Skip to main content

tv   Meet the Press  MSNBC  September 27, 2010 2:00am-3:00am EDT

2:00 am
this sunday from new york, a special edition of "meet the press." this morning, we kick off a week-long commitment at nbc news to "education nation." we will try to cut to the core of the crisis in public education. this weekend's opening of the emotional documentary, "waiting for superman," is a powerful reminder that too many schools are failing our children, and america's competitiveness is suffering as a result. are resources the answer? facebook founder mark zuckerburg announced he'll donate $100 million to newark, new jersey's schools. how do we make sure the best teachers are in the classroom? what reforms are working? and what can each one of us do to help? our discussion with around secretary of education, arne duncan, and leading reformer and chancellor of washington, d.c. schools, michelle rhee, randi weingarten, president of the
2:01 am
federation of teachers. and robert bobb, emergency financial manager of detroit public schools. but first, to politics and the fight for congress. but first, to politics and the fight for congress. will the house, in this divided campaign season, fall to the gop? if so, what will republicans do in power? this week, republican leaders in the house unveiled their pledge to america, campaign manifesto that's the 2010 version of the gop's contract with america from 1994. the highlights -- extend the bush tax cuts, cut spending, and repeal health care reform. >> our pledge to america is that the republicans stand ready to get it done and beginning today. >> but the question is, are these new ideas or more of the same?
2:02 am
here to debate that question among others, one of the architects of the republican pledge, the chairman of the house republican congress, conference, rather -- representative mike pence of indiana. he's here in new york. and the man responsible for electing democrats of the house this fall. the chairman of the democratic campaign committee, chris van hollen of maryland. welcome to both of you to "meet the press." here in new york. congressman pence, glad to be with us on the breezy set this morning. we'll get to that. i want to get to the pledge and the thought that this is new ideas or not. i want to start on the narrow issue of tax cuts. the big tax cut debate that's part of the midterm campaign, we know, congressman van hollen, that the senate has kicked off the decision, kicked it back, i should say, to after the elections to take on whether or not the bush tax cuts should be extended. what will the house do on this important question? >> well, david, the house will vote before these tax cuts expire at the end of the year.
2:03 am
whether we vote before the election or not is something we'll take a look at. i want to be very clear as to what the stakes are here because what the republicans have said is that they're going to hold tax relief for 98% of the american people hostage until they can get permanent tax breaks for the top 2%. even though that would blow a $700 billion hole in the deficit, something that would be added to the credit cards of our children and grandchildren, and slow down economic growth and jobs going forward. >> but what about the timing? you say it's probably not until after the election. i talked to economists, read their words this week who say the longer you wait, the more uncertainty. why not put it to a vote before the mid terms? >> we are absolutely going to get it done before the end of the year. we may well take it up before the midterms. but as you heard from mitch mcconnell, the senate republican leader, they are insisting on holding the tax cuts for most of the american people hostage until they get the breaks for the very top. we don't think we should be adding $700 billion to our
2:04 am
deficit. that's fiscally reckless and a time when we need to be imposing fiscal discipline, we should not be adding red ink that will have to be picked up by others and put us more in hock to china and other countries. that just does not make sense. >> you can take on the substance to that. but first, answer the question about the timing because that's where the news is. should the house take this up before the midterm vote? >> there's no question that there should be no higher priority for the congress in the united states today than making sure that no american sees a tax increase in january of 2011, not one. i -- i have to tell you, this -- for all of the world, seems like a moment where congress is putting politics ahead of prosperity. you know, what they're proposing here, even if -- even if they found some way to just extend middle class tax relief, would be an enormous tax increase in january on job creators in this country. higher taxes won't get people hired. raising taxes on job creators
2:05 am
won't create jobs. the american people know that. let me say one last thing. i think it would be unconscionable for this congress to adjourn without giving the bipartisan majority in the congress that wants to extend all current tax relief an up-or-down vote. >> a key question. >> hold on, congressman. i want to ask this key question. in this pledge to america that -- that we'll talk about in -- in greater detail in a moment, is this commitment to bringing down the deficit as well as extending the tax cuts. how do you answer the charge from democrats, from the president as well, that you don't have a way to pay for extending the tax cuts, yet you're committed to deficit reduction? >> in the pledge to america which i look forward to chatting about, we say, look, we've got to do something to get the economy moving again. we give real and meaningful proposals to begin the process of reining in runaway federal spending by both political parties and reforming the government. >> how do you pay for the tax cuts is the question? >> job one needs to be to create jobs. the american people know the
2:06 am
last thing you want to do in the worst economy in 25 years is raise taxes on small business owners and family farmers. we have to vote before congress adjourns for the political season, the fall elections, on an up-or-down -- but more than 30 democrats support extending all of the current tax relief. we're calling on speaker pelosi and leaders like chris, give us an up-or-down vote, let the congress work its will and give the american people certainty there will be no tax increase. >> the notion that mike is talking about that you need the tax breaks at the top to create jobs and economic expansion -- mike, those tax rates are in effect right now. they're in effect right now. i don't see all of the job creation as a result of the tax cuts. they've been in effect for nine years. at the end of the nine years, we've seen losses of millions of jobs. so this -- this story that somehow those breaks for the very folks at the top creates the jobs is just nonsense. and i want to make one other point because they -- >> hold on, hold on. >> one other point.
