Posts Tagged ‘Ohio’
Income inequality in this country is at an all–time high, and is among the highest in the developed world. In this environment, it is critical to revisit education and asset building policies, through the lenses of research and practice, that will support stability and upward mobility in poor communities.
Geoffrey Canada has been on the road more than usual this month, giving public talks to a variety of school and community groups. He spoke at the University of Dayton in Ohio where, according to a recent article in the Dayton Daily News, a local initiative called Taking Off to Success is modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone’s Baby College. He also spoke at a Martin Luther King Day celebration at Wesleyan University and to a group in Columbia, South Carolina, that is trying to establish what they’re calling a Promise Zone, modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone, in the city’s Eau Claire neighborhood. (According to an article in the State, Geoffrey Canada’s older brother, Dan, a Columbia resident, is on the board of the Eau Claire zone.)
Promise Neighborhoods program winners are counting their planning funds and hoping that there will be implementation funds to carry out their plans. Also-rans are staying geared up so that they will be able to compete for implementation funds despite having been bypassed for planning money.
Meanwhile, in the Springfield News-Sun, a report on how the local Promise Neighborhood initiative in Springfield, Ohio, which did not win a planning grant, is continuing its efforts. According to the local schools superintendent, David Estrop:
“I think it was very clear in our discussions as a group from the very beginning that we thought what we were planning and hoping to do at Lincoln (Elementary School), we would do with or without the federal grant and it was because we thought, very simply … it was such critical and important work.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
June 30 was the deadline for groups applying for Promise Neighborhood planning grants, and according to this story in Youth Today, the department of education received 339 separate applications for the 20 grants. The department’s web site posted an interactive map showing where the applications came from. NPR did a story. And the Nonprofit Quarterly had some predictions:
Who is likely to get the Promise Neighborhoods designations? Potential applicants are sorting through their competitive advantages and disadvantages. Those with histories of foundation support and backing have something of a leg up in generating matching dollars, such as the Highline School District in and around Seattle, which boasts a decade of involvement from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Making Connections project. An impending Los Angeles County application boasts the involvement of a funders consortium including the California Endowment and the Annenberg Foundation. For the Dwight neighborhood of New Haven, Connecticut, long the focus of planning efforts over the years, the presence of Yale as a neighbor constitutes a level of institutional and technical credibility.
Meanwhile, there was plenty of local coverage of specific applicants, including stories, editorials, and letters from Charleston, South Carolina; Rochester, New York; St. Paul, Minnesota; Norwich, Connecticut; Athens, Georgia; Las Vegas; northeast Ohio; and a Native American community in rural Colorado.
Recent blog posts on “Whatever It Takes” from a reference librarian in Perrysburg, Ohio; a student at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock; a Microsoft executive in Seattle; and an early-childhood specialist in Chicago, who posted her reflections on the panel discussion I was a part of at Loyola University Law School in February:
I also think that there are many, many people in non-profits who are tired of business-as-usual, tired of feeling like their work is a drop in the ocean, tired of talking themselves into believing in what they do every day. Some of those people must have been in the audience that night, looking for a thicker strand of hope to pull on.
From what I’ve read, hope is much of what Geoffrey Canada’s concept is riding on now: hope with an almost desperate promise of metrics, if we could all be patient for a while. And many of us are willing to be patient, because we believe as we have believed for years, that he’s making it happen – he’s doing it. He’s doing what we thought should be done all along: comprehensive services, for all stages of childhood, supportive of the family and community as well as the child. This is the silent promise we’ve been imagining, and Canada actually managed to speak the promise out loud.
The Springfield, Ohio, News-Sun has this article about my trip there this week:
Paul Tough, New York Times Magazine editor, will address the issues of poverty, education and the achievement gap, during a special presentation, 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 28 at Springfield High School. Sponsored in part by Wittenberg University’s Institute for Education Innovation, the event will include the results of Tough’s research into Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone project.
(There’s more information here about my upcoming talk.)
In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Aisha Sultan devotes this week’s column to “Whatever It Takes” and the Harlem Children’s Zone.
And the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reviews (briefly) the paperback edition of “Whatever It Takes.”