Our failing schools. Enough is enough! | Geoffrey Canada


Translator: Joseph Geni
Reviewer: Morton Bast I’m a little nervous, because my wife Yvonne said to me, she said, “Geoff, you watch the TED Talks.” I said, “Yes, honey, I love TED Talks.” She said, “You know, they’re like, really smart, talented — ” I said, “I know, I know.” (Laughter) She said, “They don’t want, like, the angry black man.” (Laughter) So I said, “No, I’m gonna be good, Honey, I’m gonna be good. I am.” But I am angry. (Laughter) And the last time I looked, I’m — (Applause) So this is why I’m excited but I’m angry. This year, there are going to be millions of our children that we’re going to needlessly lose, that we could — right now, we could save them all. You saw the quality of the educators who were here. Do not tell me they could not reach those kids and save them. I know they could. It is absolutely possible. Why haven’t we fixed this? Those of us in education have held on to a business plan that we don’t care how many millions of young people fail, we’re going to continue to do the same thing that didn’t work, and nobody is getting crazy about it — right? — enough to say, “Enough is enough.” So here’s a business plan that simply does not make any sense. You know, I grew up in the inner city, and there were kids who were failing in schools 56 years ago when I first went to school, and those schools are still lousy today, 56 years later. And you know something about a lousy school? It’s not like a bottle of wine. Right? (Laughter) Where you say, like, ’87 was like a good year, right? That’s now how this thing — I mean, every single year, it’s still the same approach, right? One size fits all, if you get it, fine, and if you don’t, tough luck. Just tough luck. Why haven’t we allowed innovation to happen? Do not tell me we can’t do better than this. Look, you go into a place that’s failed kids for 50 years, and you say, “So what’s the plan?” And they say, “We’ll, we’re going to do what we did last year this year.” What kind of business model is that? Banks used to open and operate between 10 and 3. They operated 10 to 3. They were closed for lunch hour. Now, who can bank between 10 and 3? The unemployed. They don’t need banks. They got no money in the banks. Who created that business model? Right? And it went on for decades. You know why? Because they didn’t care. It wasn’t about the customers. It was about bankers. They created something that worked for them. How could you go to the bank when you were at work? It didn’t matter. And they don’t care whether or not Geoff is upset he can’t go to the bank. Go find another bank. They all operate the same way. Right? Now, one day, some crazy banker had an idea. Maybe we should keep the bank open when people come home from work. They might like that. What about a Saturday? What about introducing technology? Now look, I’m a technology fan, but I have to admit to you all I’m a little old. So I was a little slow, and I did not trust technology, and when they first came out with those new contraptions, these tellers that you put in a card and they give you money, I was like, “There’s no way that machine is going to count that money right. I am never using that, right?” So technology has changed. Things have changed. Yet not in education. Why? Why is it that when we had rotary phones, when we were having folks being crippled by polio, that we were teaching the same way then that we’re doing right now? And if you come up with a plan to change things, people consider you radical. They will say the worst things about you. I said one day, well, look, if the science says — this is science, not me — that our poorest children lose ground in the summertime — You see where they are in June and say, okay, they’re there. You look at them in September, they’ve gone down. You say, whoo! So I heard about that in ’75 when I was at the Ed School at Harvard. I said, “Oh, wow, this is an important study.” Because it suggests we should do something. (Laughter) Every 10 years they reproduce the same study. It says exactly the same thing: Poor kids lose ground in the summertime. The system decides you can’t run schools in the summer. You know, I always wonder, who makes up those rules? For years I went to — Look, I went the Harvard Ed School. I thought I knew something. They said it was the agrarian calendar, and people had — but let me tell you why that doesn’t make sense. I never got that. I never got that, because anyone knows if you farm, you don’t plant crops in July and August. You plant them in the spring. So who came up with this idea? Who owns it? Why did we ever do it? Well it just turns out in the 1840s we did have, schools were open all year. They were open all year, because we had a lot of folks who had to work all day. They didn’t have any place for their kids to go. It was a perfect