tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN September 29, 2016 4:30pm-6:31pm EDT
cooperative in mexico. i spent eight years teaching in urban charter schools, quote, unquote, low income african-american and latino students. so at that school i taught u.s. government. and so it was there that i immersed myself in the whole sieve, not just crippurriculum. i read a lot about civics and really took on the role of trying to make to form future citizens of america. it is a little sad when i switched to my new school and switched to u.s. history. i soon found out that i think my role is even stronger and even more important. and actually i think i can do more and be more effective at forming citizens in u.s. history
than u.s. government. in u.s. government i can talk to them about important sieve, and how to do it. but i think a big challenge to forming citizens who can tackle the problems of today is our u.s. history. it is teaching a very traditional mainstream history that reinforces the current traditions. as they say, they cannot dismantle the master's house. so when you are teaching a traditional white man mythical if you try hard enough you'll get ahead type of history. then you turn around and say, okay, now we're going to talk about racial and income inequality. it conflicts. and so i think you really have to teach the roots of today's problems in u.s. history for the students to understand.
you need to get down to the root causes. i'll give you an example. this summer i was very shaken by the two deaths of black men by police and the rise of trumpism. and i said i can't go on as if nothing has happen. and i e-mailed my supervisor and i said, i am just completely compressing the curriculum and making space for a six-week curriculum on the rise of trumpism and black live matters which is the rise of income inequality and institutional racism. i'm going to spend six weeks on that. not only that, i'm going to put it in the beginning of the year. i'm not waiting in the the end of the year. got any problems with that? he said no. i said great. [ applause ]. and i spent a long time. it's very delicate.
as a teacher you have to teach in a very objective way and a very balanced way. these are very controversial issues. so it took a lot of sweat. i spent a lot of time working out the curriculum. we didn't even say the name trump until two, three weeks into the unit. we have to go back to 1969, 1970 to trace the rise of income inequality, of racial resentment. we have to go all the way back to the roots. i said this is not a current event unit. this is 1960s to the current unit. all of this has been bubbling to the surface and is just coming out now. i showed the faculty. i drew a picture of an iceberg. on the top it says electoral polarization, black lives matter, urban riots. that's part of the iceberg that
shows. under it says rise of income inequality, rise of constitutional racism. we have to go all the way back and trace back and talk about all of those things. i think it's very interesting. of course by the end the kids were able to talk about these in a very informed manner. not a single educator wrote me back. they said we can't -- we don't have enough time. we have to teach the real u.s. history. there's not enough time for current events unit. certainly not six weeks. and i kept arguing. it's not a current event issue. it's just teaching everything that's happened. but, no, we have to teach u.s. history. we can't take time away from the importance of real u.s. history.
then when the last two deaths happened at the hands of police, my inbox was flooded. send materials on black lives matter. i tried to have an assembly on black lives matter and it didn't go well. wow. duh. i wonder why? did you walk into the room and say black lives matter? you need to have a fundamental, radded cal, reapproaching of u.s. history. you can't put a band-aid on a wound.
i want to be a nonracist. i need to be neutral. i couldn't figure out how to get that balance. i need to get the kids to be talking with each other. i need the conservative, liberal, black, white talking. i said, look, us adults have really divided this country. but when i'm in my nursing home 40 years from now, 20 years from now, i do not want to the hear that you ended up dividing the country into four. it's not about i'm right, you're stupid. i need us to reach out and try to understand each other's perspective and learn how to have dialogue. we're not debating. we're going to deliberate.
