A nationally celebrated Harlem non-profit whose founder was held up as a powerful education reformer in the documentary "Waiting for Superman" was called into question Monday during a City Council hearing on a study that questioned its effectiveness.
Harlem Children's Zone, which is run by Geoffrey Canada, did about the same as other Harlem charter schools in terms of academic achievement from 2007 to 2009, according to a study released by The Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institute last year. The City Council held a hearing Monday to discuss its effectiveness.
The Zone funds and operates what founder Canada calls a "pipeline" of social services for low-income families in about a 100-block area. It spends an average of $5,500 per child, thanks to generous funding from corporations (Canada is featured in American Express ads). It also runs two charter schools.
Given HCZ's prominence in New York and President Obama's call for similar "Promise Neighborhoods" around the country, Brooklyn City Councilman Al Vann said he wanted to hold a hearing over concerns raised in the Brookings study...
The HCZ's Chief Operating Officer, Geoffrey Canada, didn't attend the hearing. But he has taken issue with the Brookings report — stating that it didn't include a long-term look at his participants.
Vann said he wanted to hold the hearing because he worries some congressional representatives may not believe efforts to replicate the Harlem Children's Zone deserve to be fully-funded. President Obama has requested $210 million…
There was an awkward moment when Bronx councilwoman Helen Foster asked how many staffers at the Harlem Children's Zone come from its local community. Shoemaker told her 50 percent of her staff is locally hired.
"I'll be very honest," Foster responded to the all-white panel. "When I walked in and looked at the room I thought maybe I misunderstood because Harlem Children's Zone, I thought maybe there would be someone talking to me who looked like the kids and the families that we're saving. And that is still most shocking to me. Because right away I then have to put down my guard of the crunchy, earthy white liberal that's going to come save us from ourselves, and 'Look what we've done.'"…
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The Harlem Children's Zone program is often highly praised. Less publicized are the concerns which have been raised about some of the practices at its charter schools. Articles about those concerns will be posted here.
HARLEM CHARTER SCHOOL'S MERITS CALLED INTO QUESTION; Monday, January 31, 2011; WNYC News (NY)
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