“They don’t call it a zone for nothing,” Manuel Pastor explains in the current issue of American Prospect. Pastor, who kicked off The Springfield Institute’s first discussion series back in April, is talking about Geoff Canada’s extremely popular Harlem Children’s Zone. And Geoff Canada is coming to Springfield on November 4th (courtesy of The Springfield Public Forum).
Pastor warns against reducing Geoff Canada’s model to a prescription for charter schools (where pesky unions can’t muck things up). Instead, the critical element is regional and holistic thinking. Wrap-around cradle-to-grave interventions, housing, transportation, workforce development, and the green economy are all invoked. That’s what works, but it’s also where the real money is. The $10 million that is being issued nationally to replicate HCZ should be compared, Pastor suggests, to nearly a billion federal dollars that are being distributed through the Community Development Block Grant, the Choice Neighborhood Program, and the Sustainable Communities Initiative.
But the most resonant point is at the end: “…metropolitan areas characterized by high levels of segregation and inequity do poorly in part because they fail to keep up their investments in human capital and in part because they are wracked by social conflict and jurisdictional fragmentation.” Basically, if you want targeted initiatives to work, better make regional development and equity an explicit part of the agenda too. Somewhere in there, I believe, is both the explanation for why so many years of hard work and investment have not produced real results in Springfield, Holyoke, and the region; and a prescription for historically significant transformation.
Filed under: Economic & workforce development, Green jobs/economy, Housing & community development, Nonprofit/social sector, philanthropy, Public education, charter schools, Transportation & infrastructure |