2:07 am
they tried to mask this as an issue with small businesses. well, it turns out that only 2% of small businesses are affected. and when you look at the definition of small businesses, you find that they're big hedge funds, big washington lobbying firms, kkr, pricewaterhouse. because under the definition of the tax code, anything that's an "s" corporation qualifies. i want mike to tell us whether he believes that kkr, whether pricewaterhouse, whether those are the kinds of small businesses that need help because that's the folks they're trying to help out. >> i want to ask a different question about taxes. >> i want to respond to that. he makes a good point. if the current tax relief was enough to get this economy moving again, the economy would be moving. and it's not. what -- what chris and the democrats in congress and the administration continue to insist on is a tax increase in january of 2011. i want to stipulate to the point. that's why republicans in the "pledge to america" called for the 20% business deduction on all business income immediately to be voted on in this congress.
2:08 am
we think there needs to be more pro-growth tax relief to get the economy moving again, but for heaven sakes, let's not raise tax os job creators. >> let me ask you a question about tax cuts or tax hikes. you say in the pledge to america, you want to bring spending down to 2008 levels which you well know is not enough to really seriously tackle the deficit, even if you bring it down to 2008. so the question for you and congressman van hollen, how can you rule out tax hikes as we move forward if you want to get serious about tackling the deficit? >> number one, i think you rule out tax increases because our problem isn't that the american people are taxed too little. our problem is that washington spends too much. in the pledge to america, we call for cutting discretionary spending to prestimulus, pre-bailout levels. cutting the amount of funding allocated to congress, freezing all pay on nonsecurity federal employees, ending federal control of freddie mac and fannie mae. understanding t.a.r.p. that would save $1 trillion in ten years alone.
2:09 am
reducing the discretionary spending back to those 2008 levels, that would be, that would save $100 billion this year. we can get there through fiscal discipline and reform. >> that doesn't tackle the deficit completely. congressman van hollen, the question for you and democrats, can you allow tax hikes as we move forward to be serious about cutting the deficit? >> i'm sorry, david, what was the question? i couldn't hear you. >> can you rule out tax increases, not just for the wealthiest americans, but for the middle class if we're going to get serious about dealing with the deficit? >> well, yeah, we think it would be a big mistake to raise taxes on 98% of the american people. and i want to go back to this point that mike raised about small businesses. the president and the democrats proposed tax cuts for small businesses to stimulate new activity. the president said let's provide 100% write-off for investments made between now and 2011 and what was interesting was they had this big ceremony for the pledge at a small business site. within hours, they came back to the hill and voted against the small business lending bill
2:10 am
which, in addition to increasing access to credit for small businesses, contained significant tax cuts. and senator voinovich, who's a retiring republican senator, said it's time for the republicans to stop playing politics when the american people are hurting. now, i hope they will begin to do that because they violated their pledge within hours about cutting taxes to small businesses. >> you know, as you go back to 1994, congressman pence, in was the contract with america. and one of the big issues if you go back even to interviews i've done with republican leaders, until after the election of president obama, was that this wanted to be the party of new ideas. >> right. >> and, in fact, this pledge has been criticized for being anything but new. where satire is most effective, jon stewart of "the daily show" this week raised this issue by comparing some of what was said in 1998 by the speaker -- who wants to be speaker, john boehner, to what he said in unveiling the pledge. this is what it looks like.
2:11 am
>> smaller. >> smaller. >> less costly. >> less costly. >> and more accountable. >> accountable. >> government. >> government. >> in our nation's. >> capitol. >> i don't know -- i don't know what to say. this thing is not a sequel. a shot-by-shot remake. i thought the pledge was you were humbled and going to come back with fresh new ideas. wasn't that the pledge? >> so what's new here? >> well, ending bailouts and cutting spending in washington, d.c., is a new idea, david. and the truth is, look, republicans didn't lose our majority in 2006, we lost our way. we walked away from the principles of fiscal discipline and reform that minted our governing majority back in 1980 and again in 1994.
