Paul Tough

Writer & Speaker

Posts Tagged ‘speeches’

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

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.

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Athens talk

On December 2, at 5:30 pm, I’ll be giving a talk in Athens, Georgia, at the University of Georgia chapel. Details here. The talk is connected to the city’s Whatever It Takes initiative, which was recently awarded a Promise Neighborhood planning grant. (I wrote about the Athens initiative — and embedded a video featuring Michael Stipe — back in July.)

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Cleveland news

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.”

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Speech in Portland

On September 22, I’ll be giving a lunchtime speech in Portland, Oregon, at an event organized by the Oregon Community Foundation. Details, including how to order tickets, are here. In a blog post on the foundation’s website, Mary Louise McClintock, the foundation’s early-childhood program director, gives some background:

Geoffrey Canada has developed a system of pre-birth-to-college support in Harlem. Author Paul Tough spent five years observing Canada’s process and meeting with the administrators, teachers and students who make up the Harlem Children’s Zone’s “Promise Neighborhood.” The story of how this has played out is astonishing and Tough’s book is a page-turner. Impressed with Geoff Canada’s approach and results so far, the Obama Administration has proposed funding for Promise Neighborhood replication sites around the country.

In my years in the early childhood field, I have seen increased recognition — around the state and in the nation — of the critical role that early childhood development plays in the health and well-being of the child, the adult they become and society as a whole. The Harlem Children’s Zone appears to be one more example of how investments in our youngest children and their families can pay off in later school success.

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Durham report

On the front page of this morning’s Herald-Sun, a report on my talk in Durham yesterday:

The most important factor in replicating the success of the Harlem Children’s Zone is accountability, says the man who wrote the book about the successful New York initiative.

“For a model like this to succeed, people have to be held accountable when kids fail,” author Paul Tough told around 250 people in the auditorium of the Holton Career and Resource Center Sunday afternoon. “Accountability can be really tough, but someone has to take responsibility for each failure. That’s the only way it works.”

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

East Durham updates

In this morning’s Durham News, a column by Wanda Boone, co-chair of the East Durham Children’s Initiative, on my talk this afternoon:

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.

Friday, May 14th, 2010

More on the Durham Talk

From today’s Herald-Sun, a report on my talk in Durham, North Carolina, on Sunday afternoon:

Ellen Reckhow, the longtime Durham County commissioner, heard a public radio segment about the Harlem Children’s Zone in the fall of 2008. That led her to Tough’s book, which she urged other local leaders to read.

Some of those leader-readers helped Reckhow form the Children’s Initiative. The initiative is closely modeled on the Canada-founded Harlem Children’s Zone, which Durham leaders went to see in action last summer. Both organizations aim to offer a variety of educational and support services, including parenting classes and after-school programs, from birth through adolescence.

So Tough’s speaking engagement will close a circuit of sorts.

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Durham Q&A

From today’s Durham News, a fairly stream-of-consciousness Q&A about my talk in Durham this coming Sunday, in which I say things like:

I think my one worry about the success of the Harlem Children’s Zone is people are going to think it is easy. They look at how the Harlem Children’s Zone is now, and don’t see all of the hard work, wrong turns, and dismal failures that went into making it the success that it is today. What I think any community will need if they are going to try to do this is persistence, dedication, faith, a long term vision, and a sense that they are going to do whatever it takes.

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

A Talk in Banff

On July 21, I’ll be appearing in something called “Literary Primetime with Paul Tough” at the Banff Centre in Banff, Alberta. It’s part of the Banff Summer Arts Festival. Tickets are now on sale.

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Chicago talk

On May 20, I’ll be the guest speaker at the annual benefit dinner of SGA Youth & Family Services, a non-profit in Chicago. Details here.