tv PBS News Hour PBS October 24, 2013 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: the contractors who built healthcare.gov were in the hot seat on capitol hill today and faced a withering round of questions about the website's troubled rollout. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. also ahead this thursday, cutting carbon emissions from power plants and taking on climate change, that's the challenge for the new head of the e.p.a. we have an exclusive interview with gina mccarthy. >> woodruff: plus, the story of a los angeles program bringing parents back to the classroom to help them stay involved in their children's education.
>> ( translated ): i want to learn more every day. i want to use what i learn to help my kids at home, be like an additional teacher at home. >> woodruff: those are just some of the stories we're covering on tonight's "pbs newshour." >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> and by bnsf railway. >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic
performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: the people who built the government's health care web site pointed the finger today at the government. the contractors told a house hearing they tested their own components, but that the department of health and human services did not do comprehensive testing of the entire system before its october 1 launch. we'll have more on that, right after the news summary. the food and drug administration is calling for new curbs on prescribing commonly used narcotic painkillers.
today's recommendation affects vicodin and similar drugs that contain hydrocodone. the f.d.a. says it wants limit access to those powerful medications by reducing the number of refills allowed. the new rules could take effect next year. president obama urged congress today to pass immigration reform by the end of this year. with the government shutdown crisis over, he said now is the time to complete work on the immigration issue. >> we've got the time to do it. republicans in the house, including the speaker, have said we should act, so let's not wait. it doesn't get easier to just put it off, let's do it now. let's not delay. let's get this done. and let's do it in a bipartisan fashion. >> ifill: the senate approved a bipartisan overhaul bill this past summer, but it remains stuck in the republican-led house. still, house speaker john boehner said this week he believes his chamber could
gather the votes to act by year's end. german chancellor angela merkel called today for restoring trust with the u.s., amid allegations that her cell phone calls were intercepted. but merkel insisted that spying among friends cannot be. the german foreign ministry also summoned the u.s. ambassador for an explanation. we'll hear more on the diplomatic fallout from u.s. surveillance, later in the program. syria has reported its first outbreak of polio in 14 years. the world health organization said today two people have tested positive for crippling disease. at least 20 others are suspected of contracting it. aid groups are planning vaccination campaigns. the governors of new york, california and six other states pledged today to put more than three million zero-emission vehicles on the roads, by 2025. the states taking part also include oregon, massachusetts, vermont, rhode island, connecticut and maryland.
their compact calls for offering financial incentives, creating more electric car charging stations and buying clean cars for their government fleets. in economic news, ford reported a record profit for the third quarter of the year, after selling one and a half million cars. and, southwest airlines reported sharply higher earnings as well. that was welcome news on wall street. the dow jones industrial average gained more than 95 points to close at 15,509. the nasdaq rose almost 22 points to close near 3,929. >> ifill: still ahead on the "newshour": congress questions the contractors behind healthcare.gov; uproar in europe over alleged u.s. spying, an exclusive interview with the head of the e.p.a.; bringing parents back to the classroom to help their kid's; our continuing series on the future of the republican party and the story of a chinese farmer who made the ultimate sacrifice to try to keep his home.
>> woodruff: the troubled launch of the federal health insurance website again captured attention on capitol hill. today's house committee hearing was the first opportunity lawmakers have had to publicly question some of the principals involved in its design. there was plenty of politics throughout, but there was also concern about why the site wasn't fully ready on october first. hari sreenivasan has our report. >> we did fully talk about the risks that we saw and we passed those along. >> sreenivasan: contractors who developed healthcare.gov insisted today that they warned the centers for medicare and medicaid services about not fully testing the system before it went live, october first. andrew slavitt with q.s.s.i., and cheryl campbell of c.g.i. federal told republican greg walden of oregon they were pressed for time. >> what's the standard protocol? what's the recommended industry standard for end-to-end tests
before rolling up a major website like this? >> months would be nice. >> months would be nice. ms. campbell, is that accurate for your company as well? >> that's correct. >> you were given two weeks, and yet months would have been nice? >> sreenivasan: campbell said the centers for medicare and medicaid services, or c.m.s., made the ultimate call to go ahead. >> we're there to support our client. it is not our position to tell our client whether they should go live or not go live. >> sreenivasan: lawmakers on the contractors said their staffs are now working daily to fix glitches within the system. they gave no estimates of how long that will take, but campbell said she's still confident the website will be ready in time for uninsured americans to be covered by january 1, as planned.
