Even though the main events of Education Nation over the next two days will be packed with CEOs and anti-public education governors, I give NBC credit for an outstanding student town hall today.

Melissa Harris-Perry interviewed four students who were selected for their activism: one from Philadelphia, who spoke out against Governor Corbett’s $1 billion budget cuts and explained how it stripped the Philadelphia schools of almost everything that makes for a good school; one from Chicago, who protested the closing of 49 elementary schools and explained that, while it didn’t affect his school, all students had to stand in solidarity against this outrageous decision; one from Washington, D.C. (Noa Rosinplotz, whose letters against testing were first published on this blog); and one from the Providence Student Union, who described his organization’s creative use of political theatre to protest the state’s decision to use a standardized test as a graduation requirement.

The students were wonderful. They spoke truth, not political rhetoric. They know what is really happening in the schools. It is their lives, their reality.

If only they had the chance to confront the CEOs and governors who can be counted on to say that we are spending too much, that we need more charters and vouchers, and that students today are way behind the times and unable to compete in the global economy. If the students were there, they could give the leaders a few lessons. The students (especially the Providence Student Union) might even challenge them to take the high-stakes tests that they think are so necessary for future success. And publish their scores.