we need to have compromises in the middle so we stay one country. that's the conversation that i'm talk to go my kids on the very first day of the unit, i re-enacted the blind men and the elephant. each person is touching a different part of the elephant. i said we're all touching different parts of the elephant. whites, blacks, liberals, conservatives. that's why we are describing them differently. we have to learn how to talk to each other across the elephant and figure out how the entire elephant is -- and figure out what the entire solution for the el fact. this is the conversation i'm having with the children. these are the to stratewo strat
use in my classroom. thank you. [ applause ]. >> i guess i'll tell you a little bit about how i got to where i am in the education world. i started out teaching in a very rundown neighborhood in atlanta in a public school system i guess you can call it. since they call it the public school system. and there i was duped into teaching. the principal told me the students came from old money. i was new to this area. i looked around. and i thought whose old money are they living off of? and i needed a job. she told me, you know, we need teachers. so i taught language arts. then i moved to this area and taught high school in a public
high school in prince gearges carry. i was very pleased because they weren't stealing cars of the teachers, throwing books out the window. because that's what was happening in atlanta. however, when i got here, the parents worked several jobs or worked for a very long time. they didn't have time to devote the type of parenting that i thought every parent should devote to their children. one student told me he didn't see his mom all week. he saw her on sundays. that was it. not because she was a bad mother but because she was working constantly. from there i went to public schools of fairfax county in alexandria. and that's where i started teaching debate and forensics. that shows more of the cross-section of america that
meet in traditional public schools. they talked to each other. they were in a school. it felt like your good ld school for what it's worth. then i moved to teach anything d.c. public schools. i hit the wall of d.c. public schools and learned a lot about where kids come from. so i thought i would do more for debate. i felt that was the way to get everyone together and not so much deliberate. both sides understanding the debate. so i'm here now. i teach debate down the street at emerson prep. you would think the school in dupont circle would be a bunch of white kids who are rich is and sending students there until of the public school system. but it is very diverse.
and i was pleased to teach debate with no holds barred. that's where i am now. i'm happy to go into some of the questions i prepared. i have a notepad and notes. i'm a traditional debate kind of guy. sometimes i'll read from the notes. i would hike to piggy-back on something you said at the very beginning. when you talk about the united states and our restrictions in the classroom, i thought do we always have to be very objective? the answer to that to me is no. a lot of times when you do teach a student you do have to come from your perspective as a teacher and tell them what you truly believe. pause sometimes when you truly believe might not jibe with the
student sitting in front of you. because you see your own view, it could bring out something they truly believe and you have a dialogue that says listen, i don't agree with you at all. but you're a human being. i'm a human being. we have our own sets of believes. now we can get somewhere where. you close off that person from what you might be trying to change in our own heart. when i used to teach more in the public schools, i would cross that line and talk to students about what i felt about freddie gray or a student that was killed down the street. and one time when i was teaching my english class, no one was listening. i felt this was disrespectful. you should be listening to tony
morrison. somebody said apple got it last night. apple was a guy down the street. so we did a roundtable and talked about things that are affecting us and how students have real life issues. and we talked about the human level of education and what it should be. if your teacher understands what you're going through, no matter what it is. yes, maybe your friend wasn't stabbed. but maybe your mom is thinking about leaving your dad. or maybe you didn't seen your dad in a few years, these things affect students in a classroom. when i tell them to act on it, they don't know how. so we had a psychology session and talked about issues that affected us. after we cleared the air and there were tears shed and some things that students told me
that their own lives, we were able to move on. so there was another thing i thought about which was the idea of inherent bias and how you look at someone two second after that and you have judged where they're from or who they are, who they belong to. basically you have judged their entire lives. and you treat them a certain way based on inherent bias. but if you knock down those walls of inherent biases and feel every person has worth or knowledge or something that you can learn from. even one of your peers, not just an elder or someone younger than you but your own peer level. in the last couple seconds i'll tell you why i'm saying that. as a policy debate coach at one point i would go to a tournament in shenandoah valley.
people would say what are you doing here or can i help you? no, you can't men me right now. my team is pretty much doing all right. in my heart i was discouraged because they could have asked a different question or looked at me with a different approach. part of that is learning and living. and as we all get older we find out everyone is not raised the same way. our own views are shaped by what our parents teach us. i have good parents, in parents in-law. and someone to help me raise my students that way. thank you. [ applause ]. >> my name is robin.
