Nightly News | March 09, 2011
>>> 28 years ago, native new yorker and harvard educated teacher, jeffrey canada , saw a need to educate new york city school kids and he launched a huge effort to fill that need. it is called the harlem children's zone. it encompasses 97 city blocks. they have educated upwards of 10,000 kids from inside and outside the neighborhood. he has risen since to national prominence. he's featured in the documentary "waiting for superman" and at least one american express commercial that we can think of. but he has vowed to stay in harlem , stay in the fight, and the need is about to get more dire. so as part of our education nation coverage, tonight we welcome back to our studios, jeffrey canada . welcome.
>> thank you. thank you. thrilled to be here.
>> i wanted to talk to you again because last time we spoke, you spoke with passion and urgency. in your words, the poor are about to get hammered and inner city students are about to get hammered. how badly and why?
>> well, you know, this is to me a real national disaster that i don't think anybody is paying attention to. you know, when a bunch of us saw katrina heading towards new orleans, we wondered how come those people aren't reacting. i see the same thing happening in poor communities. we're raising the standards. we're making it clear that if you don't have a great education, you will not get a job in the future. and we're cutting education budgets and all the supports for poor people all at the same time. and so when you ask people, okay, how does this work that kids that are already struggling and failing, we're cutting supports, and now we expect them to do better. no one has an answer. people just say, well, what else can we do. and i think that's a recipe for disaster. this country needs to recognize this is a crisis, and we need to take immediate and urgent action or we're going to lose a whole generation of americans.
>> do you worry about the current union conversation, this big fight, this big debate that's going on in terms of attracting high-quality teachers?
>> well, i think that what people are wondering is do we value teachers in america. and i think the answer to that is absolutely yes. and what we have to say to, i think, people who are wondering about coming into this field, we value teachers. we want the best teacher possible in front of these children, because we know the teacher is the number one ingredient in driving performance in schools. but we've got some rules right now that will not keep the best teachers in front of students. as we have to make tough choices in america, things like the last in, the first out, we have to get rid of these kinds of issues. get rid of teachers based on seniority and not based on teacher effectiveness. we simply don't have enough money to keep ineffective teaches in classrooms.
>> in the moments we have left, final question. why do you think it is after money gets tight after all this hubbub and building up spirit about education, education is often the first thing to get cut.
>> i am stunned. be they republicans or be they democrats, they will not talk about really the major parts of the budget when you begin to look at issues of social security , everybody says it has to be reformed node is touching it. when you talk about major pension reform , no one is doing anything about that. they simply look at the issues of education, programs like promise neighborhoods and they say all of that stuff has to go. i think that they are simply picking on the weakest parts of our society. this should be shared suffering. this suffering should be shared by the old and by the young. we are just targeting our young people in this country, and that's a disgrace.
>> jeffrey canada , it's always a pleasure. thank you, sir, for coming by again. jeffrey canada , harlem children's zone. we're back