Obama seeks $210m for student achievement

Associated Press / September 20, 2010

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Taking a page from the successful Harlem Children’s Zone project, the Obama administration requested $210 million from the 2011 budget to help blighted neighborhoods provide family, community, and school support, with the hope it will boost student achievement.

More than 300 communities, including Sunland Park, have applied to become a “Promise Neighborhood.’’ The first 20 planning grants are expected to be announced tomorrow.

The Harlem Children’s Zone operates on the principle that if children do not have a safe place to live and study, or if they come to school with an empty stomach, they cannot learn.

It launched its idea with a single block in New York City in the early 1990s, providing adults with financial advice and domestic crisis counseling, teaching expectant parents about prenatal nutrition and child rearing, and offering a safe place and focused learning for preschool children.

The initiative grew to 100 blocks and thousands of families with an $84 million budget.

At the two charter schools the organization runs, results have been impressive: One hundred percent of third-graders scored at or above grade level on the New York state math exam in 2009.

About 650 children zone students are now in college.

A study by two Harvard University economists found that the typical eighth-grade pupil in the Harlem Children Zone’s middle school outscores the typical white eighth-grader in New York City public schools.

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