Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Harlem Children’s Zone: a Model for Inner-City Omaha

As Nebraska’s educrats continue to grapple with what to do with the mess in the Omaha Public Schools, and boo-hoo over lawsuits being filed, and argue over who’s going to be in charge instead of discussing what works, and set out to build a whole ‘nother expensive new infrastructure on top of the already-bloated and ineffective one we already have, it is humbling to look at a simple model that really, really works, and wonder WHY IN THE SAM HILL WE CAN’T THINK OF STUFF LIKE THIS.

It’s the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City, a privately-funded, multidisciplinary, community-wide approach to helping needy children build a strong foundation for obtaining a good education and a better chance at life. And guess who’s not in charge? The educrats! What a concept!

www.hcz.org This private-sector solution for inner-city children was started by writer/educator Geoffrey Canada. There’s a cool person if there ever was one; check out his biography on the website.

Here’s a little about them from the website, and ask yourself: why couldn’t we do this in Omaha? Who’s in our way – besides the educrats?


The Harlem Children's Zone Project is a multi-year comprehensive community building initiative of the Harlem Children's Zone. The HCZ Project's mission is to create significant, positive opportunities for all children living in a 60-block area of Central Harlem by helping parents, residents, teachers and other stakeholders create a safe learning environment for youth. We aim to improve outcomes for poor children and families in devastated communities, starting in Central Harlem.
Behind this mission lie two main tenets: First, children from troubled communities are far more likely to grow to healthy, satisfying adulthood (and to help build a better community) if a critical mass of the adults around them are well versed in the techniques of effective parenting, and are engaged in local educational, social, and religious activities with their children.
Second, the earlier a child is touched by sound health care, intellectual and social stimulation, and consistent guidance from loving, attentive adults, the more likely that child will be to grow into a responsible and fulfilled member of the community. Intervention at later stages is still important — and must be adjusted as the person progresses through the various stages of youth. But later intervention is more costly and less sure of success. Families will need these later efforts to a lesser degree and in declining amounts if the earliest intervention is effective.
These twin principles — a critical mass of engaged, effective families, and early and progressive intervention in children's development — are crucial to the mission of the Harlem Children's Zone. Our focus over the next several years will be taking the Harlem Children's Zone to its logical fulfillment — extending the Zone and reaching a greater percentage of residents in the Zone with a wider, more effective mix of services, particularly at earlier ages.
Thus, what began as a strategic plan in July 1997, has evolved into a resident-driven community-building initiative that serves over 8,600 children annually. The work over the past several years has reaffirmed our belief that in order to create positive opportunities and outcomes for all of the children who live in the Harlem Children's Zone Project, we must continue to develop an integrated network of services and support that provides: family stability; opportunities for employment; decent and affordable housing; a quality education; and youth development activities for adolescents.

Class I Schools Turn to District Court Cases, Green Petititon

Mike Nolles of Burwell, leader of the Class I schools defense team, is a pretty funny guy. Although he is sad and frustrated that the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the legal arguments of those who want to preserve Nebraska’s rural one-room schoolhouses, he remarked in an email to supporters that now the high court will have time to hear the truly “valuable” cases such as Anna Nicole Smith's. Sigh!

Nolles said he met with attorneys John Recknor and Don Stenberg and they have mapped out strategy for the coming months. Key directions include continuing to push for what’s called the “green amendment,” referring to the green paper of the petitions being circulated by Nebraskans for Local Schools that are due by July 7, and also the numerous due-process district court cases that are still pending, including 32 which will be heard on Wednesday in Burwell. The group continues to believe that in November, voters will repeal LB 126, and put the Class I schools back in business.

You can contact Nolles, send money for the cause, and learn how to help by checking:



Nebraska Private-School Grads Outshine Public-School Counterparts

Kudos to The World-Herald for publishing its annual “Scholars” supplement Sunday, listing honors and accomplishments of Nebraska’s high school Class of 2006. The 22-page special section is a great way to salute hard-working young scholars. Would that they would get half as much recognition as our hard-working young athletes all year long. But oh, well, eh?

One thing stood out mightily, and that is the much-higher proportion of private-school students who received the highest honors, compared to public-school students, at least in Omaha and Lincoln, where there are alternatives to public school.

Two of the nine All-State Scholars were from private schools, and nearly one-third of those listed on first and second teams for the metro and eastern Nebraska honorees were privately educated. Meanwhile, only around 10% of Nebraska’s current seniors are enrolled in private schools and homeschools.

Look at tiny Elkhorn Mount Michael, with a graduating class of 46; one student was named All-State and All-Metro, two more made second team All-Metro, and four more received Honorable Mention. Omaha’s Creighton Prep also placed disproportionately more students on this honor roll.

High-Fives For Nebraska’s Best History Students

They’re going national! About 60 Nebraska students have won the right to compete at National History Day in June at the University of Maryland in College Park.

The students qualified by taking first or second in various categories at the 26th annual state competition held at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln.

