Wednesday, September 17, 2008

TPM Discussion of Book on Geoffrey Canada

This week, TPM Cafe is holding a book discussion of Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America, which I mentioned a few days ago. I haven't had time to read much of the discussion, and I haven't read the book, but this is likely an important book at a critical moment in our thinking about educational reform.

Publisher's Weekly description (via Amazon):

New York Times journalist Tough profiles educational visionary Geoffrey Canada, whose Harlem Children's Zone—currently serving more than 7,000 children and encompassing 97 city blocks—represents an audacious effort to end poverty within underserved communities.

Canada's radical experiment is predicated upon changing everything in these communities—creating an interlocking web of services targeted at the poorest and least likely to succeed children: establishing programs to prepare and support parents, a demanding k-8 charter school and a range of after-school programs for high school students.

Tough adeptly integrates the intensely personal stories of the staff, students and teachers of the Children's Zone with expert opinions and the broiling debates over poverty, race and education. The author's admiration for Canada and his social experiment is obvious yet tempered by journalistic restraint as he summarizes the current understanding of the causes of poverty and academic underperformance—and their remedies. Smoothly narrated, affecting and heartening, this book gives readers a solid look at the problems facing poor communities and their reformers, as well as good cause to be optimistic about the future.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

I'm looking forward to reading this after hearing Canada interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air. He seems to have an impressive vision of what school could be doing for all children, especially those with various needs.

My only complaint from the interview is that he has a strong focus on test scores. I understand that there are few other ways, in our educational system as it stands, to compare students and teachers, but I still find it sad.