The Game Changer

GeoffreyCanada1Geoffrey Canada, President & CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, speaking at the “Changing the Odds” conference going on this week, in NYC.

Begun in 1997, HCZ seeks, in the words of Canada: “to change the cradle to jail pipeline” that exists in many poor urban neighborhoods, in the U.S..

The Harlem Children’s Zone exists as an interlocking network of services for children that begins at birth and stays with each child until college. In addition, HCZ aims to strengthen the families and community that surround the child.

President Obama has created an anti-poverty initiative called: Promised Neighborhoods, and has designated that HCZ be the model to be replicated in 20 other communities around the country.  The purpose of the conference is to familiarize community leaders from around the country with the HCZ approach.

Ken Chenault, Chairman & CEO of American Express and a member of the HCZ board, spoke to the group about bringing lessons from the business world to bear in education programs. After the talks, I spoke with both Canada and Chenault about the fixation a lot of people have with test scores — to the exclusion of everything else. They both agreed, that often times the most important progress in education is intangible, and can’t be measured with standardized tests. The challenge is to find the most appropriate metrics for measuring results and holding people accountable.

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