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tv   Matter of Fact With Soledad O Brien  NBC  February 20, 2022 5:00am-5:30am PST

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>> right now, on “matter of fact.” a crisis in our classrooms. teachers -- burned out and fed up. caught in battles over masks and books. facing students too stressed to cope. >> i had my dignity and self-worth being whittled away daily. >> hundreds of thousands calling it quits. >> i said, i can't do this anymore. i matter, too. >> what will stop their exodus from america's schools? plus, the tiny house trend that's giving shelter to the homeless. >> we have a little factory that we have volunteers cranking out tiny houses every day. >> why this activist says an
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eight by 12-foot home is just and she's the first woman, the first woman of color, and the youngest person elected mayor of boston. identity change the conversation in your agenda? >> mayor michelle wu joins soledad to talk about leadership in a changing nation. ♪ soledad: i'm soledad o'brien. welcome to “matter of fact.” schools across the country are facing a harsh reality. a teacher shortage so severe that it's crippling some school districts. in oklahoma, a state that “education week” ranked 49th in overall quality, there aren't enough teachers to fill classrooms. according to the oklahoma state department of education, teachers there had an 18.4% turnover rate over the past two school years. and according to the oklahoma teachers' retirement system,
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there was a 38% increase in retirements just last summer. one of those early retirees is rebecca harris, who was a teacher in the tulsa public schools for more than three decades. rebecca harris: i live to teach. i would spring out of bed my whole career. i couldn't wait to get to school. i'd stay late till 10:00, me and the custodian. well, pandemic, enter covid, right? the students left on spring break. right at the beginning of covid, i had a library full of books that were extra. i wanted to service my students with. you want a free book? i said, i'm going to just go ahead and start that, a mark twain fantastical bookmobile, because those students need to be able to pick their own book out. they need to be able to see miss harris one more time. >> thank you! rebecca: you're welcome! i took my early retirement just this last june. that was my last day in the
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district. 35 years in the same district. and basically, i took my early retirement because, okay, i couldn't teach anymore. our broken society had given rise to more actions by the students that ended up showing violence, abuse, to the point where i wasn't teaching anymore. i was running a social services office. i had my dignity and self-worth being whittled away daily. that's not a good way to live. and i just finally, i said, i can't do this anymore. i matter, too. i miss them. i miss them a lot. isn't that a blessing that i was in a profession that i loved every day where i could make a difference with the kids? and it's like, i'm getting paid
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for this. so, i miss that part. once upon a time, there was a pond that was home to a family of frogs. our schools need to change with society. i keep listening to all of these solutions to what we should do, and nothing is ever addressed. yet, the teachers all know it, that i can't teach anymore because our children are broken. no fault of them. they're trying their best. the teachers deserve more. they're leaving in the masses and the students deserve for their needs to be addressed, too. soledad: joining me now is becky pringle, the president of the national education association, the country's largest union. becky pringle, so nice to see you. let's begin with oklahoma specifically. i mean, they've been losing teachers there well before the pandemic hit. becky: this is not new. it's a chronic problem.
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but like everything else, soledad, we know that this pandemic just made it so much worse with the increased workload and the stress of the fear and divisiveness and responsibilities that were put on teachers' shoulders that didn't even exist before. it's not just that, educators have to take two and three jobs just to feed their families. and they're exhausted. they're overworked and overwhelmed. soledad: there's a rough estimate of seven million kids who require special ed services, and how difficult and how challenging that can really be, not just for their students who are special ed students, but for every single student and the teacher as well. how do you think about solutions on that front? becky: you know, soledad, over the last 20 years, that that number has grown by a million special needs students in our classrooms. we have to make sure that we address the fundamental issues that our students are bringing
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to our classrooms. and to do that, we need those additional resources and funding. we need the additional training. we need the additional support from health care professionals, mental health care professionals. soledad: are you seeing anything in schools of education that makes you feel hopeful about the next crop of young people who want to come into the profession? becky: we've been following the trend of our college students for, for almost two decades now. and the decrease in the number of college students who are choosing to go into teacher preparation programs is alarming and has been. it's been on a decrease, especially our teachers of color. we are not diversifying our profession in the way we know we must. it is about making sure that we have the funding, sustained funding, that actually builds these programs and sustains them over time. soledad: how does this high turnover rate affect students? becky: we know that without enough educators in front of our
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students, they can't get the one-on-one attention they need, that individualized learning. we know it's absolutely critical to their success, not only in learning, but in life, to nurture their individual skills and talents and prepare them to be the leaders of a just society. we need enough educators to do that. and right now, we're going in the wrong direction. but we know what works and we are focused on ensuring that we demand those resources and supports to provide those additional educators and provide the funding and the pay and the compensation and all of those things we know our students need to thrive. soledad: becky pringle is the president of the national education association. so nice to talk to you, miss pringle, appreciate it. becky: thank you, soledad. >> next on “matter of fact.” a big problem that might just need a tiny solution. >> how do you end homelessness or is this a big, overwhelming problem? we know how to end people's
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homelessness. >> hear why this activist thinks going smaller works better. and later, thousands of missing indigenous women and girls leaving grieving families waiting for any word. could a new kind of alert system prevent more pain? to stay up-to-date with matter neneact, sign up for our ordinary tissues burn when theo blows. so puffs plus lotion rescued his nose. with up to 50% more lotion, puffs bring soothing relief. a nose in need deserves puffs indeed. america's #1 lotion tissue. with less moderate-to-severe eczema, why hide your skin if you can help heal your skin from within? dupixent helps keep you one step ahead of eczema with clearer skin and less itch. hide my skin? not me. don't use if you're allergic to dupixent. serious allergic reactions can occur that can be severe. tell your doctor about new or worsening eye problems such as eye pain or vision changes, including blurred vision, joint aches and pain,
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soledad: are tiny houses becoming a social movement? a trend fueled by downsizing, simplifying, and living with less, has now become a possible solution for the homeless. in early 2020, as covid-19 was just hitting the u.s., we were working on a documentary looking at the challenges facing the unsheltered in seattle. as local leaders scrambled to house their most vulnerable building tiny house villages. at that time, we talked to sharon lee, the executive director of the low income housing institute.
