tv Education Nation Parent Teacher MSNBC September 23, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
looks great. didn't realize they did photoshop here. hey, good call on those mugs. can't let 'em see what you're drinking. you know, i'm glad we're both running a nice, clean race. no need to get nasty. here's your "honk if you had an affair with taylor" yard sign. looks good. [ male announcer ] fedex office. now save 50% on banners. hello and welcome to "education nation." i'm alex wagner live in new york city where we are at the red carpet premier of "won't back down." the hollywood film that sparked parent trigger laws. over the course of the next hour, we'll talk to the stars of the film as well as parents, members of congress and leaders in education.
there are always two sides to every issue. supporters of parent-trigger laws believe parents have the right to demand change in failing schools. on the other side are many educators who feel teachers are under attack and that in order to fix broken classrooms communities need to work more closely together rather than in opposition. earlier today at the new york public library we held a prominent discussion with leaders in the field of education reform. i'm here at the historic new york public library in midtown manhattan in the celeste bartos forum. joining me is congressman george miller on the workforce community, randy wine gardner is the american president of the federation of teachers, and doreen diaz led the parent-trigger laws at her daughter's middle school. what is the parent-trigger law?
it gives parents the opportunity to replace half the teachers, replace the principal or close it or turn it into a charter school if the majority of the parents believe the school is failing. currently seven states have some form of the law statewide or in separate districts. 12 more are considering legislation. so far one school, desert trails elementary in california, has successfully used the trigger but their actions blocked by the school board and is currently under appeal. the film "won't back down" presented this friday depicts a portrayal of the parent-trigger law. a man's daughter is attend nation school in pittsburgh. jamie is trying to persuade a parent-trigger petition. >> do you want to start a school with me? >> what? >> i can't take this anymore and somebody told me that if you find a teacher and you stick with it long enough you can turn
a school around. i'm going to go to district tomorrow, figure out how to do this. could you take a sick day and meet me there? >> doreen, welcome to new york. i want to ask you the first question, which is if you're granted permission to reform the school, how nervous are you about actually being able to get the school on track? are you confident that the parents can move the ball forward, as it were? >> first of all, let me say that i'm a mom and never thought in a million years i would be in a forum like this, so i'm a little bit nervous. >> we are all nervous. >> you'll do great. >> thank you. it was never our intention to run the school ourselves. our goal is to make sure that our children get a quality education. and so through our process we are working on doing that for them. >> randy, i want to ask you, the dynamic in terms of the debate over education reform is usually relegated to two sides. teachers unions and education reformers. this is one of the first laws that brings parents into the equation. and i know you have some thoughts about how involved
parents need to be in the question of education reform. i would love to get your thoughts on the parent-trigger law. >> parents, first of all, i salute and applaud you. parents need to be involved at the front end. and when i heard the story about this school and when i saw the movie initially, i'm like, i have been viola davis. and we have tried to turn schools around from inside-out. and the frustration here is how do we get things going from the front-end, not the back-end. that story about desert trails is a horrible story. and it is horrible that your kid couldn't get what she needed. we need to make every single school a school parents want to send their kids and educators want to work. so the question is how do we do this kind of stuff all around the country. and some of the times we are doing it like in new york when we did cc-9 or worked with parents and trying to do that
together in connecticut, it's a different version of the trigger law that everybody supported and now 184 schools in connecticut are using it in a different kind of way. but most importantly it is this division of parents versus teachers that we have to find, we have to eradicate and we have to actually work together to help all schools, public schools succeed for kids. [ applause ] >> congressman miller, do you believe the answer in terms of education reform, and is there a national answer? this seems like an incredibly localized movement, you have parents banding together at the school level on a case-by-case basis, is there something we can do in terms of national education policy in. >> there's a lot we can do in terms of national education policy, but the fact of the matter is america runs a very localized school system. we do not run it from washington, d.c. >> much to the -- >> desert trails is all out
there by themselves. they had to make these decisions. schools in very big cities and elsewhere are very isolated. desert trails is one story. i just had a group -- 80% of the staff and teachers of the school decided they could no longer do business with the district and wanted to start a charter school and a very upper middle class area with 20% minority students and they met the most vicious attacks by them as if the school board owned the school. and i think people now know what's possible in the school. parents now know they may live in a poor school district with a poor school and a poor performing school and all those things, and yet we know, demonstrate all across this country that many of those children can learn at the highest levels. so you say, i want that for my child. and what doreen did, i followed this from day one, and to me this is one of the most exciting cases of power empowerment. we give lip service to the involvement of parents but schools really don't want it, for the most part.
