tv Politicking with Larry King RT August 2, 2013 8:29am-9:01am EDT
you will see is an anonymous glowing ghost i personally haven't tested this thing out nor have i seen it with my own eyes and three aaa batteries on your head at all times does seem like a bit of a bother but hey if you really want to be left alone and you're willing to throw down a few dollars this looks like a pretty good fashion statement to me the sad thing is that this sort of invention should exist people shouldn't have to live with the constant fear of unlawful consent less observation but sadly they do so invaders keep the freedom fashions coming but that's just my opinion. the groundbreaking education reformer fighting for america's students her latest book is called radical but is he too radical for the american educational system michelle rhee is here next on politicking with larry king.
our special guest is michelle rhee it's my second time with her and a great having a with us she's the groundbreaking education reformer and founder of students first a nonprofit organization devoted to defending the interest of children in public education she's the former chancellor of the d.c. public school system she should in major reform including teacher evaluations and she closed failing schools her new book radical entails her journey from enter city baltimore teacher to national education activists it's on both shows right now the subtitle is fighting to put students first thank you michaud thanks for having me we rank fourteenth in reading seventeenth in science and twenty fifth in math or a wide why. well it's tough to pinpoint you know one reason why we have fallen as far behind as we have but it is truly problematic i mean if you look at
the research today more than half of employers are saying that they cannot find people in their applicant pool who have the skills and knowledge necessary to fill mission critical jobs which means that in this time of high unemployment etc the people who actually have the jobs can't find people to fill those jobs which means there's a disconnect between how we are training the next generation of americans and what the skills and needs are so those old concept it's a concept that i think people don't take seriously enough the world the united states we have but we have a graphic up just a big is the achievement gap in this country you know part of the problem that exists in this country is that where our white students were are performing and where our students of color are performing there's a huge gap between them and so that's what we call the achievement gap and the bad
news is that the achievement gap hasn't closed significantly in the last thirty years and so part of what we've got to focus on is how do we ensure the kids who need great education the most the kids were growing up in the inner city today you know whose life chances in life outcomes otherwise wouldn't look so hot how can we make sure they get a great education what about the variables that going into where students need the most is that what about poverty family doesn't proud to as education to parents working sure all those things matter right i mean when a kid is coming to school every day and they're coming to school hungry or they haven't had proper health care nutrition etc does that make learning harder absolutely does it make teaching those kids more difficult yes but at the end of the day the reality is that for kids who are living in poverty what we know is that our best chances for changing their life out. comes is that they get a high quality education i remember the last time you will was on c.n.n.
was a panel and you were so kind of you in the middle of all ages we've never enough time how did you become so controversial you know honestly i actually don't know because i sort of feel like because i think no i know i seem to evoke very strong emotions in people but here's why i'm not sure why because i'm just a mom and i happen to have been a superintendent and now i'm a an education advocate but what i advocate for are the same kinds of policies and the kinds of decisions that i want people to make for their own children right so for example when i was in d.c. we went through a whole thing with creating a new teacher evaluation system and part of the question that was before us was what do we do if a teacher is evaluated as ineffective right and my staff was having this big debate about it and some people said well it's our job as employers to make sure that
we're investing in the workforce we should you know try to professionally develop these people for three or four years and cetera and i was looking at things from the perspective of a mother and i said well look as my two kids were in the d.c. public schools at the time i said if we make the decision to keep an ineffective teacher in the classroom for a second year then i have to be ok knowing that one of my own two daughters could have that teacher and let me tell you i would not be ok with that you would never be ok with that there's not a parent out there who would say oh yes stick my kid in the classroom of an ineffective teacher and honestly i think there are far too many people who are willing to make decisions for other people's children that they would never accept for their own and i think that's where the disconnect is cause of a radical gerad of the well here's a very i mean after i started doing this remember when i took over the d.c. public schools it was the lowest performing school districts in the entire country the most dysfunctional eight percent of the children in the. city schools in eighth grade were on grade level in mathematics i mean it was just awful and so i started
doing the things that i thought were obvious right closed down low performing schools remove ineffective employees cut the central office be proud of the union take on the union if you have to to make sure that the right things are happening for kids i thought that these were all obvious decisions but people started saying she's a lightning rod you know she's the dragon lady and after all i thought you know what if bringing some common sense to a dysfunctional system makes me a radical than i am ok we have another graphic printing more money than ever on education is it having an impact or we're getting our money's worth well yes you can see from that graph of we have more than doubled in almost tripled the amount of money that we are spending per kid on public education in this country and yet the results have remained pretty stagnant so we're not getting the kind of return on investment that we need in this is one of the the most difficult things in education today because if you talk to most people and ask them what do we need to do to fix the system they'll say well we need to spend more money but this data
