Setting Higher Goals for Economically Disadvantaged Children

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I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m just starting to research the Harlem Children’s Zone. It’s embarrassing because so many of our ideas are so similar.

The Harlem Children’s Zone starts with children at birth. Their goal is to end generational poverty. They believe in investing time and resources into education at a young age in order to build a foundation for lifetime success.

It’s interesting, however, to hear CEO Geoffrey Canada define what a lifetime of success looks like.

In an interview with Colbert (featured above), Canada explained:

“We are determined that our parents are going to give their children something better than generational poverty and we want them to give them good education so that they can grow up to be tax payers and help support this great country instead of costing America millions and hundreds of millions of dollars while we lock up more children and more adults in this country than anyplace else on the face of the earth.”

I’m reminded of a quote I heard from Howard Fuller, the director of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning, during one of his lectures. He said something along the lines of:

“Our job is not to prepare our children for the 21st century. Our job is to prepare our children to transform the 21st century.”

That goal seems a lot bigger and more aligned with the potential of our children. The functioning of our democracy and the welfare of our country and the world demand more than just diligent taxpayers. We need to help our children develop into creative problem-solvers, innovators, informed and proactive citizens, productive workers, balanced and healthy individuals, and humanitarian beings.

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