2:12 am
and the american people walked away from us. what we have in this proposal is not necessarily new -- the idea of fiscal responsibility, pro-growth policies, openness and transparency in government are solid american ideas. what republicans are committing to in the pledge for america is taking important first steps in this congress to steer our national government back to the basic practices and principles. >> congressman van hollen, do you agree? is this a return to core principles or is this a rehash? >> this is a rehash. a recycling of the bush economic agenda. they put a new front page on it, but, otherwise, this is a xerox copy. the whole answer to everything seems to be give the folks at the top a tax break and they want the undo the regulations and reforms on wall street. i mean, the problems on wall street led to catastrophe around the country. millions of people lost their jobs. and they're trying to do what lobbyists tried very hard to do but didn't succeed which is to say, let's put those guys back in charge. it is a return to the bush economic agenda. there's no doubt about it.
2:13 am
>> let me follow up on this. >> congressman -- let me follow up on this point, which is where you think this is a credible economic argument. you voted against t.a.r.p. you opposed the stimulus, as did other republican leaders. and economists who looked at this from both sides of the aisle, robert sam ooum you'llson writing in "newsweek," says the aggressive actions going back to t.a.r.p. and fall hoed through by this administration most definitely had an impact on gdp, on the fact that we don't see unemployment approaching 16%. is it credible for republicans to ask for the vote this november when, effectively, you would have let the financial system teeter off the edge of a cliff? >> look, republicans weren't prepared to let the financial system teeter off a cliff. >> you voted against at that point. what would have happened if you had not passed t.a.r.p.? >> we took $700 billion to main street and transferring to wall street was a profoundly bad idea.
2:14 am
>> what would have happened in the financial system? who in the financial system thinks it didn't stabilize the financial system? >> republicans had a proposal. it was a backstop, not a handout. we could have worked out this. as a lot of the postmortem analysis suggested we could. look this, is not a choice between the failed economic policies of the present and the failed economic policies of the past. i know that the democrats want to frame it that way. what republicans are saying is we have to get back. we have to end the era of borrowing and spending and bailouts and government takeovers. we have to repeal obamacare lock, stop, and barrel. oppose the cap in trade schemes and get back to the practice of fiscal responsibility and the kind of choices that make america strong again. >> name me one choice that they'll stand by if they want to reduce the deficit and rein in spending. i read through this. where's the painful choice you're prepared to make on -- >> never thought you ask. >> cut the discretionary spending. >> on what? name the painful choice on a program you're going to cut. >> reduce government employment back down to 2008 levels. that's $35 billion over ten.
2:15 am
we could eliminate government programs like the save america's treasures -- >> like the -- what about entitlement spending? raise the retirement age as john boehner suggested would be a good idea on social security? >> the last time i was on the program, we keep our promises to seniors and near seniors, but for americans under the age of 40, we have to begin to reform medicare and social security in ways that will ensure its long-term fiscal solvency. let me assure you, the pledge to america is not the end all, be all. it's meant to be a good start. >> what about president clinton who said this week on msnbc, perhaps the democrats need a pledge of their own. they need a card with three or five of the top points that they're going to campaign on. what would those be for democrats in the fall? do you take his advice? >> democrats have set out what their plans are. we're going to continue as the president has said to focus on providing relief to small business going forward. we have a bill coming to the
2:16 am
floor of the house this week that i hope mike pence and his colleagues will join us on to make sure that we are not put in a competitive disadvantage by the chinese currency manipulation. we're going to continue focus on clean energy jobs and incentives for clean energy. and we're going to continue to focus on the economy. and i have to say, when you look at the republican so-called pledge, you find a lot of phony numbers. let me give you an example. that they say they're going to save $16 billion by getting rid of t.a.r.p. mike, we voted to get rid of t.a.r.p. already. it was part of the wall street reform bill that the republicans opposed. that bill terminated t.a.r.p. and yet, in this pledge, they're pretending to find savings from shutting down something we've already shut down. that's the kind of thing that people are tired of. earmarks. they made all this talk about how they were going to end earmarks. we reformed the ear mark process. no more earmarks that distort the private market by going to for-profit private entities. not a word in there about that.
