The commencement speaker committee’s unquestioning view of Geoffrey Canada is disappointing. While Canada has a sterling reputation, he is not without some serious flaws. Paul Tough’s book Whatever it Takes documents Canada kicking out an entire class of middle school students for having low test scores. It is hard to see how Mr. Canada was a “huge game-changer in the field of education” for those children.
Additionally, Canada’s organization decided to build a school and destroy the playground of a Harlem housing project without ever consulting the project’s residents. The park’s playground and community garden have been destroyed. If the committee values Penn’s “merit in the areas of civic and community engagement,” then Mr. Canada’s practices are a poor way of celebrating that virtue.
Tom Mullaney if a first-year Masters of Environmental Studies Candidate from Greenlawn, N.Y. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.