Online Exclusive: Lecturer calls for leveling the playing field

Geoffrey Canada delivers a keynote speech on the advancement of black education Monday in the Union Ball Room (Nicholas Cady | The Collegian)

When Geoffrey Canada founded the Harlem’s Children’s Zone, he said that he expects all the kids that he works with to go to college. He made it his mission that his students will make improvements within five years or he’ll quit.

“I believe that if you’re a teacher and you cannot teach, you should get another job,” Canada said.

Canada was able to avoid switching jobs and so much more. He has been deemed as one of TIME Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People in the World. He also appeared on 60 minutes and Oprah. He was even invited to the White House by former President Bill Clinton.

“I am so glad that (Black Student Union) did a very good job at promoting this event,” Casha Mills, junior in English, said. “He was very inspiring and his message heighten my interest in education.”

During Canada’s speech Monday night, sponsored by the BSU in K-State Student Union grand ballroom, he told the audience that the inequalities in the education system are not just a race problem, but rather an American problem. He used entry into the military as an example of how education inequality affects all Americans

Michael Shode, senior in family studies and human services, serves as the vice president of the BSU said that Canada’s message was very relevant to the climate of today’s society.

“Inequality exists within the education system and it is important that we find a solution to level the playing field in the education system,” Shode said.

Canada challenged his audience to do two things. Challenge number one is to be prepared to seize the moment.

“You never know when your moment will come,” Canada said. “But when it comes, I hope that you seize the time.”

The second challenge that he presented his audience with is to think outside the box.

Canada ended his presentation with a poem that he had written and answered questions during a Q&A; session.

David Griffin Sr., associate professor and assistant dean of education, said that it was important that Canada’s message is shared with as many people as possible.

“He is an icon for education,” Griffin said. “To miss this event would be a travesty. His message is important for professionals, undergraduates, graduates and everyone else in the community.”

BSU and the Staley School of Leadership Studies plan to have a discussion that will incorporate Canada’s theme of leveling the playing field on Thursday from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Leadership Studies building.