make a challenge d.c. i just want to say i am honored to be on the stage with these two amazing educators. i danced my whole career around the classroom and never been in the middle of it. i have the utmost respect for classroom teachers and think they are the real change makers in our society. they get up 6th day and educate us about the world around and how to make it into what they would like to see. i appreciate being part of the panel. just a minute about make the challenge. we are named after the late judge abner who just recently passed away. we were founded by a group of people who had worked with judge mikva, a representative of chicago for a few years on the hill, circuit court judge and then general counsel to president clinton. when he retired, they wanted to do something to honor his legacy of having worked in all three
branches of government. they wanted to do something while he was still living. and so they had a dinner. apparently their first suggestion was a named hill internship for college students. and the judge and his wife zoe said that is really boring. we have no interest in that. everybody does that. they got into a conversation about what point in their lives they felt this democracy belonged to them. they had a role in the way our society worked. and everybody went around the table and talked about a formative experience in middle or high school. most of the people came from middleclass backgrounds. white people, middleclass men. they all have formative experiences where they felt like they were part of our system. and so the judge said we need to do that in chicago and chicago public schools. they started the program 17 years ago. originally it was just helping high school teachers get young
people out volunteering on campaigns. and they did that for a number of years, just helping teachers facilitate young people going outdoor knocking and phone banking candidates of their choice. from that they said that's great. we have great discussions when we come back in the choose room on monday about what we're doing. but we need more context. it is called democracy in action. a curriculum called issues to action where we take young students through a process thinking about their community's strengths and weaknesses, what issues they see in their community and how to make change. it is a six-step process. it takes young people through identifying an issue, doing a root cause analysis. again, looking at that iceberg situation. picking one of the root causes
to focus on. how do you influence a decision maker. one of the classic examples we always use in talk building the curriculum is if you pick the issue that there is not soap in the bathroom. which to many adults may sound like a small issue. if you have ever been in a public high school, it's not. there is often not soap in the bathroom. and you think about then what does the principal care about? the principal cares about school attendance, test scores and kids showing up at school. having soap means kids don't get sick, they come to school and that influences the decision. so instead of just going out and creating posters, what does the decision maker care about. how do you influence them and how do you get the change you want to see. and what is the right action. if you want the food in the
cafeteria to be better, is that a protest march or a meeting with the principal? is that a letter campaign? what is the right way to attack that issue. and then going out and actually doing it. our mikva challenge d.c. last july with about 14 middle and high schools, and we had young people get up and think about the first part of the curriculum is thinking about what is the biggest issue facing your community. and we have an activity called project soapbox, where every young person gets up and gives a two to three minute speech, delivers a call to action on that issue, and we invite guests and adults to come in and listen to the students and then have a city wide competition where kids come together from across the city to hear those different issues. from there, each of those classrooms pick one issue and go through the process i just discussed. and so last may, we had a civics, what we called our action civics fair, like a
science fair but for community activism, and they had things ranging from middle school talking about social media and bullying to a bunch of our high school students talking about racial profiling and the effects and relationships they have with police at the metro police at the metro stop. and the actions they took. so some of the students who worked on racial profiling came up with this twitter campaign "i'm more than what you think" did t-shirts and worked with the police. middle school students, no bullying week at their high school. then they showcased those results, and we had the, now former chancellor henderson came and talked to the students about the work they've done. we still also do the work getting young people involved in actually electoral politics. so last january, we took 20 high school students from d.c. to
iowa and they volunteered on a bunch of presidential campaigns before the iowa caucus, and if anything about this presidential season makes you a little worried about our democracy, there is nothing like watching high school students be delighted to phone bank and door n knock. it was like negative seven degrees in iowa. they were so excited about getting to have that experience and getting to tell people why they thought they should go out and caucus for their candidate. and this year, we're continuing to do voter registration, getting young people out and working on voter registration, and also thinking and reacting to and talking about presidential debates and the presidential election that's going on. i'll stop there. >> great. thank you. julian and robin. so i just want to ask a few questions of our panels. i would like to start with asking if you want to comment on
each other's presentations. no, nothing comes up okay. how about talking about some of the issues that appeal to your students or some examples of activism that you've seen or encouraged. >> well, i taught at a charter school that was very -- well, i'll just say it. i taught at cesar chavez at park side, and that school, it is really important to teach them about, you know, engagement, right. so one of the students was very excited about the opportunity to talk about what affected her life and why she wants to be an activist. it took me by surprise when she said she is really for immigration policy and she wants to figure out why things happen on the level that, you know, she -- well, she felt like she could affect some type of change
from the bottom up. she told me about a story of her father who was taken away from their kitchen at the age of five. she was five years old. she witnessed this. she didn't know why i was happening and he was gone. basically forever. and you know, we went to a march on immigration, down in d.c., and she was one of the people who felt strongly about, you know, the issue on immigration policy. it led me to think about how other students don't have those types of issues. they coast through, play video games, apply to college, get to college, have a major. that's it. so the question would be, what has to happen to a kid or to a student that would make them want to be activists, or what would happen in their community that would spur them to some sort of action. and that's part of what, you know, i had to kind of bring out of students to say well it, didn't happen to you, but what
if it did or it happened to anyone in the classroom you might care about. >> kane just add? i mean, i would say -- who are interning at the d.c. city council. the same thing that concern adults about the city concern the young people we work with. the number one things i hear them talking about is gentrification, and then gun violence and their relationship with the police. those are the things i hear most resonating. >> i would like to address approach a little bit from teaching. my first year in u.s. government, i was teaching someone else's curriculum and it was a traditional civics, u.s. government curriculum, oh, u.s.
