Thursday, May 5, 2011

Education and Poverty - Having Nothing to do With My Foot

Privatizing education in low-income areas so that the "whole" child can be addressed.  This totally makes sense to me.

I came across this article in the Wall Street Journal about a High School in Philadelphia that is going to be one of the "turnaround" schools in the city, meaning it will be owned by a private Charter School company with the hopes of effecting change, supporting children and their families and improving outcomes, something the School District of Philadelphia couldn't do on it's own.

The Charter School company is a non-profit that has obtained funding through a federal grant called Promise Neighborhoods which ties together housing, health care and additional supports in the community.  It looks like Promise Neighborhoods funds projects modeled after Harlems Children's Zone which began as a "one-block pilot program" in Harlem and has since expanded to 60 blocks.


"Our strategy is bold. We have created a unique, and uniquely successful paradigm: provide a pipeline of services that support children from birth through college graduation, and create a critical mass of engaged adults who understand what it takes to ensure a child succeeds"
HELLO!  Someone in Philly finally gets it.  I'm not dissing the School District of Philadelphia.  Some of my favorite people work there.  But the fact is, there is not enough money, resources or knowledge in the PA Department of Education to accomplish the daunting task of educating children who have so many additional needs.  Everything is funded through these silos.  Wake up people!!  Children do not operate in a silo!!

Having provided behavioral health services to children in the Philadelphia schools I know that when a child enters that school building, they don't leave the rest of their life at the door.  And no, therapy is not going to "fix" them.  A wise person (although I can't remember who) once said, "Toasters can be fixed, children can't".
Can Fix

Can't Fix


The best way to impact a child, is to impact their environment.  How can we expect a child who is hungry and hyper vigilant to focus in school?  Stealing food and constantly moving around the classroom are survival skills in their world....a world that doesn't stop at the door step of their school.  How does "No Child Left Behind" account for that?

Harlem Children's Zone has figured out a way to address the multiple needs of children and their families who face generational poverty.  No solution is perfect, but at least this one is working.

Now, if we could just get funding streams on board...maybe we will make some progress.

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