NEA’s Highest Honor Goes to Public Broadcasting Industry

NEA’s highest honor—the NEA Friend of Education—was awarded, today, to the Honorable Patricia de Stacy Harrison, president and chief executive officer of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and Paula A. Kerger, president and chief executive officer of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

The women received the award from more than 7,000 educators gathered during the Association’s Representative Assembly. Kerger was in Orlando to accept the award.

“On behalf of Pat Harrison of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and on behalf of all of our member stations who work every day to meet the needs of today’s teachers and learners, I want to say thank you,” Kerger said to the delegates.

The two groups were selected for being an undeniable and critical resource in public education through its programming, which has long provided teaching and learning materials to educators and content to put students on a path to become successful life-long learners.

One such resource Kerger highlighted during her remarks is the PBS LearningMedia, which provides educators with digital content, strategies, learning tools and professional development resources needed to fully utilize digital learning in the classroom.

The service includes classroom-ready, curriculum based digital resources, including videos and interactives, audio, documents and in-depth lesson plans. Drawing from critically acclaimed PBS programs such as NOVA, FRONTLINE, American Experience and PBS KIDS programs like SID the Science Kid, the service offers teachers more than 100,000 videos, images, interactives, lesson plans and articles to enrich classroom instruction. These resources are available for free to PreK-12 classrooms all across the country through PBS member stations.

“Education is at the heart of our mission at PBS,” said Kerger. “We realize that because we are accessible in every home across the country, we have a tremendous responsibility to use our airwaves to prepare children for success in school and in life.”

Under Harrison’s leadership, CPB created American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, a nationwide public media initiative to help communities across the country keep young people on the path to graduation.

To date, over 80 stations in more than 30 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, are working with more than 1,400 local partners and schools to address the challenges faced by at-risk youth and to develop long-term solutions that span the entire education continuum, from building a strong foundation in math and literacy skills to college and career readiness.

PBS has been a trusted source of educational content for learners of all ages. In keeping with public media’s educational roots, since her arrival at PBS in 2006, Kerger has made strong commitments to education, the arts, news and public affairs and diversity and the use of new technology to bring public media into the lives of all Americans.

“From social emotional ‘grit’ to literacy to STEM skills, we’ve worked hard to make sure that our content does more than entertain, it also inspires and teaches,” she said.

And like countless of educators nationwide who know that students need more opportunity—and less federally mandated tests—PBS has a similar understanding.

Kerger expressed, “At PBS, we believe that we can’t focus on just one element of learning—that in order to best serve kids and teens, we must provide exploratory opportunities across all possible areas, whether they are cognitive, social-emotional, physical, or like most of our series, a seamless, integrated combination.”

The Friend of Education Award, presented each year duing NEA’s Representative Assembly, recognizes a person or organization whose leadership, acts or support have significantly contributed to the improvement of American public education. Harrison and Kerger follow previous award recipients Nobel-prize winning Malala Yousafzai and economist Paul Krugman, education policy writer and researcher Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, U.S. Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter and William Jefferson Clinton; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.); and U. S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley and the late Sen. Edward ”Ted” Kennedy.