2:17 am
i assume they're going to go back to their old ways when they quadrupled the earmarks. it's hard to take seriously gaven their record here and it's the same old same old. >> the republicans refused to request any earmarks this year whatsoever. we've imposed the self-imposed moratorium on earmarks and we're going end earmarking as we know it if we have a chance -- >> i'm going to leave that part of it. ten seconds left. congressman van hollen, you're in charge of getting democrats elected in the house. how bad will november be at this point in time in your judgment? >> democrats are going to do well. we're going to keep the majority because of the choice we talked about here. they said they were listening to the american people. one of the biggest recommendations was to end the perverse tax breaks that encourage offshoring, outsourcing of american jobs. we've closed down some of those loopholes. we're going to continue to do it. there's not a word about the outsourcing problem in america in that pledge, not one word in
2:18 am
46 pages. those are the kinds of choices the people are focusing on in this election. >> we'll leave it there. the debate will continue as we move forward in this campaign. congressman pence, congressman van hollen, thanks so much. >> thank you, david. up next, here in new york, we kick off nbc's week-long commitment to "education nation." how can we best reform our failing school system and make america kettive again? special discussion with secretary of education arne duncan. d.c. schools chancellor michele whee, american federation of teachers, ran weingarte net, and the emergency financial manager of detroit public schools, robert bobb. only here on "meet the press." w, and the emergency financial manager of detroit public schools, robert bobb. only here on "meet the press." breathe in, breathe out. as volatile as markets have been lately,
2:19 am
having the security of a strong financial partner certainly lets you breathe easier. for more than 140 years, pacific life has helped millions of americans build a secure financial future wouldn't it be nice to take a deep breath and relax? ask a financial professional about pacific life. the power to help you succeed.
2:20 am
2:21 am
2:22 am
coming up, we kick off nbc's "ed coming up, we kick off nbc's "education nation" with an in-depth discussion about our nation's public schools, what are the solutions, how do we get the best teachers in our classrooms, right after this brief commercial break. the numbers, and i think our campus is spending too much money on printing. i'd like to put you in charge of cutting costs. calm down. i know that it is not your job. what i'm saying... excuse me? alright, fine. no, you don't have to do it. ok? [ male announcer ] notre dame knows it's better for xerox to control its printing costs.
2:23 am
so they can focus on winning on and off the field. [ manager ] are you sure i can't talk -- ok, no, i get it. [ male announcer ] with xerox, you're ready for real business.
2:24 am
2:25 am
2:26 am
and we are back live from 30 rockefeller plaza in new york to kick off nbc's "education nation." it's our week-long look at the state of our country's education system. joining me now, four key voices in the struggle to improve public k through 12 education, the emergency financial manager of the detroit public schools, robert bobb, the chancellor of washington, d.c. schools, michelle rhee, the secretary of education, arne duncan, and the president of the american federation of teachers, randi weingarten. welcome to all of you.
2:27 am
a commitment by nbc news to explore it this week. we begin now. what's getting all the buzz right now in the reform movement of this film, "waiting for superman" debuting this weekend, i want to play a portion of it that talks about a huge challenge we face, one of the disturbing facts in our education system as they show in the movie. >> since the 1970s, u.s. schools have failed to keep pace with the rest of the world. among 30 developed countries, we rank 25th in math and 21st in science. the top 5% of our students, our very best, ranked 23rd out of 29 developed countries. in almost every category, we've fallen behind. >> and look at a snapshot from our new nbc new "wall street journal" poll on the question of education in terms of the public view of how education is.
2:28 am
77% in our poll give our public schools a c grade or lower. and in terms of the state of public schools, 58% in our poll, if you look at the next screen, 58% believe major changes or complete overhaul is needed. and, indeed, secretary duncan, an overhaul is in the works. where are we right now in terms of reform? >> we've made tremendous progress. let me be clear, as a country, we have a long, long way to go. we have to educate our way to a better economy. education is an economic strategy. whp you see us being 20th in math and science, we've fallen in one generation from first to ninth in college graduates. that's unacceptable. we're paying a terrible price in a tough economy because we've lost our way educationally. that's why we're pushing so hard for reform. >> it's important to point out as well, there's a lot of money in the reform movement right now. you got a lot of it. you got billions of dollars. as part of race to the top. president bush started no child left behind. that will be reauthorized, you hope, certainly. where are we with those? you're giving money.
