Recently, I learned from Montgomery County Councilman George Leventhal that on Tuesday he will host a meeting to discuss “unfinished business” impacting the lives of African Americans in Montgomery County. Here are details for those interested in attending the meeting:
Stella B. Werner Council Office Building
6th Floor Conference Room
100 Maryland Avenue Rockville, MD
RSVP Walton Harris
“Unfinished Business” is the title of a draft report, which I assume was
authored by Leventhal. Click here to read it.
The report is full of interesting facts about African Americans living in Montgomery County. But the report also touches on a few surprises. For example, I did not realize that the county’s first public charter school, the Community Montessori Charter School, is a “trial” school to determine if such schools are able to eliminate academic achievement gaps. I wonder how they plan to achieve a goal that no one else in the county has achieved. Click here to learn more about Montgomery County Public Schools' first charter school.
But the other surprise that caught my attention is this notion that the Kennedy Cluster Project is “similar” to the Harlem Children’s Zone. Really!
If you’re sitting at your computer reading this blog stop and google "Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ)."
One link that should come up is this one. If you scroll through to page 23 you will notice that HCZ has a boatload of money—nearly $250 million in total support and revenue as of June 30, 2011.
Now, google the "Kennedy Cluster Project budget."
If you scroll to page 9 you will see $126,720 allocated to the project.
I’m sure there are other bucks allocated to the project. But I doubt one can find more than $500,000. Regardless, it does not take a budget genius to quickly figure out that someone is seriously out-to-lunch if they believe the Kennedy Cluster and HCZ efforts are “similar.”
Now, this Kennedy Cluster Project—MCPS link might also come up. One can immediately tell that the Kennedy project has been around since 2007. Not a long time, but not bad as projects go.
Now, google "Kennedy Cluster Project and research."
Readers will find some demographics about children living in the Kennedy cluster, but that’s about it. No outcomes. There are direct implications that the Kennedy project will eliminate academic achievement gaps, but my googling failed to find any public documents laying out outcomes or any specific evidence that the project has closed gaps.
One last google. Google HCZ and research outcomes. Here are some of the links that you might come up:
It does not take much effort to figure out that there is a huge body of developing evidence on the impacts of the HCZ. And some of that evidence is captured in Paul Tough’s book Whatever It Takes (2008). It's a great book and I would recommend that folks in MCPS and elsewhere in the county read it. (Tough is the author of the book on "grit" that MCPS is crazed about.)
And the HCZ research is public. Available. Easy to figure out. And so how is
this similar to the Kennedy Cluster project?
It isn't. Unless you live in some kind of fairytale—make-believe dreamland—called Montgomery County.