tv PBS News Hour PBS May 26, 2015 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> ifill: a road map to reform, cleveland plans to transform its police department, after reaching a negotiated settlement with the justice department. good evening, i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. also ahead this tuesday: behind closed doors, the secret trial in iran for washington post reporter jason rezaian charged with espionage. we get the latest update from the journalist's brother ali rezaian. >> ifill: plus, opting out, as the school year comes to a close, why a small, but growing, number of students are refusing to take standardized tests. >> woodruff: those are some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour.
>> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your life and become you're own chief life officer. >> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build measurably better lives. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: the flood disaster that's stricken texas and oklahoma claimed more lives and property today. at least 16 people have been killed since saturday, and dozens more are missing. the latest deluge hit houston
after an all-night downpour. lightning snaked its way across the night sky and the rain fell- - and fell and fell-- 11 inches in about six hours in southwest houston. by morning, parts of the nation's fourth largest city were underwater. hundreds of cars were stopped in their tracks by rising water, causing all-night backups. in some cases, desperate drivers climbed onto the hoods of their cars waiting for help. but, even tow trucks got stuck. houston mayor annise parker declared the city a disaster area, after more than 500 water rescues. >> the street flooding from the really torrential downpour last night, we've got cars really littered all over the city. and as the floodwaters go down, one of the things we're doing is to make sure that no one is trapped in those vehicles. >> ifill: in all, about 2,500 vehicles were abandoned by
people seeking higher ground. to the west, 40 people were still missing in the hard-hit vacation area of wimberley, texas on the blanco river. teams kept looking for laura macomb and her two children who were swept away in t vacation home. her husband, jonathan, was rescued. governor greg abbott declared disasters in more than three dozen counties. and in washington, president obama promised federal help. >> we have fema personnel already on the ground. they are coordinating with texas emergency management authorities. and i will anticipate that there will be some significant requests made to washington. >> ifill: meanwhile, on the mexican border, the death toll from monday's tornado in ciudad acuna rose to 14 after search teams found the body of a baby who'd been swept from its mother's arms. >> ifill: so far, there's no
estimate of the damage done in texas and oklahoma. but the national weather service is warning of more rain and thunderstorms this week. >> woodruff: a federal judge's ruling that blocked a presidential order on immigration, will stand a while longer. a federal appeals court panel refused today to set aside the ruling. it bars the president from shielding immigrants from deportation. the justice department is expected to appeal. >> ifill: the government of iraq has formally opened a campaign to retake its key western province, anbar, from the islamic state group. isis fighters captured the provincial capital, ramadi, last week, after iraqi forces abandoned the city. today's announcement of a counter-offensive came as shiite militias said they are now taking the lead in the operation. >> ( translated ): we can say that the city of ramadi has been besieged from three sides. there are formations from the iraqi armed forces stationed
shoulder-to-shoulder with the formations of shiite militia. thus the city of ramadi will be blockaded completely. then, the iraqi troops will launch a wide-scale attack to liberate ramadi. >> ifill: u.s. officials raised concerns about the shiite militias' involvement, and their use of a sectarian code name that could offend sunnis. meanwin syria, state t.v. reported air strikes in the northern province of raqqa have killed 140 islamic state militants. >> woodruff: government-allied fighters in yemen have scored their first major victory in months, over shiite houthi rebels. officials said today the pro- government forces captured dhale, a city that lies on the road to the port of aden. >> ifill: china said today it will expand the reach of its navy and air force to protect its claims in the south china sea. that came days after a u.s. reconnaissance plane flew over areas where the chinese are building artificial islands. in beijing, the defense ministry dismissed complaints about china's activities. >> ( translated ): there are all kinds of constructions all over china everyday, such as building
houses, roads, bridges and so on. from the sovereignty point of view, china's construction in the south china sea is no different than the constructions in other parts of china. >> ifill: meanwhile, taiwan's president offered a plan aimed at easing the tensions. and japan announced it will join u.s. and australian forces in upcoming military exercises, for the first time. >> woodruff: back in this country, cyber-thieves have broken into an i.r.s. database that holds records of more than 100,000 taxpayers. the agency said today the hackers obtained tax returns and other information. the breach lasted from february through mid-may. >> ifill: amtrak will install video cameras in locomotive cabs, starting in the northeast corridor. the announcement today follows >> the engineer on that train suffered a head injury and has said he cannot remember what happened. eight people tied tie died in the wreck and 200 were hurt.