it complicates it. it complicates it. and i appreciate all of the effort that is have been made, but i've been watching this for 38 years and the fact of the matter is they are not welcome to the extent they should. and yet they are such a resource. guy to schools in oakland, california, richmond, where parents are on the campus working, helping every day because they want the best for their kids. their english learners, they are poor from all over the world, they want their kid to succeed. and that energy goes right through the system. and this is, i think, a very powerful weapon since other parents think, the school's been failing for ten years, when do we get our turn at success? >> here we many live at the premier of "won't back down," the film's director, daniel barns. thank you for being here. >> thank you so much. >> some folks on the other side of the classroom are saying this film is anti-teacher.
what do you say to the critics? >> first of all, i tam son of two teachers, my grandmother was a teacher, i created film that is a really great celebration of teachers and great teaching. and i think every teacher who has seen the movie appreciates it. in fact, some of the greatest compliments i have received have been from teacher who is say, i spent 40 years teaching, this movie makes we want to go back to the classroom. or this movie makes me want to go out and teach. anybody calling the movie anti-teacher probably hasn't seen the movie. >> the other thing you did which is interesting is the parent-trigger law doesn't give power to the teachers in terms of turning over the school. tell us how you tweaked that for the film. >> well, the parent-trigger law is basically how parents frustrating with a failing public school come together to transform it. i'm telling a different story. this is not a parent-trigger law in the movie, it's a law in which 50% of the parents come together with 50% of the
teachers to transform the school. and that was really important to me as a product of educators to ask the question, could educators be involved in this? and i think it is so important, the best public schools i know are the ones founded by the vision of passionate educators. >> certainly the role of teachers can not be underplayed. daniel barnz, congratulations on the film "won't back down." great to see you. >> thank you so much. >> coming up, our panel discussions the changing role in the importance of unions aeducation. plus we'll talk live to some of the stars of "won't back down" on the red carpet when we return to the theeater after the break >> seven out of town kids can barely red. there are people out there building and designing prisons and figuring out what kids are going to drop out so they know how many prison cells to build. you know what i want to say to the prison folk? i want to say, hands off my kid.
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welcome back to "education nation: the parent teacher association." we are live at the premier of "won't back down." the role of unions have a big scene throughout the movie and i asked my panel earlier about teacher evaluations, a sticking point recentfully the chicago teachers strike. after striking for seven days
this month, 26,000 teachers finally reached an agreement with the chicago school district. the teachers union successfully rejected the city's plan for merit-based salaries and increasing teacher evaluations to student test scores. that fight over how teachers are evaluated and to what degree they should be responsible for student achievement strikes at the heart of the argument over education reform. and won't back down the teachers union plays a pivotal role in blocking the trigger. holly hunter argues with a coworker about whether or not the union should be opposing the parent-based initiative to reform the school. >> it's a feeding frenzy. district offices all over the state are getting slammed with calls, oh, let's do what they're doing at adams. >> we are so fine with the school board. right now we have it at 5-2 if king sticks. >> no, that's too close. go back to the teachers. seriously, this would be like handing over planes to passengers. i'm not going to let that happen. >> but don't we have some
responsibility to the kids as well? >> randy, my first question to you is about teacher evaluations, because there's a lot of hue and cry over how much import they should have in the reform process. and i draw your attention to a map of states requiring annual teacher evaluations, this is from last year. the 22 states require annual teacher evaluations. 12 states require that student achievement be part of the evaluations, but i guess the logic is if students are evaluated, if students are tested, why shouldn't teacher bs? >> of course teachers should be evaluated. the notion teachers shouldn't be evaluated or that we shouldn't be responsible for our performance is ridiculous. the issue really becomes how do you do an evaluation that works? that as we've heard people say from this stage today that is transparent, that is fair, that is comprehensive and that ensures we are about continuous feedback because it is about ensuring that all teachers do the best that they can be.
