Thoughts on MLK and Geoffrey Canada

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MLK EducationToday we honor and celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the most dynamic and effective leaders in the U.S. civil rights movement.

One of Dr. King’s most repeated quote reminds us of the goal of education:

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

GLEP had the pleasure of attending a MLK commemoration event hosted by Eastern Michigan University today, and the guest speaker was Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone.

geoffrey.canadaCanada is one of the leading education reform advocates in the country, and his innovative model for addressing the comprehensive educational, medical, and social needs of the children in a nearly 100 block area of Harlem serves as a model for breaking the cycle of generational poverty.

Candid, passionate and entertaining, it is always a delight to listen to him speak. From today’s presentation, Canada remind us it is less costly to education students than it is to incarcerate them – especially when you consider that the U.S. leads the world in putting people in prison on a per capita basis.

Canada also said great teachers are worth their weight in gold while poor teachers should choose another profession. This particular issue will get additional attention as the legislature begins debate this week on HB 5223, sponsored by Rep. Margaret O’Brien (R-Portage), to create a new teacher evaluation system in Michigan.

GLEP’s mission, which is to advocate for quality education options for all of Michigan’s children, fits well with the messages from Dr. King and Mr. Canada.  We are proud of the work we’re doing to improve educational outcomes for at-risk students in the state.

Frankly, we can’t think of any other endeavor that has as much impact on our state and our nation.