Constitution Daily

Smart conversation from the National Constitution Center

It's Education Nation week at the National Constitution Center

June 6, 2011 by Mark Kehres


On Sunday the National Constitution Center hosted a Teacher Town Hall in partnership with NBC News and the University of Phoenix.  The town hall, part of NBC’s Education Nation programming week in Philadelphia, brought together teachers from across the region and the state to discuss the issues which matter most to them.

And by and large, what mattered most to these educators was the importance of their profession to our democracy.  That more than 300 teachers were willing to spend their Sunday afternoon sharing their thoughts in a public forum shows how deeply our educators care about the work that they do and its impact on the nation.

One teacher from Bristol, Pennsylvania, focused on the challenges of teaching in a diverse society, noting that educators need to foster a welcoming environment not just for students, but also for parents of all backgrounds.  A preschool teacher from Pittsburgh noted the importance of preschool in creating a useful foundation for education.  Other teachers focused on the need to foster creativity, imagination, and problem-solving abilities in students, rather than simply teaching them to perform well on standardized tests.  And of course, the issue of properly funding education was a common theme.  The teachers showed their enthusiasm, agreement, and respect for one another’s ideas with frequent spurts of applause.  The event was a powerful statement on the dedication of our teachers, who take very seriously the responsibility of educating the next generation of Americans and preparing them to face the difficult challenges before them.

Here at the Center, we believe that a well-educated populace is essential to the survival of a free society.  We take our mission of civic education very seriously, and we have crafted a vast array of programs, lesson plans, and teacher tools for educators to use as they instill civic virtues in their students.  And our next few months promise to show off some of our best educational assets.

Throughout this week, NBC’s Education Nation Experience will be set up on our front lawn, inviting visitors to step inside and learn more about the current state of our education system.  In July and August, the National Constitution Center will be free of charge for all kids under 12, allowing parents a very economical choice for making sure that their children learn and have fun while on summer vacation.  And of course, that period will overlap with our presentation of Mount Vernon’s Discover the Real George Washington, which gives visitors an unprecedented look at the our nation’s most important founding father.

It all adds up to fostering the educated and thoughtful population our nation needs.  Here at the  Center, we’re always finding ways to promote and contribute to the cause of civic educaiton, and this summer promises to be more exciting than any we’ve had before.

To kick off a summer of learning, we invite you, our readers, to join in the conversation we’re asking our museum visitors: In your opinion, is education a right or a privilege?


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