2:29 am
but there's a lot more conditions to drive accountability. >> we're not investing in the status quo. with the race to the top, it represents less than 1% of the total k through 12 spending nationally, you see 36 states raising standards, not dummying down things, not lying to children because of political pressure. most states are removing barriers to innovative schools. we're seeing every single state eliminate the linking of teacher evaluation to student achievement. it's remarkable progress and courage at the local level. that's what we're investing in. great leadership, great courage at the local level. >> i want to talk throughout this about not just raising problems, but talking about solutions. i feel that we dwell on the problems so often, not what's constructive. michelle rhee, there's a political storm in washington about education and the mayor losing the primary. i want to get to that in a minute. i want to ask you, what's working since you've been chancellor? what's the good news? >> well, the good news is what we've shown over the last 3 1/2 years in washington, d.c. is that if you prioritize education, if you make it the number one issue in the city, if you have the political
2:30 am
leadership and the courage to make tough decisions, that you can see tremendous progress in a short period of time. over the last three years we've gone from being, you know, worst amongst all urban jurisdictions in the country to actually leading the nation in games in our progress of students on the examination in reading and math. so, i think it basically shows if you have -- if you have a -- if you have a singular focus and you really are prioritizing, making those tough decisions, that progress can result. >> and, mr. robb, what are you finding in detroit about what's working right now? >> well, a lot of things are working in detroit. i think i would like to go back to secretary duncan mentioned. and that is, although our state did not win in the race to the top competition, considerable reforms were advanced by the governor and the state legislature and the secretary -- the superintendent of public instruction.
2:31 am
and so we are implementing those programs although we do not have the funding in place. in particular, more time spent with -- with our teachers and additional expanded day for our students and much more rigor that we're putting in our classrooms so that we can compete in the 21st century. >> randi weingarten, i want to go back to 2002 and no child left behind and president bush and listen again to how he framed what has become the major driver in the reform movement, and that is accountability. watch this. >> i understand taking tests aren't fun. too bad. we need to know in america. we need to know whether or not children have got the basic education. no longer is it acceptable to hide poor performance. no longer is it acceptable to keep results away from parents.
2:32 am
>> and president bush isn't often given credit for driving accountability because no child left behind became unpopular and yet, indeed, the accountability is what the obama administration has built on. is accountability at the core of this working? >> so, you know, president bush was right, tests aren't fun. but they're absolutely imperative to do. but what happened in no child left behind, it became all about the test as opposed to about teaching and learning. accountability is essential as a tool, not as a goal. the goal is how do we help 50 million school children in the united states of america get a great education? so ultimately, we need to have a couple of other tools, like engaged, robust curriculum. like a real focus on teacher development. like a real overhauling of the teacher evaluation system. and if we look at what the countries that have outcompeted -- that outcompete us do is that
2:33 am
there's a huge investment in teachers as well as looking at accountability. account jacket, absolutely essential. accountability to the bottom to the top. but it's not the whole story. >> be specific then, michelle. in washington, d.c., you closed schools, you fired teachers. there was a lot of controversy around that. randi, do you believe in accountability, what happened in washington, michelle, you start, when you did fire teachers and closed down schools that weren't performing? >> we certainly got a tremendous amount of pushback. i think the superintendent bobb knows this as well. people are uncomfortable when you change what is currently in place. and so what we looked at over the last 3 1/2 years, for example, we closed 23 school in the first year. we've closed several schools after that because we cannot continue to pour the same amount of resources into a faulty system. we were shrinking in terms of the number of schools that were coming to school but we never downsized the number of schools that we had. the results of that was that we
2:34 am
were spreading our resources way too thin. and we were -- the citizens and the students weren't feeling the amount of money that we were spending every single day. you know, in terms of the teacher accountability, yes, we spent -- we held a very, very high bar. we said it's no longer going to be acceptable for teachers who are ineffective to stay in the classroom. we've gotten a tremendous amount of pushback about that. and you said we were going to talk about the election. if you talk about the mayor's election, a lot of what you heard from citizens was, well, they fired teachers. what you didn't hear about that was that we didn't fire teachers to be mean or because we were callus or didn't care, we wanted to remove ineffective teachers from the classroom because our students deserve better. >> you talk about accountability. but you said you shouldn't be demonized but you sued the district when there is accountability when teachers get fired. is that the constructive response? >> you know, the last suit that we did was actually about trying to find out the basis upon which some of the teachers were fired.
