|Born||January 13, 1952 (age 64)
Bronx, New York, U.S.
|Alma mater||Bowdoin College
|Occupation||President of the Harlem Children’s Zone
At a school in Massachusetts where I once worked, we managed early on through consensus. Which sounds wonderful, but it was just a very, very difficult way to sort of manage anything, because convincing everybody to do one particular thing, especially if it was hard, was almost impossible.
Kids who are poor often have families that have not really been kept informed about… how important it is to read to your child, to reduce stresses in their life, to use positive incentives and words.
Video games offer violent messages, and even the sports video games include taunting and teasing.
You go through the Civil Rights struggle, everybody knew the songs – 'We shall overcome.' Everybody would sing it. Music helped us. James Brown, 'Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud.' They helped black people figure out how to navigate what was a very treacherous place in America for them.
An extended school day gives administrators the ability to ensure children get a well-rounded education.
Education is the only billion dollar industry that tolerates abject failure.
I want my kids to graduate from high school. But that's not enough. I also want them to go to college. Why? Because rich people's kids go to college. And if that's good enough for them, it's good enough for my kids. Because you know what? College graduates don't tend to go to jail as frequently as nongraduates.
You don't need someone destroying you when your own people are the worst messengers possible. And this is what black people in America have not come to grips with.
Lots of boys pick strong messages about who they are and who they want to be from the media.
People talk about Wall Street greed, but one of the things many people don't understand is that there are a lot of organizations that have been the recipient of largess from the same Wall Street.
There's not a day that goes by that I don't draw on my undergraduate background in psychology.
Boys want to grow up to be like their male role models. And boys who grow up in homes with absent fathers search the hardest to figure out what it means to be male.
My contract with my teachers is fair, and is two pages. The union contract is 200 pages. You cannot manage your business when you cannot make any decision without going back to 200 pages worth of stuff.
People don't believe or understand that a community can lose hope. You can have a whole community where hopelessness is the norm, where folks don't have faith that things will get better because history and circumstances have proven over 30, 40, or 50 years that things don't get better.
Convincing people to give your way a try will work if you neutralize – and sometimes you have to cauterize – the ones who really are against change. They're the kind of person who, if you tell them it's raining outside, they'll fight you tooth and nail.
When I was growing up, kids used to talk about snitching… It never extended as a cultural norm outside of the gangsters.
When I began working in not-for-profits, it was taking a vow of poverty, which eliminated huge numbers of folks.
In two-parent households, women have increasingly entered the workplace, and in single-parent households, there is even more of a need for the adults to work. That means parents do not fully control their own schedule and have to scramble to find high-quality after-school options.
When I first found out that Superman wasn't real, I was about maybe eight. And I was talking to my mother about it. And she was like, 'No, no, no. There's no Superman.' And I started crying. I really thought he was coming to rescue us. The chaos, the violence, the danger. No hero was coming.
My own faith was nurtured by my grandmother and her clinging deeply to her faith when she was dying a painful and slow death from cancer.
Many schools today are sacrificing social studies, the arts and physical education so children can cover basic subjects like math, English and science.
Young people will tell you, if you're not prepared to write the most violent, the most misogynistic, the most horrible kinds of rhymes and scenarios, you are not going to get air play.
One of the things that sells music is when the artist is looked at as someone who's come up from the streets. Not just any streets, but the toughest, meanest streets of the urban ghetto. And that's called 'street credibility.'
You grow up in America and you're told from day one, 'This is the land of opportunity.' That everybody has an equal chance to make it in this country. And then you look at places like Harlem, and you say, 'That is absolutely a lie.'
I graduated from Bowdoin College and went to the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Then I left and took a job teaching really poor inner-city white kids in Boston. It was interesting to me because I'd never been around poor whites before.
How is it we could have a system where schools could remain lousy for 50 years and yet you do exactly the same thing this year that they did 50 years ago when it didn't work then, and no one feels any pressure to change?
Poverty places not just one or two obstacles but multiple obstacles in a child's pathway to what we would consider to be regular development – cognitively, intellectually and emotionally.
I believe that for lots of churches and religious institutions, their main focus on the development of faith among parishioners needs to spread to the community.
Good dental care doesn't make you a good student, but if your tooth hurts, it's hard to be a good student.
The rates of soda consumption in our poorest communities cannot be explained by individual consumer preferences alone, but rather are linked to broader issues of access and affordability of healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods, and to the marketing efforts of soda companies themselves.
The tendency in lots of large organizations is to try and find a comfortable place where you think you can get measured rewards for measured work.