democracy is perfect and wonderful. the kids reacted, no, it isn't. threw tomatoes at me. the 18-year-olds, they did not vote. the second year, i sort of, i had a little bit more input and so i said yes, you're right. america's democracy is extremely flawed. they said you're right. we're still not voting. the third year round, i founly fin -- finally figured out how to do it. citizens are capable of change, and here are some examples of people who changed it. all but one voted. >> wow. [ applause ] >> that's great. so you're all three doing work that most schools would be controversial. i would like to talk about how you've gotten your schools to
embrace the type of work that you're doing, or obstacles you've encountered. >> the last year and a half, most schools i don't think actually think that teaching young people how to make change is that controversial. i think, you know what is controversial is when adults interject their decision -- their opinions and their decisions on young people. if you give young people the chance to think about, well, what's really going on, why do you think, and you keep sdg, why is that happening, why do you think that's happening, what's going -- give them the tools to analyze something and let them follow their own process of doing the research. i at least haven't encountered people that think that process is controversial. >> my school loves what i'm doing, but the students did ask me. they stopped me in class one day
and said does the administration know you're teaching this. i said yes. they said have any parents complained about this. i said no. and one of the ways is because i worked really hard to, like i said, i worked very hard to teach in a very objective manner, and so i had to very -- we don't -- one way i cheat a little bit, like for example, we don't really talk a lot about trump statements, for example, but rather, we study as social scientists, we study the ricesef hispopularity. i cheat a little bit. i don't ask them what do you think of trump. i avoid questions like that. and then the other, i had to -- i didn't get a chance to earlier. i had to work especially hard on the issue of race. i want to tell you how i did that. on one hand, want to be non-racist, but on the other hand, i have to be objective from a conservative point of
view. i talked to a black republican friend of mine, and asked him what the black republican stance on for instance, the recent deaths on racism, because i figured that would strip the racism or bigotry from the conservativeness. and he said, well, we would -- i think that there is racism, institution racism, but i don't want the government to do anything about it. based on that i read the political classroom by diana hess and paula mcvoy and i divided the question into two. empirical question, one can be answered by social science date it and that most social scientists have agreed on. that question is does institutional racism exist. i'm treating it as a right and wrong answer to that. that is not -- you cannot have an opinion on that in the classroom. the answer is yes. institutional racism does exist. there is no room for -- for
opinion on that. however, the follow-up, the political question, is should -- what if anything should the government do about that. that i'm treating as a political question. that's an opinion based question that's going to depend whether you're liberal or conservative. we've divorced -- i've divided the question into two like that, and for one, that's what the data is, and the research is supporting. some people may disagree, but that's what the vast majority of the scientists and social scientists say. and also, you are both protecting both extremes in the classroom. sorry to say, i'm protecting african-american and latino students from being hurt by very hurtful comment, and i'm protecting conservative students, allowing them to have their opinion on the matter as well. >> one obstacle i faced a lot and i want to to talk about what you're saying, but i have to get this in. the administrators i face a lot
of times feel like they -- they have to control what they can control, and say to teacher, you can't teach outside the box. we want you to, but we really want l can't let you do that. if you're not on this page doing this thing, doing that thing, you can't teach here. that's why i was bouncing around so much, because i had to find out where i could be. but then the other idea is the obstacles in the classroom. students don't want to fail any more. they don't want to stop doing things and getting, you know, try again boom fast on their phone, the way they think, is driven by sort of these spontaneous actions that app around them. they feel like if i'm going to fail and activists have to fail. they have to learn from that failure and become successful later. to try to teach political activism in the classroom, you have to understand that students
don't want to fail and how can you make them understand that's apart of life. you have to fail first or second or over and over, until you get to the right, you know, formula to enhance whatever your movement is. i really want to talk about what you said, but i want to be respectful of time. >> yeah, thank you. unfortunate unfortunately, we are out of time. i want to thank all three of the panelis panelists. you're doing fantastic work and informati informative to hear about it. thank you very much. [ applause ]
>> thank you katherine and thank you to the pan elistpanelists. our next speaker is wendy field, and she is talking about building a movement. wendy is executive director at democracy initiative, and before joining democracy initiative, she was the vice-president of strategic campaigns and partnerships at common cause, where she focused on linking economic inequality and racial inequality to the democracy agenda. before that, she spent 17 years at the united automobile woerks in detroit, rkers in detroit, michigan, and she served as chief of staff to uaw president, bob king. she was the first woman to hold the highest nonelected position with the union. please welcome wendy fields.