2:35 am
and ultimately, we're still waiting to get the full request and things like that, the freedom of information request. but at the bottom of this, david and michele michelle, we changed the contract to make it more transparent and cohesive, to give michelle and the district more tools on teacher quality. we gave the teachers more tools. we gave the district more tools. the issue in terms of us is to make sure that teachers get the tools and conditions they need to be effective and make sure there's fairness. we know the teacher tenure system is broken and we want to fix it. there are different ways we fixed it in detroit, working with the district there. different ways we fixed it in washington, different ways we fixed it throughout the country. so the issue is, how do we make teachers effective? and also, with all due respect, how do we give the good teachers, the 3 million teachers in the united states of america, 133,000 schools, how do we give
2:36 am
those quiet unsung heroes the tools and conditions they need to help all children? >> with all due respect, we say that we -- in addition to identifying the ineffective teachers who needed to be terminated, we also identified 16% of the teachers in d.c. who we rated as highly effective and we said to them, we're going to recognize and reward your work. we're going to compensate you at the level that you deserve to be compensated at. so with our new contract now, we'll be able to pay the most effective teachers who are teachers at high-poverty areas and high-need subject areas nearly double the amount they were previously making. so we are going to use the approach of making sure that the best people are rewarded, but we also have to have a flip side of that, which is if you're not effective, you can no longer be in the classroom. >> secretary duncan, what happened in washington, d.c., that concerns you? mayor fenty did not win for re-election in his primary. there's a real question, i guess, michelle, i should ask you, are you going to stay at chance lower of d.c. schools?
2:37 am
>> i think that's something we still have to determine. and i have to talk to mr. grey, the new -- the presumptive mayor. but i think the important thing to realize is that education reform can continue in d.c., regardless of whether i'm there or not. it can continue as long as the leadership is willing to continue to make the tough decisions. >> secretary duncan, it's a political question but it's germane. you didn't campaign at all for adrian fenty, the mayor. you said you don't do politics and yet, this past week, you said you would campaign for congressional democrats in the midterm election. why didn't you campaign for tfety when the blowback could be so severe in some of the districts? >> i'm a huge fan of what he and michelle have done. by any measure, the public schools in d.c. are dramatically better today than when they started. he can walk out with his head held high. i invested $75 million in the
2:38 am
district because of the leader. when the story of d.c. school reform is written, a huge amount will be around his couch and leadership. there are thousands around the country. there are national candidates that i need to support who will drive school reform. mayor fenty did a remarkable job of dramatically improving the quality of education. >> this is one of the issues that reformers talk about. you can't denationalize this effort. i mean, what happened in washington, d.c., and the unions who were a part of this in terms of opposing what the mayor and michelle rhee did, if we make it about individual jurisdictions, the unions are very powerful. those who oppose some of these reforms in the status quo are powerful. is it good enough for national leads to step back and allow the district to have at it themselves? can you prevail and perform when it's this tough? you know what it's like. >> the national leaders have to be involved and engaged in the local level as well. i mean, the reform movement -- what we're doing in detroit cannot take place without very strong support from governor michelle's case, adrian fenty.
2:39 am
every major decision that i have made i have been sued either by local leaders, school board members, and there is a sense of urgency in these urban school districts. you cannot sit back and let children -- and not take care of what's needed for children, particularly more rigor in the classrooms, more effective leaders. not just teachers effective leaders. i moved 51 principals this year alone. the school leadership at the building is significantly as important as the teachers that we put before our children in the classroom. i mean, i know that michelle went through the process closing schools in washington, d.c. in 2000, we had 167,000 students in the detroit public schools. today we're educating about 84,000, 85,000 students. in the two years that i've been the emergency financial manager,
2:40 am
we've closed 59 schools. it is very difficult politically. it's hard on a community. and it's also challenging for parents and students. going to take a quick break and we're going to come back and talk specifically about what is at the core of the debate, which is how do we make sure we get the best teachers in front of our students and how does accountability achieve that. we'll talk to our panel after this brief station break. our students and the accountability to achieve that. we'll talk to our panel after this brief station break.
2:41 am
2:42 am
2:43 am
2:44 am
we're back live from 30 rockefeller plaza in new york to continue our discussion about public school education. randi weingarten, i want to get to how to get the best teacher in front of our students. i have a parent of three young kids. i go to my child's classroom and i'm told, this teacher is not doing well. we want to give them another year, we want to develop them a little bit. maybe not this year, but maybe next year, things will get better. that's not good enough for me as a parent. >> right. >> show me specifically what you representing teachers across the country have done, to take avoid that reality when it appears that the unions said to michelle rhee, you can't get rid of the people, you can't fire them willy nilly even if you don't
2:45 am
have the right results. you're demonizing the teachers. >> that result, when the administrator says that to a parent, it's not good for anyone. teachers don't want it, parents don't want it. ultimately what we need to do is we need to invest in teachers from the moment that they go in to teacher preparation till every single day that they're in a classroom. most of us, i don't know, michelle has told these stories about when she started to teach. i told these stories when i started to teach. i wasn't a very good teacher my first year. i was a better teacher my second and third year. so there's going to be some investment lag that happens in terms of teachers. >> we're not talking about a learning curve. we're not talking about starting out teachers, teachers who have been in the system for a long time who failed to perform year after year and, yet, frankly, removing them is the hardest part. >> let me just go right to that. no one wants a bad teacher, david, not teachers, not parents.
