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Geoffrey Canada draws the line at taking money from rappers

The Harlem Children’s Zone was just forced to cut 10% of its staff, but CEO Geoffrey Canada says he won’t change his standards about how to replenish the money he is losing from Wall Street donors. For one thing, he will take no donations from rappers, ever.

That’s what he told NY1’s Dominic Carter last night on “Inside City Hall,” after Carter got distressed about the cuts and tried to think of alternate sources of income.

“That’s like taking money from the tobacco industry,” Canada said.

Canada was appearing on the show to promote his new group, Learn NY, which is pushing Albany to renew mayoral control of the city’s public schools. But for 22 minutes, Canada talked not about the problem of school boards, but a list of others: a materialist culture that is a “road to destruction” for children, the “abysmal” state of community colleges, and why kids walk with their pants hanging down (it’s an export from the jail system, where belts are banned).

Then, with less than 10 minutes left in the show, like a movie star on a late-night show who at the last minute remembers he has to promote his film, Canada started talking about mayoral control. Whoops! Out of necessity, he made his argument succinct.

The reason the mayor should control the schools, Canada said, is that it forces him to sweat the test scores:

You know, every night when my test scores come out, I’m up all night. I can’t sleep. Oh God those kids, they better perform, because I know I’m in the papers! … Why shouldn’t the mayor be thinking about the kids of New York City the same way?

He also addressed concerns that he is leading the political effort to renew mayoral control because Mayor Bloomberg has given him money — about $500,000, the New York Times reported. He said he understands people’s skepticism:

Everybody says, “Oh but didn’t he give you some money? And isn’t that why you’re doing it?” Well, I think it’s the right question, and everyone has the right to ask, “Do you believe in this or is this simply because the mayor has anonymously given you money, and that’s why you’re standing up for it?”

But he concluded, “This has nothing to do with any donation the mayor would or would not give. And, by the way, when I don’t agree with the mayor, I’m happy to say that I don’t agree with him.” For an example, check out what Canada said at an education forum just last month.

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