whether whether the exchange was going to work, correct? >> there were -- >> i never saw any of your technological that you ever said in those hearings that more testing was needed. and i was there. >> reporter: democrats had also joined the calls to get the system going. >> sreenivasan: democrats have also raised calls to get the system going. but new jersey's frank pallone charged today that republicans care more about killing the health care law, than fixing it. >> once again, here we have my republican colleagues trying to scare everybody. >> will the gentleman yield. >> no, i will not yield to this monkey court or whatever this thing is! >> this is not a monkey court. >> do whatever you want. i'm not yielding! >> you are trying to scare people so they don't apply. >> sreenivasan: in turn, republican fred upton, chairing the energy and commerce committee, said later it's undeniable that the administration botched the rollout. >> they had too many players. they just, they never did the testing that they should have done, that any private sector company would have done. whether you're trying to order a pizza or a plane ticket or a hotel reservation, they never put the pieces together until too late. >> sreenivasan: the website
failures may not be the administration's only problems. the "new york times" reported today that more than half of the counties served by the federal exchange have only limited competition among companies. that will mean higher prices, especially for uninsured americans in rural areas. meanwhile, the obama administration said today 700,000 people have applied for coverage so far through the federal and state exchanges. and in terms of the website problems, officials said people will have until march 31st to get coverage before they face a tax penalty. that's six weeks later than originally planned. white house press secretary jay carney: >> we are not focused on monday morning quaterbacking but on improving the access that americans have to the information they need so that they can shop for and purchase affordable health insurance. as i said yesterday, obviously tests were done and, what we learned upon launch were the problems with the site were greater than expected and anticipated significantly and
work needed to be done to fix those problems, and that's what's happening. >> sreenivasan: meanwhile, the growing furor guarantees the secretary of health and human services kathleen sebelius will face tough questions when she testifies next week, before the same house committee. >> woodruff: one of the contractors we mentioned, q.s.s.i. is open bid united health and united is an underwriter of the newshour. >> ifill: a usually fractured european union summit expressed common outrage today over recent allegations that the u.s. has been spying on its allies. jeffrey brown reports. >> brown: as a busy world leader, german chancellor angela merkel checks her cell phone during high-level meetings, in her car and while waiting for the elevator. today, at a european union summit in brussels, merkel said
her trust in the u.s. had been damaged by reports that her calls were monitored. >> ( translated ): i have made it clear to the president of the united states that spying on friends is not acceptable at all. i said that when he was in berlin in july and also yesterday in a telephone call. it's not just about me but about every german citizen. >> brown: the u.s. ambassador to germany was summoned to the foreign ministry in berlin to give an explanation. german officials said if the reports are true, the relationship is badly damaged. >> as far as i am concerned it would be a severe breach of trust. >> spying on close friendship partners is totally unacceptable. this undermines trust and this can harm our friendship. we expect that these activities that have been reported will be comprehensively investigated. we need the truth now.
>> brown: in washington today, white house press secretary jay carney again declined to say exactly what happened in the past, focusing instead on the present and future. >> we are not going to comment publicly on every specified alleged intelligence activity. as a matter of policy we have made clear that the u.s. gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations. as i mentioned yesterday, the president spoke with chancellor merkel, reassured her the u.s. is not and will not monitor the chancellor's communications. >> brown: similar allegations also surfaced in france this week, when the newspaper "le monde" published a report that the national security agency collected 70 million phone calls and texts in france in the matter of a month. these and other reports stem from information leaked by edward snowden, a former contract worker at the n.s.a. brazil has also accused the u.s. of spying on its leaders and citizens, which led its president dilma rousseff to cancel a state visit to washington last month.
the white house denied that her personal communications were being monitored. joining me now to discuss the fallout over the u.s. surveillance program: from brussels: luke baker, bureau chief for the reuters news agency. and our own chief foreign affairs correspondent margaret warner. well, luke baker, how big a deal the this among leaders meeting in brussels and do you get any sense as to whether leaders there are actually surprised or is it more because it's become so public? >> well, i think there is a great deal of surprise, to be honest. and it is a very dig deal. the leaders when they turned up for this summit of the 28, a good dozen or so made a point of addressing this issue the press as they arrived which is pretty unusual to stick on one theme and all of them to express common message which was that they stood by angela merkel, they were shocked by what they heard and that they would do whatever they could in her position but they wanted to get
all the facts straight first. on the other point, how surprised they really, i think it's true to a certain extent everyone expects a person is amount of espionage. inform this case i think what's struck people and surprised them that the almost personal nature of it. that it was targeted at, you know, the leader of germany, her personal mobile phone, it's a work phone but she is an avid user of her phone. it's with her all the time. she text messages all the time. so the sense of a very personal, direct, if you like to the heart level of eavesdropping or espionage if it's true. so in that respect, too, i think there was a very defensive kind of surprised reaction from some of her colleagues in -- among the european leaders. >> brown: margaret, we heard jay carney again today avoid saying anything about past actions, right? what's been the reaction within the administration to the outrage coming from europe? >> american officials call it outrage theater. >> brown: theater? >> outrage theater.
