"There is an educational cliff we are walking over right this very second."

Of the country’s failing public schools in the education system, Geoffrey Canada of Harlem Children’s Zone says, “Enough is enough. So here’s a business plan that simply does not make any sense.” His search for innovation and improvements for children’s learning and lives are manifested in his energetic pacing on the TED Talks stage.

–“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?”

–“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.”

–“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.”

Geoffrey Canada speaking at TED Talks Education
Geoffrey Canada
Speaker, TED Talks Education

In his 30 years with the Harlem Children's Zone®, Geoffrey Canada has become nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem and as a passionate advocate for education reform.

Since 1990, Mr. Canada has been the President and Chief Executive Officer for Harlem Children’s Zone, which The New York Times Magazine called “one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time.”

In 1997, the agency launched the Harlem Children’s Zone Project, which targets a specific geographic area in Central Harlem with a comprehensive range of services. The Zone today covers almost 100 blocks and serves more than 10,000 children. Using the Children’s Zone® as a model, President Barack Obama created the Promise Neighborhoods initiative to create similar comprehensive programs across the country.

Mr. Canada grew up in the South Bronx in a poor, sometimes-violent neighborhood. Despite his troubled surroundings, Mr. Canada was able to succeed academically, receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Bowdoin College and a Master’s Degree in Education from the Harvard School of Education.

Drawing upon his own childhood experiences and at the Harlem Children’s Zone, Mr. Canada has written two books: “Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America” and “Reaching Up for Manhood: Transforming the Lives of Boys in America.”

PBS WNET New York Public Media CPB Corporation for Public Broadcasting TED American Graduate