Posts Tagged ‘Geoffrey Canada’
On the blog Organized Chaos, a teacher at a school outside of D.C. reflects on the movie “Waiting for ‘Superman.’” I thought her critique was smart and interesting, and I especially appreciated these thoughts on the movie’s portrayal of the Harlem Children’s Zone:
Another area where I think it simplified its facts was with the Harlem Children’s Zone. I idolize Geoffrey Canada of Harlem Children’s Zone and want to be him when I grow up. I could watch an entire movie on his schools and still want to know more about his programs. He is profiled throughout the entire movie, and much of what he discusses is also in the book Whatever It Takes by Paul Tough. Yet the movie makes Canada’s journey seem easy, while in Whatever It Takes he discusses some of the true difficulties he ran up against that should truly be considered whenever discussing the role of charter schools and public education in education our neediest children. If we want to make true progress we need to look at past road blocks and learn from them, not just brush them under the rug.
Rarely do you read an example of entrepreneurism at work where you get motivated by how a fellow entrepreneur deals with the challenge of blind alleys. … Geoffrey Canada’s persistence in chasing down problems is entrepreneurship in action. Many of his habits are similar to the process outlined in Talent is Over Rated — continual skill development, and Super Crunchers — data-driven decision making for designing adjusting process innovations. Finally his whole goal is a great example of Habit 6 in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People — creative co-operation.
On Oct. 22, Geoffrey Canada gave a keynote speech in Milwaukee at the conference of the Alliance for Children and Families. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that “Canada addressed some of the questions he’s faced about the practicality of applying his Harlem Children’s Zone model to the rest of the nation.”
“There is a double standard in this country,” Canada said, adding that when people ask about non-educational services at Harlem Children’s Zone and how they affect kids’ scores, he admits they don’t. But he asks why they want their kids to see the dentist and play tennis.
“We know these things are important; we shouldn’t have to justify it,” Canada said.
By building communities around children, especially those in the most challenging circumstances, Canada said you can foster a sense of optimism in children. Educational success will follow.
“In saving kids, you got to be prepared to save families,” Canada said.
Accompanying the article was a column by Alan J. Borsuk, who took issue with some of Canada’s strategies, but concluded,
[T]here is something to what Canada says. The schools in Milwaukee that are most in line with what he advocates really are different from your general run of struggling public schools. The energy and dedication put into the pursuit of getting the students to succeed is at the core of the difference.
Maybe the people running and teaching in the large number of schools in Milwaukee with weak results should rest less easily, should be pushing harder to find better ways to do things, and should expect more of themselves. There are efforts under way to overhaul some of those schools, but I’m quite sure they are not as ambitious as Canada would want.
Geoffrey Canada is one of the central characters in the documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman,'” which opens today in selected theaters. Earlier this week, the Daily News published a long profile of Canada tied to the movie. In the review in the New York Times today, Stephen Holden writes:
If Mr. Canada, who was born in the South Bronx and grew up to be one of the country’s most charismatic and inspiring educators, is not Superman, he must be a close relative. Those who have read Paul Tough’s book, “Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America,” will know that the 97-block Harlem Children’s Zone, which he founded and runs, is no miracle. The zone is astoundingly successful at getting children through high school and into college. But that success, largely dependent on private money, is a costly product of laborious trial and error.
Last week, Geoffrey Canada visited Cleveland, where he gave a speech at the Palace Theater to an audience of 1,400. The city is the site of the Cleveland Promise Neighborhood, an ambitious attempt to replicate the success of the Harlem Children’s Zone. (The local public radio station, WCPN, reported on the Cleveland initiative in June.) This week, inspired by Canada’s visit, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reposted a review of Whatever It Takes. And in the Cleveland Leader, columnist Mansfield Frazier gave a glowing account of Canada’s speech, but confessed to feeling pessimistic about the chances for a Zone replication in Cleveland:
I’ve been dancing around this issue for a couple of months now, but, feeling empowered by Geoffrey Canada’s inspiring and brave speech, let me just give voice to my concern, just lay it on the table, as we attempt to move forward with his model here in Cleveland: We’ll figure out a way to do it wrong.
Left to our own devices and old ways of doing things, we’ll take a program that works well in Harlem and make a mess of it here in Cleveland … we’re experts at screwing things up. And then the power structure will be able to step back and say, “Oh well, we tried, but you know how hard it is to try to help those people.”
In his candid book about Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone, Paul Tough follows several families through the first years of school, inviting us to take a hard and honest look at the work, the hope and the possibility of change for at-risk youth and families.
It was this book, “Whatever It Takes,” that inspired Durham County Commissioner Ellen Reckhow to pull together groups of community stakeholders, agencies and advocates to do whatever it takes in East Durham, through the East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI).
And in the Herald-Sun, an editorial on the same topic:
The members of the steering committee, including county Commissioner Ellen Reckhow and Durham Public Schools Chairwoman Minnie Forte-Brown, talk about the Harlem Children’s Zone’s success with missionary zeal — which they credit in part to “Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America,” by Paul Tough.
Tough, a New York Times Magazine editor, drew a fine, nuanced portrait of Canada and the families that the HCZ serves, illuminating the effects of poverty and the challenges of extracting an entire city district from its grasp.
In the current issue of Good Magazine, there’s an article about the Promise Neighborhood initiative, including this point/counterpoint on the importance of leadership:
Taking something that works in one place and transplanting it to another is made more complicated when the original has a charismatic, strong leader, with raging success at bringing in philanthropic and corporate donations, and a board of trustees representing some of the most influential businessmen and financiers in the country. “One of the real challenges for Promise Neighborhoods is that we can’t clone Geoffrey Canada,” said Michael Rebell, a professor of law and education at Teachers College.But Paul Tough, the author of Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America, who has written about Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone since 2004, has a different perspective. “It does not require a cult of personality,” he says. “It does not require a charismatic leader.” Tough envisions the model looking “different in different cities. In some it might be based mostly in the local government; in others it might be built around a non-profit or a church.”
In Charlotte, N.C., last month, Geoffrey Canada spoke to “hundreds of Charlotte leaders,” according to a story in the Charlotte Observer, including “educators, agency heads and civic leaders [who] have been talking about whether Charlotte could follow” the Harlem Children’s Zone model.
And in Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to a story in the Tulsa World, Canada visited schools and spoke to a symposium on education about many topics, including the prospects for something like a Zone in Tulsa:
“There are a lot of reasons for the city of Tulsa to be excited about the future. A lot of fundamentals exist in very high-quality levels here in Tulsa,” Canada said. “There has to be a clear plan drawn up about where we go from here.”