>> woodruff: president obama pressed the senate today to extend "patriot act" provisions that authorize bulk collection of phone records. he said: "this needs to get done." so far, opponents have blocked senate action, but majority leader mitch mcconnell is calling a sunday session, ahead of a midnight deadline. >> ifill: and wall street spent the day in a bearish mood over greece's debt and the surging dollar. the dow jones industrial average lost 190 points to close near 18040. the nasdaq fell 56 points. and the s-and-p 500 dropped 22. >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour: a roadmap for reforming cleveland's police department; the secret trial for a u.s. journalist in iran; how big money donors shape elections; mass graves in the forests along the malaysian border, the suspected work of human traffickers; why a small, but growing number, of students refuse to take standardized tests; and, an international market for vietnam's modern art.
>> ifill: the department of justice and the city of cleveland announced a sweeping legal settlement today, that rewrites the rules for the city's police department after recurring instances of the use of excessive force. the u.s. attorney, the city police chief and cleveland's mayor all praised the agreement at a joint news conference. >> compliance with this agreement, which means taking on truly systemic change, is going to be, and i say this as a clevelander, it's gonna be hard work. >> we've talked a lot about the nuts and bolts of this but what it really comes down to is we have to, i have to as chief, make sure that that community policing philosophy is part of the dna of the cleveland division of police. and that's what i intend to do. >> as i've expressed throughout this, my major issue was twofold-- one: that it didn't go far enough. and two: that we wanted to have substantive real reform that was
sustainable not just, just as the us attorney said, some pretense of reform. so this give us the tools. >> ifill: for more on what it took to get to this agreement and what happens next, is ronnie dunn associate professor of urban studies at cleveland state university. he also serves on the ohio task force on community-police relations. thank you for joining us. in the wake of the guilty-- not guilty verdict this weekend the officer who was part of the more than 100 shots fired at two people in the car, and we wait on tamir rice verdict and other high-profile verdicts what is the meaning of what they agreed to today? >> i think it's a first step along this long road that we need to transform the relationship between the community and the police department sworn to serve them.
this is a very robust and comprehensive reform package. >> ifill: one of the things that the assistant attorney general for civil right from the justice deparment mentioned today was this would restore constitutional policing. most americans would be surprised to realize that wasn't something that was already happening. you can complain what the definition of "constitutional policing" is? >> well, it's policing in line with the u.s. constitution particularly equal protection under the law and regarding protection from unreasonable search and seizure. and just the protection of citizens' constitutional rights regardless of their background-- socioeconomic racial, ethnic, gender or sexual orientation or otherwise. >> ifill: that seems pretty straightforward but that doesn't seem like it would need a
justice deparment settlement to accomplish. what is in the finding, this agreement, this settlement that would transform-- as the mayor stays stade-- transform the city police department and the city? >> well, there are quite a few component, particularly the revamping and revision of the use of force policies which were the particular finding of the doj investigation, deadly use and excessive force, and as you know, we have had a tragic instances you made reference to. it directly addresses that as well as what is really unique and novel about this is it places civilian involvement and the head of the internal affairs unit for the police department will be headed by a civilian. that is novel. that is unique. nowhere in the nation is that currently in place. so this can truly be a model for policing in the 21st century if implemented as designed.
