On Sunday night, NBC's Education Nation, a traveling summit about innovations in education, will host a Teacher Town Hall in Denver. Moderated by NBC education reporter Rehema Ellis, the teacher-only event will feature a rotating panel of nine local educators picked for their expertise on topics such as school funding, blended learning and the achievement gap between Latino students and non-Latino students. The town hall will be broadcast live from 6 to 8 p.m.
"We need, as a country, to focus on education," says Education Nation general manager Soraya Gage. "All of the research and knowledge points to the fact that if we're not educated, we won't have a strong economy."
Education Nation started as a summit in New York City in September 2010. According to NBC, "Rockefeller Plaza was transformed into a public-facing 'Learning Plaza,' a series of interactive galleries meant to engage, inform, and inspire our visitors." That was coupled with a week of in-depth reporting on education issues by NBC News. Last year, NBC added a road tour because, Gage says, "we realized that education is a local and a regional issue, in addition to a national issue." The 2011 tour stopped in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. Each stop included a Teacher Town Hall.
Denver is the first stop on this year's tour. (Next up: Atlanta, and then Miami.) Why Denver? "Where we want to go is where really exciting things are happening in education, and Denver popped up right away," Gage says. She noted our fair city's commitment to what's called P-20 education -- or, as Mayor Michael Hancock often says, "cradle to career" -- as well as Denver's successful charter school movement.
Three hundred and fifty teachers from around the state will be in the audience at Sunday's Teacher Town Hall, which will be held at the brand new (and not yet open to the public) History Colorado Center. Teachers, and regular folks, not in the audience can participate via webcast on the Education Nation website, or watch on Channel 20. In addition to the topics mentioned above, the panelists will address the issues of technology in rural schools, the advent of so-called innovation schools and other topics, Gage says.
"We've shifted the focus more toward solutions, she says. "The idea is that we know there is no silver bullet ... but there are lots of things that are working, so we'd like to ... give those initiatives a megaphone so we can learn from them and share them."
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Education Nation will be in Denver until April 20. Other events include a panel on Monday, April 16 at 12:30 p.m. at History Colorado called "Job One: Preparing America To Compete In The 21st Century," a conversation about workforce readiness at which Governor John Hickenlooper, University of Colorado president Bruce Benson and Colorado Rockies owner Richard Monfort are scheduled to speak.
In addition, History Colorado is offering behind-the-scenes tours of the new museum to ten families, in collaboration with Education Nation. The tours will take place April 19 from 4:30 to 6 p.m.; families must enter to win by April 16 at midnight.
More from our Education archive: "Theron and Teague Harrison, top high school debaters, headed to nationals -- again."