shows you that that's actually not necessarily true and in d.c. we were spending as an example a billion dollars a year in the city of washington d.c. on public education and yet of that billion dollars only four hundred three million of it was going into the classrooms and into the schools that means the majority of that money was being spent in this bloated bureaucracy so if you don't fix the system you can throw a whole lot more money into it and not get any different outcome right which you have to do is fix the fundamentals and the foundation of the system and that way if you put more money and you'll get a different result are we doing right. well i think that there are right now for example i think there is a move towards a set of national standards academic standards called the common core i think you are setting in the registration love arnie duncan i think he's doing a great job and i think that what he did through president obama's race to the top in. it was incredibly innovative and you know instead of just taking the money and sending it down to the staves through
a formula saying look here's some here's some dollars but you have to compete for them and the only way that you're going to be able to get them is if you put really aggressive reforms in place right that change the game that sparked more legislative movement in states than we've ever seen before in this nation we've already discussed that you are a polarizing figure you developed a band of enemies we had that when we walked in i remember hosting the show what is students first so students first is a national or advocacy organization or a grassroots group we have two million members across the country and the reason why i started students first was because if you look at what has happened in education over the last two to three decades in this country a lot of the decisions that have been made in the policies that have been implemented have been driven by special interest groups you have textbook manufacturers you have teachers' unions you have testing companies you have all these organizations that have a lot of resources and they use those resources to use their influence to put certain laws and policies in place which there's nothing wrong with that per se the
problem though is that there was no organized national interest group with the same have to the teachers union that was advocating on behalf of kids and because of that you had a really skewed landscape environment that was more focused on adult issues than on what was in the best interests of children so that's why i started students first let's dance a little ovens so dance of the lemons is is what happens because school districts for the most part can't fire ineffective teachers and employees generally right there is tenure rules there are all of these sort of rules and processes in place that literally almost make it impossible to fire somebody and so what typically happens is a principal has an ineffective employee in their school they can't fire them but they don't want them in their school anymore so they find a way to move them out and you know toss them to the school. down the street and meanwhile them they're required to accept those teachers who probably have coming
from for other schools and they call it the dance of the lemons that's a union thing while it is largely driven by union collective bargaining agreements that essentially make it very very difficult to fire low performers how do you make of the alleged cheating scandal of i get this right the former lennox superintendent led a super job beverly hall was charged racketeering theft and conspiracies statewide cheating scandal three dozen teachers and administrators and ibid. i mean i think you know it's an unfortunate thing but you know i think this at the end of the day i'm very confident that the vast majority of educators in this country would never make the wrong decision and cheat on a test because essentially it is cheating kids you are going to have a small number who may make the wrong decision and do that yes but at the end of the day i don't think that most teachers are going to do that and i will say that i think that beverly hall you know i've known dr hall for a very long time and i know that in her core she wanted to ensure that she set up
a system where kids and inner city kids that people thought you know couldn't achieve at high levels that they were you know really learning and by so many indications you know student achievement did go up so i think it's unfortunate that that dynamic happened to show you and the union absolutely not i mean. that was my image few know of people of so called me anti teacher before nothing could be further from the truth i mean i grew up in a family of educators my grandfather was a teacher and principal my grandmother you know four of my aunts. but because i grew up in a family of educators i think i had a very very high bar for just what it takes to be effective in the classroom every day i know how hard it is in fact i think teaching is one of the most difficult jobs in the entire country and that's why we have to make sure that we have the right people in the classroom because not everyone can be an effective teacher if
you are a queen of teaching. what would be the first thing you would change the education system wide i'd say it think i do a lot of things first i think it's an imperative to make sure that teachers have the resources that they need to be effective in the classroom you know lots of times i would go into the classroom in classrooms across the city in d.c. and people wouldn't have just basic you know paper pencils crayons to teach their lesson so you need to make sure that. teachers have the supplies and the resources the lesson plans etc they need to be successful but at the end of the day we also have to have accountability we have to make sure that we are assessing whether or not teachers are effective in moving students academically and for those that are we have to recognize and reward them and for those who aren't we need to ensure that they find a different profession but may she did teacher. you know i'd say it's a few things one is having extraordinarily high expectations of the kids because