>> ifill: "if implemented as designed." we heard the judge say this weekend part of the reason the police officer was not found guilty of manslaughter is he did perceive a threat. what does this agreement do to speak to this idea that some people-- is some officers, some civilians perceive threats which turns out may not exicht? >> yes i'm glad you asked that question. it specifically addresses training. there's a lot of emphasis on training, resources for equipment and training and specifically to your question, there's threat perception training and de-escalation tactics that will be implemented, and that, along with cultural competency and bias-free policing as well, will all be part of this reform package. >> ifill: when the the justice deparment first came out with this finding against the city of
cleveland, it never really mentioned race, but you're saying this agreement will speak to things like implicit bias? >> yabsolutely. that was insistent and a very salient theme throughout the community forums that were held, both throughout the city relative to this, this investigation, and throughout the state, actually. so bias-free policing and data collection are definitely incorporated, embedded in the-- in this package. >> ifill: i know you understand and you live in and you paid very close attention to what's happened in cleveland and ohio, but part of all the levels of government were saying today, this would be a blueprint for other departments in the country. you have written widely on more than just cleveland so maybe you can tell us how could this be a blueprint for other cities? >> when you consider this now embeds civilians over the internal affairs division, that
is how you would begin to change the culture within the police institution. we hear so much about the thin blue line and that blue wall of silence, and trying to impact that. well, this is how-- in part how you begin to shift and change that insular culture within the police agency. >> ifill: do you anticipate any resistance from unions, police unions, or the police officers themselves about the idea that a civilian would be in charge of their internal affairs investigations? >> well i'm sure there will be some resistance nentially but hopefully, everyone will see through the process, through the implementation process that this is essential for the better-- this not only benefits the community. it benefits police officers as well. it makes them able to perform their jobs more efficientively more safely, and provides them with the necessary tools
training and equipment that they need to do so. so i think that ultimately when we look at cities across the country-- cincinnati, for example, where they've come under dodge guidance with a dissent decree, there has been a transformation in the relationship between the police and community where they have a partnership, and co-policing to make the community safer overall. >> ifill: professor ronnie dunn of cleveland state university, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: after being locked up for nearly a year in a tehran prison, washington post journalist jason rezaian finally had his first day of court this morning. family members and journalists
were not allowed to attend the tehran revolutionary court session. he was accompanied only by his attorney. rezaian, who holds both u.s. and iranian citizenship, was arrested with his iranian wife last july. she was released on bail in october. in april, the washington post reported that their reporter was charged with espionage and other crimes including "collaborating with hostile governments" and "propaganda against the establishment." we invited the iranian ambassador to the united nations to come on the program to talk about jason rezaian's case. his office did not respond to our offer. we are joined, however, by jason's brother, ali rezaian. we welcome you to the program. >> thank you for having me. disploo. >> woodruff: so what do you know when what happened in that room today? >> we know this was the first day of the court. they were would go in and read jason the charges against him and the information about it, and he would have to respond to those. because it's a secret court,
because it's closed, we don't have a lot more information than that. it's illegal to disclose information but we know the process and we know that the next thing that's going to happen is the judge will set the second day of trial and there will be more testimony. >> woodruff: now he does have an attorney as we mentioned. >> that's correct. >> woodruff: and this is someone your family selected, is that right or helped select? >> it was kind of a long, hard process. we selected asan to be my sister-in-law's attorney, and because of the complexity of the case we wanted to have another attorney. we were hoping to find somebody who had a lot of english language skills as well. but the judge wouldn't allow us to choose some of the people that we wanted. we ended up deciding that we would use the same attorney. i think there's an advantage there because she does know the case very, very well. she's reviewed it and had a lot of time ton the evidence. >> woodruff: and you're in regular contact with her, but you're saying she's limited in what she can say. >> that's correct. i think it's like some trials here where they close the court and they won't let information
out during the time that it's happening. >> woodruff: now, what do you know other than he's being charged with espionage and what we said about the charge. what do you know about what evidence they're providing? >> i think the best way to sum it up is what layla said after she reviewed the case file. she said there's absolutely no basis in the evidence, no basis in the facts for any of these charges against jason. he never should have been arrested. he never should have been taken and questioned. what we do know is they're using very small things, usually via e-mail, to come up with these ideas that there was propaganda that he was saying bad things about the government or that he was reaching out to the united states government. when they talk about collaborating with hostile powers, the example there was sending a letter basically trying to get a job with the white house and wanting to help the countries come together. >> woodruff: the "new york times" reported today that there was a letter that jason sent to the transition team the obama transition team. >> that's exactly right. >> woodruff: in 2008 offering to be of help in relations
between the two countries. >> he said, i've been living in iran for a long time-- i've seen the letter. "i've been living in iran for a long time. i don't like the fact that the two countries where i grew up and where i'm living now are so hostile towards each other and i'd like to help the new administration improve rep rezaian alations. i can help you?" >> woodruff: and it was also reported they were using what they called evidence an application for an american visa for his wife who, as we said, is iranian. >> reporter: his wife was born in iran. after they were married she applied for a visa for permanent residency here in the united states. that process, you have to go to an embarrass exwaes. well there's no embassy for the united states in iran so the iranians process those in other exrips jason was in touch with the u.a.e. embassy in order to process that visa and after it was put in he asked for it to be expedited because that's what you do. you want the visa as quick as you can get it.