place to have schools. So this is not something that is ordained from the education gods. So why don’t we? Why don’t we? Because our business has refused to use science. Science. You have Bill Gates coming out and saying, “Look, this works, right? We can do this.” How many places in America are going to change? None. None. Okay, yeah, there are two. All right? Yes, there’ll be some place, because some folks will do the right thing. As a profession, we have to stop this. The science is clear. Here’s what we know. We know that the problem begins immediately. Right? This idea, zero to three. My wife, Yvonne, and I, we have four kids, three grown ones and a 15-year-old. That’s a longer story. (Laughter) With our first kids, we did not know the science about brain development. We didn’t know how critical those first three years were. We didn’t know what was happening in those young brains. We didn’t know the role that language, a stimulus and response, call and response, how important that was in developing those children. We know that now. What are we doing about it? Nothing. Wealthy people know. Educated people know. And their kids have an advantage. Poor people don’t know, and we’re not doing anything to help them at all. But we know this is critical. Now, you take pre-kindergarten. We know it’s important for kids. Poor kids need that experience. Nope. Lots of places, it doesn’t exist. We know health services matter. You know, we provide health services and people are always fussing at me about, you know, because I’m all into accountability and data and all of that good stuff, but we do health services, and I have to raise a lot of money. People used to say when they’d come fund us, “Geoff, why do you provide these health services?” I used to make stuff up. Right? I’d say, “Well, you know a child who has cavities is not going to, uh, be able to study as well.” And I had to because I had to raise the money. But now I’m older, and you know what I tell them? You know why I provide kids with those health benefits and the sports and the recreation and the arts? Because I actually like kids. I actually like kids. (Laughter) (Applause) But when they really get pushy, people really get pushy, I say, “I do it because you do it for your kid.” And you’ve never read a study from MIT that says giving your kid dance instruction is going to help them do algebra better, but you will give that kid dance instruction, and you will be thrilled that that kid wants to do dance instruction, and it will make your day. And why shouldn’t poor kids have the same opportunity? It’s the floor for these children. (Applause) So here’s the other thing. I’m a tester guy. I believe you need data, you need information, because you work at something, you think it’s working, and you find out it’s not working. I mean, you’re educators. You work, you say, you think you’ve got it, great, no? And you find out they didn’t get it. But here’s the problem with testing. The testing that we do — we’re going to have our test in New York next week — is in April. You know when we’re going to get the results back? Maybe July, maybe June. And the results have great data. They’ll tell you Raheem really struggled, couldn’t do two-digit multiplication — so great data, but you’re getting it back after school is over. And so, what do you do? You go on vacation. (Laughter) You come back from vacation. Now you’ve got all of this test data from last year. You don’t look at it. Why would you look at it? You’re going to go and teach this year. So how much money did we just spend on all of that? Billions and billions of dollars for data that it’s too late to use. I need that data in September. I need that data in November. I need to know you’re struggling, and I need to know whether or not what I did corrected that. I need to know that this week. I don’t need to know that at the end of the year when it’s too late. Because in my older years, I’ve become somewhat of a clairvoyant. I can predict school scores. You take me to any school. I’m really good at inner city schools that are struggling. And you tell me last year 48 percent of those kids were on grade level. And I say, “Okay, what’s the plan, what did we do from last year to this year?” You say, “We’re doing the same thing.” I’m going to make a prediction. (Laughter) This year, somewhere between 44 and 52 percent of those kids will be on grade level. And I will be right every single time. So we’re spending all of this money, but we’re getting what? Teachers need real information right now about what’s happening to their kids. The high stakes is today, because you can do something about it. So here’s the other issue that I just think we’ve got to be concerned about. We can’t stifle innovation in our business. We have to innovate. And people in our business get mad about innovation. They get angry if you do