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tv   Newsmakers with Randi Weingarten  CSPAN  September 3, 2017 6:02pm-6:35pm EDT

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anthony clark's book "the last campaign: how presidents rewrite history and enshrine their legacies." >> every comment i have received has been one of either two topics. how angry people are to learn what is happening, or how flabbergasted they are to learn what is happening. i have not received any kind of mild -- that was ok. i think they are angry about the fact we have residential libraries created the house records, especially for the most recent one they will not be open for 100 years. we are paying for celebration and legacy building. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. c-span, for history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider.
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on this labor day weekend and as american students are heading back to school, newsmakers is pleased to welcome randi weingarten, president of the american federation of teachers. she has been the head of the representing 1.7 million teachers across the nation. she has been on a multicity to -- tour of schools to learn about how schools are faring in their new year, and she is also an active member of the democratic national committee. we will talk to her about school and education issues and much more. let me interview the two people who will be asking big questions. education week associate editor, and kimberly riser politico. first-time on the program. by the heavy. stephen, you're up first. stephen: randi, great to see you.
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we're interested about the deal that was struck in illinois. chicago is home of your third-largest affiliate. for viewers, essentially the legislature agreed to put more aid into schools but one of the trade-offs was to create a tax fellowship program. it is the 18th in the nation where the 18th to participate in one of these. also for viewers, this is a program in which corporations or private individuals can get tax dollars for students to go to private schools. often we hear this is just school vouchers by another name. we wanted to ask you, what do you think of this was it a deal? wasn't a deal worth making? randi: the democrats do not want to make this deal. they do not get an override of
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the governor's veto. i think it is one of these things where the chicago public schools were in desperate need of the money that was sent to them from springfield. and the deal that actually got crafted initially before the governor's veto, a bipartisan deal was a really good step ,. because what illinois has done , even though chicago taxpayers pay as much if not more because of the wealth of chicago to the treasury of illinois, what has happened is that chicago has gotten shortchanged. so essentially the governor held the chicago schools and chicago school kids hostage for programs that ultimately allows termination of children and a program that none of the student
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represented entities and agencies like stand for children which is not often been on our side we all opposed the voucher , program because it is not about equity. it is essentially about getting -- giving rich folks a tax credit to offset their taxes. so we were really disappointed about the hostagetaking that was there, knowing full well that the schools in the chicago and the kids absolutely needed the funding. frankly, what the legislature did was they almost overrode the governor's veto. they needed one or two more votes here it what you are seeing is you saw a person running for governor who saw what was and said yes, chicago really needs this money but will -- we're not going to pursue policies that are discriminatory to the very same children that
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they are supposed to be protecting, which were the vouchers and tax credits, just to give basically a tax cut to billionaires. stephen: is this important as to things to come in other states. there are people interested in pushing, especially from republicans, these kind of choice programs in we don't know if the trump administration will try to do this at the federal level. administrationp is clearly trying to do it at a federal level. what is happening here is that instead of actually investing in schools 34 states still spend , less on public schools than they spent in 2008. half the kids in public schools are poor. so is kids are getting poorer in
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public schools as we are being asked to do more and more in terms of helping kids become and getting ready for citizenship, for life, for jobs, there is less funding. what happened in illinois because you have a governor who essentially has shown a tremendous antipathy towards public schools, he created that kind of hostagetaking. at the same time in nevada, after they had done something similar a couple years ago, this year they walked away from it because it does not work. in louisiana, the kids who are getting vouchers are actually doing worse than the kids who are in public schools. what we are saying is when you look at the evidence, there is a difference between a sales job versus looking at the evidence in terms of private school vouchers. the piece i am most worried about, because at the end of the day i think the voucher issues
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are going to rise and fall on the evidence and inequities because the schools discriminate against kids. they do not actually do what they say they are going to do. but my point is that at the very same time as some of these people talk about choice, choice, choice like betsy devos they are actually handicapping , parents's choices. most parents want a very good neighborhood public school. when you disinvest in the public schools, when you do what devos has done with the budget cut , summer programs and afterschool programs and cut professional development, you are taking those schools and putting them to the brink of starvation and then blaming them for not being able to do what they need to do and still even with all of that, if you ask parents but they want, they want safe, welcoming public schools in their neighborhoods.