>> woodruff: but other than that, i mean what you've shared, that's all you know, what they say this case is. >> those are the primary things that they're talking about. you know they've said that he was investigating or reviewing foreign policy and internal policy of the islamic republic. they didn't say he had access to anything confidential, that he tried to, just that he was trying to learn. it which is what a reporter would do in order to be tiebl report. >> woodruff: now you were tell me earlier, ali rezaian, that his wife has been able to visit him. >> that's correct. >> woodruff: every week. what is she reporting? how is he doing? how are they treating him? >>un, it's just this long up-and-down cycle. sometimes he's better sometimes he's worse. i think his health is better but mental it's been difficult coming up to the trial. i think knows there is some progress is helpful. how they are treating him eye would say neglect more than anything else, long periods of time of where they don't integrity him where he doesn't have access to any other
prisoners. you know he's just by himself. fortunately he has access to some books but he's still locked up. >> woodruff: your mother was able to visit him in december, is that right? >> correct. >> woodruff: when she was in tehran, and she's going gunn back but he hasn't been able to see him this time. is that right? >> he was able to see him she got to visit with the judge, as well as the revolutionary guards before she did but she gotaise one-hour meeting with his wife and with my brother last week, and hasn't seen him since. >> woodruff: well let me ask you about the judge. the reports are there is a judge who is known for handing down tough sentences. >> yes. >> woodruff: what is known about him? >>un, a lot of these judges, especially in the revolutionary court, there's not a the lot of information about them. people don't even see their pictures a lot of times. but with the judge that is assigned to jason's case, he's really worked on a lot of the more political cases. he's been assigned things that were political in nature and has handed down very harsh sentences
against people. but what i will say is many of those sentences have been overturned on appeal. there's an appeal process. our hope is as they look at the evidence, which they have, they'll see that there's no evidence there. there's no basis and, you know, he'll admit that this is th isn't something that they want to do. >> woodruff: ali rezaian, based on how other journalists who have been arrested, charged with espionage or something similar have been treated what, are your expectations for your brother? >> you know, i think we're fortunate what's consistent with what he said and what other folks have said is they're typically not very physical with dual nationals and that's absolutely what jason said. but i think mentally, over time, it's really tough on him. he's been neglected. he's been isolated. they play mind games with you all the time and they have been doing that for 10 months. i'm very scared that it can cause permanent issues for him,
you know-- fear, anxiety, those kinds of things as well as depression which he said, "i'm very very depressed. i don't belong here." >> woodruff: no wonder one would think so. what about, finally the u.s. government, has it been of help? what role has it played? >> i think because of the negotiations they've had a lot of one-on-one discussions with iran which is something that wouldn't have happened in the past. but there's only so much they can do through the diplomatic channels. the iranians insisted it needed to go through a legal process, they claided that process legally by their own standards as well as international standards six or seven months before they put it in the court. now it's moving along. the state department has passed along notes, passed along information to the government when we've asked to send letters, as well as kept us informed of what's going on. >> woodruff: well, ali rezaian, brother of jason rezaian, who is being held by iranian authorities, we can't imagine what this is like for your family.
we thank you very much for coming to talk to us. >> thank you for covering this story. >> woodruff: thank you. >> ifill: the ever growing cost of political warfare is now reaching into the stratosphere, with the 2016 election on track to possibly double the roughly $2 billion spent in 2012. part of the reason for all that spending has been the rise of millionaire and billionaire political activists on both sides of the political aisle. in the past we have looked at the koch brothers, who have pledged nearly a billion dollars to republican and conservative causes this cycle. on the left, there is billionaire tom steyer, who has pledged millions on the issue of climate change. and tom steyer joins me now. welcome to the newshour. >> nice to see you, gwen. >> ifill: you spent, they say, $70 million in the 2014 midterm elections. is money the key to the 2016 elections? >> i sure hope not because from what i can tell the democrats
have a very good chance of being out-spent. i think the key to the election is going to be imagine and candidate the-- message and candidate the way it usually is. if the message is significant and meaningful to voters and if the candidate connects as an authentic person who really cares about their concerns and wants to address them and can address them, i think that will carry the day. >> ifill: you have already decided to support hillary clinton. you've raised money for her yet she has been on the campaign trail saying one of the first things she would do as president is repeal citizens united. wouldn't that put you out of business? >> it would be fantastic. we felt from the beginning that citizens united was a mistake, that the way money is used in american campaigns isn't good for democracy. it's just a situation where we felt as if there's an immense amount of money on the other side, and as long as this is the system which the supreme court has put in place, there's got to be somebody on our side. and when you look at the relative dollars, it really is a
david and goliath situation, and we're very definitely the small shepard boy with five rocks and a sling. >> ifill: the small shepard boy, really? >> absolutely. >> sreenivasan: you're david? >> i don't think there's any question about it. >> ifill: let's talk about some of your david issues. the keystone pipeline, something you say should not be built. hillary clinton hasn't exactly said, since she's been a candidate what, she has been what some people think is suspiciously quiet, some people on your side of the argument. what would you do if she decide, as she seemed she was heading in the direction when secretary of state, that she was inclined to support its construction. >> we see keystone as a significant decision about the future of american energy policy, that it's a dirty-- the tar sands are a dirty source of energy, and that developing them in-- and they're absolutely immense-- is a choice that's going to play out over decades. whereas we think the correct
thing for the united states to do is to follow a technology and research-based clean energy policy that will create a lot of jobs. so when you think about mrs. clinton hypothetically determine what we do if she did something which she hasn't done-- what we have heard her do is talk about the importance of energy and climate, that it's the most significant set of issues facing the american people, and i expect she'll come out way set of policies that's really responsive. so i actually don't think we're going to be faced by the question you're posing. >> ifill: let's take a look at your very tough anti-keystone political advertising, a little bit of it right here. >> ifill: so this puts you potentially on the other side of president obama as well. you consider yourself to be kind of a single-issue supporter? >> i actually don't.
