Closing Keynote: Geoffrey Canada #BbWorld14

Closing Keynote: Geoffrey Canada

canadakeynoteSpeaker(s): Geoffrey Canada

In his 20-plus years with Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc., Geoffrey Canada has become nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem and as a passionate advocate for education reform. Since 1990, Canada has been the President and Chief Executive Officer for Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ), which The New York Times Magazine called “one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time.” In October 2005, Canada was named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by US News and World Report.


  • “If we don’t do something different we will preside over a decline and demise of the nation.”
  • In Harlem, no one was going to college – how did we allow this to happen?
  • Detroit was worse the Harlem, Camden was worse, Flint was worse…
  • As a nation we have developed the most toxic situation through allowing a huge number of kids to not get an education.
  • You cannot get a job without an education today.
  • We lock up all the guys when they break the law.  We incarcerate more people per capita than any other country. We have created an industry around incarceration that is rivaling our education infrastructure.
  • You can’t educate poor kids, yes you can.  Poverty makes it difficult but they can absolutely be educated.
  • What have we done with our treasure in this country?
  • $30,000 a year is the average cost to incarcerate and in New York it is $157,000 – what are we getting? Nothing and no one thinks that is a crisis.
  • How come in our country we haven’t done the modest investment to save our kids at $5,000 per child?  What do we get for this investment?  Kids that can work, provide for their families, be productive, etc.
  • Global Warming is a focus and until it effects us we don’t give attention to it.  So we have an education problem, when are we giving attention to it.
  • 75% of American children can’t qualify for military service.  30% won’t graduate high school and you can’t go into service.  10% have a felony.  30% disabilities.  27% of children are so obese that they can’t qualify.  This wasn’t the case 20 years ago.  WHO let’s this happen?  WE did.  This is a national disaster because we can’t field a military program.
  • College grad rates in middle class. We need to wake up.  People think ed reform is an issue for the inner cities, it’s not.  Today in the white community unwed births are higher than the 60’s in the black community.  In America today our education crisis is more than just black and latino.
  • People get mad when you change something in education.  If you are a teacher and you cannot teach you should find another job.  This isn’t controversial.  I’m not beating up on teachers.   If you are a barber and can’t cut hair, get another job.
  • Education calls for talented people skilled in their job.
  • If we can’t get rid of poor teachers let’s send them to the upper class communities.
  • I believe you can look at data and evaluate and see if someone is doing a good job or not.
  • If you don’t know that the right answer is… do what rich people do!  The goal for their children is to go to college and expect them to go.

If you are a teacher you should have the same expectations for your classroom as you do for your children.


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