and they believe it's -- it's explained by the fact that every country knows that even friendly count rise spy on one another's leaders but the fact that it is so very public. that said, it has been embarrassing to the white house. the president has had to spend this time making phone calls to president merkel, promising this review of the way intelligence is collected. from the people i talked to, they're most worried not about the relationship so much with long-time allies in europe with whom there's a 60-year relationship but, say, relationships with countries like brazil, a rising power in latin america where the u.s. is trying to build a better relationship and one person said to me "this has really destroyed trust there." >> brown: is it understand, margaret, that this goesing on among governments or this somehow different because of what we heard? because of the personal nature with angela merkel? >> well, i sdhad a couple people. one person said, look, the
outrage would be if we only -- if we're interested in what a leader thinks about a terrorism negotiation we're in or an economic negotiation we're in. the outrage would be if we said we'll only monitor her office phone but not her cell phone. the fact is, world leaders use their cell phones all the time. in fact, one former intelligence official, a very senior one, said one of the hardest things now is that people in the u.s. government are careless about their use of cell phones. it's much more convenient than saying "i have to wait to get to a secure line." information in this country and the world moves so fast that you always see these leaders on their cell phones at summits and when they get the car. people expect answers. you can't say "i'm waiting until i get back to my secure line." and so they recognize -- officials i've talked to say every leader should recognize that this -- cell phones in particular are very vulnerable. >> brown: so luke baker, beyond
voicing objections, who kind of repercussions might there be? what specific foreign policy issues or actions might germany ors others take? >> well, one of the things i should say is i think the other element of this is from angela merkel's point of view, her past growing up in east germany and the reminder in a way of the past history that the secret police in east germany and they're eavesdropping on effectively the vast majority of citizens. so for a woman like angela america who will grew up in that environment, the other element of this which i think is quite powerful is that sort of -- that sense of being monitored like in the past that germany thought it had put behind it. going on to your point, there's -- there are various elements of negotiation, legislative and trade negotiations going on at this point which are critical between the united states and the european union. of course there is the trade -- free trade negotiations which
have only just started and which have already hit some rocky patches, partly because of the shutdown of the u.s. government and there are already calls within germany for those negotiations to be suspended. now, i really don't expect that to happen, but i do think that there is a likelihood that this will be used as a bit of a bargaining chip from the european side to see what concessions over time can be extracted from the american side because of espionage. but also there's currently a regulation going through the european union system, the draft regulations of there on data privacy. it's a very sensitive issue for the united states. it would have potentially a direct impact on major u.s. companies like facebook and google and also on the amount of intelligence -- not intelligence sorry, but data that is shared ultimately with the u.s. government. and that, is i know, a concern for u.s. officials here and if there's a push by germany-- which i think there may well be because germany feels it wants to have very strict data privacy regulations, then we could see
some action on that front as a result of this that would, i think, be a concern to the united states going forward. >> brown: margaret, is there concern here over such actions and is there an expectation that u.s. surveillance might change because of all this come out -- two questions. >> okay, so the first is the americans believe the your pines really want this trade agreement. they see it as a way to boost lagging growth the european continent and among the major drivers has been chancellor merkel along with david cameron of britain. so they actually don't expect -- one said to me thank god this came out after the german elections. so they don't expect big problems on that front. what they do expect is the other thing luke mentioned which is the separate data, privacy legislation moving through the e.u. that the european parliamentarians will now be hard pressed not to be very tough on american business and the biggest losers could be american business. in terms of whether something
will change, as president obama has assured these world leaders he's going to look at, no one knows because the president decide but several experienced hands have told me they could imagine when you've got the president saying over and over again, look, just because we have this technical capability doesn't mean we always have to use it that intelligence agencies take their guidance from policy makers in the white house and they could imagine the president saying, you know, when it comes to buging the american -- the cell phone of a differently leader do we really get more out of it than the risk than that it will be exsupposed? >> margaret warner with us and luke baker in brussels, thanks so much. >> woodruff: now, we turn to energy and the environment and to the crucial and often controversial role of the e.p.a. ray suarez begins with some
background on the agency and its new leader. >> reporter: to find a new chief, president obama didn't have to go far. he went directly to the e.p.a.'s office of air and radiation and selected a nominee with an extensive environmental record. >> gina has focused on practical, cost-effective ways to keep our air clean and our economy growing. she's earned a reputation as a straight shooter. she welcomes different points of views. >> reporter: indeed, mccarthy had worked for republican mitt romney when he was governor of massachusetts. she was confirmed as e.p.a. administrator in july, and quickly focused on climate change. in june, at georgetown university, the president gave notice: if congress will not act, the administration will. >> i'm directing the environmental protection agency to put an end to the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from our power plants, and complete new pollution standards for both new and existing power plants.
