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Education Nation 2013: Summit

<p>The fourth annual NBC News Education Nation Summit explored "What It Takes" for us as a nation to ensure students are successfully prepared for college, career and beyond.</p>
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The fourth annual NBC News Education Nation Summit, held October 6-8 at The New York Public Library, explored "What It Takes" for us as a nation to ensure students are successfully prepared for college, career and beyond. Leading experts and stakeholders – from parents and teachers, to policymakers and employers – delved into critical factors that impact students’ chances of success.

Education Nation kicked off with an Opening Ceremony, followed by the second annual Student Town Hall, the fourth annual Teacher Town Hall, and the first-ever Common Core Teacher Institute, which featured a series of workshops for teachers. Then, the Summit featured a series of panels exploring the different elements necessary to support student success, such as a great start, well-trained teachers, and safe schools. We also shone a spotlight on cutting-edge research and thought leadership in education through a series of "Master Class" presentations. Other sessions included one-on-one interviews, remarks, and a four-part Innovation Challenge, a competition pitting four education technology startup companies against one another for a $75,000 prize.

Opening Ceremony

The 2013 Education Nation Summit events kicked off with an Opening Ceremony emceed by WNBC 4 New York Anchor Shiba Russell.

Speakers included:

  • Dennis Walcott, Chancellor, New York City Department of Education
  • Tony Marx, President, The New York Public Library
  • Rehema Ellis, NBC News Chief Education Correspondent
  • Erica Hill, Co-Anchor, NBC News' Weekend TODAY

Local students and representatives from NBC News and NBC 4 New York were in attendance. NBC 4 New York Anchor Shiba Russell emceed the event.

Student Town Hall

Moderated by: Melissa Harris-Perry, Anchor, MSNBC's "Melissa Harris-Perry"

MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry moderates the second annual Student Town Hall in which students voice their ideas and concerns about their education. Topics include performance, the new Common Core State Standards, safety on campus, student mobilization, technology in the classroom, and more. Melissa was joined in the audience by NBC News' Mara Schiavocampo and MSNBC's Krystal Ball.

Teacher Town Hall

Moderated by: Tamron Hall, Anchor, MSNBC's "NewsNation"

The fourth annual Teacher Town Hall focuses on what it takes for teachers to be successful in today's school system. Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of "NBC Nightly News," was joined by NBC News' Chief Education Correspondent Rehema Ellis in leading this national conversation with America's teachers. MSNBC's Tamron Hall and NBC News' Jenna Bush Hager facilitated questions from the audience.

Teacher Town Hall: Part 1

Teacher Town Hall: Part 2

Summit Sessions

Keeping Up with the Competition, Part I - K-12

Setting the stage for the 2013 Education Nation Summit, American students from diverse backgrounds offer their perspectives on public schools in the U.S. and abroad. Education Nation examines the results of an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) pilot project that for the first time enables high schools in America to see how they stack up against the global competition.

Student Voices

Student Panelists:

  • Eboni Boykin, Columbia University, New York, NY
  • Eric Kvam, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
  • Kim Pate, Oklahoma Virtual High School, Sallisaw, OK
  • Ariana Rocha, Basis Tucson North, Tucson, AZ



  • Syrena Burnam, Science Teacher, North Star Academy, Newark, NJ
  • Dr. William Hite, Superintendent, School District of Philadelphia, PA
  • Amanda Ripley, Author, The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way and Investigative Journalist, TIME
  • Jon Schnur, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder America Achieves

What It Takes: Feedback – A Reality Check on Testing

Moderated by: Rehema Ellis, Chief Education Correspondent, NBC News

Sponsored by:The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

States are moving forward with implementing new assessments, but the education community remains divided on the value and role of high-stakes, standardized testing in public schools.


  • Paul Pastorek, Senior Advisor, The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)
  • Dr. Joshua P. Starr, Superintendent, Montgomery County Public Schools, MD
  • Dennis M. Walcott, Chancellor, New York City Department of Education
  • Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers

Master Class: Thirty Million Words Initiative

Presented by: Dr. Dana Suskind, Director, Thirty Million Words Initiative, University of Chicago, IL

Sponsored by: W.K. Kellogg Foundation

By the age of four, children from low-income families have heard 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers. This word gap is one of the key factors driving the achievement gap. Dr. Dana Suskind's groundbreaking research explores how new technology can track children's language development and provide meaningful feedback to parents.