children are multiple and they will either rise or fall to the expectations that you set of them and you talk to kids any time and they'll tell you that when they feel like the adult in the classroom believes in them that it makes them want to work harder and makes them believe in themselves so high expectations i think it's got to be somebody who's willing to try anything right that's all kids are different and what works with this group of kids over here is not going to work with this young man over there and so somebody who's just relentless about finding the right way to reach every single kid and then also you've got a big goal oriented you have to know exactly where you're going what is the outcome that we want for every single one of these children coming up michelle's tenure as a d.c. chancer establish there's powerful and polarizing we talk about our fight for d.c. public schools are fired for schools everywhere after this. the conviction of bradley manning and the continued claim that snow could be no
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we're back with michelle rhee her extraordinary new book is radical fighting to put students first when you look back on washington would you say you failed. i'd say that i wasn't able to accomplish everything that i hoped and that's because our time there got cut short my my boss then mayor adrian fenty was not reelected much because of the work that we were doing in the schools because we really thought that we wanted to be there for two terms that it was going to take eight years to really turn the school district around but i can say that you know over the four years that we were there we really did accomplish a tremendous amount we went from being the lowest performing school district in the country to after just the first two years that we were there we were leading the nation in games in both reading and math academic lie a lot of teachers that you know we did but we also identified the best ones and paid them a whole lot more money than they were making in the old system and we paid those teachers and recognized and rewarded them there were
a whole lot more that fell in that category and the ones that were fired for get what was the washington standard. you know i think it would have varied you know the i think the washington post editorial board was was very strongly supportive of what we were doing i think you know the beat reporters on a day to day basis for it was exciting what was happening i think we were causing sort of you know lots of discussions to happen in the city that if there were about a fair shake. i you know what i think that any issues that i had with the media stemmed from the fact that i was very new to this and i didn't know how to you know manage the press and that sort of thing and so i did some things that probably you know people would look at and say well why did you do that and now that i look back on it i say i don't know why it is that i had to do it over you change and. well here's my thing i mean i live my life in a way that i don't i don't have regrets because i feel like even the mistakes that i make i learn from them right if you never make mistakes than then you never get
better and so i wouldn't necessarily change things but i certainly know that i made a lot of mistakes when i was there you wrote that twenty percent of the graduating classes of yale and harvard applied to teach for america and most get rejected or before shoes graduates doing the skiing system well so teach for america is a great program it takes recent college graduates from some of the best universities across the country and puts them in inner city and rural classrooms for a two year period and i think what's interesting about teach for america is that you know about sixty percent of people stay in education but of those who leave education they remain education advocates so right now with students first i travel across the country and when i'm in state houses i'll meet the governor of policy advisor and that person happens to be teach for america a lot more somebody who's working for a foundation giving money to education so i'd say that that that experience is so impactful that it keeps most of the people in that in that orbit i think obama is
in tune with the. i think and i am a little biased here because i am a democrat but i will say this i never thought that i have lived to see the day where a influential democratic politician not even you know obviously the president is a whole different level but the somebody like him would come out in favor of education reform as strongly as he has i mean he's been clear he says look not every teacher can can't hack it and for those that can we should recognize and reward them and if you can't then you got to go find another job and he's he said you know what competition is a good thing and we should support charter schools for example those are things typically with the democratic party hasn't really embraced in the past and he has and i think that has opened a whole new world of discussion according to a new study most low income students who have top test scores do not leave them apply the best college you know what it's exposure you know i have a very good friend who just became the new president of the college board and he
shared that statistic with me and said you know we have these kids you separate sample young latina women who are scoring in the top corps tile on these nationally standardized test so they can go and compete with anybody you can just tell on the academic standing so that they don't they don't apply to the harvard and yells and princeton's of the world because they've might live in a small town in texas somewhere have never heard of those places before don't know what the are about don't you know. don't know what going there could mean for the rest of their lives and so it's about exposure and so our job as educators is to make sure that we are identifying kids and that we are setting up an systems where we can expose them to what the world of higher education looks like you know i remember my second group teacher she patted my life to loves teaching this is a. question. you know everybody.