i see energy and climate as a human issue-- and by the way, i expect that president obama will turn down the pipeline just to be clear. >>clear. >> ifill: what do you tbhais on? >> on the test he set up as to whether he would improve it will it increase carbon pollution, which it will and if he follows the test he himself set up he will turn it down. >> ifill: as an issue candidate rather than necessarily a party candidate you can see yourself ever supporting a republican? >> i think if we are trying to monitor all the republican candidates for president-- we're seeing the republicans move. we'd be thrilled to be faced with a republican who was more progressive on energy and climate than -- >> dothan-- >> ifill: do you see any out there? >> no. >> ifill: what's the point of getting involved in any republican primaries if it's six of one and half a dozen of the other? >> in terms not of giving money but making sure there is someone getting candidates on record keeping an honest record of
that, giving them encouragement when they do-- what we think of as the right thing to do trying to expose them when when we don't think they're facing up to the issue fairly. that's a job that we think is important for somebody in america to do because we think american citizens have a right to know where the candidate stand on what is one of the key issues facing us. >> ifill: aside from the fact that you bis dis agree with some of the basic anothers and maybe the order of magnitude how are different from the koch brothers? >> there are a lot of differences. first of all anything-- there's no way you can show-- because it's not true-- that anything we're doing is self-interested. the koch brothers say they're acting out of conviction but whatever they're doing also definitely benefits their bottom line. you can't say that about us. second of all, i'm very suspicious and scared about the way money's used in politics, and to try to ameliorate that we try to be as transparent as possible. you said here are the records of exactly what you spent. yeah, that's true. we made those available.
we try to do everything in a way so people can see exactly what we're doing. i'm actually on your show, obviously, gwen. did the koch brackets come on your show. >> ifill: i'm waiting on them. >> i'm sure you are. but my point is a., it's not in our self-interest to do what we're doing. we think it's in the public interest. second of all, we're trying to be as transparent as possible. and when you look at the numbers whatever it is we're going to be a fraction of what they are so we're going to have to rely on message and the facts being on our side. >> ifill: assuming you're putting your money and where your mouth s$70 million in 2014. >> i don't know. what i found in politics anyone whongs they can plan how a campaign is going to go i think is nhlish because it's one of those interactive things-- if i do something you do something. so you really don't understand before it starts how it's going to play out sphwhriefl there's another way of putting your money where your mouth is and that could have been running for the u.s. senate in california for barbara boarks' seat.
