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Take a good look at the city of Houston in Texas – it epitomizes the social and political changes happening in the United States today. Houston, known as the Bayou City, has undergone a demographic shift in recent years and, according to the 2019 Kinder Houston Area Survey, is “rapidly becoming a microcosm of all the world’s ethnicities and religions.” Greater Houston is now the most ethnically diverse metropolitan area in the United States, with at least 145 languages spoken by city residents. It’s touted by some as a great place for immigrants to make real their own American Dream.
This demographic shift is evident in Houston’s student population, who reflect the variety of communities that make up the vibrant city. While the diverse population has benefits, it has also created some unique challenges in educating Houston students -- including immigrant students and English Language Learners. And the influx of immigrants are generally highly skilled college graduates or poorly educated manual laborers – a split that threatens a class divide not only in Houston, but across the country. Indeed, Houston is also the most income-segregated of the 10 largest cities in the U.S.
In addition, the poverty rate is on the rise in Harris County’s population, which includes Houston, creating challenges for schools and students. At the same time, some schools are struggling to meet the needs of students. Out of the 900,000 students in Harris County, one-third are in schools rated C, D and F. And when Hurricane Harvey hit in August 2017, it not only devastated school buildings and homes, but has left lasting trauma for students and educators alike. In a city like Houston, what does it mean to fully support and educate all students? And how can we apply the latest research around brain development and how students learn best to the schools?
NBC News Learn, the education division of NBC News, is headed to Houston on September 24 to answer these questions. “NBC News Learn Presents: Education Now” will be a two-hour live discussion on these vital education issues impacting students in the Houston area, Texas, and across the country.
NBC News Learn will convene school administrators, teachers, parents, students, thought leaders, policymakers and community members for an engaging discussion around these challenges and potential solutions impacting Houston students. The event, produced in partnership with NBC’s Houston affiliate KPRC and supported by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, will cover the impact of Hurricane Harvey, the role of technology and data in the classroom, the potential state takeover of Houston ISD, and efforts to improve outcomes for all students.
“NBC News Learn Presents: Education Now” will take place on Tuesday, September 24th at 4-6 pm CT at the University of Houston-Downtown. The forum will be moderated by NBC News Chief Education Correspondent Rehema Ellis with KPRC Anchor Christine Noël, and will consist of engaging panel discussions with school leaders, administrators, experts, community leaders making a difference, and live audience Q&A. The entire broadcast will be live streamed here on NBCNews.com, with the first hour broadcast live on KPRC. While the event will take place in Houston, it will touch on national issues that are relevant to families around the country, and they can watch the live stream and engage on social media.