something different. If you try something new, people are always like, “Ooh, charter schools.” Hey, let’s try some stuff. Let’s see. This stuff hasn’t worked for 55 years. Let’s try something different. And here’s the rub. Some of it’s not going to work. You know, people tell me, “Yeah, those charter schools, a lot of them don’t work.” A lot of them don’t. They should be closed. I mean, I really believe they should be closed. But we can’t confuse figuring out the science and things not working with we shouldn’t therefore do anything. Right? Because that’s not the way the world works. If you think about technology, imagine if that’s how we thought about technology. Every time something didn’t work, we just threw in the towel and said, “Let’s forget it.” Right? You know, they convinced me. I’m sure some of you were like me — the latest and greatest thing, the PalmPilot. They told me, “Geoff, if you get this PalmPilot you’ll never need another thing.” That thing lasted all of three weeks. It was over. I was so disgusted I spent my money on this thing. Did anybody stop inventing? Not a person. Not a soul. The folks went out there. They kept inventing. The fact that you have failure, that shouldn’t stop you from pushing the science forward. Our job as educators, there’s some stuff we know that we can do. And we’ve got to do better. The evaluation, we have to start with kids earlier, we have to make sure that we provide the support to young people. We’ve got to give them all of these opportunities. So that we have to do. But this innovation issue, this idea that we’ve got to keep innovating until we really nail this science down is something that is absolutely critical. And this is something, by the way, that I think is going to be a challenge for our entire field. America cannot wait another 50 years to get this right. We have run out of time. I don’t know about a fiscal cliff, but I know there’s an educational cliff that we are walking over right this very second, and if we allow folks to continue this foolishness about saying we can’t afford this — So Bill Gates says it’s going to cost five billion dollars. What is five billion dollars to the United States? What did we spend in Afghanistan this year? How many trillions? (Applause) When the country cares about something, we’ll spend a trillion dollars without blinking an eye. When the safety of America is threatened, we will spend any amount of money. The real safety of our nation is preparing this next generation so that they can take our place and be the leaders of the world when it comes to thinking and technology and democracy and all that stuff we care about. I dare say it’s a pittance, what it would require for us to really begin to solve some of these problems. So once we do that, I’ll no longer be angry. (Laughter) So, you guys, help me get there. Thank you all very much. Thank you. (Applause) John Legend: So what is the high school dropout rate at Harlem Children’s Zone? Geoffrey Canada: Well, you know, John, 100 percent of our kids graduated high school last year in my school. A hundred percent of them went to college. This year’s seniors will have 100 percent graduating high school. Last I heard we had 93 percent accepted to college. We’d better get that other seven percent. So that’s just how this goes. (Applause) JL: So how do you stick with them after they leave high school? GC: Well, you know, one of the bad problems we have in this country is these kids, the same kids, these same vulnerable kids, when you get them in school, they drop out in record numbers. And so we’ve figured out that you’ve got to really design a network of support for these kids that in many ways mimics what a good parent does. They harass you, right? They call you, they say, “I want to see your grades. How’d you do on that last test? What are you talking about that you want to leave school? And you’re not coming back here.” So a bunch of my kids know you can’t come back to Harlem because Geoff is looking for you. They’re like, “I really can’t come back.” No. You’d better stay in school. But I’m not kidding about some of this, and it gets a little bit to the grit issue. When kids know that you refuse to let them fail, it puts a different pressure on them, and they don’t give up as easy. So sometimes they don’t have it inside, and they’re, like, “You know, I don’t want to do this, but I know my mother’s going to be mad.” Well, that matters to kids, and it helps get them through. We try to create a set of strategies that gets them tutoring and help and support, but also a set of encouragements that say to them, “You can do it. It is going to be hard, but we refuse to let you fail.” JL: Well, thank you Dr. Canada. Please give it up for him one more time. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “Our failing schools. Enough is enough! | Geoffrey Canada”