[ applause ] >> good afternoon. i feel like you all should shake it out a little bit or something. come on. let me -- i would like to offer my thanks and to mr. nader and the senate for study of responsive law for inviting me to speak today. i'm really a substitute for karen hobart flynn. that's what i am. today, to speak amongst a group of very fantastic leaders in the progressive field. and that panel was great. didn't you think that was insightful? it was insightful. and actually, a great jumping off point for me. i'm here to talk about building movements, and i think we all know in this room that at the heart of it, building movements, is about power and dis rupgs. and it's funny, because i started my day this morning with a patriotic millioniors, and the
right to protect the right to vote, and they are awesome. and now i'm here with you all. so i think i'm coming full circle on the activism front. it is about power and disruption. the d.i., is a network of coalition of 59 organizations that represent 30 million members. we are activists from unions, civil rights groups, environmental, nonprofits, immigrants and women's rights group and lgbtq, groups like public citizen, i'm sure you'll all aware of. greenpeace, naacp, and communication workers of america, and afl-cio, just a
few. our members are committed to the vision that every voice and voter should be counted regardless of the size of their wallet or zip code, their race, creed or color. the d.i. members are all passionate about their core issues, but they also realize that their core issues are linked and the ability to move policies are linked to the im pedestrian dents impedmints. it is clear, and i'm sure you can all agree, that we have an outside influence over our country. we're working to tear down the silos. democracy reform. our members understand that all of the important issues being debated today are impacted by democracy. by the system that controls who
can vote, and how. who can influence decisions, because they have deep pockets, and who is left out completely. as i said earlier, achieving success in climate change, civil rights, women's rights, worker's rights and racial economic inequality are linked to fundamental pillars of our democracy. to advance those, we need not only protect democracy, but improve it. expand it. expand the right to vote and the access to vote. and decrease the role of power and money that is in our politics. so many of our efforts are being in visibly strangled by the power of a few with very deep pockets. millions of hard-working people contribute to our society everyday, but that society is not addressing our issues. we know that to succeed in any area, we need to fix the system.
not just congress, but states, counties and towns. not just an election cycle. it is not just about this election cycle. it is about governing, about the everyday impact these policies or the lack thereof make on our lives. these few corporations and ultra rich are manipulates the system in many ways that most people don't even know about, let alone how to fight against it. we need a clear understanding of election laws, it makes it sound remote and unconnected to our everyday lives. but that beliefs exactly what allows those with money and power to do what they want and not be held accountable by the public. there are -- you know, i think about the manipulations are real for every day americans. they are real when resources go to a town with an even higher income level than flint, michigan. to make sure their water is
clean. they are real when politicians use their obscure rules to halt progress on gun safety, policies that the majority of americans from both sides of the aisle support. clearly. they are real when harmful voter i.d. laws are put in place, that bar members of our society. our parents, our neighbors, our friends, from exercising their constitutional right to vote. we must stand together to disrupt that dynamic. that's the movement we need to build for all of the other movements to have a real shot first, we need to demand that our leaders from the presidential candidates or city counsel or state legislators tell us where they stand on the question of democracy. are they going to continue the status quo of pandering for our votes, up until election day. and then ignoring our needs and priorities to apiece their donors from november 9th on.
are we going to hold them accountable. second, we need to take those answers and speak with our power. the power of the vote. we all know that the greatest power that everyday people have is in our ability to elect or reject leaders by voting. we need to vote. we need to encourage every single person we know and those we don't know to vote too. we have to encourage and inspire people to vote, because the more people vote, the more protection we have. it is about our power. most of the time whren we do pa attention to democracy reform, we concentrate on the federal level, and that certainly is important. public priorities and opinion fail to translate to policy, because once election day is over, as i said before, policymakers aren't influenced by the public. they're influenced by money flowing into their pocket. and even more, they use
loopholes and tricks. you know and you've seen it in the senate. senators abuse the rules, hold silent filibusters, fail to bring critical legislation to a screeching halt, bring it to the floor. they leave nominations as we know critical nominations in our judicial system, hanging out there to dry. and we have no supreme court. one supreme court justice missing. unrelated project or provision that scores points back home, they can be fully ready to pass legislation. when it serves their interest and serves that of the special interests. this strangle hold on our democracy must end. however, there isn't just a problem, this isn't just a problem that we need to fight on the federal level. that goes without saying.
