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.