Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Heroes Up In Harlem
In the past 7 days two forces from Harlem NYC have allowed me to supplement my statement of "Lord please forgive my people for they know not what they do" in response to the "Stop Snitching" segments that were documented by Anderson Cooper first on "60 Minutes" and then on "Anderson Cooper 360" on Tuesday evening. This increased focus on the cultural underpinnings of the music and enforced behavior that is resident within certain communities was precipitated by the Don Imus fiasco.
First I must tip my hat to Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO of "Harlem's Chlidrens Zone". He is providing direct intervention into the lives of a large number of inner city children from the area. He is standing firm, leading with a well grounded philosophy that projects from what "HE believes" rather than the typical rant of what "THEY don't want Black people to have". It is refreshing to see both the presence of some core principles and the resulting success in a place where there a such strong countervailing forces working against him.
Secondly I have to give a standing ovation to the "Harlem Village Charter School". They were spotlighted on CBS Evening News. The school has successfully taken children who 3 years ago were failing at reading and math and lifted them to the point where the school has one of the top scores in standardized math testing in the state. I am puzzled as to how our community can continue to accept the common line that "this is an exception, our schools are too underfunded as compared to 'suburban schools' that they are expected to compete with at the same level of standards". It seems to me that each "Harlem Village Academy" that is present around the country is a direct assault to this claim. HVA and other charter schools that are modeled after KIPP have been entering into the most underserved communities, often with a fraction of the funding that the standard government operated schools receive and have successfully improved the academic standing of many of these students. The common theme that I hear for these schools are *Longer school days, *Periodic Saturday classes, *Strong Management of the School Code for personal integrity.
In seeing these two examples I am further convinced that at least some of the countervailing forces that resist the wholesale improvement of our children are insurgents who look a lot like us but who have other interests and agendas separate and distinct from the goal of our collective advancement as a people.