the saying that those that all politics is local, but unfortunately we know that so the power of big money. in chicago, which is in the news everyday, for example, a few powerful players with deep pockets control the elections. while only 15% of chicagoans make more than $100,000 a year. in the last mayoral election, 63% of the donors did. this donor class does not represent the diversity, values or interests of that community. so this year, and every year after, we need to disrupt the status quo. on more than the federal level with our votes. we can't waist our powste our ft the presidential election. i say this, the d.i. will work really hard in this cycle to make sure that people vote the entire ballot. from the bottom to the top.
this is about -- this is an election about us, and our election of the kids that this great panel talked about today. that it is important for them to hit every box and send a very, very strong message to every state legislature and county across this country. the role that money plays in politics has been exposed this past election cycle like no other time before. we know that this election cycle as i said this morning is the cycle that really -- no one can argue. no one could argue that reform around the amount of money that flows into our elections, no one can go -- continue to go unchecked. we must have strong disclosure. we must have great transparency. we must have the ability to see who is buying whom. and hold them accountable for every act they take.
finally, you know, we have been -- i'm going to go off script a little bit. we've had some really successes around public financing. public financing is what, if any of you are old enough, like me, jimmy carter ran in the publicly funded presidential election. remember that? who remembers that? it was a pretty good system, wasn't it? so many in the good government groups have been doing very successful public financing reforms in this country. new york has some. not perfect. right. but still, connecticut. recently, maine. seattle. and today, like last year, 79% of the voters in chicago voted for public financing, small donor matches in chicago.
they have yet to move that ladies and gentlemen layt legislatively, howard county maryland, how many are you from montgomery county, maryland. montgomery county, we passed it, i'm going build on that this november with the similar ballot initiative in howard county, maryland. so across the country, we are beginning to build momentum around public financing, and small donor campaign match to reduce the amount of money, and to allow anyone to run for office and begin to sort of have a reflective democracy. so this year, and voter laws, you know there is a voter i.d. fight in missouri. how many of you know that? few. let me tell you. we all know that voter i.d. is a form of voter suppression. we agree? all right, now you are alive.
you were starting to make me nervous. comen, you've got to help me out. and really, it says that in order to vote, that basically the notion they put out there is there is voter fraud in this country, when we know, we know that there is very little evidence of that. and that's all designed to create chaos and fear to divide and marginalize and it is to steal our power. you agree with that? now we're cooking. so in missouri, some -- the chamber and some corporate folks, we'll leave some of them to be unnamed, put a ballot initiative on the ballot initiative to require voter i.d.s in the constitution. how about that? good thing you corrected yourself. i was wondering how you were going to get out of here.