Master Class: Opportunity, Meritocracy, and Access to Higher Education (click here for video)

Presented by: Caroline Hoxby, Scott and Donya Bommer Professor in Economics, Stanford University, CA

Professor Caroline Hoxby's research reveals that most high-achieving, low-income students do not apply to the nation's best colleges and are misinformed on the true cost and quality of education options. Her findings suggest that simple, low-cost steps can substantially increase the number of disadvantaged students who apply to and graduate from top colleges.

NBC News - Education Nation - Season 2013
NBC NEWS - EDUCATION NATION -- 2013 Education Nation Summit -- Pictured: (l-r) -- (Photo by: Ben Gabbe/NBC)NBC / Ben Gabbe/NBC

What It Takes: A Path to Higher Ed

Moderated by: Tamron Hall, Anchor, MSNBC's "NewsNation"

A postsecondary degree or credential is increasingly a prerequisite for jobs of the future and pathways to the middle class. Education Nation explores strategies to make college more accessible, affordable, and attainable for all American students.


  • David Coleman, President and CEO, The College Board
  • Caroline Hoxby, Scott and Donya Bommer Professor in Economics, Stanford University, CA
  • Tanisha Kwaaning, Teacher and OneGoal Program Director, Christian Fenger Academy High School, Chicago, IL
  • Dr. Daniel R. Porterfield, President, Franklin & Marshall College, PA

What It Takes: Personalized Learning

Moderated by: Andrew Ross Sorkin, Co-Anchor, CNBC's "Squawk Box"

Educators are using more technology and redesigning the classroom to offer individualized learning experiences for students. Education Nation explores what high-quality personalized learning can look like.


  • Jose Ferreira, CEO, Knewton
  • Joel Klein, CEO, Amplify
  • Joel Rose, Co-Founder and CEO, New Classrooms Innovation Partners
  • Diane Tavenner, Founder and CEO, Summit Public Schools, CA

What It Takes: Innovation – Lessons from Tech

Moderated by: Andrew Ross Sorkin, Co-Anchor, CNBC's "Squawk Box"

Sponsored by: Robin Hood

The world has changed dramatically in recent decades, impacting how we communicate, travel, work, and share information. And yet, the U.S. public education model remains largely the same. Education Nation hears from some of today's leading innovators from diverse fields about the power of disruption and transformation to help reimagine our education system. Where are we heading?

One-on-One Interview with Tim Armstrong, CEO, AOL, Inc



  • Ben Kaufman, CEO, Quirky
  • Jennie Magiera, Digital Learning Coordinator, Academy for Urban School Leadership, Chicago, IL
  • Deborah Quazzo, Founder and Managing Partner, GSV Advisors
  • Jessie Woolley-Wilson, President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board, DreamBox Learning

What It Takes: A Great Start

Moderated by: Maria Bartiromo, Anchor, CNBC's "Closing Bell" and "On the Money with Maria Bartiromo"

Sponsored by: W.K. Kellogg Foundation

New investments and innovative financing models are fueling the U.S. commitment to high-quality early childhood education. Education Nation explores these approaches and ways to ensure access for all.

One-on-One Interview with Honorable Jack Markell (D), Governor, State of Delaware


  • Harriet Dichter, Executive Director, Office of Early Learning, Delaware
  • Reka Keller, Team Leader, Jumpstart and Student, American University, Washington, D.C.
  • Andrea Phillips, Vice President, Urban Investment Group, Goldman Sachs
  • Brenda Van Gorder, Director of Preschool Services, Granite School District, Salt Lake City, UT

Value Your Education: A Conversation with the Class of 2020 on "What It Takes"

Moderated by: Rehema Ellis, Chief Education Correspondent, NBC News, with Jenna Bush Hager, Contributing Correspondent, NBC News' "TODAY"

Education Nation turns to the most important stakeholders in the conversation about "What It Takes:" students. In an interactive discussion with young people who hope to be members of the College Class of 2020 and others making their way through higher education now, we hear about their academic aspirations and concerns about achieving their goals.

Student Panelists:

  • David Boone, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
  • Chelesa Fearce, Spelman College, Atlanta, GA
  • Mario Marquez, Paradise Valley Community College, Phoenix, AZ

What It Takes: A Level Playing Field

Moderated by: Craig Melvin, Anchor, MSNBC and Correspondent, NBC News

Sponsored by: W.K. Kellogg Foundation

While some American students receive a world-class education, many minority students get left behind. President Obama has called education equality "the civil rights issue of our time." But can the idea drive education policy?


