting for residents to find out about the services on their own, the organization's recruiters go door-to-door to find participants, sometimes offering prizes and raffles and free groceries to parents who enroll their children in the group's programs. What results is a remarkable level of ''market penetration,'' as the organization describes it. Eighty-eight percent of the roughly 3,400 children under 18 in the 24-block core neighborhood are already served by at least one program, and this year Canada began to extend his programs to the larger 60-block zone. The objective is to create a safety net woven so tightly that children in the neighborhood just can't slip through.
At Harlem Gems, a program for 40 prekindergarten students at a public school on 118th Street, Keith, who had just turned 5 and was missing a front tooth, sat at a computer working away at ''Hooked on Phonics,'' while Luis, a 19-year-old tutor, gave him one-on-one instruction. A few blocks up Lenox Avenue, at the Employment and Technology Center, 30 teenagers in T-shirts and basketball jerseys, all part of the organization's new investment club, were gathered around a conference table, listening to an executive from Lehman Brothers explain the difference between the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq. At P.S. 76 on West 121st Street, fifth-grade students in an after-school program were standing in front of their peers, reading aloud the autobiographies they had written that afternoon. And over at Truce, the after-school center for teenagers, a tutor named Carl was helping Trevis, a student in the eighth grade, with a research project for his social studies class, an eight-page paper on the life of Frederick Douglass. In a nearby housing project, a counselor from the Family Support Center was paying a home visit to a woman who had just been granted legal custody of her two grandchildren; in other apartments in the neighborhood, outreach workers from Baby College, a class for new parents, were making home visits of their own, helping teach better parenting techniques. A few blocks away, at the corner of Madison Avenue and 125th Street, construction was under way on the organization's new headquarters, a six-story, $44 million building that will also house the Promise Academy, a new charter school that Canada is opening in the fall.
Basically this man has transformed the majority ofHarlem students into "over-achievers" by creating a network of change, comprimised of an award winning charter school system, community outreachprograms, medical services and parental education. He has created a formula that can be replicated all over America and he is currently doing things neverbefore seen in the history of American Education.
''This isn't an abstract conversation anymore. If you want poor children to do as well as middle-class children'' -- not necessarily to be superachievers but to become what he calls ''typical Americans,'' able to compete for jobs -- ''we now know how to do it.'' If he's right, the services he will provide will cost about $1,400 a year per student, on top of existing public-school funds. The country will finally know, he said, what the real price tag is for poor children to succeed.
THERE IS HOPE Y'ALL.
BE ABOVE APATHY AND SHALLOWNESS. WE HAVE TOO MUCH POTENTIAL AS A HUMAN RACE....