NBC News And MSNBC Turn Attention To Education

Two new initiatives from NBC News and MSNBC are turning the focus on education – beginning today with a series of reports and segments from anchor Tamron Hall.

“Making The Grade” kicks off today, but the larger push comes in September when NBCU as a whole looks at Education Nation.

“Making The Grade” is a partnership between MSNBC and Ebony magazine, and features segments all week on education issues. It culminates in a two-hour special Sunday night at NoonET. The partnership with Ebony is particularly interesting as the network makes a growing number of prominent non-White on-air hires.

From the release:

The special will ask the tough questions about the state of our nation’s education systems and will celebrate education methods that have a proven track record of making a positive difference for students and educators. MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall will host the special discussion, which will include participation from actor/activist Hill Harper and other widely known figures in the Black community.

On Wednesday, August 11, Tamron Hall will moderate the Ebony Education Roundtable, an education summit hosted by the University of Chicago and Johnson Publishing Company. MSNBC will air portions of the roundtable discussion during “Making The Grade” on Sunday, and the full roundtable will be available for live viewing on, and will also feature education-related editorial content on their respective sites.

The education theme continues next month with Education Nation – a week of “in-depth conversation about improving education in America” that begins September 27. “For the entire week of September 27th, Nightly News, Today, Meet the Press, Your Business, MSNBC, CNBC, Telemundo, and will highlight educational success stories, uncover staggering truths and myths about education, and demonstrate how poor education cripples our economy and society,” says the release.

The main feature of the week will be a two-day summit in Rockefeller Plaza outside of NBC’s studios in New York. From the release:

Taking place on Rockefeller Plaza, which is co-owned by Tishman Speyer, the two-day summit is a call to action, shining a spotlight on the most pressing national issue of our time: Education in America. 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.

“The strength of the NBC Universal portfolio offers the unique opportunity to jump-start a national dialogue on education in America, one of the most pressing issues today,” said Jeff Zucker, President and Chief Executive Officer, NBC Universal. “It is important that we utilize all of our platforms, combined with the first of its kind summit on Rockefeller Plaza, to have this important conversation. Our hope is to create lasting and positive change for America’s education system.”

Partners of “Education Nation” include The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, University of Phoenix, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, American Express, Raytheon, Tishman Speyer and Scholastic. In addition to promoting the summit to teachers, students and parents through its network, Scholastic will also assign its kid reporter network to cover the summit from the student perspective.

While focusing on education issues is a laudable goal, critics of NBC News will point to the week as in line with one of the Obama administration goals – and coming at a time right near the midterm elections. It appears NBC News has taken steps to combat that, with Gov. Tim Pawlenty‘s involvement and others.

Here’s Hall’s first “Making The Grade” segment today:

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