  1. Look at your neighbor and copy the one who is doing the best without compromising fun.
    Finland has innovative education and Holland has the most rehabilitation penal system.

  2. I LOVE this man. I wish he was Secretary of Education and could convert all our schools to what made his Harlem Children's Zone such a success

  3. The whole issue with the education system is the premise where you're being stupidly marked over subjective fields, such as English and other artistic courses. It's a static system, that simply does not fit everyone.

  4. Coincido en que los problemas de la escuela siguen siendo los mismos desde hace más de 200 años. Las políticas educativas no se construyen desde las bases sólidas que la comunidad educativa requiere.

  5. The reason why school is out during summer is because before air conditioning was invented it was very hot in schoolhouses, this is pretty outdated nowadays

  6. Agreed, Dr. Canada! but for one thing: let's encourage innovation in public schools and track the results. Only support for excellent, free, primary, public education can insure that it is not merely our affluent children who succeed!

  7. I think we should get ride of grades level like 1st to senior years and I do a scale system while students move to the next class when they able to do skill required in that scale and we could get More Steve jobs and bills gates in this world by having 7 years in college who able to do all the skill required in the scale level

  8. I think the problem is that school has become a money making machine and the Government DOES NOT want to stop making money!

  9. comparing business and public education is a fallacy because businesses can choose their products, whereas public educators can not.

  10. Interesting presentation, however … the education system has worked well for a large portion of the population.

  11. “School systems are the microcosms of society.” In society, professional actors, singers, and athletes are highly paid and greatly respected; however, in schools, teachers are not on that level of financial gain or admiration. Like society, schools glorify male athletes, and female athletes are few and always less important. Also, students are more interested in pep rallies, school dances, sport games, and peer popularity, and those, who excel in academics, are considered nerds. In addition, the hierarchy of the school system needs reorganization whereby prestigious administrators are not over-paid and their salaries are equal to teachers . . . The structure of school systems has not allowed for change.

  12. Whenever someone in politics tells you "we can't afford it", always remember that they really mean other things are more important. In this case, ask yourself, was the Iraq or Afghanistan war really more important than our education? How about more than healthcare? How about more than college?

  13. It's just not only failing children of color but those who have intellectual disabilities as well sad but true. A one size fits all education aka common core is failing our children.

  14. 8 mind in and he's just being vague and circling and the subject. Feels like he didn't plan a coherent speech. Not worth listening to

  15. This is a bunch of nonsense. First, if children can't retain something through summer then the way they are learning is failing. If a doctor said, "Man, I can't remember a thing I learned in school about this procedure. I better go back to school!" would you trust him or his training?
    Defining success as going to college is stupid! If we managed for everyone to get a Ph.D. in some field, who would build the houses and clean the offices and harvest the crops? We value college so much because it put people in a higher social class, not because they were necessarily more useful. We need all kinds of people to do all kinds of jobs and we need as a society to value these people and the jobs they do.
    Also, the idea that our schools are failing compared to other nations is a myth. http://www.vdare.com/articles/pisa-scores-show-demography-is-destiny-in-education-too-but-washington-doesnt-want-you-to-k.

  16. He boasted that his charter school had a 100% graduation rate. He lied. His school failed to educate 35 of the 97 kids 2006 class of sixth graders. Only 62 graduated. That is not 100%, it is 64%, less than ⅔.

  17. I like this guys enthusiasm but expressing he fact that “there is a huge problem guys wake up this should be fixed” is much easier said than done.

  18. Most students don't fail because they can't do the work. They fail because they don't want to do the work. I didn't hear anything about getting failing students to want to do the work.

  19. Best thing is that you don't need to do the trial and error with your own kids for every idea. Look internationally to the most successful public school systems in the world and emulate. Finland gets to the top public schools in the world year after year. Why? No private schools. If the rich want their kids to have a good education they'd better make sure every other kid gets one too. They also require more training in their teachers. They also pay their teachers really well, too. They're given the resources to do their job. There are no tests except in their final year. There is no stigma against getting a trade instead of a degree. They have courses available to kids wanting a trade that go toward their apprenticeship courses, so they can stay in school with their friends learning and having their elective courses be trade recognised courses.they do this by building their schools near trade schools, or close enough that a short bus trip can get them there and back easily. It works. They get creative and innovative people in every walk of life, and that country is a powerhouse of new ideas and more importantly, happy people.

  20. this video is so true so sad smyth elementary in Chicago i want the school shut down the school is for low in come section 8 school. I watch the school the seat in class talk to staff they did not try then bully the parent which is me them the school and the head quarters bully me too. now i am homeschooling I am the joke now.

