Closing the Achievement Gap

November 11, 2009 Leave a comment

In this video, Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children’s Zone looks at the structural nature of racism in the US and speaks about what it will take to overcome the legacy of unequal opportunity. Instead of putting people into the prison system, he advocates for rebuilding community, getting people reengaged by bringing communities together to solve their own problems.

He also advocates for creating best practice programs from birth and staying with them through graduation from college to help kids succeed. As well, he talks about what needs to happen in areas in which the kids are behind at the beginning of the year – changing public education to help catch kids up who are behind – to make more than one year’s progress in a year.

Says Canada:

“Every day we are challenged by people who tell us why there are things that we will never do, things that can’t be solved, questions that can’t be answered, things that are too complicated, systems people have put in place that you can’t change, that no one does it that way. Part of our challenge is to really think outside the box. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

IISC has been doing some work, though it’s education practice, with school systems working to eliminate the achievement gap. I find Canada’s approach so inspiring – and wonder what you think.

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  • Curtis says:

    Yes! Had the privilege of meeting Mr. Canada while he was getting the Promise Academies (charter schools) off the ground in Harlem. Quite the vision. And he’s making it happen! Interesting to note that many of these urban charter schools that are managing to reduce and eliminate the achievement gap are still controversial. And yet “no excuses” seems to be having quite the effect – http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/22/education/22charters.html. Seems that there are some tough questions for so-called “liberal education” to answer.

  • Andria says:

    I had the privilege of first hearing Geoffrey Canada a number of years ago at a City Year conference, where both he and Jonathan Kozol spoke– quite and amazing pair if you are looking for a combo of a sobering reality check, promising practices and inspiration. Thank you Linda for putting forward this clip– for even those who want to ignore what is arguably the biggest civil rights issue of our time, the statistics speak volumes and hopefully prompt action, even in the most daunting circumstances.

  • Linda says:

    I believe Andrea was just with him in the last few weeks. Very visionary and yes, Curtis, challenging in the ways you mention to conventional liberal educational wisdom. I too found the statistics he quotes very compelling. And find his vision very inspiring!

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