Keep the Change

Change. It's all around. A change of pace, a change of heart, a change of plans.

Change is inevitable, but in today's schools, it's more important than ever to have people at the forefront who speak strongly for reform and make things happen.

One such leader was in the company of Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates and Colin Powell on the cover of U.S. News & World Report in 2005 in its “America's Best Leaders” issue. But you may not have heard of him. He's Geoffrey Canada, and he's changed the face of education in New York City for its most impoverished families.

Since 1990, Canada has been the president and CEO of Harlem Children's Zone, Inc., (formerly Rheedlen Centers for Children & Families) a not-for-profit, community-based organization that serves children and families in a 97-block area of central Harlem. Under his leadership, the agency has grown from serving 1,500 children with a budget of $2.5 million per year to a project whose 15 centers serve more than 12,500 children and adults, including more than 8,600 at-risk children.

Its mission: “The Harlem Children's Zone Project is designed to support children's intellectual, emotional and physical growth from the time their parents are pregnant until they head off to college or the labor market. We believe the earlier a child is touched by sound health care, intellectual and social stimulation, and consistent guidance from loving, attentive adults, the more likely that child will be to grow into a responsible and fulfilled member of the community.”

For Canada, it's not just about test scores or curb appeal, it's about a comprehensive approach to change — from homework assistance to sports, music and dance programs, adult programming and substance-abuse preventive services. It's inspiring. For more information about Canada and the project, visit www.hcz.org.

Mike Kennedy's cover story is about more people who are reforming the way we look at and practice education. Who is making big changes in your schools? Should it be you?

WEB 101

Who's afraid of a big, bad blog?

What do Harry Potter, Hawaiian schools and indicted superintendents have in common? They are all topics covered in Schoolhouse Beat — The Blog.

Don't feel bad if you aren't quite sure what a blog is. In simple terms, it's kind of like a conversation on the web. According to wikipedia, a blog (short for web log) “is a website that provides commentary on a particular subject such as food, politics or local news; some function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images and links to other blogs, web pages and other media related to its topic.”

Never been to a blog? It's easy. You can be an innocent bystander by reading, or you can get active by responding (often anonymously). For a blog to work as it should, people need to provide commentary. We'd like to start some lively discussions.

Visit our blog via our homepage at asumag.com or directly at http://blog.asumag.com/schoolhouse_beat and let us know what you think about what others are saying. Or throw a topic out there you'd like to dish about.
— Susan Lustig

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