why did you decide against that? >> honestly, we felt like the way we could have the most impact in 2015 and 2016 was not by running but actually to try to keep going on the voter-to-voter contact we had been pushing in 20 fraeb which is going out and reg sterg voters, having people go door to door to talk to voters trying to get people tond the issues we think are most significant-- >> ifill: don't you have to have a face to make that case most effectively? >> i think ultimately someone has got it take the lead. i think,ob, there are people who are running on the democratic side who want to be that face, but i think in 2015 and 2016, we really felt like what we could do was support what was going on. basically try and rely on old-fashioned, american democracy which is americans talkes to americans about the most important issues of the day. >> ifill: sire, thank you very
much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: we travel now to malaysia, where thousands of migrants, fleeing persecution and impoverishment, spending weeks trapped at sea, find a different nightmare when they finally land ashore. jonathan sparks of independent television news reports. and a warning: the story contains some graphic elements. >> reporter: we were taken in army trucks to the bottom of the mountain, where the malaysian authorities said they'd found a human traffickers' camp. this was a significant development. last week, they vehemently denied there were any. we're still going, are we? we're still going to the camp? >> yeah, yeah, yeah. yeah. >> reporter: the order was given and we began to climb. yesterday, the malaysians came clean, admitting there were at least 28 of these camps whereñf ickers held thousands ofc"ésr muslims called rohingya and
impoverished bangladeshis. and we followed in their footsteps. men women and children forced up and down this trail. the track is rough and it's also very steep, but you can see that it's well used. there's litter all over the place. and it's difficult to believe that local people and members of the authorities didn't know that there were hundreds of people living out here. the camp took shape from a distance. such was it size that it wasn't easy to hide. a bamboo jail that stretched across a mountain clearing, but further details were hard to come by. how many people do you think were kept there? >> i'm not sure. >> not sure. >> not sure, yeah. >> reporter: we've been given a few seconds to walk through the camp, but i think that's the wrong name for this place. it's more like a village or a
prison complex. there are cells wrung with barbed wire and watch towers and food and water storage facilities. there's even a cage where people were kept, i presume, because they tried to escape. clearly, it was a place of real cruelty where hundreds were held for the purposes of extortion. to earn their release, the victims' family members had to pay a ransom of $2,000-$3,000. later, we spoke to young rohingya who was held for seven months in a jungle camp. >> ( translated ): brokers told our relatives to send the money and beat us while we were on the phone. they're very bad people. there's little to eat here. some people starve, many are sick. >> reporter: sheruf managed to escape two months ago, but many
prisoners never leave. up on the mountain, forensics teams have begun examining 37 graves or burial pits. and on the earth's surface, we saw bone fragments and someone's jaw. >> ( translated ): one man didn't have any money to pay the ransom, so the brokers beat him. they handed him over to the camp guards and said you can finish him. the guards took a rope and hanged him. i saw it. >> reporter: it is an odious business and it's gone on for years. but the authorities here in malaysia and neighboring thailand seem determined to uncover the truth. the thais making more than 60 arrests. still, many think the traffickers will soon return to the mountains. >> ifill: the school year is nearing its end around the country, and many students are completing a new round of
standardized tests tied to the common core curriculum. but there has been backlash in some communities. william brangham has the story. >> brangham: parents, in fact, are deciding to opt out. more specifically, their children are simply not taking year-end standardized tests such as the parcc exam or another one known as "smarter balanced." the movement has been relatively small in total numbers. but it picked up a lot of support this year in places like new york state where as many as 165,000 students opted out. in new jersey, 15% of the high schoolers who were slated to take the tests chose not to do so. it's also been an issue in florida and elsewhere. we fill in the picture with john merrow, our special correspondent for education, who reported on this earlier this spring. and muhtoko rich, a national education reporter for the new york times who has been covering this. muhtoko, i'd like to start with you. i wonder if you could tell me, this movement seemingly came out of somewhat out of nowhere. we've had standardized testing for a fairly long time.
i wonder why this moment? what are the concerns, and why have they sprung up now? >> i think there have been-- it's sort of a perfect storm of concern, so it's not just about testing. a lot of people i talk to said it's not the test themselves they object to. it's what they're being used for and what they're based on. we first had this movement to introduce new academic standards known as the common core which were adopted by more than 40 states. and in general, they're much more rigorous than the standards that came before. so in the development of new tests to measure whether or not students were reaching those standards and whether teachers were teaching to those standards the tests became harder. when they were first administered in new york state the proportion of students that passed these tests fell fairly drastically. you used to have 70% or 80% of students passing the test and it dropped to around 30%. that created a lot of concern last year. this year when the test was administered, i think there was already a lot of anxiety out there. and on top of that governor
cuomo here in new york decide he wanted to make teacher evaluations more rigorous. and he was concerned that so many teachers had been rated as effective or highly effective the year earlier, so he proposed that 50% of their evaluations be based on the student test scores. and i think that was really the moment that galvanized a lot of parents and teaches who were talking to the parents to say, "wait a minute. that's not what we want the test to be used for." as it turned out that proposal did not pass, but by then, i think there had been a lot of momentum that a lot of parents were concerned that the tests were being used in a way they did not deem appropriate. >> john merrow, this is certainly not universal. a majority of the students are taking test as instructed. what do we know about the people who are choosing to opt out? is there a rural-intawrn split in where do they come town politically? who are they? >> that's interesting. we looked into that. you get opposition on the right basically sort of a tea party