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sharon: usually, a village like this would take three or four months, but because of covid-19, we were asked by the city of seattle to set it up in like a week. my overall fear is that we're not doing enough. before the virus, we still had the same crisis. soledad: two years later, we're checking back in to see if these tiny house villages are working. sharon, it's so nice to talk to you. walk us through what's happened since we last met? sharon: we now have 16 tiny house villages in the area, including 11 of them in the seattle king county region. soledad: did the tiny houses help keep the rates of covid low? sharon: we found out because people were staying in a tiny house, they were actually the most protected from catching covid because they were sleeping two walls and two doors and fresh air in between from anybody else.
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soledad: what are some of the rules around the tiny houses, i mean, i assume you just can't put them anywhere. sharon: well, some of them are in residential neighborhoods. some of them are mixed use commercial and some of them are more industrial. the tiny houses all have electricity and heat and locking doors, which is of course, very important. and they're typically the size of a small bedroom, eight feet by 12 feet. and so, people really, really who are camping out will move to a tiny house. it's like their first choice. they won't move to a shelter like a conventional shelter, but they'll move to a tiny house. and what's special about our facilities is that we include restrooms, showers as well as laundry, and that's very, very important. we have social workers, case managers that are on site and are actually -- they have their offices in a tiny house -- and they're there, you know, each of them or they're 40, 40 hours a week and they help people get into housing, get their ids, help them move into permanent
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housing, you know, educational opportunities, employment, health care. so, we are showing phenomenal outcomes in terms of performance, much better than the conventional shelters. soledad: why do you think that is? sharon: when you have your own private space, you have a better chance of, let's say, getting stable, recovering from trauma. there's food that's being provided. and so, your health gets better, your mental health gets better, and then you're able to meet with the case manager and come up with an individual plan or, you know, increasing your self-sufficiency. in some cases, we partner with licensed mental health and drug alcohol treatment agencies, and that will help people in terms of their recovery. soledad: what's the impact of being a person who moves from being homeless into a tiny home? sharon: we are seeing remarkable recovery by living in a tiny house. some people need three months in a tiny house, six months.
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some people are staying a year. 65% of the people transition from a tiny house into permanent housing. and so, we know ending homelessness works, right. it's not like a guessing game. we know how to end people's homelessness. soledad: sharon lee is the founding executive director of the low income housing institute. nice to talk to you. thank you so much. sharon: thank you so much. >> coming up on “matter of fact.” she's one of a new generation of leaders at the helm of one of the nation's oldest cities. boston mayor michelle wu goes one-on-one with soledad about a plan she calls the “green agenda.” and still ahead, is florida ditching its palm trees for a ditching its palm trees for a climate fighting foliage?
