Education

Harlem Children’s Zone Responds to the Brookings Study

By Debra Viadero — July 23, 2010 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

You’ll recall that I wrote a few days ago about a new—and controversial—report from the Brookings Institution on the Harlem Children’s Zone’s Promise Academy middle school. In that paper, Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, the former research chief at the U.S. Department of Education, attempted to make the case that the zone’s much-praised Promise Academy I middle school was not much more effective than other charter schools in the Big Apple. And, if other charter schools could be just as successful without providing students with a full menu of expensive social services, the analysis reasoned, why target more public money to replicating the Promise Academy model?

Well, Geoffrey Canada begs to differ. In a response e-mailed to news outlets yesterday, Canada, the driving force behind the Harlem Children’s Zone, says Whitehurst’s analysis is a “wrong-headed take” on the zone’s mission, which is to provide supports for all 8,000 children growing up within the zone, regardless of whether they end up at one of its charter schools or at a traditional public school.

“We believe that even the best schools in impoverished neighborhoods would be significantly improved if there were wraparound support services for their students, families, and communities,” he writes.

The Brookings study, of course, looked at just one of two charter middle schools in the zone—500 students in all. And that’s part of the problem, Canada says. Because, if Whitehurst and Croft had instead analyzed achievement data for the other Promise Academy charter school, Promise Academy II, they would have found it to be in the top quarter when compared with other charter schools serving similar populations in Manhattan and the Bronx. (In the Brookings paper, the first school, Promise Academy I, fell in the “middling” range.)

He also argues that a longer-term look at students’ progress in the school over several years would have yielded more promising findings.

Finally, Canada says the Brookings researchers inadvertently used free- and reduced-price lunch figures that inaccurately portray the extent of poverty in the student population. Because the school provides free lunch to all students, regardless of income, some parents in the early years didn’t turn in the necessary forms for federal meal reimbursements—an oversight administrators remedied later on when they realized the data would be important to future evaluation efforts.

Canada concludes by saying, “We are thrilled to be part of the charter school movement ... However, charter schools are not the only answer. We must improve our traditional public school system since that is where the overwhelming majority of our students are. A crucial part of that effort must be making sure that poor children and families have the support services that so many of us in America have as a matter of choice.”

UPDATE:
Whoops! Canada’s final quote above should have read: “A crucial part of that effort must be making sure that poor children and families have the support services that so many of us in America have as a matter of course.” My apologies for the error.

UPDATE II: Whitehurst and his co-author, Michele Croft, now have a rejoinder to Canada’s response. In it, they note that their intent was not to bash or “trivialize” the Harlem Children’s Zone project. Rather, they write, “we would like to see it continue, thrive, and be the subject of evaluation that will address its impact in a more thorough and long-term way than can be accomplished with the data currently available.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.

Events

Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Using Integrated Analytics To Uncover Student Needs
Overwhelmed by data? Learn how an integrated approach to data analytics can help.

Content provided by Instructure
Professional Development Online Summit What's Next for Professional Development: An Overview for Principals
Join fellow educators and administrators in this discussion on professional development for principals and administrators.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education 'Widespread' Racial Harassment Found at Utah School District
The federal probe found hundreds of documented uses of the N-word and other racial epithets, and harsher discipline for students of color.
1 min read
A CNG, compressed natural gas, school bus is shown at the Utah State Capitol, Monday, March 4, 2013, in Salt Lake City. After a winter with back-to back episodes of severe pollution in northern Utah, lawmakers and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert will discuss clean air legislation and call for government and businesses to convert to clean fuel vehicles.
Federal civil rights investigators found widespread racial harassment of Black and Asian American students in the Davis school district north of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Rick Bowmer/AP Photo
Education Tiny Wrists in Cuffs: How Police Use Force Against Children
An investigation finds children as young as 6 and a disproportionate amount of Black children have been handled forcibly by police officers.
15 min read
Jhaimarion, 10, reacts as he listens to his mother, Krystal Archie talking with an Associated Press reporter in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2021. Archie’s three children were present when police, on two occasions, just 11 weeks apart, kicked open her front door and tore through their home searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting. Her oldest child, Savannah was 14 at the time; her youngest, Jhaimarion, was seven. They were ordered to get down on the floor.
Jhaimarion, 10, reacts as he listens to his mother, Krystal Archie talking with an Associated Press reporter in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2021. Archie’s three children were present when police, on two occasions, just 11 weeks apart, kicked open her front door and tore through their home searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting. Her oldest child, Savannah was 14 at the time; her youngest, Jhaimarion, was seven. They were ordered to get down on the floor.
Nam Y. Huh/AP
Education Gunman in 2018 Parkland School Massacre Pleads Guilty
A jury will decide whether Nikolas Cruz will be executed for one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings.
3 min read
Annika Dworet and her husband, Mitch Dworet, wipe away tears as their son's name is read aloud during Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The Dworet's son, Nicholas Dworet, 17, was killed in the massacre.
Annika Dworet and her husband, Mitch Dworet, wipe away tears as their son's name is read aloud during Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The Dworet's son, Nicholas Dworet, 17, was killed in the massacre.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP
Education Briefly Stated: October 20, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read