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(TRENTON) – Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman on Friday will lead a delegation of educational leaders and advocates from New Jersey to visit the Harlem Children’s Zone and meet with its founder Geoffrey Canada.
“The purpose of our trip is to see the remarkable work of Mr. Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone first-hand and to find ways to replicate his dynamic efforts in communities in our state that confront some of the same challenges that exist in the Harlem,” said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer).
Canada, the founder of Harlem Children’s Zone, coined the phrase “Waiting for Superman” and is featured in the awarding winning documentary by the same title that examines America’s failing public school system.
Watson Coleman said Canada’s simple and straightforward message is that he will do “whatever it takes” to serve his community’s children and families.
The Harlem Children’s Zone is a comprehensive program that starts at birth, with parenting classes offered for expectant parents and those with children up to 3 years of age and continuing into preschool, where students are prepared to enter kindergarten by participating in a program that includes instructions in English, Spanish and French.
It runs two charter schools for elementary school students: Promise Academy I and II.
Since their creation in 2004 and 2005, Promise Academy I and II elementary schools have done well enough to lead Harvard economist Roland Fryer to conclude that the students had actually closed the black-white achievement gap.
Watson Coleman noted the schools have a longer school day and year and feature wide-ranging, enriching after-school programs. In 2009, the third-graders from both schools were 100 percent on or above grade level in the statewide math program.
Watson Coleman is working with educational and community leaders to explore some best practices that have successfully advanced educational programming both in and outside of New Jersey.
Watson Coleman recently coordinated a trip of 30 teachers, principals, and School Administrators to view the film “Waiting for Superman.”
Several educational and business leaders will join Watson Coleman on the visit to Harlem today including:
· Raymond Broach, acting superintendant of Trenton Public Schools;
· Floyd Morris, President, Children’s Future, a nonprofit focused on improving early childhood development and health outcomes of young people and their families in Trenton;
· Tom Clark, executive director of CityWorks, a nonprofit neighborhood development corporation in Trenton;
· Harriet Murray, principal of Joseph Stokes Elementary School in Trenton.
· Dr. Rosemary Knab, director of research for the New Jersey Education Association;
· Eleanor Horne, chair of the Educational Testing Services Social Investment Fund;
· Bree Williams, second-grade teacher at the Trenton Public Schools;
· Kelly Ganges, chief of staff to Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes.