Big New Education Book Of The Season

28802627Geoffrey Canada and his administrative team did a lot of things right

in setting up a new cluster of schools called the Harlem Children's

Zone, according to PaulTough's

new book, Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America. But the New York Times Magazine writer

also shows that the Harlem Children's Zone team made a lot of

mistakes.

The book chronicles the effort to grow and expand a set of

education programs, focusing on a four-year period (2003-2007) of

expansion. Focusing on one part of Harlem, Canada and his

team of administrators set up a linked set of programs that started

young with a program called Baby College and eventually went up through

middle school. They focused on concrete measures of academic

achievement, and expanded after school and weekend programs to make

sure that this particularly disadvantaged student population was

getting everything they needed. They avoided creaming only the best

kids for into the programs, largely resisted the urge to focus only on the

bubble kids, and opted against counseling out those who were being

disruptive or unsuccessful.

In these regards, the Harlem Children's Zone was successful –

especially so considering that Canada, a non-educator, was new to

opening schools and was doing so in a complicated charter school

environment. But there are a handful of key mistakes that

Canada and his team make, which ultimately lead [SPOILER ALERT] to the

failure of the middle school

program. And there are at least two big things missing from Tough's

tale.

Continue reading "Rookie Mistakes, Bad Apples, & What Happens When School Reformers Meet The Real World"

Filed under: Media Watch

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