Regarding Education Nation

Below is a letter to NBC regarding their reticence to provide a broader picture of where education in America is now and where it should be.

Please read below and share your thoughts.

c/o Parents United for Responsible Education

39 S. LaSalle Street, Suite 617

Chicago, IL 60603


September 8, 2010

To: Shelley Capito and Michelle Jimenez, NBC News Education Nation

Cc: Steve Capus, President, NBC News

Dear Ms. Capito and Ms. Jiminez:

We urge you to have a more balanced representation of panelists at your NBC summit, Education Nation, than the roster of participants announced so far. It is especially important that you include public school parents, who are the most important stakeholders in the system.  In addition to the published list of participants, we would ask that you invite representatives from Parents Across America, a grassroots organization with charter members representing Florida, New York, Illinois, Washington, North Carolina, Texas and California.

As public school parents, we are also unhappy with the status quo in education and we understand the urgency for change.  A “summit” is a valuable idea, suggesting the need to bring together parties with different views to share perspectives and build consensus. That is precisely what is needed right now.

Yet too often parents have been left out of the education discussion at the national level. See our letter to the President sent in May about this issue; our article in Education Week, “Shutting out Parents”, and our follow up letter that was reprinted in the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet last week:

Since our letter was published, we have received enthusiastic response from parents all over the country, who feel strongly that their priorities for change are being ignored. Millions of parents across the United States are striving to be heard, and our core parent leaders are connected to over two million of them through our blogs and a variety of Facebook sites.

We do not support the status quo, but a common sense set of reforms which we believe will significantly improve the quality of our public schools. Our agenda for positive change is research-based, and focuses on strengthening neighborhood schools rather than closing them down, by providing smaller classes, more parent involvement, and a well-rounded curriculum, rather than the current rage of privatization and test-based accountability.

Moreover, we believe that our views are more representative of the population as a whole than the members of the panel that you have invited so far. For example, see the responses to the recent 2010 PDK/Gallup Poll, “A Time for a Change,” which found that only 34% of Americans gave the administration an “A” or a “B” on their education policies at

We urge you to feature a more balanced presentation by inviting one or more of our parent leaders to participate in your discussion. Public school parents deserve a voice in this important debate and far more respect than they have been afforded so far.  Please consider making this a genuine “summit” where a meeting of the minds may occur.  Otherwise, we believe this may be perceived as a one-sided recitation of views.

Thank you for caring about public education and for helping to host this critical event.

Very truly yours,

Natalie Beyer, Durham Allies for Responsive Education (DARE), NC

Caroline Grannan, San Francisco public school parent, volunteer and advocate, CA

Pamela Grundy, Mecklenburg Area Coming Together for Schools, NC

Leonie Haimson, Class Size Matters, New York, NY

Sharon Higgins, public school parent, Oakland, CA

Susan Magers, Parent Advocate, FL

Karen Miller, Public education advocate, Houston TX

Mark Mishler, active public school parent, former president, Albany City PTA*, NY

Sue Peters, Public school parent and co-editor, Seattle Education 2010

Bill Ring, TransParent®, Los Angeles, CA

Lisa Schiff, member, Parents for Public Schools of San Francisco*, columnist for BeyondChron, CA

Rita M. Solnet, President, CDS, Inc.; Director, Testing is Not Teaching, FL

Dora Taylor, Parent and co-editor of Seattle Education 2010, WA

Julie Woestehoff, Parents United for Responsible Education, Chicago, IL


*affiliation for identification purposes only

2 thoughts on “Regarding Education Nation

  1. Education Nation’s facebook page, where they delete posts they dont like and then ban, unban and ban again people who repeatedly try to point out the errors in the propaganda people are being feed by the panellists and sponsors of this sham….

    My dance with NBC over this fake ‘summit’…

    An alternative Miseducation Nation facebook page I co-administer:

    and my own feelings on this final surge to complete education deform implementation, which is what this manipulative extravaganza is about:

  2. Here is my email exchange with NBC about this:

    First, I sent a letter from PAA asking for parents and education scholars like Diane Ravitch to be included in the discussion that NBC is orchestrating — and not just CEOs, politicians and corporatizing ed-reformers. Here is the reply from NBC and my reply to that.

