Monday, May 2, 2011

Geoffrey Canada and Harlem Children's Zone: Julie Cavanagh Lambasts NY Post Puff Piece

Before you get to Julie's takedown of Canada, here are a few more  reactions to this NY Post "ad" for Canada (read it below the fold).
On the lottery as PR:

Leonie Haimson:
“Geoff has described it as one of the only days of the year he does not look forward to coming to work,” Harlem Children’s Zone spokesman Marty Lipp said. “It’s a real roller coaster of emotions. It starts off celebratory, with parents shouting and beaming that their kids have gotten in. As we get to the waiting list and the room empties, it gets terribly sad. The parents’ hopes for their kids’ future just crash, and you can see the sadness etched in their faces.”
 So why have a public lottery at all?  This is a PR stunt and terribly abusive.  Besides, there are several studies showing the HCZ results are not that good, despite all the money spent, and many say it is a badly run organization.
Diane Ravitch:
  Why not just send a letter in the mail, as Gail Collins suggested after seeing Waiting for Superman? This is a marketing ploy.

Julie Cavanagh
The lottery and all of it are marketing ploys, it is so disgusting.
Two things from this article that really send me over the edge:
1. They are acting like this is some big discovery and original concept that our schools, especially in more vulnerable and underserved neighborhoods, should be centers of community.  PS 15, my school which was forced to give up its space to a charter, has a medical clinic and dental clinic through our partnership with Lutheran, offers mental health services, ged programs, nutrition and cooking programs, a wrap around partnership w/ Good Shepherd services, etc.  The DOE's budget cuts and co-location policies put all of these things at risk and providing these kinds of services and programs to our community has become more and more difficult, even though we have been doing these things for years (except the dental clinic, we were fortunate enough to obtain that about two years ago). In the article they claim this project is a "first for NY"- that is complete BS, there are amazing public schools in NYC, including mine, who do all of these things and are fighting hard to maintain these programs and wish they could do even more.  Instead of being supported we are starved and undermined by the DOE.
2. Look at the details of the school that is being built:  two story library, dance room, on and on.  These are things that are considered shared space or extra space at our public schools and can be taken away from public school children, but yet they are boast worthy when we are talking about HCZ.  This same oxymoron exists in our community; the DOE has given PAVE 30 million to build their own state of the art facility with all kinds of "extras" that we have been forced to give away and deprive our children of.
ALL of it, from the instructional footprint, to the lottery, to the so-called waiting lists, to the funding/stealing taxpayer dollars, all of it is nothing more than a scam, a shell game, wrapped up in marketing ploys and the goal is very clearly to transfer our tax dollars, and our public education system, into private and corporate hands.  One only need to look at what has happened at PS 15 to know the truth; a school doing everything right, and we were forced to give away the space we u
Diane Ravitch:sed for the very services and programs Canada gets rave reviews for as well as millions in matching funds.  The only difference is we actually have had an "A" for four years while serving ALL children (with a 37% sp ed population and over 20% ELL population), while Canada serves far less needy children, kicks out the ones who don't make him look good and gets a "C" on his school report card.
It is enough to drive you mad! --

Julie Cavanagh

Subject: NY POST "The $100 million school that could remake Harlem" Susan Edelman
New York Post 

