America must find ways for teaching innovation to spread across the country, an education reform advocate said Sunday.
"We're in a crisis," said Geoffrey Canada, president and chief executive officer for Harlem Children's Zone.
Canada was part of a panel convened on a special msnbc TV show to discuss "Waiting for Superman," a documentary directed by Davis Guggenheim.
Guggenheim, who also directed "An Inconvenient Truth," discussed education progress with hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski in a one-hour live broadcast. The show was part of NBC News' "Education Nation."
"How do we let every kid win?" asked Guggenheim, whose film focuses on public school system erosion and spotlights Canada's success at Harlem Children's Zone.
"The answer is we need great public education for all our schools," Canada said. "We've seen innovation spread."
Panelist Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, disagreed with the film's depiction of unions as a barrier to progress and innovation.
"We all care passionately about children," she added.
However, Scarborough said the union stands in the way of firing bad teachers.
"No one wants lousy teachers," Weingarten said. Critics focus on failure rather than success, she added.
Teachers are fighting to help kids get what they need and to participate in developing standards on what constitutes a good teacher so evaluation processes can be clear, she said.