Harlem Children’s Zone on 60 Minutes

˙ PREAL Blog

You may be interested in viewing these 2 video clips from 60 Minutes on the Harlem Children’s Zone, and its founder, Geoffrey Canada (also featured in Paul Tough’s recent book, Whatever it Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America.”) which we documented in our prior blog post along with several critical responses.

The first video was shot in 2006, one year after Canada and the HCZ received national attention for expanding the health and family services offered by his non-profit organization and receiving a multitude of grant money to grow its enrollment in the HCZ charter schools, such as the Promise Academy (aptly named by Canada since he “guarantees” that all children that enter it will graduate and attend college).

Last month, 60 minutes followed up the 2006 interviews with another visit to the HCZ and this second video, which reviews what interviewer Anderson Cooper calls the “stunning” learning achievements in the HCZ charter schools. This video catches up with children interviewed in 2006 and notes the Promise Academy’s achievements (including a 90% college entrance rate), and discusses with analysts such as Harvard’s Roland Fryer what it will take to synthesize the multivariate “lessons learned” from the HCZ experience. Whether or not efforts to adequately bottle and reproduce the HCZ “formula” will be possible the near future, Fryer and others have characterized the efforts and results of the HCZ as nothing short of “game-changing” for the outlook on erasing the achievement gap in US schools.  

While there has been a touch of controversy regarding the HCZ test score results and what they may or may not reveal about the charter schools success, it’s quite remarkable to see the clear impact the HCZ has on its community, and the legacy that Canada is creating as one of the most important education pioneers in the country.

So far as we know, nothing this ambitious, well-planned and supported has been attempted in Latin America—at least in the public sector. Considering the legal and political obstacles to doing so, perhaps that is not surprising.


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