In his September 8 blog post , Dan put Mayor Daley's historic decision not to run for reelection in the context of tutor/mentor interests throughout the city. During his over 20-year tenure, Daley enacted educational reforms such as the adopt-a-school initiative that, while laudable, weren't far-sighted enough. Daley's myopic focus on school performance worked to the detriment of a more holistic, community focus. But Daley isn't alone in his short-sightedness. According to PolicyLink, the Senate voted to fund President Obama's comprehensive, cutting-edge Promise Neighborhoods initiative--a policy that seeks to address the issue of educational reform by involving both in-school and out-of-school resources--for only $20 million next year, a full $190 million short of the President's request.
Compare the stutter-step pace of the Senate and the Daley administration to companies such as IBM and Google. While Congressmen offer harangues and diatribes about failing schools on C-Span, private companies are stepping into the state's funding chasm, bypassing the red-taped committee meetings, and providing money to community organizations whose operating procedures comform to what is swiftly becoming the new paradigm in educational reform--but what is really something that Dan Bassill, along with a few other change agents across the country, began thinking about decades ago. For instance, IBM's Smarter Cities website promotes ideas such as an "educational continuum" to move children from grade school into careers, a concept that isn't much different from the Harlem Children Zone's "pipeline" concept or Tutor/Mentor Connection's "7 Success Steps", shown here:
But private funding on the level that must be maintained in order to perpetuate programs such as Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago, Harlem Children's Zone in Harlem, and KIPP Academy in the South Bronx--all programs that emphasize cultural and environmental factors as primary determinants of academic success, not just teacher performance or per-pupil funding or classroom size--into the long-term future, is still at the level of germination.
While commumity organizations must do their parts to seize the moment at a time when private companies are starting to warm to the causes of social responsibility and public-private partnership, it will be up to us as citizens to bring the government up to speed with the paradigm shift that's occuring on the ground. Call your your local Congressmen and -women and tell them that by cutting funds for Promise Neighborhoods and forward-thinking legislation like it, they're not just cutting the budget. For millions of children across the country, they're cutting hope.