so our argument has been about, let's do real evaluations. let's fix the broken system of evaluations. let's focus on what have i taught and what can kids learned? i think the issue really has become is learning reduced to a test score? either for a child or for a child's teacher? and what we need to do is focus on lots of different ways to assess learning. but evaluation? of course we have to have evaluation, just like we have to have, you know, just like we have to have preparation. just like we have to have resources for teachers to really be able to engage with kids. >> do you think if there was a more sort of comprehensive or form of evaluation that teachers signed off on they would be more willing to tie a larger part of their salaries to those evaluations? >> well, what happened is that if we are actually not teaching, we shouldn't be schoolteachers. so this notion that, you know, an evaluation system is disconnected with what we're
doing is just, is nonsense. the problem was that we've had evaluation systems throughout the united states of america forever. but they were, when i taught at clara barton high school in new york city, we had drive-by evaluations. so your principal would come in for 20 minutes a year, essentially, mine came in more because he liked social studies. so he liked that i taught civics. you know, but so 20 minutes doesn't make continuous feedback. so that was one side. and now the other side is it's easy to try to reduce it to a test score, but right now what we need to do is we need to actually teach kids how to apply knowledge. how to really think. and so the more exciting place where we're going is how to actually align concore and evaluations and really exciting places to learn.
the last thing i'll say is this, what teachers push back about is that we can't do it all alone. so when you reduce something to a single test score, even assuming it's reliable, you're basically saying that one individual teacher is going to do it alone and we need help. we need parents to be involved. we need to make sure that kids have the wrap-around services like, you know, like health care and dental services and after-school services and art and music. that's really what teachers are saying, we want to do our jobs. we wouldn't be teachers if we department want to make a difference in the lives of children. >> and that's a great point in so far as the people who are teaching. i posed this to doreen first, we know the turn-around for teachers, they don't last past the first five years. once you have the parent-trigger laws, does that discourage good teachers from staying in the school system or coming into it in the first place? >> i can't speak to that but i can speak of my experience at desert trails.
first i know is last-in, first-out. so they can be a perfectly, i mean, exciting, motivating teacher that your child has, but because she or he was the last person hired they are not staying while their counterpart kind of lost their focus maybe or is not doing exactly what they should be doing for our students still has a job and still has children in front of them. that hurts the kids. and i have to ask myself, who are they there for? because if we are firing or letting go of the younger teachers, who are doing a better job and are keeping the ones who are teaching, what are we saying? that our children aren't wort it? their interests aren't being met because you have a teacher that really doesn't want to be there anymore. >> congressman miller, we know 38 states granted virtually little or no -- are the teachers benefited before given tenure
and is there incentive for teachers to improve after they do? >> i think that is history. we are not where we should be, but the fact is that president obama and secretary duncan i ignited this issue about the use of good comprehensive data and evaluations to take many multiple factors about the skills and talents of a teacher in dealing with the classroom and parting knowledge and the ability to do so. people will resist, people will fight it, but the fact of the matter is in this day and age everybody who goes into the workforce knows they are going to be evaluated. they could be evaluated before they get the interview in this high-tech world. i'm not saying that's fair but that's what happens. so i think that, you know, you look at a state like massachusetts, they have put in a lot of research and thought into this about the evaluation of principals and the evaluation of teeners, and you find a lot of excitement among the teachers that potential evaluation. when we went through the layoffs with this bad economy on
