Click here to follow all our education nation coverage.
NEW YORK --
The state of America's education is at the heart of a special event underway in New York City this morning.
NBC and teaching experts from around the nation are teaming up for education nation, a program designed to find solutions to problems. Among those is Clark County superintendent Dwight Jones.
The week-long NBC News Education Nation Summit aims to spur national attention and discussion about education in the United States.
The summit brings the country's top educators, industry leaders and policy makers together to debate the key issues affecting education and find ways to improve the way students learn.
Teachers, educators and innovators from around the country came together at the start of the education nation summit.
The summit aims to look for solutions at a time when only a third of u-s students are proficient in studies like math and reading. From the debate over standardized testing to teacher evaluations and teacher pay, the organizers hope the mix of opinions and expertise will go a long way.
"When I've known excellent teachers who've left the classroom, it's not because of lack of dollars -- it's because of lack of voice,” said Massachusetts schoolteacher Melanie Allen.
"If we want to keep the people in the classrooms who teach the best and have the most passion, then we have to pay people commensurate with passion they inspire in our students," said New York high school teacher Tara Brancato.
Thanks to one of the biggest challenges facing communities -- the economy -- school budgets are suffering cutbacks and many teachers are being forced to take on a second job to make ends meet.
"If teachers aren't being compensated enough to be able to take care of their families and they're having to get a second job, they can't be at their best when they walk in to the classroom," said Heather Kaiser, a North Carolina elementary school teacher.
Despite these troubles, progress has been made in the past year. The graduation rate is up to 72 percent, the highest in more than two decades.