>> reporter: in september, mccarthy did just that, proposing rules that require new power plants to capture carbon emissions. she insisted it is not an assault on coal. >> i believe this proposal, rather than killing future coal, actually sets out a certain pathway forward for coal to continue to be part of the diverse mix in this country. >> reporter: the e.p.a. is expected to issue rules for existing plants next summer. but the power industry argues the move away from coal is already under way. an e.p.a. report this week said emissions from existing power plants in 2012 were lower than the year before, and down 10% from two years ago. part of that trend was visible last summer in colorado, where, this coal-fired plant was being demolished, to be replaced by a new plant using natural gas. it's in large part because
hydraulic fracturing and new drilling techniques have made gas far more available, and cheaper. it's also in anticipation of more regulations. power industry officials argue the transition should be left to them-- not the e.p.a. >> the e.p.a. has grossly exceeded their authority when it comes to new regulations that affect coal plants. we need to make sure that we don't arbitrarily take options off the table. we can't take a coal option off the table. we can't only rely on gas. >> reporter: the pushback continues. last week, the supreme court agreed to hear a challenge to the e.p.a.'s power plant regulations on the question of whether the agency went too far. >> woodruff: i spoke with gina mccarthy about a number of these issues at e.p.a. headquarters this afternoon. administrator gina mccarthy, thank you very much for talking with us. >> it's great to be here, judy, thanks. >> woodruff: so you've been
issuing new regulations, proposed regulations having to do with future coal-fired power plants and then down the road more regulations will be coming on existing coal plants. one of the questions being asked is why the emphasis on this when the country's reliance on coal is coming down with the increased finding that natural gas is less expensive. why, then, the need for all these regulations? >> well, judy, it comes down to public health. it all comes down to making sure that we're leaving our children with a safer, stable, healthier environment. it's all about moving forward with president obama's climate action plan. right now we're looking at two things: one is that power plants are really one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. that's the cause of climate change. and what we need to do is look at future power plants so that we can take advantageover innovative technologies of the
future. when we build a power plant, we expect that to be around for 70 years. why aren't we addressing that issue today and making sure we're building a clean energy future? at the same time, we have to look at the power plants that are generating electricity today. we need to look at the technologies available to them. we need to make sure that we work with states to get as clean a mix as we can today and lower carbon pollution moving forward. >> woodruff: i'm sure you know what the industry is saying, the utilitys are saying but this is a technology that is very expensive, many of them are saying it's going to put them out of business because it is so -- it's prohibitively expensive. >> actually. our proposed rule on future power plants looks at technology we believe is available today. it's not without cost, but what you're looking at is the providing a certain pathway for every type of diverse fuel available today and making sure
they have a place in a carbon-constrained future. it's not about adding costs. it is about providing certainty that there is a future for coal and a future that allows them to manage the carbon emissions effectively at a time when we know they need to be managed for public health and for our environment. >> woodruff: the other point the industry is making is that this is not a technology that's been proven on a wide scale. it's been tried here and there but they say it isn't known that it's going to work if it's used in a widespread way. >> this is what we do know: we know that carbon capture and sequestration, the three components-- capturing the c.o.-2 and making sure we can transport it and store it, all of those components have been happening for years. what we're talking about hire is developing that up to a new level where it's able to be used in current power plants. why am i sdmft because i know technology components are available. what i also know is two of the
power plants being constructed today-- the new power plants-- actually use gas. they're actually 75% complete. again, it's not without cost but it's a certain pathway forward so coal can remain part of the mix. we know it is today. we know it will be in the future. this is providing them a longer horizon and anticipating that these technologies will grow as long as we're investing in them. this should drama investment that we need. >> meanwhile you have some who are part of the environmental community looking at what the you're doing and they're saying "how come you're not focusing on more of the pollution coming out of the existing coal-fired power plants? not looking, for example, at mercury. dangerous levels, what they say are dangerous levels of mercury. >> >> judy, we did tackle the mercury issue. we have a law that is driving the industry to put on the kind