    Hi Sue,

    Thanks so much for reaching out to Education Nation-we appreciate your interest in the event and your commitment to bettering education. We fully understand the importance of the involvement and commitment of parents in improving our education systems. We are working hard to try to represent the parent voice at the summit, in particular we are hoping to foster a conversation around the topic on a panel, “The Parent and the Village: Fostering a learning culture in our communities”. In addition, we are hoping that many of the panelists will speak from the perspective of being parents themselves and sending their own kids through our education system. We hope you can tune in or stop by if you are in the New York area and check out the Learning Plaza, which will also feature more activities and information highlighting the importance of parents and communities in improving education. Once again, thank you for getting in touch with us. We appreciate your input. Please feel free to check out the press release below to see more topics of discussion at Education Nation!

    Caitlin Maloney
    NBC News Education Nation


    Panelists include Reed Hastings, Founder & CEO of Netflix; Michelle Rhee, Chancellor, District of Columbia Public School System of Washington, D.C.; Musician John Legend; Former US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings; and Randi Weingarten, President of American Federation of Teachers

    New York, NY – September 13 – NBC News’ “Education Nation” Summit, the Sept. 27-28 centerpiece of the weeklong “Education Nation” initiative that begins Sept. 26 at Rockefeller Plaza, will convene the foremost policymakers, elected officials, thought leaders, educators, members of the business community and engaged citizens in a national discussion about the challenges, potential solutions and innovations spanning today’s education landscape. NBC News today announced the agenda of panel topics for the Summit, along with a number of confirmed panelists.

    The Summit’s 11 panel sessions will present discussions on important topics in education such as: workforce readiness; developing great teachers; technology and innovation; parental involvement; early education; higher education; and the politics of education. The “Education Nation” sessions will be covered on MSNBC and streamed on live and for delayed viewing.

    “The state of education in America is facing a number of complex challenges. Many students are falling behind, dropping out and leaving school unprepared for today’s jobs in alarming numbers – yet a sense of urgency seems to be lacking,” said Steve Capus, President NBC News. “In order to spark and elevate a national dialogue we have convened an impressive ‘Education Nation’ lineup representing a great diversity of interests and ideas.”

    “The response we’ve received from leaders in education has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Lisa Gersh, President of Strategic Initiatives at NBC News. “The experts we have convened at ‘Education Nation’ will highlight some of the biggest challenges and opportunities in education in this country, jumpstarting a national conversation about one of the most pressing issues of our time.”

    To date, confirmed participating speakers include:

    * Maria Bartiromo: Anchor of CNBC’s “Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo” and Anchor and Managing Editor of “Wall Street Journal Report with Maria Bartiromo”
    * Michael Bloomberg: Mayor, City of New York
    * Cory Booker: Mayor, City of Newark, New Jersey
    * Phil Bredesen: Governor, State of Tennessee
    * Steven Brill: Co-founder of Journalism Online
    * Tom Brokaw: NBC News Special Correspondent
    * Geoffrey Canada: CEO & President of Harlem Children’s Zone Project
    * David Coleman: Founder & CEO, Student Achievement Partners; Contributing Author of the Common Core Standards
    * Ann Curry: News Anchor, “Today” and Anchor, “Dateline NBC”
    * Arne Duncan: US Secretary of Education
    * Byron Garrett: CEO of the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
    * Allan Golston, President, US Program, The Gates Foundation
    * Jennifer M. Granholm: Governor, State of Michigan
    * David Gregory: Moderator, “Meet the Press”
    * Reed Hastings: Founder & CEO of Netflix
    * Lester Holt: Anchor, “NBC Nightly News,” Weekend Edition and Co-Host, “Today” Weekend Edition
    * Walter Isaacson: President & CEO of the Aspen Institute
    * Joel Klein: Chancellor of New York City Schools
    * Wendy Kopp: CEO and Founder of Teach for America
    * John Legend: Musician; Founder of the Show Me Campaign
    * Jack Markell: Governor, State of Delaware
    * Gregory McGinity: Managing Director of Policy, The Broad Education Foundation
    * Andrea Mitchell: NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent and Host, “Andrea Mitchell Reports”
    * Janet Murguia: President & CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR)
    * Michael Nutter: Mayor, City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    * Bill Pepicello, Ph.D.: President of University of Phoenix
    * Sally Ride: First Female Astronaut; Vice-chair of Change the Equation
    * Michelle Rhee: Chancellor, District of Columbia Public School System of Washington, D.C.
    * Edward Rust: Chairman & CEO of State Farm Insurance Companies
    * Gwen Samuel, CT delegate to Mom Congress
    * Barry Schuler: Former CEO of AOL
    * Sterling Speirn: CEO, Kellogg Foundation
    * Margaret Spellings: Former US Secretary of Education
    * Antonio Villaraigosa: Mayor, City of Los Angeles, California
    * Randi Weingarten: President of American Federation of Teachers (AFT-CLO)
    * Brian Williams: Anchor and Managing Editor “NBC Nightly News”

    Confirmed sessions at “Education Nation” include:
    * Job One: Preparing America’s students to compete in the global economy
    * The Innovation Gap: Bringing the technology revolution to the schoolhouse
    * Change Agents: How do we reinvent the status quo at all levels?
    * The Path to the American Dream: A survey on post-secondary education
    * Kids Can’t Vote: How can the politics of education put students first?
    * Educating the Digital Generation: What are the roles and responsibilities of media in learning?
    * Good Apples: How do we keep good teachers, throw out bad ones, and put a new shine on the profession?
    * A Fresh Start: Leveling the playing field before school begins
    * Shrinking the Achievement Gap: Is education the civil rights issue of our time?
    * Study Abroad: What can we learn from the global leaders in education?
    * The Parent and the Village: Fostering a learning culture in our communities
    NBC News’ “Education Nation” will launch Sunday, Sept. 26 on “Meet the Press.” Additional news coverage and programming airing across all NBC News programs and platforms will extend beyond the two-day Summit. For the entire week of September 27, “Nightly News,” “Today,” “Your Business,” MSNBC, CNBC, Telemundo, and will highlight educational success stories, uncover staggering truths and myths about education, and demonstrate how poor education cripples our economy and society.

    In addition to the Summit, NBC News will turn Rockefeller Plaza into a “Learning Plaza,” which will include a series of galleries open to the public to explore the latest technologies and techniques used in award-winning classrooms nationwide. Interactive elements of “Learning Plaza” include learning style quizzes, video teacher tributes, interactive learning stations, and a “Call to Action” center where visitors can discover ways to take part in improving education. Also open to the public will be an interactive “Teaching Garden,” which teaches children about the importance of good nutrition and physical fitness through hands-on participation.

    For more information visit, or follow on twitter @EducationNation or find “Education Nation” on Facebook at


    Dear Caitlin,

    Thanks for your reply.

    Yes, you absolutely need to include parents’ voices in this discussion. We are the ones whose children are on the receiving end of what passes for “ed reform,” we are the ones who are in the classrooms, in the public schools, and working with our kids at home in their homework — in other words, we are on the frontlines of public education and we need to be heard.

    The ed reform agenda is not coming from us. It’s not what we asked for, it’s not what we want.

    You wrote: ” In addition, we are hoping that many of the panelists will speak from the perspective of being parents themselves and sending their own kids through our education system.”

    This is all well and good but frankly, these are not average people you are featuring on this panel, with real, everyday lifestyles, incomes and circumstances. I’m not that interested in what Brian Williams or Andrea Mitchell have to say about parenting, nor Wendy Kopp of Teach for America, Inc.which is a multimillion dollar enterprise, by the way, or the CEO of Netflix. They probably send their kids to private schools anyway and they are in no way objective — many of them have vested financial interests in “ed reform.”

    You are not covering this story accurately or fully.

    Is NBC going to discuss the CREDO report by Stanford University that shows that 83 percent of charter schools do no better or do worse than regular public schools?

    Is NBC going to discuss the fact that “Teach for America, Inc. “teachers” only get 5 weeks of training and are only required to stay on the job for two years?

    Is NBC going to follow the money behind charter school enterprises all the way back to the hedge funds that are investing in them because of the New Markets Tax Credit they get?

    Investigate all of this and include it in your report and THEN you might have something balanced and complete and worth watching.

    At the very least, will you invite education historian Diane Ravitch to join your panel discussions? She was a member of both the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations in their Depts. of Education and eloquently and intelligently opposes “Race to the Top,” and “No Child Left Behind,” charter schools, merit pay and high stakes testing.


    Sue Peters
    Parents Across America
    Seattle Education 2010

    — sue p.

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