Posts Tagged ‘HCZ’
Early Ed Watch Q&A
Yesterday on Early Ed Watch, a blog about early education from the New American Foundation, Lisa Guernsey, the director of the foundation’s early education initiative, published a Q&A that she did with me on early education, my new book, the Harlem Children’s Zone, and “Waiting for ‘Superman,'” among other topics. An excerpt:
I’m working on a new book that has me back out visiting a lot of schools, and I’m interested in the so-called non-cognitive aspects of persistent poverty and educational opportunities that help people escape from poverty. I’m looking at how – both at the preschool level and also the high school level – interventions may focus on aspects of character or personality or executive function. For me personally that’s the most interesting thing going on out there. It’s really early and less connected and less well-formed as an argument than what I was writing about in Whatever it Takes, but it contains the germ of having new ways of thinking about poverty and what is going on in the lives of poor kids and what kinds of interventions might get them out of poverty.
In Friday’s Athens Banner-Herald, a report on my talk there last week, and on Whatever It Takes, the local Promise Neighborhood initiative:
In the end, the success of Promise Neighborhoods will depend on how well individual communities like Athens implement the fundamentals of the Harlem Children’s Zone, he said.
“Whether these programs succeed or fail will not be decided in Washington D.C.,” Tough said. “It will be decided in communities like these. If we can use this moment to gather the right resources and people and spirit in places like Athens, I think we have a chance to make a real and lasting difference for the kids who need our help the most.”
Canada in England
In the Independent of London, a profile of Geoffrey Canada, tied to the release of “Waiting for ‘Superman'” in the United Kingdom. The article (which refers to Canada as a “Harlem globetrotter”) includes this tidbit:
Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has used Mr Canada’s achievements in Harlem, one of New York’s bleakest neighbourhoods, as a blueprint for the “free” schools initiative being launched in England next year. Mr Gove says of Mr Canada’s achievements: “Geoffrey Canada is a real life superhero. He has devoted his life to state education and to raising standards for the very poorest. His Harlem Children’s Zone is a radical experiment in changing the way children are brought up.”
A Teacher Reflects on “Superman”
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.
Waiting for Superman
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.
North Carolina neighborhoods
From the News & Observer in Raleigh, an article on various attempts in North Carolina to replicate the success of the Harlem Children’s Zone:
In Wilmington, for example, an unprecedented coalition of 40 community partners, including schools, government agencies, faith-based groups, and nonprofits, are proposing a “Youth Enrichment Zone” for traditionally disenfranchised families on the north side of town.
In Bertie and Hertford counties in northeastern North Carolina, where poverty rates go as high as 23 percent, a partnership led by nonprofit One Economy is proposing a “Connected Rural Achievement Initiative,” with targeted interventions in three schools with a continuum of family services for the communities served by these schools.
In Durham, the East Durham Children’s Initiative is focusing on a 120-block area where the median income is $11,000, only 25 percent of the houses are owner occupied, and all of the schools are labeled under-performing.
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.”
Heckman in the Post
In an interview with Ezra Klein on the Washington Post’s website, the economist James Heckman (who I wrote about in my book and in the New York Times Magazine) has some kind things to say about my recent op-ed, but is less optimistic than I am about Promise Neighborhoods:
Heckman: Look, President Eisenhower built the highway system. President Obama could build the child production system if he wanted to. It would have a much higher payoff than a lot of the programs that are currently there. If you do a cost/benefit analysis of the rate of return for job training, if you talk about early convict rehabilitation programs or literacy training for adults, the rates of return on those programs are generally quite low, very low. It’s just a question of using the same dollars wisely.
Last week there was a great op-ed piece in the New York Times by Paul Tough. He pointed out that we’re spending billions, $8.2 billion a year on Head Start, and Head Start is not a very effective program.
If you had an enriched version of Head Start and invested the same amount of money, you’d get much higher payout in the long run. Each of these programs has a political barnacle connected with it. People are promoting it because they see some advantage, but at the same time there’s really no value in those programs. The point is it’s not a question of raising new money, it’s a question of using existing money wisely.
Klein: If somehow the economy gets to a place where [the Obama administration] can move on to other issues, what would a good first step, federally, be, in moving toward high-quality early education?
Heckman: What you do is move beyond the Harlem Children’s Zone focus that seems to have gripped the administration. That’s fine, but it hasn’t really been evaluated in any serious way yet and it’s not clear that’s the answer.
The key idea is to encourage more experimentation across a broader range of projects, targeting a larger range of people and providing a refocus of what these programs are all about, which is teaching aspects of self-confidence and teaching these soft skills which are typically ignored in a lot of social and political life.
New York Times op-ed
In today’s New York Times, an op-ed I wrote about the debate over funding for President Obama’s Promise Neighborhoods initiative:
So, at this moment of uncertainty and experimentation, should the federal government wait, as critics of Promise Neighborhoods suggest, until ironclad evidence for one big solution exists?
Or should it create a competitive research-and-development marketplace to make bets on innovations, the way the government did during the space race and in the early days of the Internet, and allow the most successful strategies to rise to the top?
Promise Neighborhood News
More news stories about communities around the country using the example of the Harlem Children’s Zone to develop new strategies to help poor children succeed. In the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, an article about a new nonprofit working to rebuild that city’s Lindsay Heights neighborhood. From North Minneapolis comes news about the Northside Achievement Zone. There are two big initiatives in New Jersey, one in Newark, and one in Camden.
And from Athens, Georgia, a report on the Whatever It Takes initiative:
The name “Whatever It Takes” was taken from the title of a book by Paul Tough, an account of the Harlem Children’s Zone, a large-scale social service project that inundates children in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood with educational and health services aimed at turning them into college graduates. Following the Obama Administration’s announcement of the Promise Neighborhood grant in April, the U.S. Department of Education stated that the program would be based in part on the Harlem Children’s Zone model. Even so, Earnest and Johnson say that WIT is not intended to be a replication of that project.
Here’s a video from Athens, introduced by Michael Stipe: