October 13th, 2010
Almost all charter schools seem golden these days — acclaimed in movies and by policy makers — regardless of their actual success, but none have shown so brightly as those operated by Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone. He’s in an American Express ad, featured in the documentary Waiting for Superman and appeared on David Letterman.
In today’s Times,, though, Sharon Otterman raises questions about the success of the zone’s Promise Academies. Building on a major report done earlier his year by Helen Zelon in City Limits, Otterman finds a mixed picture on school tests scores and notes that the school’s high per pupil costs cast doubts on whether the model could ever be extended. Promise Academy I’s pass rate on the standardized English exam is low for charter schools and below the citywide average. Only 15 percent of seventh grader met state standards on the 2010 English test and so on.
But Otterman does not mention — not even one word — the symbiotic relationship between Canada and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a mutual back scratching that has brought in money for Canada and political advantage for Bloomberg.
The details after the jump.
Between 2001 and 2008, Bloomberg reportedly gave more than a half a million dollars in his own money to the children’s zone. According to city records, Harlem Children’s Zone has had 102 contracts with the city through 2008, totaling about $71.5 million. Admittedly these contracts reach back to 1990 but under Bloomberg, the school system, Department of Youth and Community Development, Administrations for Children’s services and park departments have all contracted with the Children’s Zone.
Coincidentally or not, Canada has become one of Bloomberg’s biggest boosters. During the fight over whether to maintain mayoral control of schools in 2009, Canada served as board chair and the public face of Learn NY, a group that backed mayoral control and was believed to be very close to the administration.
When the mayor sought to extend term limits in 2008, Canada testified in support of Bloomberg’s move, implying that Bloomberg was the only one who could cope with a recession that threatened to devastate the poor. Following the first 2009 debate between Bloomberg and his challenger, William Thompson, Thompson was on hand energetically “spinning” for the mayor. And it was, yes, Geoffrey Canada who reportedly called presidential aide Valerie Jarrett to urge Barack Obama to stay out of the presidential campaign — and not endorse Thompson.By Gail Robinson on October 13, 2010, 3:47 pm
In category: Education, Electoral Politics, Gotham City | 1 Comment »