New York Times columnist David Brooks has written a column about the Harlem Children's Zone. Brooks cites the work of a new report by Harvard economists Roland Fryer and Will Dobbie, whose work suggests that HCZ charter schools are closing the black-white educational achievement gaps, substantially outperforming other New York City schools.
According to Brooks, "These results are powerful evidence in a long-running debate. Some experts, mostly surrounding the education establishment, argue that schools alone can’t produce big changes. The problems are in society, and you have to work on broader issues like economic inequality. Reformers, on the other hand, have argued that school-based approaches can produce big results."
Brooks argues that the results in Harlem support the reformers. We at UNCA, however, are less convinced. It is not one or the other, but both. There are many charter schools around the nation, but HCZ is unique precisely because of the central role that integrated social services play.
Brooks' column is here. The preliminary Harvard report is here.