Tuesday, September 16, 2008

To Save 7,000 Children - Is That Too Much To Ask?

Geoffrey Canada runs the Harlem Children's Zone. His goal is to ensure that the poverty stricken children in Harlem, New York are provided the same access to education and services as middle-class children around the country. His Foundation is amazing and the project is enormous but the scale doesn't seem to bother him at all. You can see it in his eyes when he talks, he can't stand to leave behind even one child in the 60 block radius where the Foundation operates. He wants to save them all and who can blame him.

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.


99centqueen said...

That is a wonderful article. I wish that they had something here in Las Vegas, NV. It is too often that I here about how many girl's at my daughter's school are walking around 8 to 9 months pregnant...and that is when school started... It seems like no one here cares or wants to help anyone around these parts. It is just off to welfare I go. It is so nice to hear someone somewhere in the U.S. wants to make a change in our children's future.

fren_ace said...

what an interesting blog
is here, bight ideas...

Lisa McGlaun said...


You live in Vegas, too? You're right, I don't know of any service like this in our city. There are so many kids here who fall through the cracks.

Best Wishes,

Lisa McGlaun said...


Thanks for letting me know that you enjoy LifePrints. It's always good to know.