Paul Tough

Writer & Speaker

Monday, February 1st, 2010

News from Sulphur Springs

In today’s St. Petersburg Times, an article about a program to revitalize the Sulphur Springs neighborhood in Tampa, inspired by the Harlem Children’s Zone:

Beginning in 1997, the Harlem Children’s Zone followed [the] strategy of pouring every resource into a single, 24-block neighborhood. Within a decade, its charter school students were outscoring peers across New York State on standardized tests, and 90 percent of high schoolers in after-school programs were making it to college.

Until recently, such a plan might have seemed unrealistic for Sulphur Springs. It’s a place with more renters than owners, a median income of just $10,500, and Tampa’s highest concentration of children. Foreclosed and abandoned homes mar the landscape, and police mount extra patrols. By 2008, its elementary school was on a short list of the state’s most troubled schools.

But sometimes, when you slip down far enough, you get a fresh start.

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