of modern technologies available to reduce mercury emissions. now, that's also challenging the coal industry to make sure that they're treating carbon emissions the same way as they've been treating mercury and arsenic and other pollutants as if they've been challenged to control for decades. carbon is a pollutant under the clean air act. we're doing the same thing for carbon we've done for the other pollutants moving forward. my job is to control pollution and deal with the environment challenges we're facing, one of which is climate change. it's not to dictate the energy of the future. it's to deal with the energy today and make sure there's a pathway forward to make sure it's clean as it can be. >> woodruff: but the other half of the environmental arguments is that there are these toxic slugs waste sites, emissions that have been built up in these plants and they say -- talk to the folks in the environmentalist community, they say this administration hasn't
done enough to get those cleaned up. >> we're moving on all fronts judy, on the air front as well as the waterfront and i think they know that. i think we need to look comprehensively at all of the challenges associated with the continued use of fossil fuel. we're also investing in renewable energy. ff you look at the history of this administration, since president obama came in, we have doubled the amount of electricity generation from renewable fuels. we're make sure that the technologies today and of the future are as clean as we can make them. for that where innovation being driven. so we hope that this will provide this country with a base to be competitive in the future, to have as clean as energy as we can and provide consumers with continued inexpensive electricity moving forward that they can rely on in the future. >> woodruff: in connection with that, i want to ask you about the natural gas in is now coming
online at a cheaper price than alternative sources of energy. the sense is that president obama is promoting hydraulic fracturing known as fracking as part of his energy agenda. again, in environmental community the question is doesn't this undercut what you're trying to do when it comes to keeping the environment clean? >> i think the president's been very clear that we're looking at maintaining a diverse energy mix. there's no question that natural gas is plentiful. there's no question that hydrofracking has allowed more natural gas to get into the market. that has lowered the price of natural gas, that's one of the reasons why you're seeing some of these inefficient old coal facilities going out of business. it's not about e.p.a. regulations necessarily, it's about the market itself. all of these things are moving forward. we're also looking at hydrofracking, judy. we're not closing our eyes to
the challenges associated with that. because while the president touts the advantage of natural gas, as he should, he's saying it has to be safe and responsible. e.p.a. is part of the administrative team to make sure that's the case. >> woodruff: the final hot potato issue-- and there are many of them, maybe not just one more-- and that is the keystone x.l. pipeline extension. a lot of people believe the president is just waiting to approve this for all sorts of reasons as you mentioned. he does have an energy agenda. but if he were to do that, does that undercut what you all are trying to do in terms of clean energy promoting the environment. >> well, i'm not going to anticipate what the decision is on keystone. it will be up to the department of state to make those decisions but i know it's been an open process. e.p.a. has commented on that proposal moving forward and we'll see why that heads. but nothing is going to undercut the fact that this administration has doubled fuel economy which decreases the
amount of greenhouse gases from mobile sources. we have shown time and time again that we're addressing the challenges of today in a way that continue to grow the economy but is really getting at the pollution that is most dangerous for people: mercury, arsenic, carbon. these are things that we've been challenging wholeheartedly and aggressively. we've been making great sides are forward. no one project will take that away from us but we'll keep building on that success moving forward. >> woodruff: the administrator of the environmental protection agency, gina mccarthy, thank you very much for talking with us. >> great to be here, thank you. >> woodruff: online, we have more with gina mccarthy, who talked about the president's second-term climate change agenda. that's on our rundown blog. >> ifill: now, how some los angeles schools are trying to improve students' college prospects by focusing directly on their parents. one organization is committing substantial resources
to teaching parents how to make higher education an important goal for their offspring. the "newshour's" april brown has our report, part of our american graduate project. >> reporter: it's a lovely saturday morning at markham middle school in the los angeles neighborhood of watts and nadia solis is taking eight-year-old darlene and six-year-old alexander to a classroom on the campus. while her oldest children and other kids play in a large room, solis and her mother sofia orgeta are starting their second year of college-- parent college. >> my kids came home with a brochure and they were like you need to attend this workshop. >> reporter: darlene and alexander had one motive to get their mother into the classroom: if she went, they would earn a day to wear street clothes and not uniforms at school. but as it turns out, darlene and alexander are getting much more than they bargained for