  • Dr. John E. Deasy, Superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District, CA
  • Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President, The Children's Defense Fund
  • Tony Marx, President, The New York Public Library
  • Sara Martinez Tucker, CEO, National Math + Science Initiative

What It Takes: Leadership - A Conversation with Governors

Moderated by: Andrea Mitchell, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, NBC News and Anchor, MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports"

Some of the most important education decisions – from funding to standards – are driven at the state level. Our bipartisan governors' roundtable explores what chief executives from across the country are doing, in their view, to improve schools.


  • Honorable Steve Beshear (D), Governor, State of Kentucky
  • Honorable Deval Patrick (D), Governor, State of Massachusetts
  • Honorable Mike Pence (R), Governor, State of Indiana

Master Class: An Examination of Future Teachers

Presented by: Dr. William Schmidt, University Distinguished Professor, Michigan State University

Dr. William Schmidt's latest research sheds light on the extent to which prospective mathematics teachers graduate from schools of education with the content knowledge and skills needed to be successful in the classroom.

What It Takes: Well-Trained Teachers

Moderated by: Rehema Ellis, Chief Education Correspondent, NBC News

Sponsored by: ExxonMobil

Amid concerns that too many teachers are unprepared for the classroom, Education Nation takes a hard look at our traditional schools of education. What must be done to strengthen the pipeline into the teaching profession?


  • Honorable Jack Markell (D), Governor, State of Delaware
  • Dr. Andre Perry, Founding Dean of Urban Education, Davenport University, MI
  • Dennis Van Roekel, President, National Education Association
  • Sarah Brown Wessling, Teacher, Johnston High School, Johnston, IA

Interview with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Interviewed by: Jose Diaz-Balart, Anchor, Telemundo's "Noticiero"

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has spearheaded far-reaching initiatives including Race to the Top, ESEA waivers, and a national teacher recruitment campaign. In this interview, Telemundo's José Díaz-Balart explores Secretary Duncan's priorities for the remaining years of the Obama Administration.

What It Takes: More Than High School - Disrupting Higher Ed

Moderated by: Chelsea Clinton, Special Correspondent, NBC News

Education Nation examines how the new technology platforms, delivery models, and credit systems of online programs change the higher education landscape.


  • Anant Agarwal, President, edX
  • Honorable Mitch Daniels, President, Purdue University, IN, Former Governor, State of Indiana
  • Dr. Paul J. LeBlanc, President, Southern New Hampshire University
  • Rob Wrubel, Chief Innovation Officer and Executive Vice President, Apollo Group, Inc.

What It Takes: Healthy Living

Moderated by: Erica Hill, Co-Anchor, NBC News' "Weekend TODAY"

Education Nation explores the importance of wellness, good nutrition, and regular physical activity as essential ingredients for academic and life success.


  • Debra Eschmeyer, Co-Founder and Vice President of External Affairs, FoodCorps
  • Allyson Felix, Olympic Gold Medalist
  • Dr. Irwin Redlener, President and Co-Founder, Children's Health Fund

Interview with Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil Rex Tillerson

Interviewed by: Tom Brokaw, Special Correspondent, NBC News

NBC News Special Correspondent Tom Brokaw sits down with Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO and Chair of the Business Roundtable's Education and Workforce Committee, for a discussion on the role of business in promoting education reform and excellence.

Interview with Co-Founders of Exploring the Arts Tony Bennett and Susan Benedetto

Interviewed by: Harry Smith, Correspondent, NBC News

Research indicates arts education is linked with academic achievement, social and emotional development, and critical thinking skills. However, confronted by shrinking budgets and increases in mandated testing, schools struggle to integrate the arts. NBC News Correspondent Harry Smith discusses the role of arts in education with Musician Tony Bennett and his wife Susan Benedetto, co-founders and board members of Exploring the Arts.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Address by: Michael Bloomberg, Former Mayor, New York, NY

Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg's leadership, the New York City school system has undergone fundamental changes. As he nears the end of his third and final term, Mayor Bloomberg addresses the Education Nation Summit on the initiatives he has championed over the last 12 years.

What It Takes: Keeping Up with the Competition, Part II - Our Workforce

Moderated by: Matt Lauer, Co-Anchor, NBC News' "TODAY"

Sponsored by: University of Phoenix

The Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) report, provides a groundbreaking snapshot of the skills and competencies of the adult workforce in 23 countries. In a global marketplace for jobs and talent, how do we grow the world's best-skilled and most innovative workforce?