2:46 am
when i asked our members this question, overwhelmingly, they want us to find the tools and conditions to help teachers do better. what we tried to do now, what we realized is the evaluation system is totally and completely broken in the united states. so, our union has tried to invest in creating a new evaluation system. there are about 50 or 60 districts that are trying to do that. we've tried to figure out who is good, who is not. if they're not good, we help them. if we can't help them, we have to weed them out of the profession. you're absolutely right. >> is that happening is my question. >> it is now starting -- it is now starting to happen in the last two years at a greater rate than we've ever seen before. >> is that happening from the -- you've been the head of the schools. is that how you see it? >> let's be honest, first of all, our new evaluation system where we use student achievement data, how much a student progresses, to determine whether or not a teacher is effective or not. we implemented that because we have the power within the
2:47 am
district to implement whatever evaluation tool we want. so, we've got a lot of pushback. we still get tremendous pushback from the unions. so, for example, we just identified about 241 educators of this last summer who were not effective or did not have the certificate, et cetera, and when we did that, we said for the ineffective teachers, people who got that on the evaluation, a robust evaluation, looking at multiple things, you are now being terminated, then we get slapped with this, you know, huge class action grievance, basically, saying, we're grieving the way that you did this. but the bottom line is that if these people are ineffective and if as president weingarten said no one wants ineffective teachers in the classroom, you can't fight us every step of the way when we're moving in that direction. >> what do you see in the sense of the overall here, because this is really the core? >> it is the core. >> let's take a step back. the status quo isn't working for children. it's not working for the country. what the president gets we have to educate our way to a better economy.
2:48 am
what do we do? we have to reward excellence in education. reward great teachers and get great principals and great teachers to go to underserved communities. we have to provide much better suspect for teachers trying to become world class. and the teachers who are simply not working, we have toz to be more swift in how quick we move them out. not working at any level, for the start, the middle, those at the bottom. not working for the adults, not working for the children of this country. >> this is in part a policy question, in part, a political question. as you've looked at, say, what michelle rhee has done in washington with mayor fenty, how can they better implement accountability in a way that keeps in mind that there are a lot of teachers, a lot of communities, like detroit, like washington, d.c., that rely upon those jobs. we're in a severe economic recession. how do administrators go about accountability in a way that doesn't create the political blowback, whether it's lawsuits or it's political blowback at the polls? >> you have to be able to communicate the issues.
2:49 am
what you're doing has to be communicated. how you're doing it has to be communicated. and then what processes you're going to put in place to help individuals succeed. and those who do not succeed, they have to leave the system immediately. i mean, we just -- in detroit public schools, we have a new teacher contract and this year, for the first time, we actually have a new teacher evaluation system that's being put in place. we -- we're borrowing from what's being done in d.c. we're borrowing from what's being done in denver. and those -- we have to have an effective way in which we can evaluate teachers. >> you know what? >> it's not just evaluation of teachers, we have to look at the entire system. >> right. >> we have to look at principals, everyone through that whole school. >> right. >> we need dramatic change. let's be real honest here. what was going on in washington for decades was an absolute disgrace for children. what's going on in detroit for far too long is a disgrace. those children in both cities have been desperately, desperately underserved.
2:50 am
change is hard. there's going to be blowback. when you challenge the status quo, that's difficult. but we have to have the moral courage to do the right thing by children and we have to give the children a chance, a choice to go in a much better direction thanks to superintendent bobb's leadership. washington is going in the right direction. change is going to continue to be hard. we'll continue to get push back. we have to keep going forward. >> and in both of those places, david, both of those places, even though it was hard, the union stepped up and did a contract with robert bobb and the union stepped up and did a contract with michelle rhee. the union sometimes asks to make sure that things are not arbitrary and capricious. let me ask and say this as well -- there are many other districts like the abc district in los angeles, like the new haven district where the union has stepped up with managers who want to work with us where we are making that kind of change. so the issue is for us about ensuring we do some of the things that the secretary said.
