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Shining a Spotlight on Professional Learning

I was honored to be able to represent Learning Forward during the recent taping and broadcasting of NBC News' Education Nation. The experience was informative, interesting, and successful.

NBC and its guests demonstrated a genuine passion for education. Throughout the week, NBC hosted many of the "stars" of education, as well as political officials at the highest levels. At one time, four of our most recent secretaries of education - Richard Riley, Rod Paige, Margaret Spellings, and Arne Duncan -- were in the same room sharing the same stage. Later in the week the two presidential candidates would spend uninterrupted time talking about their views on the challenges facing education and their proposed solutions.

The network covered a wide variety of topics, and they offered supplementary materials online for those who wanted to go deeper into the subjects and resources.

Time and time again, we heard that the welfare of our country depends on how well we solve our education challenges. Education was cited as the civil rights, moral, economic, political, and social issue of our time.

Along with many of the other attendees, I was tweeting throughout the event, and while many were published during the week, the one that never made it to the airwaves was: "Education Nation week is nice - Education Nation year round is essential."

Concern regarding professional development surfaced in almost every story. Every successful program highlighted was grounded in a solid foundation that provided educators with the knowledge and skills fundamental to their success. From early discussions about the Chicago teacher strike to the closing conversations with the presidential candidates, there was recognition that all educators need professional development to meet the challenges of the current education system.

Among his most powerful statements to date, Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan called for more and better professional development for all educators so they have the knowledge and skills necessary to help all students achieve.

I was also delighted at the number of questions that related specifically to our issue - professional learning. It sent a powerful message to NBC that professional development requires attention - and it should have its own segment at next year's event. This is something I will work on all year, and I invite you to join me by calling for attention as well. Together we can move professional learning from the sidelines to platform!

Stephanie Hirsh
Executive Director, Learning Forward

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