Posts Tagged ‘California’
On Saturday, I was interviewed on the John and Ken Show on KFI Radio in Los Angeles about “Whatever It Takes” and the Harlem Children’s Zone. Click here for audio. Added bonus: From about 2:30 to about 2:50 on this audio file, you can hear nine-day-old E.M. Tough crying in the background of the phone interview. Sorry about that, John and Ken.
In her commencement address yesterday at the University of California in Merced, Michelle Obama praised the work of Geoffrey Canada:
[O]ne of my heroes, Geoffrey Canada, grew up in the South Bronx. After graduating from Bowdoin and getting his masters at Harvard, he returned to New York City and used his education to ensure that the next generation would have a chance at the same opportunity. Geoffrey’s Harlem Children’s Zone is a nationally recognized program that covers 100 blocks and reaches nearly 10,000 children with a variety of social services to ensure that all kids are prepared to get a good education.
And in an effort to invest in and encourage the future Wendy Kopps, Van Joneses and Geoffrey Canadas, the Obama administration recently launched the Office of Social Innovation at the White House. The President has asked Congress to provide $50 million in seed capital to fund great ideas like the ones I just described. The Office is going to identify the most promising, results-oriented non-profit programs and expand their reach throughout the country.
The President said last night that when kids, especially inner city kids, drop out of school they are not only letting themselves down, but they are letting down their country. A noble thought, but what does it take to get these often poor children to to compete with their middle-class peers? Geoffrey Canada, asked himself that question, and proceeded to found the Harlem Children’s Zone, where he is testing ideas about education, poverty and parenting and trying to turn around the lives of Harlem’s children.
On Friday I’ll be on To the Point, a news talk program broadcast nationally on public radio, discussing education politics and the choice of Arne Duncan as education secretary. My fellow guests are Randi Weingarten, Rick Hess and Joe Williams. As the show’s website explains:
Barack Obama has picked a secretary of education who’s endorsed both sides of the raging debate over how to improve American schools. Will he become an agent of change or will splitting the difference reinforce the status quo? Why is Obama so focused on early childhood education?
Check here for stations and times.
Tough offers an inspiring look at Geoffrey Canada, who created the Harlem Children’s Zone, a program to provide children with the support they need from birth until graduation from high school.
In Sunday’s L.A. Times, Erin Aubry Kaplan reviews Whatever It Takes:
Journalistically, Tough does a nice job of balancing theories and research on race, education and poverty with the unglamorous, on-the-ground fight to make Promise Academy and the whole Harlem Children’s Zone enterprise pull the neighborhood out of the gravity of its urban pathologies — to kick into a high enough gear for residents to achieve what Canada calls “escape velocity.”
Though much of “Whatever It Takes” focuses on strategy, it’s the acute awareness of the overwhelmingly black staff, students and parents of just what they’re up against that makes this book absorbing and frequently touching. Within that awareness are small but steady epiphanies that are the real core of Canada’s work but that simply can’t be measured by test scores: parents learning to regularly take their kids to museums, problems collectively solved in math class, story conclusions read aloud by second-graders.
A reminder: Tonight (Tuesday) at 7 p.m. I’ll be reading and discussing Whatever It Takes at the Books Inc. at Opera Plaza in San Francisco. And tomorrow (Wednesday), at 12:30 p.m., I’ll be giving a talk about the book and my reporting in Harlem at the U.C. Berkeley journalism school, an event hosted by Michael Pollan and David Kirp. Please come by!
If you live anywhere near Berkeley, California, come on out to a brown-bag lunch next Wednesday, September 24, at 12:30 p.m., at the North Gate Library on the U.C. Berkeley campus.
On Tuesday, September 23, at 7:00 p.m., I’ll be reading and speaking at the Books Inc. in Opera Plaza in San Francisco. Leigh Lehman, the executive director of 826 Valencia, will be appearing with me, and we’ll talk about and compare the approaches of 826 and of the Harlem Children’s Zone. Added bonus: there will be wine and cheese, thanks to the kindness of the folks at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, who are co-sponsoring the event with 826.