29 Nov Thoughts On Education Nation
What a wonderful experience to attend the 2nd Education Nation produced by NBC News in New York. I am very grateful to the Hope Street Group for obtaining invitations for several of the Hope Street Teacher Fellows to attend the event. NBC did an outstanding job of providing relevant and thought-provoking discussions, presentations and interviews with many of the top players in the education arena. I was especially interested in the presentation on Monday, “Brain Power: Why Early Learning Matters.” This presentation was given by several leading academics from leading universities who presented real and solid research, followed by discussions on how to apply the findings in our work as teachers. There was lots of “meat” and very little “fluff.”
My experience with Education Nation began before I left for New York. I received a call from the Austin, Texas NBC affiliate requesting an interview to talk about why I was attending, the role of Hope Street Group and what I hoped would happen as a result of the event. I was truly humbled by the request, as classroom teachers do not usually get offers from the media to do interviews. I included my heart-felt thoughts on the recent firestorms in Bastrop, Texas and the significant role that teachers played in volunteering at shelters, food banks, etc., even though over 200 teacher families had lost their homes as well. My “pre-education nation” experience told me this was going to be a special event and well worth the time and effort to attend.
As I reflect on the many presentations, interviews and networking opportunities available to us, I realize the potential for this and similar events to effect real and systemic change is significant. Clearly, the conversations and activities that I have been involved in with the Hope Street Group throughout the past months and years are matched very closely with last week’s Education Nation dialogue. The challenge for all education reformers is to now take this great information and make something happen in a real and sustainable way.
One of the many highlights of the event was when New Haven Conn. Teacher Matt Presser, one of the winners of the Education Nation essay contest, told Brian Williams, “Too often school reform is something that is happening to our students as opposed to with them or for them, and so many decisions are being made by people in board rooms, people in the White House, when the real people who know what our students need are the people here today, the people in our classroom every day”. The work of Hope Street Group and NBC Education Nation supports the notion of “teacher voice” in the discussion.
I believe the key is for teachers to move this agenda along by taking the energy and information created by this event to create real change at the local level. The feedback I have received from the general public in my home town regarding education reform is outstanding and has shown me that, with a local contact or facilitator, local educational reform can occur.
For those of you who were unable to attend, I hope you will take some time and check out the videos on NBC of the activities from last week. I can’t wait to see what’s next!