Summer 2009 Retreat

Summer 2009 Retreat

Monday, April 18, 2011

Journal: Researched Solution - Angela

An issue in education that drove me towards taking Ed190 and has continued to be on my mind throughout the semester is how we can work to close the achievement gap and begin to mend the many injustices that often afflict and stand as obstacles for students coming from disadvantaged or low-income communities. As documentaries such as "Waiting for Superman" and organizations such as Teach For America have brought to public attention, many young students start off with college goals and huge ambitions, but unfortunately are born into a system that stifles these ambitions and makes their goals seem like distant dreams.

A solution that has been catching my eye for the past year or so has been the Harlem Children's Zone Project, led by Geoffrey Canada (who was featured in 'Waiting for Superman'). The Project began in the 1990's, starting with just one block in poverty-ravaged Harlem. It provided a slew of support and resources to address the area's biggest concerns, and has now grown to serve almost 100 blocks of the city. What I really admire about the approach - and perhaps this is biased by my interest in health/medicine and the holistic approach learned in public health courses I've taken - is that the project serves not only the children and students, but also the adults in the area. It surpasses serving the pure academic needs, and reaches further to address issues such as obesity and how to best manage asthma. It also provides parenting workshops, and targets parents with children as young as ages 0-3. I think it's great that the program targets so many different components of the community it serves - especially as early on as it does - in its mission to surround developing children with a positive environment that supports higher education and increased opportunity. Another aspect of the program that makes it stand out to me is that they offer all of their services free - a quality that realistically speaking, is challenging to achieve but so necessary when the demographic to serve does not have the extra resources to spend on participating in these programs, beneficial as they may be in the long run.

In the end, what HCZ is doing seems like one of the most sustainable solutions because it is involved past the age group of students it originally had planned to serve and includes the entire community, which is an amazing first step towards building support in multiple sectors of the population that will enhance the development of the social change it hopes to achieve.


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