Private school winners in red:

Junior Group Exhibit: 1. "Woman Taking a Stand on the American Home Front during World War II," Alexandria Walenz, Bailey Mangers, Morgan Jacobi, Rachel Lemke and Sarah Wolf, St. Cecilia Middle School, Hastings; 2. "Standing Firm as a Crusader for the Mentally Ill: Dorothea Lynde Dix," Emily Simmons and Sarah Simmons, Kewanee Public School, Valentine.
Junior Individual Exhibit: 1. "Gentlemen the Fences Must Come Down," Travis Johnson, Glen District, Crawford; 2. "Abraham's Moment of Decision," Luke Evans, Wisner-Pilger.
Junior Individual Performance: 1. "Doolittle Takes a Stand Against Japan," Brandon Rossell, Elkhorn Ridge Middle School, Elkhorn; 2. "Rosie the Riveter: Taking a Stand for the U.S.," Kate Miller, Elkhorn Ridge Middle School.
Junior Group Performance: 1. "Workers and Farmers Take a Stand in Loup City," Angie Wieser, Ben Heusinkvelt, Hannah Spenceri, Kevin Connelly and Sara Dolezal, St. Isidore Elementary School, Columbus; 2. "No Really Bad Boys: One Man's Stand," Andrew Heusinkvelt, Emily Neville, Nicholas Preister, Stephani Jarecke and Thomas Schumacher, St. Isidore Elementary School.
Junior Group Documentary: 1. "A Country Torn: Women in the Islamic Revolution," Carey McGehee and Sara Babcock, Hastings Middle School; 2. "Standing Tall: The Story of Boys Town," Chloe Kucera, Alex Bolte, Kelsey Newman, Michael Esch and Trey Stuthman, St. Isidore Elementary School.
Junior Individual Documentary: 1. "Suzette LaFlesche: The Voice of Native Americans," Jenna Moore, St. Isidore Elementary School; 2. "Oscar and Emilie Schindler: Standing Up for Victims of the Holocaust," Kellie Sholes, Ainsworth Middle School.
Junior Individual Paper: 1. "The Heroic Life of Oscar Schindler," Karen Koch, St. Rose of Lima Elementary School, Crofton; 2. "Native Americans in the French and Indian War," Dustin Aherin, Syracuse.
Junior Web Site: 1. "Candy Lightner: Taking a Stand Against Drunk Driving," Morgan Rezaei, Elkhorn Ridge Middle School; 2. "Enola Gay - Taking a Right in History," Anna Haneline, St. John the Baptist Elementary, Plattsmouth.
Senior Group Exhibit: 1. "Rosa Parks: Sitting Down to Take a Stand," Laura Herbolsheimer, Meagan Zautke and Nathan Bilau, Pierce; 2. "Changing Lives through Photographs," Amanda Ball, Jessica Harris and Joan Yule, Science Focus Program (Zoo School), Lincoln.
Senior Individual Exhibit: 1. "The Vietnam War: Taking a Stand for Peace," Adrienne Hoffmann, Pierce; 2. "John Walsh: Taking a Stand Against Crime," Elizabeth Jones-Owens, Omaha Mercy.
Senior Individual Performance: 1. "Taking a Stand Against a Social Evil," Erika Goergen, Omaha Burke; 2. "William Jennings Bryan," Adam Brown, Science Focus Program (Zoo School).
Senior Group Performance: 1. "Carry Nation: Taking a Stand Against Taking a Drink," Chelsea Liska, Emilee Seier and Morgan Otto-Berglund, Pierce; 2. "Standing Up to Hitler: Andrew Jackson Higgins," Chelsea Rieckman, David Foote and Derek Edwards, Columbus.
Senior Group Documentary: 1. "Theodore Roosevelt: Conserving America's Future," Evan Wilson, Mitch Paine and Richard Carlson, Science Focus Program (Zoo School); 2. "Stetson Kennedy: One Man Against the Klan," Roger Carlson and Thomas Zimmer, Science Focus Program (Zoo School).
Senior Individual Documentary: 1. "Harry Truman and the Integration of the U.S. Military," Taryn Overton, Science Focus Program (Zoo School); 2. "W.E.B. Du Bois: Standing for Civil Rights and Serving His Race," Derek Hutchins, Science Focus Program (Zoo School).
Senior Paper: 1. "Barbed Wire: Taking a Stand to Transform the Events, People and Ideas of the Wild West," Kylie Kinley, Blue Hill; 2. "John Thomas Scopes vs. the State of Tennessee: Defending Fundamental Freedoms," Lauren Pohren, Omaha Duchesne.
Senior Web Site: 1. "Einstein: Taking a Stand for the Preservation of Life," Sam Davis, Elkhorn.

Defending Graduation Prayer

Here’s an excellent briefing for all those who wish to preserve First Amendment rights to free speech, especially freedom of religious expression, at graduation time. Maybe it’s too late for this year, but for those of you with youngsters coming up, be sure to circulate this information with other parents and taxpayers, and make sure your local school officials are up to speed.

“Friend or Foe” Graduation Prayer Campaign from Liberty Counsel:

Also search “graduation prayer” on these two good websites:

American Center for Law and Justice

Alliance Defense Fund

Comments: Post a Comment