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Notes from Education Nation: Final Thoughts


Now that the dust from the whirlwind of NBC’s Education Nation has settled, I thought about what was really accomplished at the summit. It was fascinating to sit in on discussions by the country’s biggest education names, and inspiring that pretty much everyone there appreciated the urgency and enormity of education reform. But what got done? (Not that I expected the education crisis to be solved in a three-day conference, of course!)

Inspiration happened, for certain. I definitely left each talk sure that others too were inspired enough that they would continue thinking on what part they could play in reform. Even I feverishly typed out two lengthy blog posts the night I got home, hoping to convey to all of you what I learned so you too might be inspired.

Is that enough? It’s a good start. But I did not walk away feeling like anything would be different – yet – and I dearly hope I’m not reporting from the 2011 summit on exactly what I reported to you in this past week.

I look at the education reform like this: A train, careening out of control, with no engineer, and conductors squabbling over how to stop it, each positively convinced they have the right solution. But in order to stop the train, you have to pull a series of levers all together to make it work. The questions are, What combination of levers do we pull? How can we work together to arrive at the solution? But remember: the train’s already lost control, so, I also ask: How fast can we make the solution happen?

I think the whole summit and the state of education reform today were summed up best by the president of NBC News in his closing remarks. He quoted the song “For What it’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield:

There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear

Hopefully, we won’t have to wait long to see what that is.