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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 http://www.kappanmagazine.org/content/92/1/9.full.pdf+html
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