NEA honors leaders of PBS, CPB with Friend of Education Award

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Honorees represent public broadcasting industry that has made educational difference for millions of children

Paula A. Kerger, president and CEO of Public Broadcasting Service, speaks after receiving the Friend of Education award at NEA's 94th Representative Assembly in Orlando, Florida, on July 5, 2015.

The honorees understand the importance of education to our country’s future. --NEA President Lily Eskelsen García

The highest honor of the National Education Association (NEA) was awarded yesterday to leaders in the public broadcasting industry whose networks have made a lasting educational difference in the lives of millions of children. Paula A. Kerger, president and chief executive officer of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), and the Honorable Patricia “Pat” de Stacy Harrison, president and chief executive officer of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), were named recipients of NEA’s 2015 Friend of Education Award. Kerger was in Orlando, Florida, to accept the award in front of more than 7,000 educators gathered for NEA’s Representative Assembly (RA).

“Public broadcasting is an undeniable and critical resource for educators,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “Paula and Pat have been at the helm of an industry that helps not just educators, but also the students they teach. Their reach and impact across this nation in teaching and learning make them genuine partners of public education. The honorees understand the importance of education to our country’s future. We are honored and grateful to call each of them an NEA Friend of Education.”

PBS was founded in 1967 in order to use the power of media to educate, engage and inspire all Americans. For more than 40 years, PBS has been a trusted source of educational content for learners of all ages. In keeping with public media’s educational roots, Kerger, who joined PBS in 2006, has made strong commitments to education, the arts, news and public affairs programming in addition to emphasizing diversity and the use of new technology to bring public media into the lives of all Americans.

“Our country will succeed or fail based on our ability to educate and engage the next generation,” said Kerger who was on hand to accept the award. “At PBS, we strive to put education at the heart of all that we do, and to build partnerships with others who are equally focused on education. 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.”

Under Kerger’s leadership, the network developed 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, TV’s most-watched history series, plus 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.

“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,” Kerger said in her remarks. “On behalf of all of our member stations, who work every day to help PBS meet the needs of today’s teachers and learners, I am honored to receive this award.”

Kerger also received the award on behalf of Harrison, whose leadership helped CPB create “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, the District of Columbia 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.

Harrison also is chairman of the Leadership Council of Women and Girls Lead, an innovative public media initiative designed to focus, educate and connect women, girls and their allies across the globe to address the challenges of the 21st century. In 2012, she was included on the Forbes list of “Women Changing the World in Media.”

“I am so very proud to accept this award from NEA on behalf of our great education team led by Deb Sanchez at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting who work every day through public media to help our country’s young people have the chance to succeed as early learners and eventually American graduates,” said Harrison. “Providing high-value educational programming to all Americans, especially underserved audiences, is a founding principle for public broadcasting.”

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

“Congratulations, and thank you, for your commitment to our nation’s students and schools,” added Eskelsen García.

For more information on NEA’s Representative Assembly, go to

Hi-resolution photos are available for download at

To view video of the award presentation, go to

Follow us on Twitter at @NEAMedia and keep up with the conversation at #neara15

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing nearly 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at

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