including a mom enthusiastic about homework. >> we shouldn't give them the attitude, "oh, come on, let's do homework," you know, hey, let's do homework so we can spend time together. >> reporter: and they now have a mom who talks about college. >> i never thought i should introduce college right about now but i should have when they were kids, when they were babies for them to have an idea of what they are going to expect of life. >> reporter: once a month during the school year, solis-- a single mother and high school dropout-- joins mothers, fathers to learn about learning. classes are held in both english and spanish. martha maitchoukow, an english teacher at markham during the week, leads the one solis attends. maitchoukow covers a lot of material, including the importance of reading and college preparedness. but there is one thing in
particular she stresses to every parent. >> the success of your child depends on the strength of our triangle. you the parent your child and me i cannot do it by myself, you cannot do it by yourself your child cannot do it by himself or herself. >> reporter: research over the past 20 years and conventional wisdom have both held that parental involvement has a positive impact on a child's education. but a report out this year has linked it directly to higher academic achievement, the outcome parent college is striving for in this community. sociologist toby parcel of north carolina state university co- authored the study: >> the bonds children have at school, the school environments, the positive relationships between teachers and principals those are important things. we want to make sure we understand that. it turns out though that the bonds that the parents form with their children around the
subject of school work, those bonds are three to four times more important and i think that's maybe what parents don't always understand that. >> reporter: the key, according to parcel, is continuous involvement and the sooner the better. >> prioritizing this type of activity and continually reinforcing that the parent feels the school is important and expects the child to put out effort and engage beginning early in the child's schooling that's where i think we get the greatest dividends. >> reporter: and that is precisely the aim of parent college, which primarily serves families in watts, boyle heights and south los angeles. in 2007 some of the lowest performing schools in the were slated for turnaround efforts, educating and empowering parents became key strategies in these 17 schools
which serve 16,000 students. >> reporter: nadia's children attend 99th street elementary, one of the 17 schools now managed by the non-profit partnership for los angeles schools. the organization works within the l.a. unified school district, but has more autonomy and leverages support from outside funders and partners. 89% of children in partnership schools are latino, 95% are eligible for free and reduced lunch and nearly a third are english language learners. saskia pallais, the partnerships director of family and community engagement, says parents often don't know how to help children reach their full potential. >> what we wanted to do with parent college was address some of the basic needs that our parents were experiencing. many of them never went to college, many of them don't know the u.s. education system, many of them never graduated from high school and so we wanted to make sure that they understood what the u.s. education system
is like and what are the requirements for their child to be able to graduate from high school and go to college. >> reporter: claudia ramirez, teaches eighth grade english and parent college at hollenbeck middle school. she uses a class exercise to illustrate just how large an educational challenge their community is facing. first, ramirez asks all the parents to stand then she instructs roughly half to sit down. as the exercise continues, just one remains standing. >> only one of the group will graduate college. >> reporter: ana rojas-- a student in the class-- is here to make sure her two kids buck that trend. >> i want to learn more every day. i want to use what i learn to help my kids at home, be like an additional teacher at home.
today i learned i have to be more attentive so that they will go to university one day and distinguish themselves as good professionals. >> reporter: still, there is a long way to go before the rojas children and all those attending partnership schools will be ready to graduate high school. but c.e.o. joan sullivan says significant progress has been made. >> over the past five years, the partnership is the highest performing system in the state among all mid-to-large systems. >> reporter: sullivan believes investing 10% of the partnerships budget on family and community engagement is money well spent and one of the reasons test scores are improving. >> the reality is that our parents really are our students first and most important teachers and unless we invest in embracing and developing a relationship with them were not going to find the kind of
success we ultimately want. >> reporter: it turns out nadia solis has had a success of her own since starting parent college: earning her g.e.d. daughter darlene provided a much-needed push one day after solis stressed the importance of studying hard and going to college. >> her answer to me was if you didn't finish high school why are you telling me, well what is this that i have to do it i just gave her a simple answer of well i just couldn't. but the minute that i had parent college the next week, it was like my first question to my teacher, what can i do to get my g.e.d. >> reporter: solis is now looking forward to parent college's big event in the spring, family university day where they'll tour a local campus and learn about qualifications and financial aid. >> woodruff: american graduate is a public media initiative funded by the corporation for public broadcasting.
