I have just read with interest Professor Pedro Noguera's "A broader and bolder approach uses education to break the cycle of poverty". Having spent seven years teaching in South Korea, and following that with teaching for seven years at Locke High School in Watts (seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine?), and having read Dr. Noguera's Unfinished Business, I comment from an unusual but informed perspective.
The BBA ("broader and bolder approach") may be the dream plan for the well-intentioned holders of cultural, financial, and social capital who are its main backers, for it fits their own ideals and uses the money this class holds to employ the expensive services this class offers, but it is unlikely to succeed as a national model, even if it succeeds locally, because it is a maximally expensive approach with little street credibility that may yet achieve little or nothing in terms of academic outcomes for its students. Of course, I would be happy to be wrong about this pessimistic forecast, but given the track record of previous attempts along these lines, I remain doubtful.
By contrast, Confucian polities like South Korea (statistically poorer than Africa 50 years ago), Shanghai (emerging from the dark persecution of the Cultural Revolution in the late 1970s), and Japan (recovering from utter devastation after World War II), being unable to access the generosities of BBA, were forced to look inward to develop their own resources, starting in the family home, and attack collectively the problems of urban regeneration. It is impossible to do this successfully with a closed attitude towards the outside world--the examples of North Korean juche ("self-determination"), Marcus Garvey in Haiti, and Locke High School in Watts prove the disadvantages of depending solely upon locally developed resources in building successful cultures ready to compete in the 21st century, and this realization affected my decision to reach outward, towards Green Dot Public Schools, to turn around Locke High School (although we intended a partnership, not a takeover). But charismatic efforts like that going on in Newark, even if successful, are unlikely to be sufficiently replicable to make much difference in helping the United States to better prepare its youth for the global competition they are increasingly exposed to; instead, we need better informed, and in particular internationally informed, models to adhere to.