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betsy devos and others who say they are for choice, they are not for choice. they are for privatization. if they were for choice, they destabilizing and disrupting public education which is what parents want. , that is why this is a hoax. kimberly: betsy devos issued a statement this afternoon praising what happened in illinois. randi: exactly. praising what happened in illinois. praising what happened in florida. even though it was that the other property for charters. she doesn't spend any time in public schools or engaged in public will students. my point is this. i'm sorry. kimberly: during her confirmation process, you are among those saying she was going to -- she was public enemy number one the public education because of her views on school choice. has she gained ground on the
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school choice front since she has taken office? randi: no, she has not. andhas given it oxygen there is a real existential threat in terms of public education. illinois is actually the only state this year that moved towards an ed tax credit or a voucher system. that is the first state this year and they did it because literally the kids in chicago get tremendously shortchanged. and the people who voted for it are like, my god, we have to get kids and books and teachers to help them. i think what happened here is you really had hostagetaking, and at the same time i think what is happening is that devos has given oxygen to this
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movement to privatize. the reason she has not gained ground is that on the flipside, i see more energy and focus on saving and protecting the public schools that i've seen before. what she has done is she has actually moved parents and teachers who were never active before to say wait a second, this is what safeguards democracy in public education. i am wearing a button that says "public school proud." rural areas that are in, people ask what can we do to help to make sure public schools are the schools that kids deserve and that public schools teach about democracy and tolerance and are safe and welcoming? i have seen now several polls in a row and we have done a lot of pulling the parents ourselves
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where there is a significantly higher number of people who are saying, wait a second, we have to save public schools. her excesses in terms of fundamentally focusing simply on disrupting the places that 90% of kids go to instead of helping them i think is backfiring. left to her own devices, she has called public education a dead end. you saw that test scores went down significantly in michigan based upon not only the advocacy but the ability for her to get her policies through in michigan. i think people are saying, we don't want it. will there be some states with republican governors that are elected by the tea party and who want to have tax cuts for the wealthy? will there be more for these kind of things? i'm sure. but what is happening is that
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people are saying we need to have public education. we need to be focused on equity and excellence for all. stephen: speaking of existential crises, the supreme court is deciding whether to take up a case which if successful and the plaintiffs are successful would deprive unions the ability to collect certain kind of fees. -- a lot ofnk people think this would be disastrous reunions. do have any idea about how many you could stand to lose if this goes through and what you are doing to prepare for it? randi: we have been preparing for these kind of assaults since waiting for superman. view that same
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regular folks kind of have power through two things, actually three things. public schooling gives families opportunities to climb a ladder of success, voting, and labor unions. when labor unions were at their ascendancy, the middle class was that it's ascendancy. people had retirement benefits and people were making living wages. what has happened is as we have diminished, the economy has gotten more rate by special interests -- rigged by special interests. our politics have gotten rigged. we have seen that the right wing is pretty unbridled these days -- an article couple days ago that they are doing this purposely not to protect individuals, but so that they can defund, their words, not
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mine, defund and defang labor unions because they don't want to share in the wealth or share in prosperity. would that be a problem? yeah, it is going to be a problem. i assume they went for this new case. they went for the new came as soon as supreme court justice gorsuch was confirmed. i assume they believe gorsuch has consistently favored wealthy interests over individuals like that case of the driver on a highway who was about to freeze to death and he left his truck and the corporation fired him and gorsuch actually said the corporation had a right to fire him and that he should have frozen to death rather than leave his truck. i assume they think gorsuch will vote for them. since it was 4-4 before. the bottom-line is this, we
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will, regardless of what happens in this case, we will fight for the freedom for people to have workplace balance, for the freedom to have people to fight for a living wage. if ceos can have contracts, than regular working folks can have contracts. we have seen across america that we are growing right now, even with all the assaults that are going on. the teachers in puerto rico just joined us. we have now gotten another charter school right in washington, d.c. there have been 41 charter schools that have joined us because they wanted a voice to help kids. and help themselves. we now have 241 charter schools that have joined us. we have nurses and health care professionals. what we are seeing that at the same time the right wing does not want regular folks to have a voice, we are seeing that millennials and others really are starting to understand why we have unions. are we perfect?
