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If elected, Obama to export Harlem Children's Zone model

<em>Courtesy of Harlem Children's Zone</em>
Courtesy of Harlem Children's Zone

Barack Obama may not have come out explicitly for the “Broader, Bolder Approach,” but his education and social policies suggest that’s where his allegiance lies, writes Paul Tough in this week’s New York Times Magazine.

Obama has sworn to create 20 “Promise Neighborhoods” in the model of the Harlem Children’s Zone, which provides comprehensive social services for children living in 97 square blocks in Harlem. His rationale: “If poverty is a disease that infects an entire community in the form of unemployment and violence, failing schools and broken homes, then we can’t just treat those symptoms in isolation. We have to heal the entire community.” In these neighborhoods, families will have access to parenting training, free prekindergarten programs, charter schools, counseling, after-school programs, and high-quality health care.

These neighborhoods would necessarily be home to the “total schools” I wrote about last month — and would provide a major step toward Kelly’s vision of “a no excuses society.” The big question, Tough writes, is whether Obama, if elected, can summon the political will to commit the “few billion dollars a year” creating these full-service zones would require.

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