Something to look forward to in late September.  Media giant NBC Universal* is planning a one-week event, including segments to be featured in news programming on all their networks, called “Education Nation

According to the press release that landed in my mailbox (and, I suspect, that of many other edubloggers), things will kick off with a two-day education summit that will be a “call to action, shining a spotlight on the most pressing national issue of our time: Education in America”.

Call to action? Who’s coming? Well, pretty much the usual suspects.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Delaware Governor Jack Markell, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Harlem Children Zone’s CEO Geoffrey Canada, President of MIT Susan Hockfield, National Superintendent of the Year Elizabeth Morgan, Civil Rights Activist Al Sharpton, and President of University of Phoenix Bill Pepicello, Ph.D., join a host of top leaders in education to open a national dialogue and address the gap between how we perceive education and the actual results we are producing today.

And don’t forget Bill Gates, whose foundation is one of the sponsoring “partners”.

Interesting. All but one of those big names lives and works less than a days drive (in traffic) from New York City, the location of this summit. Just an observation.

Anyway, later on the NBC press people mention that the overall project will include input from “more than 300 big thinkers in government, politics, business and technology – as well as school administrators, teachers, parents and students from across the country”.

Again, notice that the people most directly affected by the education process – parents and students – are thrown in almost as an afterthought.

Later the same day, by coincidence (I think), I also received a promotion for a new book from Milton Chen, former executive director of the George Lucas Educational Foundation (of which I’m a member), carrying the same title: “Education Nation“.

A snippet from the introduction to that book, posted on the promotional site, certainly sounds like a good starting point.

Imagine an ‘Education Nation,’ a learning society where the education of children and adults is the highest national priority, on par with a strong economy, high employment, and national security. Where resources from public and private sources fund a ‘ladder of learning’ for learners of all ages, from pre-K through ‘gray.’ Where learners take courses through the formal institutions of high-quality schools and universities and also take advantage of informal experiences offered through museums, libraries, churches, youth groups, and parks as well as via the media.

Ok, I need to dial back the skepticism a little and reserve judgement on both variations on Education Nation until after I get the chance to evaluate the ideas presented.

However, it will be very interesting to see if the nations presented by NBC and Chen have anything in common, and especially if either has any connection to reality.

*No more GE microwave programming I guess. :-)