Reflections from Education Nation

Since last Friday,  NBC News hosted a national discussion that explored developments, challenges, and progress in education, as well as identify and explore new, exciting opportunities to reinvent America as an Education Nation. Yesterday we shared Itai Dinour’s reflections from Education Nation. Today, East New York Program Manager Dan Lee is our guest blogger and is sharing his experience at Education Nation.

Last week the Education Nation Experience was open at Rockefeller Center for visitors to learn more about education in America

I had the opportunity to attend the NBC News, Education Nation Summit this past Monday. It was great to hear from so many advocates of public education sharing the specific improvements that can be made to further support teachers, parents, and communities.  From star athletes (Lebron James) to CEOs (Warren Buffett) to teachers to scientists to governors, they all care about the quality of education now and for the future.

The state of education in this nation is an issue for all Americans and there are many reasons why.  Many believe that education is the civil rights issue of this generation and that education reform is crucial to prepare America to compete in the global economy.  Whatever your opinion is, it’s hard to disagree that more needs to be done. Below are a few of the thoughts that I am taking away from my day at Education Nation.

  1. College and workforce readiness starts with early education: Every year more students are entering college or the workforce less prepared.  Early education is important and without a strong start, students begin school at a huge disadvantage. Our mission at City Year is to help end the high school dropout crisis, and our work in elementary and middle schools is preparing students to be on track by the time they reach high school.
  2. Students who are behind need extra help: Melinda Gates mentioned her work at MET Project (Measures of Effective Teaching) which has confirmed that students benefit greatly from one-on-one specialized interventions, “Boy do we need that,” she said. City Year focuses on running scientifically-based intervention programs in literacy and we have also seen evidence that this is effective. Last year, 90% of 3rd through 5th grade students tutored by City Year, across the country, improved raw literacy scores. Boy do we do that.
  3. It takes a village:  “School systems cannot do it by themselves; when the community comes together that is when the magic happens,” said U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.  In my role as a Program Manager at City Year New York, I get to see this first hand. When I see students, teachers, administrators, parents, and community based organizations work together it’s a beautiful thing.

One of City Year’s values that seemed ever present at the Summit was, “Students first, collaboration always.” I appreciated being part of such an idealistic approach to spreading knowledge about and around education issues all over America. But, speaking about education isn’t enough; I’ll be looking forward to see what changes for the better are made in the next few years.

Additional note:  My experience at City Year has been a very local and New York-focused.  I had the opportunity to speak with attendees from all across the country who knew all about City Year and our impact.  Many were surprised to find out that I was from New York, and not from their local City Year site -shout out to CYLA; you got quite a few fans out there.

Sessions that I attended:

  • Education Nation Spotlight
  • Brain Power:  Why Early Learning Matters
  • Innovation Spotlight:  Sal Khan | Khan Academy
  • Classrooms in Action:  A Window on Great Teaching
  • Classroom 2025:  The Changing Face of Education
  • The State of Education:  The Governors’ Perspective
  • Innovation Spotlight:  John Hunter | World Peace Game
  • Who’s Getting Graded:  Putting Accountability to the Test
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