>> ifill: we turn now to politics, and our series featuring republican leaders as they consider the future of their party. we've spoken with former senate majority leader trent lott and kansas congressman and tea party stalwart tim huelskamp. tonight, we hear from former republican party chairman ed gillespie. i spoke with him a short time ago. gillespie worked in the bush white house and advised presidential nominee mitt romney last year. he is now chairman of the republican state leadership committee, which works on elections and policy at the state level. thanks for joining us. >> thanks for having me. if. >> ifill: are we talking about divided government fallout here that affects one party more than the other? >> i think both parties took a hit in the shutdown and debt ceiling debate but the republican party-- according to all of the data-- took a bigger hit. down to 28% favorability rating in one survey i saw.
and, you know, we have to restore that and get our numbers back up again. i think we have an opportunity to do that between now and certainly midterm and even more so between now and 2016. >> ifill: let's look backward and forward on that. looking back, should the shutdown have been taken off the table? the potential for shutdown? >> i there's universal agreement in the republican party that we -- that obama scare bad policy and that we need to repeal it or defund it or do whatever we can but it's clear that with a democratic controlled senate and a president whose signature bill it is that we're not going to be able to get that done with the current dynamic. i think we have to change the political environment and get more republicans elect sod we'll be able to achieve the goal in the end. we weren't able to achieve the goal and in the process i think we distracted from what we're seeing now, which is real concern over the affordable care act and its being implemented. >> ifill: when you say the "current dynamic" dough do you
mean the current dynamic within your party or in general? >> the current political dynamic which is that the democrats control the senate and have a big majority there and obviously president is a democrat. that's the dynamic i'd like that change. the. >> ifill: but the dynamic your party which has absolutists on one end, who identify as tea party, and kind of practicalists like yourself-- i just made that up-- on your end who are saying "these are the things we need to accomplish to build the party," aren't they fundamentally in conflict? >> there's a difference over the tactics. there's a universal agreement on the policy objectives. there are different opinions on how you best achieve those and i think that over time we're going to be able to get to the same tactics because i think people see that this approach that was taken here most recently did not have the desired effect and we need to try a different approach. >> ifill: you do agree that obamacare should be repealed but do you agree on things like immigration reform which some republicans think something can be done about.
do you agree with things on entitlement reform which some republicans agree something should be done about? and if you do, if there is some area of agreement not only among yourself bus the other party, how do you take tactics and turn it into strategy? >> i think there's opportunities here to talk about what we're for. i think talking about an immigration system that is clearly broken and having ideas on how to fix that and solve that. if that were to result until a bill being passed that would be a good thing. there is not universal agreement on that as there is when it comes to repealing obamacare. there are divisions within the party. there are divisions within the democratic party on that issue but it's possible you could get a majority in the house and senate and the president could sign a bill that would give us a more rational immigration system. things we would doll to keep people out, drug dealers and folks that we don't want coming into this country would enable you to allow people we do want coming in.
my father is an immigrant, came to the this country at the age of nine and contributed mightily through the united states in his own way. not the least of which was as an infantryman in world war ii but also a small business owner and father of six who made his first -- his children the first generation to ever go to college. so i think you can get some things done on immigration reform. i think you can get some things done on entitlement reform as well. >> ifill: you said the presence of the tea party is growing pain in the party and you'd rather be growing than shrinking. but does the party set itself on a path to shrinkage if you can't work on these party expanding ideas like immigration reform? >> i think that's a risk absolutely and that's one of the things we have to work out. any party in a two-party system in a country of over 300 million people is going to be a coalition by nature and we've got some friction inside our coalition right time that needs to be worked out. and i think if we're not smart about how we handle these issues
we may be consigned to minority status and to me i think adhering to our principles we can do that and get a majority, win back the white house and win control of the senate in the same way the states right now we're doing so well. we have 30 governors and 53% of americans live in a state where there's a republican governor, a republican state house and a republican state senate. >> i'll ask you about that. you worked in the white house, you've run the party, you're now running a state leadership coalition trying to encourage that. is that the future for your party? >> i believe the future of our party -- i'm a big believer in a bottom up party. we have a lot of -- have a lot of effective governors and attorneys general state house or state senate leaders who are putting forward good ideas that are having an impact in a positive way, that's why their numbers are so good and they talk in a way that i think resonates with people. you're much more likely to hear
republicans in the state talking about affordable housing and improving our schools and giving everyone a chance for upward mobility in a way you don't hear and i think it's not fair because these are governors so they can set their own agenda in washington, we have one branch of the legislative -- one chamber of the legislative branch. we're inherentfully the position of saying no to what the president is proposing but at the same time it's helpful for folks in washington, d.c., republicans in washington, d.c. to listen to how republicans in the states are talking about these issues and embrace that language. >> ifill: does washington get the way of that have? >> i think sometimes it does. that's true with both parties. the higher up you go in the political produce the more polarizing things get. someone said there aren't democratic potholes or republican potholes. when you're at the more local level it's less polarizing. the but how we talked about issues and what people hear
coming out of washington we see is not as appealing as what they're hearing coming out of state capitals. >> ifill: ed gillespie of the republican state committee thank you so much for joining me. >> thanks for having me. >> woodruff: finally tonight, the dramatic fight over land in china. the country's urban population has swelled in recent decades, bringing hundreds of millions of people out of rural areas and into cities. that migration has led to a surge in construction and the demolition of millions of homes to make way for developments, sometimes without the consent of residents. protesters attempting to stop the destruction have blocked heavy machinery, fought with officials and even set themselves on fire. hari sreenivasan takes a closer look at that practice. he spoke with frank langfitt from n.p.r.'s shanghai bureau earlier today via skype. a warning: some viewers may find the report disturbing.