everybody remembers a great teacher. and there life who changes their perspective on things and that's why i think we need to understand how important a role teachers play right and that's why our goal has to be to put a highly effective teacher in every classroom every day should affirmative action and the supreme court may put a kink into it soom has their own i think that it is important to acknowledge the fact that different kids are coming from different circumstances and that there is a true value in diversity so yes we shouldn't lose it no i don't think so does it make a difference if you go to harvard and if you go to colorado state. well look you know that when you are in the business world your connections make a lot of difference the reputation of the institution of higher education that you went to can read you know
a certain way to employers and so you know when you look at resumes and you see harvard on there that's an impressive thing and so i think again it's not that harvard is right for every single kid but certainly all kids should know what their options are and be aware of the impact of those after college isn't for everyone i mean some people want to be electricians you know college isn't for everyone but at the same time you know what we need to acknowledge is the fact that we can't make decisions for kids too early in their life right what used to happen the american education system is early on kids with what you know would say well you're college material you're not and usually that was based on demographic factors of a color your skin was or what kind of family wealth you had etc and so one of the things that i think is important is we have to create a school system where every kid graduates with options they have the option to go to a four year college if that's what they choose to do they have an option to go straight
into the workforce if that's what they want but if they're going to do that they have the skills and knowledge necessary to get a high paying job well put we have some social media questions for you carol ward our via facebook what are your thoughts on teachers carrying guns and grade schools . guns in schools is not part of our policy agenda students first so we don't have a formal policy but i would tell you as a mom that makes me a little nervous. we're going to commit a good portion you know it's it you always sort of wonder about whether or not you know the environment can be created in such a way where we can ensure kids' safety right and if kids have access to those guns in various ways obviously it's going to get if you're nervous we. tweets do you still support charter schools and why do we still have standardized tests as esteems to stifle creativity so two good questions do i support charter schools i support effective charter schools the ones that are high performing i'm doing great for kids by also advocate that we shut down poor performing once. standardized
tests you know here's what i'd say i think there's a problem in this country lately with the over emphasis of testing but i also think it's important for people to acknowledge the fact that we have to have a consistent standardized way of measuring whether or not kids are learning from year to year are they gaining the skills and knowledge that they need the best way that we have right now to do that is standardized test so do we need standardized tests yes should we be obsessed with them and over emphasize them no. beth heyman freeman wants to know when physical education will be a daily requirement and school system well you know what the research shows is that kids who have access to a broad based curriculum that includes our music and p.e. they actually do better academically but what we're facing right now in this country is because there are lots of budget cuts typically the first things to go are those kinds of activities on the other side jackie has eyes jackie has i see is
wondering when we'll cut out all the junk courses and demand higher reading writing and mess skills before any election elective courses could be taken or again what i would say is that what we have what we should do is be creating a broad based curriculum for kids and kids who are exposed to things like music they learn critical thinking and high order thinking skills in a different way and that's going to benefit them in the long term in life what's next for you well you know i think we're doing great things that students first we have two million members across the country we're working in eight hundred full time doing that as a full time job more than full time i travel between sacramento and nashville and i travel all over the country and what we aim to do is put laws and policies in place that are going to be to the benefit of kids and so it's a hard fight every day there are people who you know want to maintain the status quo but the bottom line is there is no more important issue that this country faces every day than education thank you michel good seeing you again. thanks to my guess
was shell really i like that she's considered a radical although i know some people find her ideas of education reform very controversial i look back on my school years and i think about the early days you know it's been said that the most important teacher in your life is your first grade teacher they set the tone for your entire educational life well i have a little variation about the most important teacher in my life was my second grade teacher mrs egg house for two reasons one she tore second. very well and two i had a fantastic crush on mrs acoss i love mrs echoes this is a house was my heroine in life i think of her still to this day another great thing about teaching is what a teacher can do for you my eighth grade teacher miss the final one i was a terrible math student i never got math but the one math i got was algebra
dismissed the final mn taught me algebra. and once i got it once i got it the first day i couldn't wait to get to class i got one hundred i got a's it was unbelievable i got john maci i got is that thing lower than the f. i got lower than an f. in geometry but mystifying them and taught me out and i will never forget mr i was to find him and mrs that house brought to my life and i want to hear what you think about michelle rhee and her ideas you can hit me on facebook or on twitter at kings things and thank you for joining me for another politicking. from one show reverberate through the centuries when vengeance called for blood.
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