and they're upset about what they see as too much interference by government. on the left and the right there's a view that there's just too much testing and test prep in the schools, which it take, out art, music, phys ed. some on the left we found feel this is too anti-teach perp we are the only nation they know of that uses test scores not to assess kids but to assess teachers. i think we're unique in doing that. the center of the left and the right, there's a lot of feeling that the school curriculum has been bare bones, just drill and again, no arct no music, so on and so forth. on the left, from the unions, they were very late to the party, as far as we could figure out, but they have come in weighing in that they're concerned that a lot of this is being used to play gotcha with teachers. it's pretty widespread. it's grass roots. it's small. 12 million students talk the
parcc. if 5% opt out that creates-- that triggers some restrictions and 5% of 12 million is only 600,000. as you said, there are close to 150,000 in new york state alone. >> muhtoko, john mentioned this, the teachers' involvement of this. how much of this is being driven by teachers do you think? >> well, i think the teaches-- i would say the teachers unions have been incredibly shrewd in capitalizing on this issue. there are a lot of issues that have been-- that the teachers unions have frankly been attacked about over a number of years including the stability of tenure, their pension packages, but this is an issue as john mentioned that they can kind of galvanize left and right. in some ways they're sort of capitalizing on a movement that was already there, but i think they also helped stoke it here in new york state. the new york state teachers union did robocalls before the end-of-year tests began to offer parents to opt out.
there is a symbiotic relationship between the grass-roots movement on the parents side and the teachers organizing around this issue. >> muhtoko i know some of the concerns have been about technology. these tests are give own computers. many schools have said we don't have the money. we don't have the equipment and we don't have the band width, and some of our students may come from families where computers are not that accessible. how much has technology play in resistance to the testing? >> well i would say it depends on where the test was being administered. here in new york, the tests were largelylpc administered as
>> woodruff: na look at the growing contemporary art market in vietnam. for years, artists there created works around the country's many wars. today, there is a thriving international art market, one developed and curated by an american gallery owner. special correspondent mike serae has our story. >> the painting is entitled "hope," the hope for the future. you see the figure walking on lotus, which is a symbol of purity in vietnam. the double fish is the sign of prosperity. it's all about happiness prosperity, sense of well being
and a hope for the future. i know that we as americans, we know nothing about vietnam as a culture, and certainly we don't know anything about contemporary art in vietnam. so i thought i could come and work with these artists, and in some very small way, you know be a-- a little drop of water in the ocean of reconciliation between america and vietnam. so i literally just called a moving company and said, pack me up, i'm moving to hanoi. >> reporter: this is a long ways from kansas and montana where suzanne lecht grew up and studied art history. she came to hanoi twenty years ago without ever having seen the place before. she did so after the unexpected death of her husband. since then she has created a new life and career for herself and the international market for contemporary vietnamese art, a form of expression that was totally alien to post war vietnam. >> so it wasn't that this wasn't a sophisticated, artistic culture, it was very sophisticated, but from 1930 to
1980 they're documenting all these wars, so then it was after the war ended, all of a sudden there was no more wars to document and that was really the beginning of-- and the gang of five really started that road to really contemporary art in vietnam. >> reporter: after reading an article about the group of vietnamese modern artists dubbed "the gang of five," suzanne made it her mission to find them and help them emerge from the shadows of government censorship and the american embargo, which made their work difficult to find. and virtually impossible to sell. she managed to find ha tri hieu on her first week in the country. >> when he went to the fine arts university, there he was exposed to great masters of painting from europe. so you're seeing this kind of wonderful fusion of their western education along with
their traditional folk art. so it was the first generation of artists to be working in a time of peace in literally hundreds of years. so all of a sudden, they weren't required to do propaganda or very nationalistic works of art. and they've started doing- they've started painting their hopes and their dreams. >> went to the countryside and had a lot of friends who were paebting and i slowly changed my medium. i began to feel the emotion and passion for painting the countryside, my friends and family and cows. >> so this initially was your gallery, and you live upstairs? >> yes. >> reporter: her dream of opening an art gallery started in her home, a traditional country house one of "the gang of five" artists helped her disassemble and reconstruct above her apartment in the heart of hanoi. this is where she would bring visitors to see and learn about
the art, somewhat privately at first, before the government gradually relaxed its restrictions on public art exhibitions. >> well in the very early 90's there were only as far as art goes, there was a government exhibition center. and everything that is shown there, and this is still true today, you have to submit a photograph of work to the ministry of culture to get approval. but that said, i think generally over the years, it's become easier. the artists are pretty free to express themselves. and anything that's really negative about the government, you would have trouble showing today. >> reporter: suzannne finally opened her first public gallery in downtown hanoi in 2002 and started to attract both local and international buyers. >> we've had many big collectors, leon black, one of the biggest collectors in america, came in on his private
jet for a day, came into the gallery. >> well i had mick jagger i suppose, i think that was everybody's favorite just because he's such a rock star. >> reporter: vietnam's economic growth has been exponential since its adoption of a market based economy and the lifting of the u.s. trade embargo after diplomatic relations were restored in 1995. luxury goods, once unfathomable here before and after the war are an extreme symbol of the rampant consumerism sweeping the country. the local fashion and art scene has also blossomed for a new generation of vietnamese which has little reference to either the war or the socialist austerity of the past. >> so this particular piece is about the social transformation of the country. here you have the nouveau riche, the advertisement of the luxury goods that are only available to a very small percentage and the rest of vietnam is down here.
