As promised, NBC held a press conference this afternoon to address educators’ concerns about an apparent lack of teacher representation in the networks upcoming Education Nation event, which kicks off this Sunday.
In general, the NBC executives who spoke at the presser—NBC News President Steve Capus and NBC President of Strategic Initiatives Lisa Gersh—suggested that reports of teachers being overlooked by event organizers have been exaggerated, or not fully informed. They stressed that, as part of Education Nation, the network wil be hosting a Teacher Town Hall on Sun., Sept. 26. This event will be aired live on MSNBC, educationnation.com, and msnbc.com, and teachers will also have the chance to participate in a live chat on educationnation.com. (You can register here for the live chat.) In an earlier reply to teacher Brian Crosby, an NBC official explained that the organizers decided on holding the Teacher Town Hall on a Sunday so that working teachers could watch it live and participate in the discussion.
At the actual Education Nation summit, which will be held Monday, Sept. 27 and Tuesday, Sept. 28, at NYC’s Rockefeller Center, 35 of the 275 attendees will be teachers, according to Gersh. When one reporter asked how NBC decided upon the teacher attendees, Gersh responded: “The teachers were solicited through both of the unions, through a variety of different groups, but, independent of the Dept. of Ed., Teachers of the Year were part of that solicitation as well.”
Not all of the 35 teachers will be panelists on one of the 12 Education Nation panels, however. Some will be there just as attendees.
Capus tried to sum up NBC’s position on Education Nation by saying that “NBC News [personnel] are not the experts in this place. ...the role of a news organization is to put a spotlight on these issues/challenges, and on the people who are doing incredibly strong work to try to affect change. The news division’s involvement begins and ends with that spotlight. We’re not coming at this from a policy angle.”
We also learned that Matt Lauer will be holding a half-hour, one-on-one interview with President Obama about educational issues during the Today Show on Monday, September 27. You can submit your questions for Pres. Obama here.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.