teachers, we didn't know if they were good or bad teachers because there was no evaluation to tell you that. >> thank you to our first panel, congressman george miller, randi winegardner and doreen diaz. thank you. one of the stars of "won't back down," rosie perez, is joining me on the red carpet. congratulations on the filming. >> thank you so much. >> rosie, we know you're a product of the public new york schools, and how did you use that experience to prepare for the role in "won't back down"? >> i didn't use my experience as being a participant in the public school system. what i used is my experience as part of a charity, urban arts partnership, that we work inside the public school system. i still believe in public education. i believe -- i will never, ever give up on it and our charity works closely with the teachers. and i hear the teachers' frustrations. they are frustrated by everyone
pointing the fingers at them and saying they are the core root of the problem and that is not true. there's a lot of different factors involved in regards to the problem with education. and, you know, it extends way beyond the teachers and the teachers union. it's the board of ed, the private sector, it's charter schools, it's -- it runs the whole gamete. and that's what i wanted to bring to the role. i want to bring the frustration that the teachers feel. >> and who is -- we talked to you earlier in the day about the importance of teachers in children's young lives and it sounded like you had a teacher in fifth grade that played a pivotal role in helping you along. can you tell us about that? >> he did, 100%. he saw the passion that was inside of me that was quiet. it wasn't dormant but definitely quiet because i had a speech impediment and an accent, i'm puerto rican and a girl. that's a lot to silence a child in the united states of america. and he said, listen, you do have a speech impediment, and that's
your only thing that's stopping you, so let's go down the hall and fix it. and i think your hilarious and smart and beautiful and he just made me feel like a superstar in his classroom and i just really -- and i literally went and found him two years ago, in fact, and i called him up and thanked him. >> wow. he unlocked the magic that is rosie perez and we all have him to thank. >> we have him to thank. >> rosie, thank you for joining us on the red carpet. >> thank you so much. >> just ahead, getting results. what's best for american students? we'll go to michelle reed, joel klein and more. that's coming up. does your phone give you all day battery life ? droid does. and does it launch apps by voice while learning your voice ? launch cab4me. droid does. keep left at the fork. does it do turn-by-turn navigation ? droid does. with verizon,
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daniel barnz. we can't let you go without concerning there are protesters across the street. this is not something you're unfamiliar with but tell me about the passions ignited over this. >> i'm not surprised. everybody is fired up at schools in education and i think it's great they are here tonight voicing -- this is a movie that's all about protests and people standing up for what they believe in. i think it's great they are here doing the same thing. >> and well the other thing to say is, there are a lot of actors in what makes a school, and there are a lot of pieces in the puzzle. there's a charter school, there's a parent role, there's teachers unions, one of the great things is that it encourages people to talk about it. >> absolutely. and it really looks at the whole complexity of the issue. you know, fundamentally this is a movie about people who feel powerless and see there's something wrong in the world and try to change it. i think it is something everyone can rally behind. i happen to know the protesters
here are protesting something different than what the movie is about. and i wish i could show them the movie about how this comes together to create change for our schools. >> you have characters in the movie, one of the teachers in there is simp theft touk the cause of unions, the plight of teachers, seems like he was written specifically for that perspective. >> absolutely. here's the thing, i'm a liberal democrat and powered member of two unions, i marched with my union a couple years ago just like they're doing now, and i think the whole message in the movie is that you can support unions but you can also ask what they can change. that's an okay question to ask right now. >> the director of "won't back down." daniel barnz, congratulations on the film. sure to spark debates in living rooms across the country. coming up, we'll ask our panelists about the other innovations working in the classroom when we return next.
