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Mis-Education Nation: Why Were Student Voices Silenced at NBC's Town Hall? | Education on GOOD


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When an event is advertised as a student town hall you expect that the people driving the conversation will be, well, students. Last week I had the privilege of speaking at NBC’s Education Nation Student Town Hall hosted by Melissa Harris-Perry. While I was initially thrilled that NBC wanted to involve students in the discussion, my optimism quickly soured.

Half of the "student" town hall was dedicated not to hearing what students had to say, but to venting by various adult journalists and politicians on the challenges affecting education. During the panel discussion portion, students in the audience who wanted to ask questions weren't allowed. Only pre-screened questions were permitted.

The minimal exposure students were given was an insult to our generation. What this boils down to is one simple axiom: NBC does not trust students. They put on a sham "student" town hall and—aside from two panels—students were left out.

The lack of students is emblematic of a larger problem of NBC not including experts with diverse viewpoints on what's happening in education. With sponsors like the University of Phoenix, ExxonMobil, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, it seems that NBC kowtowed to their corporate backers in their speaker choices. The lineup of speakers tilted heavily toward folks who espouse the corporate education reform dogma of bashing teachers, squeezing profits out of schools, and turning a blind eye toward students. If you disagree, where were progressive, social justice-oriented experts like Diane Ravitch, Howard Gardner, and Linda Darling-Hammond?"

Basically describes education reform movement today. No students, parents, or teachers allowed.

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