Civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton announced on Thursday plans to launch a Sunday morning syndicated television show called Education Superhighway. The 30-minute program will feature reports from around the country and a roundtable discussion between people who will offer diverse, and sometimes event divergent, points of view. The whole point, Sharpton said, is to get educators, parents and students talking and engaged in what some experts have called the biggest civil rights issue of the day.
Some of the guests expected to appear on the show include Education Secretary Arne Duncan; American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten; and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who went on a five-city education tour with Sharpton and Duncan last year.
Sharpton recalled that while on the tour, he became keenly aware of not only the persistent achievement gap that exists between minority and white students, but also the widening gap between American students overall and the rest of the world.
“With all of our problems, we’re the most blessed nation in the world. But why are other countries out-reading us, and out-counting us and out-developing us? That’s what this show is about,” Sharpton said.
“Education Superhighway” will be produced by ESH Holdings, a new multimedia company formed by Sharpton, and is set to air on 150 mostly Fox-affiliated stations in the top 25 African American markets around the nation. It also will produce The Equality Chronicles, a print publication that will appear as an insert in major newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, the Atlanta Journal & Constitution, and the Chicago Sun-Times. A website titled TheEducationSuperHighway.com will feature content from the television and publication and tools and resources for parents and educators.
“This effort is going to showcase and bring to the forefront education reform, how it works, and what’s actually working,” said Rep. Chaka Fattah, a Congressional Black Caucus member who is active on issues related to education reform and equity. “We need to get the public more engaged in this discussion so I’m happy to see Rev. Sharpton take this on and I think the format is going to draw a lot of interest.”