Meet the Press kicks off NBC’s weeklong "Education Nation" series this Sunday, with an exclusive conversation with some of the nation’s most passionate educators -- all of whom have a connection to Washington.
The all-star lineup starts with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who led school reform efforts in Chicago schools before President Barack Obama tapped him for the national gig.
"Education is... the civil rights issue of our generation," he said during his confirmation hearings. "[It's] the only sure path out of poverty and the only way to achieve a more equal and just society."
Next up is D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who has ruffled more than a few feathers as she seeks to transform D.C. schools and whose own future is uncertain, considering mayoral candidate Vincent Gray's primary win.
Rhee is also cast in a heroic light in the education documentary “Waiting for Superman,” in which she saltily said, “You wake up every morning and you know that kids are getting a really crappy education right now.” (See it for yourself in a clip played during her interview with MSNBC.)
Another major face of school reform will also appear: Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the parent of the Washington Teachers' Union.
Rhee and Weingarten have locked horns in the past, most notably on the issue of teacher tenure, but they eventually reached a widely praised agreement last spring. Presumably, this improved their relationship, but don’t expect a lovefest on Meet the Press.
In March, before the agreement was reached, Newsweek reported this assessment of their relationship:
"You have two strong-willed and very smart and determined women with very different agendas," says Chester Finn Jr., a former assistant secretary of education and a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution. "It has an almost gladiatorial aspect to it."
Former D.C. City Administrator Robert Bobb will also appear on the program. Bobb is currently running the reform effort in Detroit Public Schools. He essentially lost his elected position as the head of the D.C. Board of Education when Mayor Adrian Fenty took control of the school system.
Bobb's name has been mentioned in early speculation about a replacement for Rhee, should she depart after the November election (or even earlier). Bobb still owns a house in Ward 4 and "has suggested he plans to move back to the District early next year," said NBC4's Tom Sherwood.
Drama, education, our children, our nation's future. Meet the Press airs Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on NBC4.
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