so it's the artist's depiction of the inequality of the social transformation. this is the work of ding te tam phon, she is an ethnic minority artist and you know the ethnic minority artists are quite marginalized. so he fact that she has come here to hanoi form growing up in the mountains where she is very poor and have gone through the art school and to become our most well known internationally female artist is a huge achievement. >> i want to start by thanking suzanne lecht. when she offered me her gallery space it was absolutely a dream come true. >> reporter: suzanne's art vietnam gallery recently featured the photography of catherine karno. the daughter of correspondent and historian stanley karnow who wrote the seminal "vietnam war: a history." >> every time i came back from a trip to vietnam and showed my father the pictures, he was astounded. when you look at the photograph for example of the girl dancers on the stage of a hennessey
launch in saigon. you would have never seen anything like this just a few years ago. when i first came in the early 90's it was dark, austere, very poor. today you see self-expression, creativity. you see the young people perhaps thinking outside the box. an explosion of not only business, but also art and design. one of the many things i've loved about this exhibition is that i've noticed there's a whole new, young generation of vietnamese that are coming-- that are wanting to know about their country, what happened and also art. >> reporter: just as suzanne lecht never had a business plan when she came to vietnam more than twenty years ago to help
kick-start the modern art business, she doesn't have an exit strategy either. >> i feel it's been not only a very exciting, challenging, amazing journey but i think what i've learned about life and about myself has just been the most marvelous, intellectual exercise that i could have ever experienced. >> reporter: for the pbs newshour, mike cerre reporting from hanoi, vietnam. >> ifill: later tonight on pbs "obama at war," frontline investigates the administration's struggle to deal with the syrian civil war and the rise of islamic state militants. this will begin shortly after the extremists gain control of a major city in syria. >> reporter: six months later, isis burst into public consciousness when they crossed
the border back into iraq and seized iraq's second largest city, mosul. ( explosion ) sunni residents welcomed them. u.s. officials were blindsided. >> the fall of mosul was something that we had not anticipated. and the suddenness with which that fall occurred was something that-- that was a shock. they seized everything from small arms to light-armored vehicles-- to anti-aircraft weapons. when terrorists of this kind get their hands on weapons, it was a huge concern to us. i don't think we truly understood the depth of the problem until the fall of mosul. >> reporter: for all the contingency planning that you routinely do here at the
pentagon, were there plans for how to react to the fall of mosul to isis? >> well, no, there were not, because, of course-- look, there were several things that surprised us about i.s.i.l. the degree to which they were able to form their own coalition, both inside of syria and inside of northwestern iraq; the military capability that they exhibited, the collapse of the iraqi security forces. yeah, in those initial days, there were a few surprises. >> reporter: the reaction was shock and concern that it looked like they were losing iraq. but there was very little action. mosul, the second-biggest city in iraq, even that was not
enough to really motivate action. facing little or no resistance isis moved deeper inside iraq capturing town after town. >> ifill: tune in tonight for frontline's "obama at war." check your local listing for the time. >> woodruff: on the newshour online-- music streaming service spotify announced last week that they will begin offering playlists that match the tempo of your workout. that got us thinking, what's the best music for getting the most out of your exercise time? we asked researchers who study music and the brain. see what they told us, and find the newshour's own workout playlist, on our home page. all that and more is on our web site, pbs.org/newshour. >> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday, trying to find homes for morocco's orphans where an estimated 24 children are abandoned every day. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy
woodruff, join us on-line and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your life and become you're own chief life officer.
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