Posts Tagged ‘newspapers’
Education Innovation Summit
Next Saturday morning, Nov. 6, I’ll be in Shaker Heights, Ohio, taking part in a panel called “Leading Journalists Assess the Progress of School Reform.” The panel is part of the Education Innovation Summit organized by the Hathaway Brown school. As this story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer explains,
“The idea is to bring together a lot of talented people and have them share their perspectives on new and better ways of educating,” said William Christ, the head of school. “We’re thinking it will have a ripple effect and contribute to the national conversation.”
Canada in Milwaukee
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.
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.
Promise Neighborhood Grants
This week, the education department announced the 21 recipients of Promise Neighborhood planning grants, from the Abyssinian Development Corporation in Harlem to Proyecto Pastoral at Dolores Mission in Los Angeles. The department’s press release lists the other 19 winners, and more details are here. There was a good AP overview, and a story on the New York angle in the Times.
One of the winners was the Whatever It Takes initiative from Athens, Georgia, which I blogged about back in July. This story from the Athens Banner-Herald explains the organization’s future plans:
If the group doesn’t receive federal funds to implement the plan, Whatever it Takes volunteers will continue to seek donations of time or cash from foundations, individuals and other service agencies both near and far, according to Lewis Earnest, chairman of the board for Family Connection/Communities in Schools of Athens.
“We’ve got some investment capital and we believe that we can show other people, other foundations and individuals and state and local government that we’ve got a good plan,” Earnest said.
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 Roundup
News on Promise Neighborhood projects continues to come in from around the country.
From Zanesville, Ohio, a report on a coalition led by the local United Way.
From Richmond, California, a radio report on an ambitious project to improve outcomes in the city’s Iron Triangle district. Ken Lau, who is leading the group applying for a Promise Neighborhood grant, is quoted:
LAU: Whether we become a Promise Neighborhood or not, we are inspired enough at this point and see what’s working that we will continue to move. It’s like, if you all are here just because you want the Promise Neighborhood money and that’s going to be your make or break, you probably really shouldn’t be here because you need to be in here for the long haul. And you need to have something put together that will in fact improve that community.
From Chicago, a great story in Catalyst Chicago profiling five separate groups that have filed applications from that city.
In the Austin Chronicle, a three–story package on the two groups there that have filed applications. From the main story:
Paul Tough spent five years reporting on the Harlem Children’s Zone (see “The Canada Model“) and says there’s “an R&D feel” to the federal offer. “The Harlem Children’s Zone is one particular model,” he said, “but this isn’t about cloning it in other cities. It’s about adapting it for different places.” There will be certain shared components of any successful application, not least that schools will be used as the logistical hub for any proposal. “That’s why it’s being run by the Department of Education and not Health or anyone else,” Tough said. But this endeavor is about taking all the agencies and entities that are already in place – educational, medical, nutritional, charitable, governmental, commercial, and legal – and getting them to work together – better, smarter, and more effectively.
Complicating matters, though, is this news, from the Chronicle of Philanthropy:
Chances appear dim that President Obama will get anywhere near the full amount of money he requested in next year’s budget for Promise Neighborhoods — the program to help nonprofit groups set up antipoverty projects modeled on the Harlem Children’s Zone.
The administration requested $210-million for the effort in 2011. But the Senate Appropriations Committee last week proposed spending only $20-million, while a House Appropriations subcommittee voted earlier to allocate $60-million.
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: