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NBC Hosting Education Summit: Can we stop bashing education? | Ecology of Education

NBC Hosting Education Summit: Can we stop bashing education?

NBC News is convening an education summit in September.  “The two-day ‘Education Nation’ event in New York will be carried online, and is part of a week of programming concentrating on education issues on NBC News broadcasts such as “Today” and “Nightly News,” and the MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo TV networks,” according to the AP story.

It is great that such a powerful media giant as NBC pays attention to education. Given the reach of NBC, this can be a very big deal for education. What will be said during this summit and on NBC’s various programs could have tremendous impact on the public’s view of education.  This is a timely event as American education is at a critical moment as the nation moves toward more centralization, standardization, and testing.

I hope NBC will use this event to help shift the national discussion about education to the right direction by discontinuing the tradition of bashing American education at summits like this. Don’t just get a group of politicians, business leaders, or academics to say how bad American education is. We have heard the message many times for over half a century. Since the 1950s, American education has been proclaimed to be worse than others’: from the Soviet Union to Japan, to Singapore, and now China and India.

Instead, I hope NBC would attempt to answer the question: if American education has been so bad for over half a century as some would make us believe, how come the U.S. remains the most innovative and competitive nation and its education system is being emulated by countries around the world, especially the ones some fear would outcompete the US such as China?

Furthermore, I hope NBC would focus on the issues truly critical to American education such as the increased power and expanded authority of the federal government in education, national standards, and test-driven accountability. The media have been dominated by supporters of more standards, more centralization, and more testing, while voices of an alternative view are rarely heard on mainstream media.

In essence, what I would like to see NBC do with this great opportunity is to stimulate a national conversation about what kind of education America needs, instead of simply endorsing what is politically popular at this moment. As I wrote in my recent book, Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization:

American education is at a crossroads. There are two paths in front of us: one in which we destroy our strengths in order to “catch up” with others in test scores and one in which we build on our strengths so we can keep the lead in innovation and creativity. The current push for more standardization, centralization, high-stakes testing, and test-based accountability is rushing us down the first path while what will truly keep America strong and Americans prosperous should be the latter, the one that cherishes individual talents, cultivates creativity, celebrates diversity, and inspires curiosity. As we enter a new world rapidly changed by globalization and technology, instead of instilling fear in the public about the rise of other countries, bureaucratizing education with bean-counting policies, demoralizing educators through dubious accountability measures, homogenizing school curriculum, and turning children into test-takers, we should work on informing the public about possibilities brought about by globalization, encouraging education innovations, inspiring educators with genuine support, diversifying and decentralizing curriculum, and educating children as confident, unique, and well-rounded human beings. (p. 198)

(This post was originally published on Yong Zhao’s education blog.)

Image: Signe Wilkinson on Joanne Jacobs’ site

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Author:Yong Zhao

Yong Zhao is University Distinguished Professor at the College of Education, Michigan State University, where he also serves as the founding director of the Center for Teaching and Technology, executive director of the Confucius Institute, as well as the US-China Center for Research on Educational Excellence. He is a fellow of the International Academy for Education. His research interests include computer gaming and education, diffusion of innovations, teacher adoption of technology, computer-assisted language learning, and globalization and education.
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  • http://twitter.com/jasonflom/status/24419786048 Jason Flom

    Yong Zhao's (@yzhaomsu) request for NBC's Education Summit: Can we stop bashing education? http://bit.ly/bxIiTv #edreform #edchat #lrnchat

  • http://twitter.com/tomwhitby/status/24420231549 Tom Whitby

    RT @JasonFlom: Yong Zhao's (@yzhaomsu) request for NBC's Education Summit: Can we stop bashing education? http://bit.ly/bxIiTv #edreform

  • Carolyn Foote

    Many of us don’t see any teachers on the panel. (I noticed after Edutopia pointed it out) If the conversation is ever going to change, we need to be respected as leaders in our own profession. Would there be a national conversation about lawyers without lawyers involved?

    It’s very disappointing.

  • http://twitter.com/prestwickhouse/status/24423553566 Prestwick House

    NBC Hosting Education Summit: Can we stop bashing education? http://bit.ly/aOQDv0 via @jasonflom

  • http://twitter.com/coopmike48/status/24431914517 Coopmike48

    RT @leoniehaimson: NBC Hosting Education Summit: Can we stop bashing education? | by Yong Zhao: http://bit.ly/aSbCYv via @addthis

  • http://twitter.com/dianeravitch/status/24440006834 Diane Ravitch

    RT @leoniehaimson: NBC Hosting Education Summit: Can we stop bashing education? | by Yong Zhao: http://bit.ly/aSbCYv via @addthis

  • http://twitter.com/dianeravitch/status/24440006834 Diane Ravitch

    RT @leoniehaimson: NBC Hosting Education Summit: Can we stop bashing education? | by Yong Zhao: http://bit.ly/aSbCYv via @addthis

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the heads-up about the Edutopia posting, Carolyn. What an incredible line-up of non-teachers. A musician, but not a teacher. Unconscionable.

    I guess they could not find a teacher who was willing to stick to the The Billionaire’s Club’s Guide to Ed Reform talking points.

  • http://twitter.com/drmmtatom/status/24472378093 Monte Tatom

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  • http://twitter.com/drmmtatom/status/24472378093 Monte Tatom

    NBC Hosting Education Summit: Can we stop bashing education? #fhuedu610 http://tinyurl.com/37scevf

  • http://twitter.com/stevejmoore/status/24568433326 Steve J. Moore

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  • http://twitter.com/web20classroom/status/24568816060 Steven W. Anderson

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  • http://twitter.com/andreazellner/status/24568942476 Andrea Zellner

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  • http://twitter.com/andreazellner/status/24568942476 Andrea Zellner

    RT @stevejmoore: Yong Zhao on NBC's upcoming Education Summit http://bit.ly/bHzXcv via @JasonFlom

  • http://twitter.com/tgwynn/status/24570132849 Timothy Gwynn

    Can We Stop Bashing Education? http://bit.ly/a90UuB Will @educationnation use it's power for good or evil? (via @jasonflom)

  • http://twitter.com/tgwynn/status/24570132849 Timothy Gwynn

    Can We Stop Bashing Education? http://bit.ly/a90UuB Will @educationnation use it's power for good or evil? (via @jasonflom)

  • http://twitter.com/jennar/status/24573664340 Jenna Ream

    Important RT @stevejmoore: Yong Zhao on NBC's upcoming Education Summit http://bit.ly/bHzXcv via @JasonFlom #ecosys

  • http://twitter.com/web20classroom/status/24610097221 Steven W. Anderson

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  • http://twitter.com/buffyjhamilton/status/24610235179 Buffy Hamilton

    RT @web20classroom: NBC Hosting Education Summit: Can we stop bashing education? | Ecology of Education http://bit.ly/dBqyJ9

  • http://twitter.com/spedteacher/status/24706960114 Deven Black

    NBC Hosting Education Summit: Can we stop bashing education? – http://b2l.me/arppxr (via @Eco_of_Ed)

  • http://twitter.com/creativesage/status/24707209478 Cathryn Hrudicka

    RT @spedteacher: NBC Hosting Education Summit: Can we stop bashing education? – http://b2l.me/arppxr (via @Eco_of_Ed) #edchat #artsed

  • David Roknich

    Occasionally, we are lucky to see an individual teacher try to awaken the love of learning, and stimulate the natural curiosity of students, but it is the exception rather than the rule, and flies in the face of today’s policy trends.

    It would be nice to see some creative teachers on the panel.
    Would you expect this to happen?

    The is NBC summit yet another example of a “manipulated town hall” that is used by established authorities to promulgate their brainwash rather than solicit the expertise available within the community. It doesn’t only happen among teachers: it is a political phenomenon.

    btw – one of your links above is now dead -
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38307426
    your link to “the AP story” has had it’s text removed -
    although the peacock colors remain.

    I just checked a minute ago

    also, thanks for removing my previous comment: the first sentence got mangled somehow -:)

    David Roknich,
    Galesburg Illinois
    http://green.blogspot.com

  • Valerie Pientka

    Thank you for your comments Dr. Zhao. I have to tell you, as a 35 year teaching veteran, I am humbled by your support, which during these times is critical for those of us in the trenches to keep doing our absolute best within the constraints imposed upon us. Please continue to use your well respected voice on behalf of the profession and the future of our children.

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