The $100 million school that could remake Harlem

 May 1, 2011
At this school, they will fill your brain — and your cavities.
It’s a $100 million holistic Harlem complex meant to combine the latest research on how to provide the best education to kids in poor communities, which means going beyond reading, writing and arithmetic.
The state-of-the-art school — with 60% of construction costs shouldered by city taxpayers — will include a community center, recreation rooms and even a health clinic.
The Promise Academy Charter School, on the grounds of the St. Nicholas Houses, could change the lives not just of the 1,300 kids enrolled in K-12, but of a neighborhood where 42% of families live below the poverty line.
As envisioned by famed “Waiting for Superman” educator Geoffrey Canada, CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, the five-story building on West 129th Street will become a one-stop center for kid and community needs.
“It would be wrong to consider it just a school,” Canada told The Post. “Our mission is much larger. We’re trying to give all the support our kids are going to need in one place. That’s what makes it unique.”
The building will boast 52 classrooms equipped with Smart-boards and computers, three science labs, a library stretching two floors, a gym, an auditorium, a large cafeteria, a fitness room and a dance studio. Kids would get a longer school day, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and school year of 210 days instead of 180 — extra time considered crucial for student success, studies have found.
But it won’t stop there. The after-school program, including homework help, would go until 6 p.m. Then kids could stick around until 9 p.m. for sports, music and other activities. And the community center will stay open on weekends.
All residents of the St. Nicholas housing development can use the gym or meeting space, and take night classes in salsa dancing, healthy cooking and other continuing education. Canada said he wants to wage a battle against obesity and other local epidemics: diabetes, asthma, hypertension.
“This is a school and center with a mission to rebuild the community of a housing project,” he said.
During the day, pupils could visit the in-house clinic for treatment by a medical doctor, psychologist or dentist. The school chef will whip up breakfast and lunch menus with low-fat entrees.
The ambitious project is a first for New York — and a national model eyed by the Obama administration.
“We know that a child coming from the most difficult circumstances, who goes to a great school, or has a caring teacher or mentor, can succeed at the highest possible levels,” Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said at a Teachers College speech last month. “But we also know that very same child is at risk . . . if every day, he goes back to a neighborhood where violence and drugs and gangs exist and education isn’t valued.
“I can’t ignore a mother who tells me it’s hard for her son to do his homework when there is a rat running across the kitchen table. Or that he can’t keep up in class because she cannot afford the glasses he needs to see the blackboard.”
The city Department of Education has pledged $60 million for the 135,000-square-foot building. That’s the biggest single sum awarded under the 2010-14 capital plan, said spokeswoman Barbara Morgan. Four other charters since last year have received grants of $22 million to $32.5 million each to build schools.
To get the taxpayer money, Promise Academy has to put up another $40 million in private funding. So far, it has raised $20 million from Goldman Sachs, $6 million from Google, and $5 million in services from its developer, Civic Builders.
The New York City Housing Authority is involved as well. In a first-of-its-kind deal, the Harlem Children’s Zone will pay NYCHA $7 million to build on its land, but the city will own the building.
The building will house kids from the existing Promise Academy I, which opened in 2004 and now serves more than 900 kids in two separate Harlem buildings running out of space to grow. Another 600 kids in K-7 attend Promise Academy II, also in Harlem. About 200 kids applied for the first 100 open seats when the school opens in 2012, so many families were left in the cold, recalling wrenching scenes from the “Waiting for Superman.” documentary.
“Geoff has described it as one of the only days of the year he does not look forward to coming to work,” Harlem Children’s Zone spokesman Marty Lipp said. “It’s a real roller coaster of emotions. It starts off celebratory, with parents shouting and beaming that their kids have gotten in. As we get to the waiting list and the room empties, it gets terribly sad. The parents’ hopes for their kids’ future just crash, and you can see the sadness etched in their faces.”
The Promise Academies outperform regular DOE schools. Last year, on state math tests, District 5 schools had 37.8% of kids in grades 3-8 score at or above grade level, while Promise I had 60% and Promise II 81%. In English language arts, District 5 had 28.5% at or above grade level; Promise I had 38% and Promise II 62%.
Taxpayer money helps support charter schools — paying about $13,500 per student. Harlem Children’s Zone shells out another $3,000 per kid from its private endowment for the longer day and year, Lipp said. It has a partnership with Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and the nonprofit Children’s Health Fund to staff the clinic. And it raises donations for extras like the after-school program and its “Baby College” parenting classes.
James Merriman, CEO of the NYC Charter School Center, praised the DOE matching-grant program as a way to “leverage huge private dollars to create high-quality public schools seats.
“This represents, far and away, the most comprehensive effort ever taken to provide wrap-around social services to complement a school.”


Michael Fiorillo said...

Canada serves far fewer needy children, while enriching himself (salary of over $500,00 per year, proving that you can get rich in education) and building up assets of over $200 million for HCZ.

As Julie so rightfully says, it's all a scam, and on a scale that would put Ramon Velez, '70's and 80's poverty pimp extraordinaire, to shame.

Mike said...

I checked with that listed Canada's 2010 salary as over $394,000. Eva Moskowits' salary was not listed but I read somewhere that it was close to $400,000. Both of these people are scamming the system for their own enrichment yet the NY Times and other main stream media organizations, including PBS, are not only NOT exposing these people but actually praising their "achievements".

Anonymous said...

CORRECT...the BIG story here is how the mainstream press has been completely corrupted. Or maybe it's a;ways been this way, but NOT in NYC, Since I'm a native, I know that there was always opposition opinions presented in the main dailies. However, that's all over now, since the big dollars are all behind this privitization. It has made me cynical, bitter, and very sad about what I always consiered my greatest asset-living in a democracy. We are no longer in one. When certain parties decide they want to possess something, we are now something else. Nonetheless, we must fight.