If you're like me, you'll be checking out the new, one-hour TED Talk special on education, featuring Harlem Children's Zone founder Geoffrey Canada, Bill Gates and some of the country's leading education experts and thinkers. The promo video says students will also get up on stage and share their thoughts.
I know, it’s not going to be easy. Might get a little uncomfortable, maybe make you squirm a little.
But it’s time; it's time to have a frank conversation about race. Now I know some of you listening right now are thinking "Race? Really? It’s 2013. Aren’t we past this by now?"
Good. I was hoping you’d ask that.
I'd like you to meet two young girls, both freshmen at a high school in Grand Haven, MI. Their names are Katie Bridgeforth, age 15, and Dystany Dunn, 14. Both girls are mixed, half white and half black, and they describe their skin as caramel colored.
The two girls ride the bus together to school every day, and that’s where the trouble started:
Katie and Destiny on the first school bus incident
This wasn’t some isolated incident. The girls tell me about the boy who wore a KKK mask in the cafeteria, another one who wore it during homecoming weekend. Then there was the time a boy came up to Katie when she was taking a test, and he made a joke about slavery and ‘has she picked any cotton lately?’
Promise Neighborhoods were launched in 2010 by the U.S. government as a way to improve educational opportunities for kids in high-poverty neighborhoods, and provide residents with "cradle to career" services a la the highly successful Harlem Children's Zone in New York City.
We've written about the Detroit Promise Neighborhood initiative in the Clark Park and Osborn neighborhoods. They received a $500,000 one-year planning grant from the federal government last year, with the hope that they would receive up to $6 million more this year to implement the plans.
If you've been following State of Opportunity over the past couple months, you've probably heard us talk about the Harlem Children's Zone. It's this 100-block zone in central Harlem that's designed to create a safety net so strong and so wide that no child could fall through and fail. The program covers all kids from birth through college.