The Harlem Children’s Zone is Harlem only

The Harlem Children’s Zone, which offers everything from prenatal classes, preschool, charter academies and help with college applications, has been “a wild success,” writes Amanda Erickson in The Atlantic.  Why hasn’t it been replicated?

 In 2009, every third grader at the HCZ’s Promise Academy tested at or above their grade level in math, outperforming their peers in the city and throughout the state. Over 84 percent of Promise Academy II students scored at or above grade level in city-mandated English tests, topping the average test scores among all other black students in New York City. And in 2008, 93 percent of Promise Academy High ninth graders passed the statewide Algebra Regents exam.

President Obama pledged to spend billions to create “promise neighborhoods,” asked Congress for $210 million and ended up spending $40 million. Instead, he’s spent billions on direct aid to the poor and working poor.

Cities aren’t moving ahead without federal funds, writes Erickson. The Harlem Children’s Zone had Geoffrey Canada’s leadership, a board of very wealthy philanthropists and strong support from Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. That’s hard to replicate.

A blogger explains why Durham has struggled to create a children’s zone, and notes the Brookings Institution bdoubts that HCZ is cost effective.

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  1. palisadesk says:

    I distinctly recall reading that while the HCZ support services were for the residents of the “zone” only, admission to “Promise Academy” was open to students across New York City. That would definitely disconnect the benefits of the health and other services from the academic results. If it’s “open enrollment,” HPA may be as vulnerable to the charge of selection bias as other “high performing” charter schools.

    Can you find out?

  2. Actually, there was research showing that the kids within the zone didn’t do any better than the kids outside of the zone, suggesting that the investment in social services didn’t have much of an impact. I also recall that the HCZ has pretty average scores, not stunningly good, particularly for a charter.

  3. John Sullivan says:

    I don’t know about more recent figures, but the 2009 statistics (blog link “wildly successful”) look very good indeed. That aside, if the school IS open enrollment, somebody should definitely be doing a study that looks into the effects of HCZ’s social programs.

    (Not that I think such data would matter at all. Even if the social programs demonstrated real positive change, there can be no doubt that such programs would be avoided under the dual banners “We-habe-no-money” and “But-that’s-social-engineering.”