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we are back in new york's theater for the premier of "won't back down." earl we are at the new york public library the panel and i looked at and discussed what's actually working. here we are at manhattan's new york public library in the beautiful celeste bartos forum. i'm joined by michelle reed, ceo of founders first and chancellor of the washington, d.c. public school system. vanessa bush-ford of the black star pta in chicago, illinois, and joel klein, former new york city public schools chancellor and now ceo of amplify, an
educational organization focused on digital innovation. a lot of the discussion on education reform has focused on charter schools but what many people don't know is charter schools account for less than 6% of the nation's public school students. and depending on who you talk to their record is mixed. a 2009 stanford university study found 17% of charter schools outperformed traditional schools, 37% did not and half saw no did certainable difference. michelle, i want to go to you first on this, as i said in the intro there, there's been a lot of talk about charter schools, i guess, you know, my question to you is is the focus successive when we should be talking about the nation's public school systems where 94% of the nation's schoolchildren are involved? >> well, i think what we have to understand is charter schools are public schools. a lot of people try to pretend as if they are not, but they are part of the entire portfolio. so that's the first thing. sald the second thing is that we have to really think about things from the perspective of what is working for kids.
and instead of saying, well, what is the one answer? are charter schools the answer? are parent-trigger laws the answer? there is no one thing that is going to bring about the change that we need in this country. it's going to require a great number of strategies that are going to get us to where we need to go. so when it comes to charter schools, are all charter schools great? no, they aren't, but that's why we need accountability. there are charter schools in this country doing unbelievable things for kids. they are closing the achievement gap and showing over and over again low-income children can achieve at the highest levels. those schools, we should be doing everything we can to grow them to scale. for other charter schools not performing, we should shut them down. so the focus should be less on is it a charter school or traditional public school, private school and more on is that a school that is serving children well? >> joel, in terms of digital tools and where we are going and what's working in innovation, what is working and can it be mapped onto the national public
school system? >> first, let me say i think one thing that is working and that we all want for our children is choice. and i think this is a powerful thing in k-12 education. in new york city this year over 70,000 families, mostly minority families, families who are living in poverty, applied for 13,000 charter school seats. that's people voting with their feet. everyone in this audience wants a great school for his or her kids. that's the theme of everything we are doing. and my submission is first of all we have to get people from every corner and city in the country an opportunity for choice. what's working in the digital revolution is empowering teachers and engaging kids, customizing it. we expect so much from a single teacher, it's like putting a fire hose in your mouth and saying take a sip of water. it doesn't work. if we support teachers in a way that enables them to really focus on their kids, differentiate, some kids are moving quickly, some are moving
slowly. we have the tools now through technology to empower our teachers to do that. we can also have our kids much more engaged. you think of the kids, i love it when i see kids who are really engaged in their learning, who are sitting there, who are looking at educational games that are taking them to an entirely different level. so i think we not only can scale this, but we can actually learn from each other and the greatest proponents, i think, of change will be teachers who really want to be able to focus on the things that are critical for their kids, pushing them to the next level, differentiating instruction, making sure they're doing the higher order thinking that the 21st century is going to require. >> in terms of how we're testing our kids and how we're testing our teachers, there is some thinking out there that standardized testing does not actually measure students performance, not only that but it kills creativity. ken robinson, a man that is a british educator also working on education concerns in the u.s.
says we are now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make and the result is we are educating people out of their creative capacities. what do you make of that in terms of kids being educated out of their creative capacities? >> i think there's any question about that. and there is a problem with the standardized tests. first of all, there's concerns about what exactly does it measure? all it measures is your ability to take a standardized test, but we have gotten into this because of a feeling there's no accountability in the schools. how do you measure what it is that the children are learning? and so we have defaulted to standardized tests. and now the teachers spend so much time teaching to the test that the children don't learn things like critical thinking. they are not able to do the kinds of thinking that they need now for the jobs that are available now. there is no job where you -- that adheres to the sorts of things you see on stang standardized tests, which is a regurgitation of facts. but the charter schools have the
same thing. it's about frustration with the public school system. the inability to measure what's going on there, the inability to measure whether or not the children are learning anything and whether or not the teachers are doing their jobs. and that frustration is what, i think, pointed to things like charter school and standardized tests. >> joining me here on the red carpet, one of the stars of "won't back down," two-time oscar nominee, viola davis. a pleasure to be here. >> thank you very much. >> we are happy to see you and congratulations on the film. >> thank you. >> in the recent film "the help" race and class were very much at the root of the plot. and this film doesn't touch on race and class as much but it does touch on an issue incredibly sensitive and arouses personal beliefs and passions. have you been surprised by the reaction to it? and also, in terms of preparation for the role, how much did you even think about that? >> i have been absolutely surprised by the reaction. did i know that it was a hot bid
issue? absolutely, but i thought that education in and of itself which is such a universal theme was a need and a focus of everybody in this country, that everyone understood what a good education means to any child in this country. that it unlocks the doors to dreams, to opportunity. i didn't know that anybody would have issues with the movie that illuminated that. although i'm surprised, i am happy about the discourse, because i think the discourse is the spear-head of change. i think if we saw that in the '60s, that's why we enjoy the privileges of today. i'm always thinking about this saying and the saying regardless of your religious affiliations is the future is like heaven. everybody exalts it but no one wants to go there now.