One-on-One Interview with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan


  • Honorable John Engler, President, Business Roundtable and Former Governor, State of Michigan
  • Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Mary Isbister, President, GenMet Corporation and Vice Chair, U.S. Manufacturing Council

Master Class: Parenting for Brain Development and Prosperity

Presented by: Dr. Philip Fisher, Professor of Psychology, University of Oregon and Senior Fellow, Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

Dr. Philip Fisher's cutting-edge research reveals the power of positive interactions between children and caregivers to improve brain development. By helping children overcome toxic stress and promoting healthy brain function, these interactions can lay the groundwork for a strong future.

What It Takes: Active Parenting

Moderated by: Natalie Morales, News Anchor and Co-Host, NBC News' "TODAY"'

Sponsored by: Pearson

With the onset of fundamental changes to our education system, parents need help preparing to serve as their children's first teachers and primary advocates. While districts and schools largely support family engagement, many struggle with how best to execute engagement programs and sustain initiatives over time.


  • Michele Brooks, Assistant Superintendent of Family and Student Engagement, Boston Public Schools, MA
  • Jonah Edelman, Co-Founder and CEO, Stand for Children
  • Anne T. Henderson, Author, Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships and Senior Consultant, Annenberg Institute for School Reform; Jay Jefferson, President, G.W. Carver Elementary PTA, Coral Gables, FL

Announcement: NBC News Parent Toolkit

Moderated by: Natalie Morales, News Anchor and Co-Host, NBC News' "TODAY"

Sponsored by: Pearson

NBC News announces the launch of an easy-to-use digital toolkit for parents to support their children's academic success and personal growth.


  • Natalie Morales, News Anchor and Co-Host, NBC News' "TODAY"
  • Deborah Turness, President, NBC News; John Fallon, Global CEO, Pearson
  • Jay Jefferson, President, G.W. Carver Elementary PTA, Coral Gables, FL

What It Takes: Safe Schools

Moderated by: Hoda Kotb, Co-Host, NBC News' "TODAY"

Bullying, harassment, and violence can hinder students' academic success. Schools across the country are experimenting with innovative ways to teach social and emotional skills, inspire empathy, and support student safety.


  • Dr. Pamela Cantor, Founder, President and CEO, Turnaround for Children, Inc.
  • Dr. Meria Joel Carstarphen, Superintendent, Austin Independent School District, TX
  • Dr. Peter DeWitt, Principal, Poestenkill Elementary School, Poestenkill, NY
  • Goldie Hawn, Academy Award-Winning Actress and Founder, The Hawn Foundation

Interview with Former Governor Jeb Bush

Through his role as Chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush champions college and career readiness, digital learning, school choice and improving literacy. In this interview with "NBC Nightly News" Anchor and Managing Editor Brian Williams, Bush discusses "What It Takes" to develop a comprehensive, bipartisan agenda for improving education.

Interview with Medal of Honor Recipients Staff Sergeant Ty Michael Carter and Colonel Jack H. Jacobs

Interviewed by: Brian Williams, Anchor, "NBC Nightly News"

The Congressional Medal of Honor is this nation's highest award for acts of wartime valor. The Medal of Honor Foundation's character development program incorporates the ideals of the medal into middle and high school curricula, with the goal of promoting responsible citizenship. "NBC Nightly News" Anchor and Managing Editor Brian Williams talks with Medal of Honor Recipients Staff Sergeant Ty Michael Carter and Colonel Jack H. Jacobs.

What It Takes: All of Us

Moderated by: Kate Snow, National Correspondent, NBC News

While some students find the support, guidance, and care they need within their immediate families, others must look elsewhere – to mentors, coaches, teachers, community leaders, and others. Caring adults and community programs can provide the consistency, encouragement, and accountability that students need to succeed.


  • Melody Barnes, Chair, Aspen Institute's Forum for Community Solutions and CEO, Melody Barnes Solutions, LLC; Honorable Svante Myrick, Mayor, City of Ithaca, NY
  • Evelyne Santiago, City Year Team Leader, Belmont High School, Los Angeles, CA
  • David Shapiro, President and CEO, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership

What It Takes: Great Schools

Moderated by: Harry Smith, Correspondent, NBC News

Across the country there are amazing stories of high-achieving schools in different communities. We talk to two authors whose recent work focuses on what makes schools great.


