A Spotlight on Teaching

January 12, 2011

MSU joins national broadcast for “Education nation” with Secretary of  Education

Michigan State University students interested in becoming teachers participated in a nationally televised conversation about the teaching profession with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Sept. 27, 2010.

MSU was one of only four institutions across the country, including Arizona State University, Howard University and Miami Dade College, asked to join the MSNBC broadcast live from their campuses. The one-hour special on teaching was part of Education Nation, a weeklong NBC News event featuring in-depth coverage on improving education in America.

“We are pleased the Department of Education and NBC News recognize Michigan State University as a leader when it comes to preparing teachers ready to meet the challenges in our nation’s schools,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “The broadcast gives our students a tremendous opportunity to contribute to a national forum on the importance of teaching.”

Joining host Tom Brokaw via satellite from a packed room at Breslin Center, about 60 students watched as Duncan introduced a new national campaign encouraging more young people to pursue careers in education. Although many of them prepared questions for the Secretary, time constraints limited the on-camera opportunity to only one MSU student—elementary education senior Elita Holloway.

“You mention money as an incentive to come to the inner city as a teacher, and I was wondering what, besides that, would be a motivation?” she asked. “I’m a product of Detroit Public Schools, and in those types of urban districts, teachers really need incentive to stay—and to get there in the ?rst place.”

Like many students in the audience that day, Holloway has been preparing to teach speci?cally in under-resourced school settings as a member of the Urban Educators Cohort Program in the College of Education.

The Urban Educators program, and the separate Global Educators Cohort Program, give students early exposure to classes and ?eld experiences that will help them become effective teachers in culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms and in urban schools where talented teachers are needed most.

“I would strongly encourage her to come back to Detroit Public Schools,” Secretary Duncan said following Holloway’s question. “That is a school system that desperately needs reform and desperately needs the next generation of talent.

“I’m so proud that she did well, but far too many of our young people in Detroit drop out of school . . . We have to do everything we can to encourage great folks to work there.”

With questions from educators in NBC’s New York studio and students at the other campuses, the conversation jumped from parent accountability and school violence prevention to recruiting more minorities into teaching and the overall need to elevate the profession in the minds of all Americans.

A smaller group of the MSU students stayed at Breslin afterward for a follow-up conversation on camera with Devin Scillian of WDIV Local 4 News in Detroit, which handled the local connection for MSNBC. WDIV aired some of the footage during their regular newscasts later that evening.

Despite the frustration many teachers feel regarding salary, respect and narrowing curriculum standards, teacher candidates in the College of Education told Scillian they feel highly motivated—and prepared—to deliver top-quality instruction in their future classrooms. They worry the new federal teach campaign, which includes commercials featuring celebrities talking about great teachers, could attract young people to the profession for the wrong reasons.