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no, but lots of institutions aren't perfect. i don't ever see anybody saying throw the baby out with the bathwater. get rid of all of them. do we need to actually do more member engagement? yes, and that is what we are doing. do a need to be involved in community more? absolutely. doing need to be more solution driven? absolutely every but most rights that have happened in the united states of cap because of civil rights movements and because of labor movements. to have a weekend off. to have paid sick leave, to fight for health care. to have a living wage. to have a retirement. that is what we are about. and in school and what we are about is making every single public school a place where parents want to send their kids, educators want to work, and kids are engaged. so we have been preparing by essentially just talking to our folks leveling with them.
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,what are their aspirations? most people are saying to us, we know that we have -- we can resist and reclaim the future when we are together. it will be a challenge, but we are up for it. >> we have nine minutes left. >> dimensioned members engagement. what percentage would you guess our trump supporters? randi: 40% of our members are republicans. 80% of our voters voted for hillary clinton. we have a lot of republican members. we engage based upon values. there is too much -- the lens is too much -- let me say it this way. we outsource our values to the political parties as opposed to fighting for our values. sure weabout making have an economy that works for all. that there is a living wage for
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people. they have a voice at work insecure retirement. to make sure they have good public schools. not just members, but everyone that help kids really dream and succeed. that we have health care so that we are not one illness away from bankruptcy. you can't have those economic values unless you have a thriving democracy, and you can have a thriving democracy without the fight against bigotry and hate. i thought about those values in louisiana where they voted for trump overwhelmingly. ohio where they voted for trump overwhelmingly. western suburbs of pennsylvania where they voted for trump overwhelmingly. i talk about those as much as i do in washington, d.c. or in california where i was. when you talk to people about values and how you get there and , and thentivate that look at politicians to the lens of those values that you see a really different future.
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that is what we are trying to do. that -- we saw that frankly. won a our activists just school board seat in birmingham, alabama. seattine pellegrino won a in suffolk county the voted for trump, 58% to 42%. 60%-40%. it does start with really focusing on what are the issues that people care about? people are frustrated that washington doesn't care about their issues. they want to shake it up. what donald trump did better than almost anyone else is he is a great marketer and he figured out how to hijack the message and how to actually say "trust me." what is happening more and more, and we are seeing it with our members, even trump or -- supporters or republican supporters are saying wait a second, i knew i didn't like his
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misogyny and his racism, but really, charlottesville, not taking on the supremacists. really, today? kids that came to the united states through no fault of their own and deporting pardon,ally getting a really taking that money away from schools, taking health care away? if you talk about in terms of values, that is what i think the union is about. i am a long-standing democrat, but my view is we have to talk through the lens of values and actions and where people stand, not simply be reflexively democratic or republican. >> we only have five minutes left. other questions you have please. >> on the themes of social justice a colleague of mine , reported on a report that was
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-- on the teaching force. it is overwhelmingly female, white. they clearly this not reflect the diversity of our student population which is now over half students of color. what are they going to do to bring more teachers, especially the black male teachers who only make up 1% of the teaching force right now? randi: well steve, before the department of education put those figures out, two years ago the shanker institute, which is connected to the aft put the figures out. we said -- we saw in the districts and we work and we have been fighting to diversify our workforce and to have the terms and conditions and the support that people need so that they come in and they teach. we have been working with the hbcu which is historically
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black colleges and universities. we have worked with some districts. frankly many of us when we were local leaders to have a grow your own program. i was very proud of the new york city parent-teacher program. the baltimore parent or teacher program. what is happening is that we are seeing a teacher shortage throughout, and we are seeing people generally don't to become teachers. not because they don't want to make a difference in the lives of kids, but because they are watching and seeing how teachers are treated. we have to make the conditions better so we can attract more people. we have been working with the hc bu's, working on diversity fighting for this in our , contracts and as you and others know, i called a lot of this out this summer about how
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we have to take on segregation for lawn and discrimination full on. >> you made the decision to engage rightly with betsy devos. the two of you are still in ohio. is you plan tog visit a school of choice together. has that date been set and can you please tell us what your relationship has been like with secretary devos since then? randi: i am more disappointed than i could convey on tv. look we have really different , ideology. we are both fairly religious. she is a protestant. i am jewish. we both very much, she says, care about kids and schools. we both have -- neither one of us are shy. i actually asked her to come to a school because we believe that
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everyone is educated will. best educatable. if you actually see good practice, how do you ensure that the 90% of parents who send their kids to public schools have the schools their kids deserve? frankly, from that visit, and we spent the whole day in a republican area that loves their public schools. we did give her a duty-free lunch. she kept making promises to people. why can't we find common ground? why can't we stop the paperwork issues? why can't we help the special needs parents? why can't we grow early childhood? i heard her say words to that effect in the different meetings. she has not followed up on one thing. what i promised her i would do, because i feel like you can learn in all sorts of ways, i promised her i would go to a school with her.