  • M. Night Shyamalan, Screenwriter, Director, Producer, Founder, M. Night Shyamalan Foundation and Author, I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America's Education Gap
  • Alison Stewart, Journalist and Author, First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America's First Black Public High School

What It Takes: Great Districts

Moderated by: Chris Jansing, Anchor, MSNBC's "Jansing & Co." and Correspondent, NBC News

Debates have raged in recent years over the best way to improve school districts–with some arguing for competition and choice to drive improvement and others for more investment in traditional public schools. Two experts on school reform share their differing views on "What It Takes" to put urban schools on the path to success.


  • David Kirp, James D. Marver Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley and Author, Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for America's Schools
  • Grover "Russ" Whitehurst, Director, The Brown Center on Education Policy, The Brookings Institution

What It Takes: Reporting the Story

Moderated by: Chelsea Clinton, Special Correspondent, NBC News

Over the 2013 Summit, Education Nation examined "What It Takes" for students to succeed. The fourth annual Summit closes with leading education journalists discussing their perspectives and experiences covering this critical story.


  • Rehema Ellis, Chief Education Correspondent, NBC News
  • John Merrow, Education Correspondent, PBS NewsHour
  • Andrew Rotherham, Executive Editor, Real Clear Education and Author,
  • Jane Williams, Host and Executive Producer, Bloomberg EDU

Closing Remarks

Rehema Ellis, NBC News Chief Education Correspondent and Summit Host Erica Hill, NBC News "Weekend TODAY" Co-Host, close out the 2013 Education Nation Summit.

Innovation Challenge

Moderated by: Julia Boorstin, CNBC Media and Entertainment Reporter

The third annual Innovation Challenge spotlights early-stage Ed Tech entrepreneurs. Three teams are tested through a series of competitions with teachers, students, and business leaders, culminating in a pitch contest live on the Summit stage. This year's winner, Code HS, walked away with a $75,000 prize awarded by Robin Hood.

Meet the Teams




Summit Sponsors

The Education Nation 2013 Summit has been made possible through the generous support of our sponsors and partners. We would like to thank the following organizations:

Lead Sponsors


As the world's largest publicly traded international oil and natural gas company, ExxonMobil is focused on providing energy that helps underpin growing economies and improve living standards. Globally, ExxonMobil provides funding to improve education, promote women as catalysts for development and combat malaria in developing countries


Pearson partners with educators in more than 70 countries to help people make progress in their lives through learning. Drawing on our deep experience, innovative technologies and world-class research, our educational products and services tackle the toughest challenges to improve achievement and expand access for learners of every age.

University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help working adults move efficiently from education to careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant and engaging courses, and interactive learning can help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to ensure that all students graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college and careers and increase significantly the number of young people who complete a degree beyond high school with real value in the workplace

Supporting Sponsors

American Federation of Teachers

The American Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities.

The Bezos Family Foundation

The Bezos Family Foundation supports rigorous, inspired learning environments for young people, from birth through high school, to put their education into action. Through investments in research, public awareness, advocacy and programs, the foundation works to elevate the field of education and improve life outcomes for all children.

The College Board

The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization committed to expanding access to opportunity for students. Founded in 1900, the membership association is made up of more than 6,000 of the world’s leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education.

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits in health, education and human service, and a range of place-based initiatives. Since 2008, when the Trust began its active grant making, it has committed more than $900 million to a wide range of charitable organizations.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been making grants since 1967 to help solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, the environment, global development and population, performing arts, and philanthropy, and makes grants to support disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. A full list of all the Hewlett Foundation’s grants can be found here.

Robin Hood

Since 1988 Robin Hood has focused on finding, funding, and creating programs and schools that generate meaningful results for families in New York's poorest neighborhoods. Over its 25 year history, Robin Hood has distributed more than $1.25 billion to hundreds of the best New York City-based schools, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, job training programs, and other vital services.

Knowledge Partners

America’s Promise Alliance

America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s largest partnership organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth by raising awareness, supporting communities, and engaging in nonpartisan advocacy. Through our Grad Nation campaign, we harness the collective power of our partner network to mobilize Americans to end the high school dropout crisis and prepare young people for college and the 21st century workforce.

NBC Learn

NBC Learn is the education arm of NBC News. We believe in the power of stories to engage 21st century learners and offer a new way to inspire students and empower teachers in and out of the classroom.