I just finished a final edit on the last Imagine Abbotsford Dialogue — to be reported in The Abbotsford News May 14, 2009.

This dialogue was on the Health and Community of Abbotsford. One Policy Maker from the Fraser Valley Health Authority remarked that the community gains greater health benefits by investing in kids than in any other demographic of the community. The payback is enormous — for every dollar invested in kids, the community saves four dollars in the future. That is an huge return on investment.

Where do the dollars invested in childhood development largely get spent? In the education system (not the health care system) — but the paybacks are in the whole community system.

David Brooks talks about the Harlem Miracle today, outlining the story of Geoffrey Canada in Harlem and his Promise Academy in the Harlem Children’s Zone. The results of Canada’s school performance have so impressed researchers using rigorous evaluation templates, that they have changed their minds about the intractability of Harlem’s school and social problems.

Brooks points out the fierce standards that Canada demands of his students and his teachers. And he makes no bones about the value of teaching his students middle class values that include mutual respect, impulse control, self-discipline and hard work. His black students have closed the black-white performance gap that exists in most of the other New York schools — proving that the gap is not impervious to change.

The comments following Brooks article reveal that Promise Academy admits students by lottery (not selection) so they are accepting all comers. Further, the charter school provides support for the kids before and after school AND addresses the competencies of their parents, by offering them parenting classes.

Sounds like two streams of research — one in healthcare and one in education — are proving that one of the most intelligent investments city’s can make is in their children. Not surprising!! The bees figures that out millions of generations ago.

btw, seems like Promise Academy has created a very integral solution that integrates structural, cultural, intentional and behavioral aspects to create life conditions for educating kids. Don Beck points out that it is an elegant meshwork approach!!