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she asked me about one school, mcdowell county, west virginia. frankly i will not cancel school visit i already have to do the visit with the secretary of education and we set up another date in washington and she canceled it. i have not heard from her. after charlottesville, a secretary of education has to convene the educational stakeholders like after sandy hook. regardless of whether they are republican or democrat, how can we work together to move schools to increase tolerance, to stop bigotry and hate? we try to do that with the southern poverty law center. after harvey, bring people together and say how do we help the schools and the kids in houston? we are doing that ourselves. we are raising money. we are talking to the superintendent. what she is not doing, she is not doing what any republican or democratic secretary of
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education would have done, which is to help all kids regardless of ideology and help teachers help kids. that is why i am so disappointed. i think her ideology is flawed. it does not work for kids. anyone who says public education is a dead end doesn't understand our democracy and foundational anchoring the public education is. put that aside do your job. , in these kind of moments, bring people together and actually help on the ground so we help principals and parents and particularly kids get through these real moments of anxiety. >> we have to leave it right there. thank you very much. president of the american federation of teachers. thank you for your time. kimberly, very critical of the secretary of education. you are here in washington, d.c.
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what is it like under a two -- secretary devos? how is a functioning? stephen i think the one thing : that is particularly interesting is clearly this is not a warm relationship. one thing that i'm very curious if you were to stop people on the street and say betsy devos, they might know who she is. before secretaries devos, i don't know that your average american would know who they are. to meet this is somewhat curious because in terms of the degree of discretion and power that secretaries have, it is not much to start off with and it is less predecessorsn her because changes made to federal education laws. as randi pointed out, she has not managed to get very far with either publicfor
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school choice programs over a private school, what we would call a voucher program yet. just to supplement one thing randi said, we don't have the budget deal yet. don't know if the charter school program will get more money. a lot is still up in the air. most of what devos has been done has not been through action but rolling back regulations that were put in under the obama administration and specialize in higher ed. >> i wanted to ask you about that budgeting process, how much funds. and everything is going to be changed with the budgeting process. >> that will be a big factor and interesting to watch. trump put out its budget on
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education and there are things that would encourage school choice and republicans rejected those except for money for charter schools and interesting to see what the senate does that. congress is not necessarily going to give the administration what it wants on school choice. however, people as i mentioned earlier are watching to see if there is going to be a federal tax credit, scholarship component as congress addresses tax reform. that's one thing that is included in that. if that's the case, that would be money that would go to a tax lowit scholarship to help -income. that is one way throo the efforts you could see the school choice get something they want. >> schools are operating on a
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federal level right now under the law that was passed at the end of the obama administration. how has it changed? and we talk about schools in washington that they are local and state governed and how has the relationship with the federal government changed under this 2015 law? different uite predecessor. it gives more flexibility to the states to design how to measure whether schools are making progress with other students and intervening in schools that seem to be struggling. i can see that is good for them, unions are more powerful at state and local level than they are federally. and right now, i believe 17 or 18 states have submitted their plan to the federal government. they need federal approval even
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though they need approval on how to design it. there have been sole disagreements wr whether the department is interpreting the law correctly and holding the state plans to the right set of guidelines. i think the next batch is through this month actually and once they're all in and we will have a better sense of where the patterns are and what we need to follow up. >> we have one minute left. what should people be concerned about if decisions that might affect that outcome? >> he's right about the plans. that's a big part of where education is headed. it is a slow process to really know. the testing continues to be a big issue under the new law, the emphasis was taken away through
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accountability of changes. but there are annual testing in schools and that is another issue that parents care a lot about. >> thank you for being here. we appreciate your questions. let's hope you come back. >> thanks for having me. saltalamacchia captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit >> president trump met this afternoon with military advisers concerning north korea's test. james mattis made a brief statement to reporters general jacobs. >> good


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