It’s Monday P.O.U. Family and lurkers! A new Monday means a new set of open threads. This week’s open threads will focus on famous black educators.
Geoffrey Canada (born January 13, 1952) is an American social activist and educator. Since 1990, Canada has been president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone in Harlem, New York, an organization which states its goal is to increase high school and college graduation rates among students in Harlem. He is a member of the Board of Directors of The After-School Corporation, a nonprofit organization that describes its aim as expanding educational opportunities for all students.
Canada was born in the South Bronx, the third of four sons of Mary Elizabeth (née Williams), a substance abuse counselor, and McAlister Canada. His parents’ marriage ended in 1956, after which he was raised by his mother; his father played little part in the children’s life and did not contribute financial support. Canada was raised among the “abandoned houses, crime, violence and an all-encompassing sense of chaos and disorder,” and understood his life’s calling at an early age. His mother sent him to live with her parents in Freeport, Long Island when Canada was in his mid-teens. He attended Wyandanch Memorial High School, and won a scholarship from the Fraternal Order of Masons during his senior year of high school. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and sociology from Bowdoin College, where he graduated in 1974, and a Master’s degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Canada has an honorary degree from Princeton University.
Starting as president in 1990, Canada started working with the Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families which evolved into the Harlem Children’s Zone. Unsatisfied with the scope of Rheedlen, Canada transformed the organization’s makeup in the late 1990s into a center that would actively follow the academic careers of youths in a 24-block area of Harlem. Due to the success of the new model, the area has grown to 97 blocks.
The Harlem Children’s Zone was profiled in 2004 in a story by Paul Tough in the New York Times Magazine, which described it as “one of the biggest social experiments of our time.” Additionally, U.S. News and World Report named Canada one of America’s Best Leaders in its October 2005 issue. Along with having been featured in a number of print publications, Canada has made a number of high profile television appearances.
Desiring to emulate the Harlem Children’s Zone, in 2009 American President Barack Obama announced plans to replicate the HCZ model in 20 other cities across the nation. Canada is prominently featured in Waiting for Superman (2010), a documentary on the state of American public education by Academy Award-winner Davis Guggenheim. The film received the Audience Award for best documentary at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.
It was reported that Canada was offered the position of New York City Schools Chancellor by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but that he turned it down.
***Information courtesy of Wikipedia.org***