>> sreenivasan: thanks for joining us. tell us what happened in the most recent incident in the human province. >> what happened was there had been a battle over developments. basically they're building a park as part of a $1.6 development project to boost local economies. you see this all over china. and in order to do this they had to knock down a village. and one of the farmers was asking for a fair bit of money, there's some dispute over that but the government was only willing to give about $33,000. and the farmer like other farmers we have talked to and others we've talked to, they're going lose their land, they're in their 40s, they don't have much else going for them and it appears he snapped and lit himself on fire. he's still alive, in a coma. but what's striking about it is that he's not the only guy. since 2009 there are over 50 cases of this. >> sreenivasan: why are they doing this? >> i think when we've talked to people, family members and certainly speaking to one person
i talked to who doused himself with gasoline but officials stopped him from lighting himself on fire, a sense of tremendous frustration, a sense of hopelessness, a sense that local officials don't care and certainly a sense of very dramatic protest. that's kind of the sense that we get for from people as to what's driving it. so it's hard to know. many of these people die so there's no chance to interview them afterwards to ask them why they did it. >> sreenivasan: what's the government's position on these incidents? >> well, they don't talk about it at any sort of central government level. but an interesting thing in this case in the human province is the local government -- it took many, many phone calls, we finally got an answer from them and they said that this family was asking for a lot of money and that they saw this as a way actually to make a tremendous amount of money off the government. they had been holding out by not taking the compensation that was offered and they basically blamed the family themselves
saying this was almost a scam. when i ran this by the family they said no. most of them said they had no idea this man was going to do it and they denied those things. one thing that is the case, we found in some of the interviews we did later, the government will pay quite a bit of money in the end. sometimes -- in one case $130,000. in one case over $500,000 for someone who died from self-immolation in many cases that's in part to shut the family up so these stories don't get out around the country. >> sreenivasan: what do we see on the video you've tent? >> the video you'll see the man inside. you won't see his body, fortunately, but he is on fire. he's inside his room and his family members are outside along with police, plain clothed police, local officials and city management officials who are kind of seen as official --
officially sanctioned thugs. and you -- i think in the early part of the video you what you'll probably see is one of the excavateors is right there up against the window about to tear into the house. and you can see he's lit himself on fire. >> sreenivasan: are chinese people hearing reports of these immolations? are they seeing them have these incidents become symbolic? >> no, the government has really really kept a lid on this. there was almost zero coverage of this last case in china. there was a t.v. crew that went out, a local t.v. crew that did a story about it. apparently the story ran once and was never put on the web site or deleted from the web site. the family members uploaded the video that i'm sending to you and it was immediately or very quickly deleted from the chinese internet. it's not -- basically most supreme no idea this is going on. >> sreenivasan: since you got this video, has the family said
anything? >> the family just wanted this out. they said -- they've been waiting for the story. they want people to know what happened. and when they tried to get the story out, it didn't succeed because it was deleted. so we have actually posted the story on chinese internet and so far as of later this afternoon -- late this afternoon it was still on the internet but we'll see. >> sreenivasan: frank langfitt of npr, thanks so much. >> sure. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day: contractors who worked on the troubled healthcare.gov website said the government never completely tested the system before it went live. they also said they're optimistic that all those needing coverage will get it by january 1, as planned. the food and drug administration recommended new restrictions on prescribing commonly used narcotic painkillers, such as vicodin. the rules would limit the number of refills without a new prescription
and german chancellor angela merkel said her trust in the united states has been damaged by reports that her phone calls were monitored by the national security agency. >> ifill: online, before you book your holiday trip. watch our interview with author elizabeth becker. the award-winning journalist explores the best and the worst of the travel industry, in her new book "overbooked: the global business of travel and tourism." that's on our rundown blog. and bringing children from different continents together through music. the latest in our social entrepreneurship series profiles the founder of one voice. all that and more is on our website newshour.pbs.org. >> woodruff: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. we'll see you online and again
here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks. for all of us here at the "pbs newshour," thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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