Monthly Archives: May 2013

Close Schools, Export The Poor, Gentrify the ‘Hood – Sounds Like a Plan

Leslie Fenwick, Dean of Howard University’s School of Education, points out in the Washington Post’s “The Answer Sheet”, that Urban school reform is ultimately, a land grab by venture capitalists. She writes:

“As the nation’s inner cities are dotted with coffee shop chains, boutique furniture stores, and the skyline changes from public housing to high-rise condominium buildings, listen to the refrain about school reform sung by some intimidated elected officials and submissive superintendents. That refrain is really about exporting the urban poor, reclaiming inner city land, and using schools to recalculate urban land value. This kind of school reform is not about children, it’s about the business elite gaining access to the nearly $600 billion that supports the nation’s public schools. It’s about money.”

I’m a little stuck on this “export” thang.  Venture capitalists are great planners, right?  I’m curious.  Where do they plan to export the indigenous population?  I mean, you have to be thinking big, considering the large inner city populations of NY…LA.  Export ’em to Scarsdale?  Bel Air?  Not enough room.

Perhaps they could send a bunch of them to the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana.  It’s 3,000 square miles so there’s lots of room.  And they could make new friends.  After all, with a population density of about 4 peeps to a square mile, folks already living out there must be plenty lonely.

"Nature Preserve"


Harlem Childrens Dumping Zone?

Geoffrey Canada, the CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, spoke last week on Ted Talks.  I watched him.  He completely charmed me.  He was funny, self deprecating and I shared his pride during this interchange with John Legend:

John Legend: So what is the high school dropout rate at Harlem Children’s Zone?

Geoffrey Canada: Well, you know, John,100 percent of our kids graduated high school last year in my school.  A hundred percent of them went to college.This year’s seniors will have 100 percent graduating high school.Last I heard we had 93 percent accepted to college.We’d better get that other seven percent.So that’s just how this goes.

I loved his passion, commitment.  I loved that he created the “wrap around” services (health, mental health, nutrition, plus…) that starts with the birth of the child and continues all the way through college. BTW – wrap around services from birth are KEY for all Americans.  Invest in them now (!) and we create another great generation.   But I digress.

Yesterday, I read Gary Rubinstein’s Blog, “Teach For Us.”   And I crashed.  According to GR,  It seems that Mr. Canada had an unusual way of “achieving “100%” graduation rates:  he fired whole classes of students. Like the whole 9th grade end of 2007.  He also dumped an entire class of 6th graders in 2008.

Where’d they go?  My guess?  To a local public school, struggling to compete for federal, state and city resources that are going to charters like HCZ.   Oh well.  We’re only talking about a couple hundred little kids who, along with their families, had hopes of health food, excellent medical services, counseling…achieving the American dream.

Perhaps Mr. Canada has a credible explanation for dumping these kids…as well as the alleged complete turnover in teaching staff.  Geoff – is that true, too?   I didn’t hear you mention your love for your teachers, their passion, their creativity.

Maybe I missed it.

It’s No Time For Austerity – Check out Paul Krugman in the NY Times

“Some [powerful people] see the crisis as an opportunity to dismantle the social safety net. And just about everyone in the policy elite takes cues from a wealthy minority that isn’t actually feeling much pain.”

Paul Krugman in the NY Times:

Universal health care, unemployment insurance, tenure for professionals… Ouch. Isn’t it time for a new New Deal, public works projects…Barry – are you listening?