published Saturday, June 20th, 2009

Ochs Center forum boosts early education


by Laura Galbraith

Harlem, N.Y., and Chattanooga are very different cities thousands of miles apart, but community members learned on Saturday there are striking similarities.

The Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s University Center held a public policy forum regarding children’s education in Hamilton County. The event’s featured guest speaker was journalist Paul Tough, author of “Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America.”

The forum focused on what government, nonprofits, parents and county leaders can do to ensure success for Hamilton County schoolchildren.

About six years ago, Mr. Tough learned about the success of the Harlem Children’s Zone, a 97-block laboratory in central New York City where poor kids were being prepared to compete with their middle-class peers.

Intrigued by this pioneering social experiment, Mr. Tough decided to meet with Geoffrey Canada, a passionate advocate for education reform and the President and Chief Executive Officer for the Harlem Children’s Zone.

“The reason that I felt like it was an important program to study was that it felt like a laboratory for a lot of the research that’s going on and the debates that going on around poverty and education,” Mr. Tough said.

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