FROM APPEARANCES ON CNN, "60 MINUTES'' AND OPRAH, Geoffrey Canada has become a familiar national commentator on strategies to close the achievement gap in education among low-income students. ¶ Raised in a tough New York neighborhood himself, Canada earned a graduate degree in education from Harvard, then returned home to teach. Frustrated that traditional schools weren't making progress with poor African-American students, he designed a system of social and educational services, including charter schools, to surround kids and families with support. Called the Harlem Children's Zone, the effort is now a $60 million program that serves about 8,000 youths. He is also the author of several books about raising boys and about the culture of violence. ¶ Recently, conservative columnist David Brooks praised the Zone's "no-excuses'' approach for producing student gains that have eliminated -- not just narrowed -- black/white disparities. Minneapolis Foundation leaders recently brought Canada to the Twin Cities. Following are excerpts from a speeech he gave and from a separate conversation with Star Tribune editorial writer Denise Johnson. THE PROBLEM
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