2:51 am
it's not just about the issue of looking at the snapshot of whether a teacher is bad or good. it's about developing teachers. it's about not spending the $7 billion we spend right now in teacher tuover. we have to do things that help kids every single day in classrooms, which means, investing in teachers like they do in the countries that outpace us. >> i want to bring up the colorado law about evaluation of teachers. and, really the crux of it is is it's a tough loss. you supported it. you don't represent a lot of teachers out there. so the political states are not frankly as high for you. hold on one second. that's the reality. you represent a lot more teachers in other districts. we all know that. what they did there is they had tougher evaluations and said up to two years, you could be removed. do you support that as a national model? >> we support -- if you help teachers be the best they can be, and evaluate them fairly, then if they have to be removed, they have to be removed. the one thing we want is not to throw the baby out with the bath water. ultimately, we have to fix the due process system to make sure it's no glacial process.
2:52 am
we have to fix the evaluation system, but more importantly, we have to get teachers and kids the support they need so that they can grow. that's what happens in the countries that outcompete us. >> i want to ask a quit question -- i want to address what mark zuckerburg has done with facebook. $100 million to the newark city schools. it's tremendous. what's the role of the private money because i've talked to business leaders and who say, look, we're only operating on the fringes. you don't deal can i the core problems. a lot of the money, you can't deal with the core problems. money, as you talked about, is not the issue. >> change is the issue. silicon valley or the movement to hollywood, the country is starting to take notice. the country, a summit on education, this is the national topic. we have to educate our way to a better economy. that money can drive fundamental change and reform like race to the top is going to lead the country where we need to go. that generosity, that investment from the private sector, it might not seem like a lot of money.
2:53 am
the race to the top, $4 billion sounds like a lot. we spent $650 billion a year on k through 12 education. less than 1% is changing the country. mark's money in newark, other money in detroit, washington, chicago, right here in new york, l.a., that private money all of us have to invest, the parents, business community, philanthropy, all of us have to be investing in public education. >> i've got 1:30. i'll talk to you about this. i walked out of the film "waiting for superman," my first reaction is a parent. i ask myself, not as a moderator of this program, but as parent, what am i going to do to help? what can the individual move bid by this do to make a difference? we're not scratching our head to say, gosh this, is so hard. >> that's the fundamental question. people have been asking me that since they've viewed the movie. i think what we need, quite frankly, is a national movement around this so that people, it doesn't matter if they have will in idaho or new york or california, who want -- who are watching the movie and saying, this is absolutely wrong.
2:54 am
we're doing an injustice to our kids. how can we do better? we need a national movement of people, whether it's giving $10 on whether it's mark zuckerburg giving $100 million. the money we got from our external funders did leverage -- provide us with the leverage we needed to sign this revolutionary contract. and now it's having reverberations across the country. and i think people can't underestimate how much a phone call to a politician, you know, dollars invested, can really help to see major changes. >> we're going to have to leave it there. the other piece of advice i got is, you know, if you drive by a public school, even if your kids don't go there, walk in and ask how you can help. whether you can tutor or provide resources to a teacher, i think there's a lot we can do just on that baseline level. thanks to all of you. a conversation that will continue here at nbc news for the week and around the country. for sure. thank you all very much. take a break, we'll be right back. we know why we're here.
2:55 am
to give our war fighters every advantage. ♪ [ man ] to deliver technologies that anticipate the future, today. ♪ and help protect america, everywhere. from the battle space to cyberspace. [ female announcer ] around the globe, the people of boeing are working together. to give our best, for america's best. that's why we're here. ♪ look at all this stuff for coffee. oh there's tons. french presses, expresso tampers, filters. it can get really complicated. not nearly as complicated as shipping it, though.
2:56 am
i mean shipping is a hassle. not with priority mail flat rate boxes from the postal service. if it fits it ships anywhere in the country for a low flat rate. that is easy. best news i've heard all day! i'm soooo amped! i mean not amped. excited. well, sort of amped. really kind of in between. have you ever thought about decaf? do you think that would help? yeah. priority mail flat rate box shipping starts at $4.95, only from the postal service. a simpler way to ship.
2:57 am
2:58 am
programming note before we go. stay tuned to nbc news and msnbc all week for more on "educate the nation." brian williams will monitor a town hall this afternoon. and president obama sits down with matt lauer on the "today" program tomorrow.
2:59 am
and to mark the 50th anniversary of the great debates of 1960, we teamed one the university of virginia's center for politics to present a special discussion on those historic and first of their kind presidential debates between vice president richard nixon and then senator john f. kennedy, one of which took place at nbc's washington studio which is now the home of "meet the press" back in our home studio. talk to journalists and staffers who are part of history 50 years ago about what happened behind the scenes and the significance of those debates on our political landscape today. all on our website at you can follow me on twitter as well for more on that. that is all for today. we'll be off next week for nbc sports coverage of the ryder cup golf tournament but back the following week. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press."