I had just recently returned from volunteering at school when I learned that I was invited by Parenting Magazine to attend NBC’s Education Nation as a Panelist on “Stepping Up: The Power of a Parent Advocate”. Click here to hear the discussion. I was effervescing over having the opportunity to share with millions, my passion to help improved quality education for all. I clarified to host, Natalie Morales, that:
- Parents are not just involved in schools by baking cookies today, but “We are breaking the cookie cutter mold” in our advocacy and are involved in decision making with the school.
- There are challenges hindering many from achieving the American Dream including zip code discrimination and poverty. One in every five children is impoverished. The lack of meals can impact students’ performance in math, language arts, behavior and attendance!
- The prevailing perception is that African-Americans are the
dominant recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) a.k.a. food stamps, however, statistics show in Kentucky that even though they experience higher unemployment that it’s the majoritarian culture that receives over 70% of the SNAP benefits.
- I also shared concern over the caliber of engagement afforded to parents and that, “We are often invited to the table only to find out that there is artificial fruit being served. We need real meat and a real voice.”
In my answer to an attendant’s question, I highlighted that recorded parent involvement hours and other pertinent information are included on school report cards while organizations like Great Schools report excellent information about test scores and allows comparisons to other schools.
It was great learning how our other panelists were helping to enact change: Phil Jackson, Peg Tyre, Ben Austin, Dennis Walcott, and Janet Barresi. It was wonderful seeing other Mom Congress (MC) Delegates from Alabama, New York, Pennsylvania, etc. as well as other advocates who work hard trying to navigate the system to ensure children receive the best possible chance for success! I would be remiss not to mention the Connecticut’s Delegate, Gwen Samuel, who represented MC last year at NBC’s premiere Education Nation Summit along with Sec. Duncan; Gene Wilhoit, Ex. Dir. Chief State School Officers & former Ed. Commissioner of Kentucky; American’s Promise Marguerite Kondracke, et. al. with televised segments with Byron Garrett, then PTA CEO, Russell Simmons, et. al.
The adrenalin flowed beyond the hands of time from that surge of advocacy, networking and excitement for promoting change in America. President Bill Clinton, Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan; Colin Powell, Founding Chairman of America’s Promise Alliance; NBA’s LeBron James; Warren Buffett, BH CEO; Knowledge Universe-whose Educational award I had received that year by Dr. Elanna Yalow; Melinda Gates sharing research on Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) while I serve on our state’s Teacher Effectiveness Steering Committee; Geoffrey Canada, President & CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone; Dennis Van Roekel, National Education Association (NEA) President; Cory Booker, Mayor in New Jersey; youth leaders- the list goes on!
Gil Scott Heron performed a song entitled, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, which exploited how the folks sitting at home watching TV, would miss out on the social revolution that was happening in the streets. Gil Scott sites, “You will not be able to ‘plug in’, ‘turn on’ and ‘drop out’… The revolution will not be brought to you by ‘Xerox’.” Yet, we were able to “plug in” to learn how some schools manipulated test scores and how we compared internationally in reading, math and science. Even though a few sponsors were found questionable by a few, some technology companies did help to sponsor Education Nation, which helped to make it possible for us to “turn it on.” Because of some of the information shared by many who participated, perhaps less students will “drop out”. As I became more infused with the power and the passion shared through NBC’s Education Nation, I refused to withhold energy or information that could leave people confused, because you see,“The Education Revolution Is Being Televised.”
I enjoyed meeting the President of NBC’s Strategic Initiative Group, Michael Chen, who manages Education Nation. I was honored when high school student leaders from Roadtrip Nation selected me to interview out of all of the distinguished panel! This organization had also taken students to the premiere Education Nation Summit in New York. They asked very insightful questions and they seemed to really listen. In my wrap up, I advised them to stay or become celibate until marriage, but at least through high school. So many bright students can become overly emotionally involved and become disinterested in school, discombobulated, depressed, suicidal, pregnant, infected with disease or more.
What a bright future we’ll have with young leaders like them on such a positive path to impacting education in America. I want to be like them when I grow up – but then, I have to be me to do what each of us must do, individually and collectively. As Dr. Seuss simply stated, “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”
- Education’s Nation Is Being Televised – Another Martin Variation
- Parenting Magazine Invites Martin as Education Nation Panelist
- Education Nation Day 2: Advocacy & Consulting
- Education Nation Day 1: Advocacy & Consulting
- Melinda Gates sharing MET
- NBA’s Lebron James on Education Nation
- The Roadtrip Nation -PBS
- Education Nation 1st Closing- Parents, Youth & Leaders- Duncan
- Education Nation 2010 Parents & the Village w Russell Simmons
- Moving Forward with Family Engagement