NBC has organized a one-sided series called "Education Nation", including panelists promoting the narrow agenda of the program's co-sponsors, the Gates and Broad Foundations. This rigid and punitive agenda is based on more high-stakes testing and privatization. Parents Across America demand that NBC provide more balanced news coverage, by airing segments in the near future that will include the voices of real public school parents, who can speak about the real solutions we know will strengthen and improve our children's schools.
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When Secretary. Duncan made a similar statement about New Orleans schools benefiting from Hurricane Katrina, he was roundly and justifiably criticized. Hurricane Katrina killed thousands of people, and destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives. Since then, the poorest and neediest students have been increasingly concentrated in the the city's public schools, while the charter schools are attracting the highest achieving and wealthiest students. This two-tier educational system is a pattern we have seen replicated in NYC, Chicago and elsewhere.
NBC has disinvited prominent experts from its panels who disagree with these policies, including Diane Ravitch and Yong Zhao of Michigan State, invited few if any public school parents, and given up any pretense of providing a fair and balanced presentation of views.
Instead, the vast majority of panelists receive funding from the Gates and Broad Foundations, Education Nation’s co-sponsors, and are willing to toe their narrowly prescriptive party line. You have also invited the president of the University of Phoenix to participate, the nation’s largest for-profit online chain and yet another co-sponsor, although this institution has been widely criticized for fraudulent practices. As the independent Poynter Institute commented, “it looks like the University of Phoenix bought access” onto your show which “undermines the credibility of the project.” It is clear that for NBC, money talks.
We urge you to immediately widen the scope of your programming to provide a more responsible, accurate, and balanced presentation of views, including airing a new set of shows that will include actual public school parents and critics of these policies, so they can offer their perspective on positive, research-based reforms, including smaller classes, parental involvement in decision-making, more teaching and less testing, equitable funding, and a well-rounded and rich curriculum. We believe that on behalf of all public school students, the voices of their parents must be included in the national education debate.