Harlem Children's Zone programs are many, too many to mention in one short article...all with basically a cradle to college mentality. Canada and his companions are trying to reshape the culture of the entire community, not just raise the percentage of kids that graduate from high school.
I am most impressed with a program called Baby College. Parents and soon-to-be-parents enroll in a comprehensive 9 week course that teaches them how to parent. Many of these young adults came from fractured families or traditions of neglect and depravity. They need help and a skill set to know how to effectively parent their little ones. How can they emmulate something they've never seen? They have to be shown in order to do it.
Lessons about such basic topics as proper feeding, childhood diseases, and playing with your baby are alien to many of the parents. Baby College teaches a method of discipline without hitting that will help to break the cycle of abuse and foster care.
The Harlem Children's Zone website boosts that for the sixth year in a row 100% of the kindergartners enrolled in Promise Academy, their charter school, were preforming at grade level and 97% of their 8th graders were preforming grade level math. These are astounding improvements in a community where nearly half of the teenagers don't finish high school on time.
Canada's methods are controversial in some educational circles but I applaud his efforts. He's in the trenches trying new ideas every day. What more can we ask of someone? He's so inspirational that Barack Obama has cited the Harlem Children's Zone as a model he'd like to replicate in at least 20 more inner-city communities if he is elected president in November.
With vision, it is possible to save more than a handful of the next generation.