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ST. PAUL – Today State Representative Carlos Mariani attended the nation’s first-ever training and exploration of the acclaimed Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) model, an innovative community-based approach to advance closing achievement gaps in New York City.
“Our nation’s education opportunity gap, sometimes referred to as the achievement gap, has a particularly wide and persistent gap in Minnesota," said State Representative Mariani, Chair of the Minnesota House Committee on K-12 Education. “The HCZ Conference offers policymakers and educators a close-up look at a community-based approach that is successfully being used to produce high quality student achievement by addressing the entire social, health and economic realities that impact poor students and students of color. Given the state of the economy, states will be increasingly challenged to be more cost effective in ways to make our public schools better.”
The national conference will be used as a gathering of policymakers, educators, and neighborhood advocates to reveal a major shift on how the White House and Congress proposes to re-tool government by making major federal departments work more closely together and make appropriations that foster collaborative partnerships at the local level as opposed to funding government programs that work in “silos”. One example of this is the U.S. Department of Education and Housing and Urban Development departments together issuing “Choice Neighborhoods” grants aimed at stabilizing both housing and educational outcomes for people. “Making sure all students achieve at high academic standards is a high priority for Minnesota. Our state will simply not succeed economically unless our students of color succeed in school. This federal administration understands that a strong nation begins with strong people who possess high level educational skills,” said State Representative Mariani. “I welcome the opportunity to learn at this conference what works for students so that I can share it with my legislative colleagues as we continue to shape a powerful education reform agenda in Minnesota. This follows a public hearing my committee held earlier this year in which over 1,000 people from all over Minnesota heard the testimony of Mr. Geoffrey Canada, founder and CEO of the Harlem Children Zone, along with that of several school districts and education advocates. Clearly we need to continue to cultivate such dialogue and information sharing that will serve to promote the best interests of our future; our children.”
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