Promise Neighborhoods: “Hope or Hype?”

Prince Charles visits Harlem Children's ZoneSuperintendent Tony Smith has talked about creating in Oakland what Geoffrey Canada has built in Harlem: a pipeline for kids “from cradle to college.”

The Harlem Children’s Zone has received no shortage of attention, even from the likes of President Obama and Prince Charles (shown here during a visit in 2007). But is enough data in on this ambitious, costly effort? And can it be successful in other places with the help of a federal start-up grant?

Those are issues that reporter Helen Zelon explores in “Hope or Hype in Harlem?” a thoughtful, in-depth report published in the City Limits magazine.

“Not every neighborhood could claim the deep, dense financial and political resources that have nurtured the Harlem Children’s Zone,” she writes. “Not everyone has a homegrown Geoff Canada to lead the way.”

You have to pay $5 to access the whole story, but if you’re interested in the subject it’s well worth it. (And, of course, you’d be doing your part to support quality journalism…)

From what you know already about the Harlem Children’s Zone — and what you’ve gleaned from the City Limits piece — what do you think this model could do for Oakland kids and families? What would need to happen for it to work here?

On a side note: After you’ve finished Steven Weinberg’s recommendation, you might check out Paul Tough’s “Whatever It Takes.” Have you read it?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Oakland Educator

    Are you going to the Ask a Teacher forum this Monday 2/22? It is 6:30-7:30 at 1650 Mountain Blvd and is open to parents and the larger community to discuss ways to create success in OUSD.

  • frustrated

    want to know why HCZ gets results? —> THEY PAY THEIR KIDS STIPENDS FOR ATTENDING SCHOOL!

    that’s NOT a model that I want my child to follow.

  • Debora

    This is not hype. It works. Students need support systems in place to learn. Support systems is what kids in the hills have. For example, the middle class children who perform well on tests get a full night’s rest, are fed dinner in the evening and breakfast in the morning, they have preventative medical and dental care, go to therapists when they need emotional support, they have tutors when they fall behind, there are after school enrichment courses, and summer programs enrich learning and provide an opportunity to delve deeply into subjects of interest.

    Parents of these children read books about healthy pregnancies and deliveries, parenting and child development, attend seminars on positive parenting, spirited children and how to support children are are learning at a faster pace or need extra help to grasp the material and they spend time with other parents whose children are also in math clubs, foreign language classes and on sports teams.

    Would we be willing to accept an entire city where ALL children have these same advantages and having been exposed to those advantages be willing to accept that children of economic privilege are not smarter, do not perform better on tests or are more equipped for college, it just appeared that way because of their support system?