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soledad: welcome back to “matter of fact.” a new generation of urban leaders is taking hold of this time and taking responsibility for shaping the future. among those leaders, michelle wu. elected last november, wu is the daughter of taiwanese immigrants, and is the youngest person elected mayor of boston. she is the first woman elected to hold the office and the first woman of color elected to the top spot at city hall. i sat down with mayor wu just three weeks into her term, at hampshire house near beacon hill, to talk about her priorities and the work of governing. thank you for having me in your fine city. it's so nice to be here. you said in your swearing in ceremony something that i thought was so interesting. you said city government is special. we're the level closest to the
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people, so we must do the big and the small. so, on your agenda, what's the big and what's the small? mayor wu: i ran on a number of big issues. one of them, front and center, was on a boston green new deal. as a coastal city, we are very vulnerable, and the impacts of climate change fall just in line with racial disparities across the city, exacerbating economic disparities. and so, the “big” is that we will be the leading city, tackling issues when it comes to reducing emissions, delivering health and well-being, creating the jobs that the green economy brings. and then the “little” is how city government gets it done each and every day. we will double the number of street trees in boston to absorb the storm water and cleaner air. it seems small. but every tree we plant is, in some ways, the most effective technology. and it adds up to cleaner air, less asthma, better health for everyone, and much faster pace to hit our goals. soledad: does your ethnic identity change the conversation
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in your agenda? and the answer might be, no, not at all. if things are going to get done, it doesn't really matter. mayor wu: it's impossible to separate the policies and the lens through which i see the world from my lived experience as a woman of color, as an asian-american, as a mom with young kids. and we've seen in politics recently, in the world recently, that hatred and white supremacy, and whether it's the rise of anti-asian hate or the renewed call for justice in the black lives matter movement, whether it is the rise of anti-semitism, that we're still very much in a place in our country where racial justice is deeply embedded in every single policy decision that we need to make, and in this moment when the challenges are so urgent, when
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the issues feel like there is a mountain to deal with, in some ways, the silver lining is that the same steps we need to take to address our climate crisis or to tackle our housing crisis are the exact same steps to close the racial wealth gap to create opportunity for everyone. and so, we are running to -- towards bending that arc of justice, recognizing how intersectional all of our issues and communities are. soledad: madame mayor, thank you for talking with me. mayor wu: thanks for having me. soledad: you can watch this entire interview in our latest listening tour, “promises of change” on >> ahead on “matter of fact.” for decades, indigenous women and girls have been disappearing, leaving families with little to hold onto. >> i pray for strength to go on, but it's so hard. >> how a proposal by the only native member of the washington
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state legislature could bring an end to that pain. and later, why florida's palm tree needs a little more shade.
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soledad: welcome back to “matter of fact.” the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous woman and girls is unrelenting. yet, no one knows for sure how many have gone missing. several sources put the number in the thousands with current estimates close to 6000. in our reporting, we've met with families traumatized by loss, often waiting years for any word about what happened to their missing mothers, daughters, and sisters. across the country, families and advocates use the symbol of a red handprint over a woman's mouth to represent the lives that have been silenced. now, washington state representative democrat debra lekanoff, the only native american in the state legislature, is pushing a bill
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to set up an alert system for missing indigenous people. it would work much like the amber alert for missing children and the silver alert for missing elderly adults. debra lekanoff: the alert system intertwines our tribal, local, state, and federal police and our broadcasters. showing that we have lost a woman and we need to bring her back to our family. soledad: if passed, bill number 17-52, will be the first law of its kind in the nation. >> straight ahead on “matter of fact.” scientists say the sunshine state is getting too hot. why are they blaming the iconic palm trees? [music: sung by craig robinson] ♪ i'm a ganiac, ganiac, check my drawers ♪ [sfx: sniffs] ♪ and my clothes smell so much fresher than before ♪ try gain flings and you'll be a gainiac too! the only detergent with oxiboost and febreze.
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soledad: and finally, palm trees are a big part of florida's landscape. but the instagram-worthy foliage may actually be doing more harm than good when it comes to the environment. the national oceanic and atmospheric administration, or noaa, reports atmospheric carbon
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dioxide levels are higher than at any point in the last 800,000 years, making the earth hotter, faster. palm trees don't provide shade, cool down streets and sidewalks, or trap much carbon. the average palm tree in southern florida only absorbs about five pounds of co2 each year. that's not a lot when you compare them to other trees like mahogany, pines, cedars, and oaks. those trees hold an average of around 48 pounds of co2 annually. now, there is an effort to plant more canopy trees in west palm beach and miami beach. by 2050, miami beach's palms should make up no more than 25% of the public tree count. so, the famous trees will still be around, but there will also be a little bit more shade. that's it for this edition of “matter of fact.” i'm soledad o'brien. we'll see you next week. >> if you missed our top stories about how to stop the max is
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that from classroom, the tiny house movement that could help solve homelessness, boston mayor michelle on screen agenda, and the native american legislator proposing an alert system to missing and indigenous people, go to listen to matter of fact was solid at o'brien on your favorite podcast provider. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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america," happy lunar new year and today we spotlight a highlight of the celebration, the parade guys who put together many of the big floats in the san francisco new year parade that's an art. then we talk with the chair of the department of medicine from santa clara valley medical center. he'll talk to us about how he ended up in the forefront of the fight against covid. then we'll talk to the leader of aadi, asian americans with disabilities initiative, a youth-led organization that aims to amplify disabled


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