  21. Blacks, require lower IQ to obtain an equal level of academic achievement. But todays 'education doesn't matter' mentality, actually hurts black people. A fair system would account for all the other factors that account for these 1 Standard deviation discrepancies in achievement, as sources of 'intelligence' (interest, curiosity, motivation, intuition, creativity; conveniently labeled as not important to intelligence), and not IQ, which is more of a glorified short term memory test:
    Whites with a bachelors degree: IQ 111
    Blacks with a bachelor degree: IQ 96
    Whites with a masters degree: IQ 114
    Blacks with a masters degree: IQ 99
    Whites with a PhD or professional degree: IQ 123
    Blacks with a PhD or professional degree: IQ 110

  22. I really think the reason why they don't change much is because of money. Its ALL about money and if this failing school system keeps running. This whole country will slowly kill itself before a war even starts.

  23. Our education does look the same as it did 50 years ago+. It's like a factory. Factories are efficient, and are graded on it's quality. If it doesn't meet standards it gets tossed aside. This is the model we have for our education system, and people are not all the same. It's not one size fits all. Teachers are expected to do something about it without the resources, and have to follow a business model that doesn't make sense. As an educator this is my wish. I wish for smaller class sizes. I think this should be the first thing we do to make great change for our schools. There would be more Teachers to hire which would benefit our economy, but also the students could get the support they need. Teachers feel tremendous guilt for not being able to support all their students, and not be able to give them the attention they need, and it's not their fault. There are class sizes up to 38 students in the hands of 1 teacher. By the way, did I mention this was a 1st grade classroom. This is not uncommon to see in the poverty districts in Oregon. We need more teachers, and smaller class sizes, if we are expected to differentiate lessons to truly meet the needs of our children.

  24. He mentioned having schools open all year, well the problem with that is that you have nothing to look forward to, school is hard enough don't make it worse for us. Here's and example: I'm my cousins school they tried that, almost every single student started failing because they had lost Thier motivation. Summer is our only motivation. That's sad but true. They have to change our motivations to change our grades.

  25. Hey, the socialist agenda of bringing down our society by destroying the schools is working just fine.
    Make everyone dumb, incapable of working at any decent job, instill in the the victim ethic, and presto you have legions of useless dickheads that will vote Democrat. It's working fine. Oh, and blame the white people.

  26. Correction.

    Our failing black and Hispanic students – enough is enough.

    If you exclude black and hispanic student scores America becomes competitive again.

    The most recent PISA results, from 2015, placed the U.S. an unimpressive 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science.

    When US racial and ethnic groups are separately compared with other countries, Asian and white students regularly perform at or near the top of international rankings, while
    black and Hispanic students typically rank at or near the bottom.

    Source:

    https://www.google.com/url?q=https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED535873.pdf&sa=U&ved=0ahUKEwjnlfWh6MvcAhWptVkKHT_wB_sQFggTMAI&usg=AOvVaw2FUUkhchMTGMSg2cZFAMqV

  27. 50 years ago schools were much better! When I was in 1st to 9th grade 1953-1962 schools were even better, with much smaller budgets, and no Dept of education! The Dept. of ED started in 1980. Also the stronger the Teachers unions got, the worse education got! This is all a product of the 800 lb. gorilla nobody wants to acknowledge. Ever increasing far left-liberal policies! 100 trillion dollars will not help! Teachers unions priority is more money, more benefits, more power. Abolish the Dept of education!

  28. I worked for Harlem Children Zone in the mid 2000s and it was a great experience. He is absolutely spot on when he talks about developing a network of support for students who've made it to the college level.

  29. Everyone learns differently.
    Some are auditory learners, some are visual learners, so learn by doing, and some learn by reading.
    School assumes everyone should learn the same way, and enforces one style of teaching and learning,
    hence some students pass, and many fail, or do not get a good grade.
    Schools were developed to create workers who can do just enough to make the company run, without complaining.
    And this is reflecting in the stupidity of the people, who after 12 years of school education, still don't know how to manage money, how to do taxes, how loans and interest works, how to find their passion,
    and how to learn new skills.
    This is why most of the population is financially illiterate, and in debt, and why 75% of the people hate their job.
    We all know that mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell,
    but we are not taught anything that is of importance in the market, and the real world.
    Schools were, and still are, a complete waste of time.
    You can learn and easily find all the facts and concepts they teach you in school on the internet these days,
    it takes less than a second to search who was the 21st president of the United States,
    yet, people are still being taught many useless facts and information that they will eventually forget.
    Schools need a revamp real bad, because technology and world is moving faster and faster these days, while schools are still stuck in the 1950s style of teaching.

