1Center or American Progress | Not the Ceiling, but the Floor
Not the Ceiling, but the Floor
Innovative Harlem Early Childhood Education EffortComplicated by Varying Government Regulations
Kristina Costa June 1, 2012
Tis case study was produced in conjunction with the Center or American Progress’s accom- panying report on these issues, “Increasing the Eectiveness and Efciency o Existing Public Investments in Early Childhood Education.”
Tis report establishes a set o policies andadministrative changes on the ederal level that will begin to address disparities in require-ments or publicly-supported pre-K, Head Start, and subsidized child care programs.
A cool early November sun lers hrough he windows o Georey Canada’s op-ooroce. An ambulance siren wails as i rushes by he Harlem Children’s Zone
head-quarers a he corner o Madison Avenue and 125h Sree—Harlem’s busling “MainSree.” In conras o he chaos ouside his windows, Canada is he picure o calm. A all, rangy man wih a graying goaee, he is he visionary presiden and CEO o heChildren’s Zone, an innovaive, holisic, 97-block eor ha aims no only o educaehousands o children in Harlem bu o also break he cycle o inergeneraional povery. As i says on is websie, he Children’s Zone is working o “reweave he social abric o Harlem, which has been orn apar by crime, drugs and decades o povery.”
In reweaving Harlem’s social abric, he Children’s Zone sars a he very beginning wih parening and early childhood programs and hen coninues by oering an array o services ha ollow children sraigh hrough college. “As every paren knows, you can’ jus work inensively wih your 4-year-old and hen do nohing or ha child or he reso heir lie and expec ha kid o be ne,” says Canada. “So he ac ha some peopleare sill rying o say, ‘Jus do a high-qualiy 4-year-old program and kids who hen enerino lousy schools should be jus ne,’—ha jus doesn’ make any sense a all.”Te Children’s Zone’s successes are presaged on he ac ha early childhood inerven-ion is incredibly imporan—bu so, oo, is providing suppors or parens and orchildren as hey age.“Ta’s why we say, early childhood educaion is no he ceiling, i’s he oor o whapoor children need,” coninues Canada.