in america, it's changing. >> it is indied. one of the things in the film that turned on its head, very admirable, the black family is not the struggling family in the film, it is actually the white family. as i said, it does not focus specifically on race and income but those are themes in the movie and the important parts of the educational debate. >> absolutely. i think it is an important part of the educational debate because that's who we are as americans. we kind of think that kind of a bad education is just something really focused on the black and the latino communities. they certainly suffer from that, but i think, really good education is really a class thing. it's really about poverty. and people who live in poverty, you know what they don't have? they don't have the choices. and that's why charter schools are so valuable. i have a charter school in my hometown, segway institute for learning, where they have the highest math scores of any charter school, elementary charter schools in the state yet
they are struggling to stay open. >> as we look at the ed reform issue, it is not a color problem but an american problem. >> absolute xwli. >> congrats on the film. thank you for being here. coming up, maggie gyllenhaal is joining me. and we'll look at success and failure inside the classroom. the rest of my discussion is after the break.
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straight as aren't earned in a vacuum. there are many factors outside the classroom that determine if a child succeeds or fails. children coming from low income students are far less likely to succeed than those in wealthy households. the achievement gap between the poor and rich has jumped 40% over the last half century and is now nearly twice as large as the achievement gap between blacks and whites. in this clip from the film "won't back down" maggie gyllenhaal and viola davis try to prove that a role can play a big part in the community. >> a lot of the kids can barely add and you want to be teaching them geometry. >> the problem is no one expects them to do well so they don't. >> come on, look around, i'm a cop. there's drugs, there's gangs. >> change a school, change a neighborhood. >> you really think you can turn this around? >> well, i can't say for certain -- >> 100% yes. >> joel klein is former chancellor of the new york city school system.
how valid is that assertion? can a good school change a community? >> there's no question it can have a huge impact on it. let's get real, what does every parent, particularly parent who is are struggling, what does that parent want for his or her kids? they want a great education and a life that the kids can have that is successful, productive and engaged. when vanessa says she came out of public housing and went to public schools and we want on to live here, that's my story here in the city of queens. i have no drought those teachers in astoria who didn't say, my family lived in public housing that somehow i wasn't going anywhere in life. they didn't let my poverty become my destiny. and i have seen this time and again. if you create a great education for a kid, create a great school in the community, parents respond, they get more involved, more engaged and most of all they get more hopeful. i have seen grown men cry because their kids are teaching them to read. this is entirely doable.
it is not easy, poverty makes it much harder, but we have to stop kidding ourselves. this is doable. >> michelle, given the poverty question, not letting poverty determine destiny is a powerful statement and an important one, the reality, though, is that economics do actually make a difference. and a census study shows of 2010, 21% of public schools come from families living below the poverty level, which is a pretty low bar here in the united states of america. how do we address that going forward? the issue of income inquality and its affect on snegs. >> well, i think what many people in this country don't know is as a nation we have fallen towards the bottom internationally on social mobility, which means that if you're a child born into poverty in this country, the likelihood you'll ever be able to escape poverty is slim to none. that to me is the most un-american think i can possibly imagine. it goes against every single ideal we have as a nation.