  30. Could make it to 5 minutes. "It is bad we need to make it better" with no indicators of how it is bad, or compared to what. Just massive generalizations. Now he may very well be right, but there is no way to know it from this talk so far. I bail.

  31. At one point in History they tried having school in a pattern of 8 months and only 2 weeks off and it didn't work, and if that didn't work then having school year round won't work either.

  32. This ship has been gradually sinking for 50 years — but the internet was the iceberg that just ripped open the hull. Perhaps centralized factory-style "eduction" was always a bad idea. The "educational cliff" we are facing looks like this: what happens when the internet provides, for free, a better product than government can provide with nearly a Trillion dollars annual spend? What happens when free education is not just better, but significantly better. What happens next when free education becomes orders of magnitude better? In fact, that is where we are right now. And the only question is how we are going to accommodate the new reality. Our kids are going to be much much better off, but for the vast government/educational complex, there is blood in the water.

  33. Hi, I am a student of Applied linguistics in Poland😊. In two months I will be having an oral exam and have chosen "Systems of education in different countries (especially France) as my main topic. I would be very grateful if you could share your experiences and opinions about education in your country (both at school and academic degree levels). What do you like and dislike about it? Is there anything to be changed or improved? This is not an official research or anything. I just want to learn something interesting about different countries and have an interesting conversation with my examiner😁Thanks in advance for your time and willingness to help and share your point of view:)

  34. I forget if it's Denmark or somewhere over that way, all the public schools are the same, equally great, private schools aren't allowed. Therefore it doesn't matter where you live or which one kids attend. So wealthy families want the schools to be good, wealthy kids mingle with poor kids, become friends, and when they grow up, don't want to screw over their friends. They have no homework, more "explore" and play time, arts etc.. less hours but do astoundingly better than us, learn several languages even, involved in the decisions in the education, critical thinking, positive consequences instead of mostly negative, etc..

  35. Schools are not like traditional businesses imo. We need to stop trying to bring business culture to schools.

  36. what a bunch of crap.the problem is what we are teaching kids that will not help u get into college or a job.stop teaching feminist,gender and gay stuff and focus on things that get u a job.teachers unions have made teachers lazy and not caring and after 5 years u cant fire them short of murder.

  37. Go to school yourself be a teacher and teach yourself. To see to it what these teacher have been doing at school! Then judge afterwards when you yourself experience it.

  38. This guy is amazing, off the charts. Loved the whole talk. Appreciate the passion you have Dr. Canada.

    But that right index finger was freaking me out man.

  39. The problem with education is all of innovation being done and over 100 years of failed education reforms. But they keep trying to reform it. Education has worked for 70-90% of us from the 1970s onward. The bogus report A Nation at Risk, April 1983, had messed up education even more. With this big push to increase the number of high school graduates, we've dumbed down the curriculum. A college graduate today knows about what a high school graduate of the 1950s knew.

    Mr. Canada is wrong in that most everyone can learn at the same levels. The Gaussian/Normal/Bell-shaped Curve explains this.

    Most can learn Elementary School stuff, pretty much no matter how it is taught. Middle School (Junior High School) and each successive level the subject matter gets more complex and therefore more kids will fail to understand.

    If you look at the education reformers, most are not educators. Even Canada's Master's degree in Education is suspect. For someone with undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Sociology the most common concentration for his Master's degree would qualify him as a school counselor and not curriculum designer. This is just a guess as I cannot find what his area of concentration actually was.
    It is funny that most parents think that their school is great and everyone else's suck. Why is that? Because of people like Canada. They show three schools in Waiting for Superman and say that all schools are like this, are representative of them. I'll stop here.

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