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Thursday, May 18, 2006

GEL 2006 - Geoffrey Canada

Geoffrey Canada made quite an impression on the GEL 2006 audience. His presentation received a standing ovation, the only one of the day as I recall.
Geoffrey is Director for the Harlem Children's Zone . His program is attempting to rescue the children of Harlem. He presented a variety of statistics to state the case (easily understood) that blacks (especially males) entering school are starting out behind and unless the school system does something special, they will stay behind during their time in the system. He wants to do two things; one to help catch them up, and two, provide some support for outside school so that the local environment does not draw the children back into that world.
As a former teacher, his approach is right on the mark. What you do in the schools is only as good is what is encouraged outside the schools. You can have a good student in the classroom, but when they return to a broken home environment, they will not remain good for long. The societal pressure is too strong. Geoffrey is attempting to address this by creating a safe zone building by building, block by block, around the school. They need to take back the neighborhood one step at a time.
They are making good progress. They are three years into their five year plan. The word is starting to get out. The fund raising is gaining some dollars. These efforts will enable the program to be successful.
Check out their web site for additional information on this program.
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