Times: Before Black, Canada said ‘no’

Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone and a star of Waiting for Superman, turned down the job of running New York City schools, sources tell the New York Times.  Mayor Michael Bloomberg then offered the job to Cathie Black, a publishing executive with no public-school experience.

Mr. Canada, by contrast, has gained international notice as the leader of the Harlem Children’s Zone, a network of charter schools renowned for its cradle-to-college approach. He grew up in the South Bronx and holds a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Unlike Black, Canada is black.

Still, while Mr. Canada, 58, may have been more palatable to some critics, his passionate defense of charter schools and his habit of firing teachers who fail to improve test scores would most likely be anathema to union leaders and many parents active in the schools.

It’s not surprising Canada wanted to stick with his experiment, which offers parenting classes, health care and other support services in addition to charter schools.

Gotham Schools reports that students at Murray Bergtram High School rioted for 20 minutes after the principal announced teachers would not give out bathroom passes for the day in response to a fight.

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Comments

  1. CarolineSF says:

    If I were a person with any say in the matter, I would still appreciate the fact that Geoff Canada is well aware that it takes vastly more funding than the schools get to make them succeed. We know that because Promise Academy has an vast amount of additional philanthropy, which Canada presumably works hard to secure.

    Also, he knows that it’s not so easy to lift challenged kids to success — we know that because he expelled an entire grade one year.

    He can’t possibly try to pretend that poverty has no impact and it’s all due to bad teachers, as Davis Guggenheim portrays it. Canada has devoted his career to creating community schools that deal with the full scope of needs of children living in poverty.

    To a non-educator like Cathie Black, of course, everything about educating kids and running schools is all vague and theoretical.

    Plus the fact that Canada has devoted his career to these schools indicates that he cares about kids and their education. Nothing in Black’s past indicates that in the slightest — even her own kids, as she shipped them promptly off to boarding school.

    As a public-school advocate who does have some disagreements with Canada’s outlook, I would still say there’s no contest whatsoever.

  2. For someone without any say in the matter you certainly have a lot to say about the matter. You also seem quite enthusiastic about putting words into Mr. Canada’s mouth to which he wouldn’t lay claim.

    What Mr. Canada obviously does support is canning lousy teachers which is a proper action for a school administrator. He also supports parental control which is a policy which will ensure that school administrators who fire lousy teachers find employment.

  3. Gotham Schools reports that students at Murray Bergtram High School rioted for 20 minutes after the principal announced teachers would not give out bathroom passes for the day in response to a fight.

    That principal is not smart.

  4. Of course, Canada would turn down the job of running “public schools.” He actually wants results, and he couldn’t get the same results he does without being able to establish student/parent performance contracts. In fact, he’d be left with the kids who don’t make the grade at HCZ. He’s not going to have the same results if he can’t require more attendance and offer parenting classes and provide meals and health care to extreme poverty situations. Kudos to Canada for what he does – but he would, or should, be the first to acknowledge that his success couldn’t happen in a traditional school. Despite his pontificating in “Superman,” his success has as much to do with support and high expectations for students and parents as it does high expectations for teachers.