america is supposed to be the land of equal opportunity where if you work hard and do the right thing you can live the american dream. and the only way that that is going to happen is through education. i think the debates and the conversations that i've been hearing lately about, well, because kids are poor, because they come from bad neighborhoods, because they come from single-parent households we can't expect them to learn is absolutely wrong. the only way that our children are going to be able to break the cycle of poverty is if we provide them a high-quality education. >> i believe the phrase is. [ applause ] >> my question to you is, how do you keep families, parents, children in low-income neighborhoods invested in their education? how do you keep them engaged in the process? how do you ensure they're stake holders with after years and years if not decades of failing the children, there's a sense of apathy if not entrapy that sets
in. >> it is a challenge. what i've been doing is working with a community pta in chicago. again, i don't have a child who is right now in a public school, but for people who don't have children in public school or have a child at a school that doesn't have a pta, there's an entity called the community of pta, in some communities in chicago and other areas this is a growing trend. and what it's about is bringing together parents, again, you don't have to have a child in a particular school. people in the community, business people who are involved in the community, who get it that the health of the public school affects the health of the neighborhood. and it is through that kind of thing, for instance, before i came here i did some research on chicago public schools website and looked at the measures that they had for the health of the school versus things like the level of family involvement. and there's a high correlation between family engagement in that school and whether or not that school is on probation.
so and this is the sort of thing, even if you have a school where a number of the parents are low income or not engaged in the school for whatever reason, because you'll find schools with higher income that parents are not necessarily engaged either, if you can develop a community pta that gets beyond the population of that particular school, then those people have to advocate for that school and the schools in the area. and through that way you can have more of an impact and not be so much tied into this notion that because all of the children in the school are low income and the parents are low income and apathetic or according to the way some people view them that nothing can be done about their school. something can be done about all of these schools. >> there is a solution out there. thank you so much to all of you. thank you to michelle reed, vanessa bush ford and joel klein. coming up, she plays the mother who spearheads the effort to take over a failing school and won't back down. she's also another academy award nominated actor, maggie gyllenhaal joins me live here on the red carpet at the zigfield theater. that's next.
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we are back live at the ziegfeld theater with the star of "won't back down," maggie gyllenhaal. a privilege, a delight to see you here on the red carpet, our your red carpet as the case may be, maggie. the film is interesting because one of the things it does is really introduce the important role that parents play in their children's educations. and until now the education debate, the reform debate, has focused really on teachers unions and education reformers and not really address the role of parents. we talked earlier about the passions that are aroused in parents when their kids have good teachers and bad teachers in school. and i'd love to know as a mother
your experience with that. >> well, you know, i mean, i think, yes, of course, parents are the other set of teachers to their children. i think it is also our responsibility if we see something going wrong, if we see something that can be changed, to try to change it and to model that for our kids. and look, the character i play in the movie is working two jobs, she's a single mother. i don't know realistically how much time she really has to sit down and help her daughter with her homework. i think she's doing the absolute best she can. i think it is her number one priority but it's hard, it's hard. and i completely understand that. and we do need to have an educational system in place in this country where parents can trust that their teachers are also really reliable to help them, you know, to help their children learn. >> they are entrusted with their children's futures. >> exactly. >> in researching the role, what
surprised you most about the education nation or the education system at large? >> to be really honest, the thing that surprised me is the controversy that's going on amongst the adults. and the ways in which the adults in the system are sabotaging each other. i think -- i understand the complicated nature of the debate. i understand both sides of it. and yet i think that if we are not -- if that debate is keeping us from making changes that help our kids, then all sides are failing. >> the lovely and extremely talented maggie gyllenhaal. congratulations on the movie and thank you for spending time with us. >> thanks a lot. >> thank you to maggie gyllenhaal and the rest of the cast and crew of "won't back down." and thank you to the panel guests and the new york public library. that's it for me tonight. tune in all week to nbc news for special coverage of "education nation." and you can catch me here at
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