so again, we need to be thinking about not just defensive fights like that everyday, but really, the d.i. is working with good government groups to expand the right to vote. the successes of automatic voter registration. not just limited to secretary of states offices and those that have vehicles, but for those who have public services, that you come and become a residents, you automatically registered to vote. we are looking to expand things like same day voter registration for especially communities of color, urban communities, rural, where people move around a lot. they don't know where their polling place is, right. so same day registration is important. we're moving those kinds of agendas across the country. so it really is important to have multi pronged democracy reform, where we talk about the things that help us win and build our power, as opposed to the negative. agree with that? all right, man, we don't really need -- but anyway, it is why
the democracy, the democracy initiative was formed, was to not just be talking about it from a policy perspective. because that's important, right. but as i said in the beginning, it is about to put the real story, the narrative, the impact, what that power and that strangle hold has done to our communities. if you care about clean water, clean air, the largest inequality in the divide in this economic inequality we've seen in our lifetimes, if you care about the fact that government was put into place to create public service, a fully functioning government is how you deliver on the promise of democracy for everyone. and so if you are for that vision, then you have to be for
a proactive reform driven by the people, and not expect the institutions to do it for you. you agree with that? we're in a good place. so the role of money, as i've said, there is some really great initiatives, and more to come. but so if we are to sustain our momentum, passed november 8th, as i say again, we get focused on the election and less about the governing, right. so it is a two-step process. we have to be moving to create a real disruption that then opens the door for progress for all of our movements. we need to hold our leaders on every level accountable. not just when they're running for office. that's how you build trust. at the d.i., we are excited, we hope, in the fall, depending on who wins the senate to work to
change the senate rules, to have a talking fill ibuster, the ability to bring bills forward. we know the problems, and we know the solutions. despite what they say, we all still have power. we really do make a difference. and you see those movements out there. you see it in the criminal justice reform sector, around climate change. you see it around the millennials, primary. so this is our moment to build on those reforms today and going forward. so for us, it's breaking down silos across groups, really pushing a reform agenda that makes changes in our community. so i appreciate your time. have a great week. thanks. [ applause ]
thank you, wendy fields. before i introduce our next speaker, i would like to ask if anybody has any note cards with deeply insightful and penetrating and thought provoking questions. if you do, please hold them up. and we'll be around to collect them. and be patient. somebody is coming. okay, our next speaker is mitch rofsky, civic inengagement. mitch is president of better world club, the only green alternative to triple a. a better world stands part from triple a's aagenda, and offers
discounts, only nationwide bicycle assistance. he has been devoted his entire career to socially responsible business. he was present at the creation of a number of important progressive business institutions, including the national cooperative bank, working assets, business for social responsibility, and the better world club. he has lobbied congress on behalf of public citizen, and he is here with us today. please welcome mitch rofsky. >> well, as has been mentioned, i've been in business for the past 30 years. banking mutual funds, insurance. i i'm fudging to make myself look younger so i don't get depressed at the beginning of the talk. you might ask, this is a public interest conference. what are you doing here. after all, business people are
uncaring, money hungry and ego maniacs. they've been characterized as such. that stereotype has been fashioned by business people than by anybody else. in d.c., the stereotype is nurtured, as many of you here know by the trade association, such as the chamber of commerce and the business roundtable and national federation of independent businesses, just to name a few. i learned about this first hand when i was working floral of in public citizens congress watch on capitol hill. my concentration was the banking and judiciary committees, and over and over again, i ran into these groups and their refusal to negotiate reasonable compromises to address economic problems. frankly, i was surprised. i was shocked that these groups
all promote lesa a fair. my pair rents were businerents t they weren't barry goldwater republicans. i thought that represented at least as many business people in this country. many even more. so i sat down with ralph and he and i discussed the need for business organizations that represented them. out of our discussions, and then out of the work of an association of progressive business leaders, social ventures network, business for social responsibility was created. subsequently, the american sustainable business council was organized for legislative accuracy, excuse me, advocacy, while bsr focused on corporate practice. i was the first chair of business for social responsibility and currently on the board of the american
sustainable business council. but obviously, the stereotype of businesses uncaring, money hungry ego maniacs hasn't changed much and i haven't even mentioned donald trump by name. all americans need a new frame. after all, as karen just mentioned, our problems remain significant. everybody here is aware of global warming, what's going on with the environment. everybody here is probably just as aware of what's going on with income inequality. the working class is falling out of the middle class. now, the upper middle class is growing. but most of the working class isn't going up with it. it is not the 20th century any more. we've dropped 6 million manufacturing drops since the year 2000. during reagan manufacturing, it was over 20% of the economy and finance was under 10%. today, those numbers are turned around. obviously, that hurts the working class.
so shouldn't this be an opportunity for liberalism? well, for one thing, i'm disappointed in the nature of how the campaigns have gone thus far. but what really comes down to is the liberal framing is terrible. conservatives want you to believe that the appropriate political frame is the one we've had historically and that again, everyone is familiar with. it is freedom versus the government. it is the individual versus the government. in fact, that's not what economic policy is about. that's not the appropriate frame. the appropriate frame is it is the marketplace versus the government. now, conservatives believe that the marketplace is perfect. and by perfect, i mean optimal and self-correcting. socialists believe the government is perfect. and by that, i mean optimal and self-correcting. it is only liberals who understand that neither is perfect. both the government and
marketplace are flawed, and you need each to mitigate the flaws of the other. liberalism is not becoming socialism, despite bernie sanders. as a matter of fact, if anything, it is vice-versa. if you look at socialism, the democratic socialist countries of europe, you will see that the government is shrinking relative to the marketplace. so take sweden. in the early 1990s, government spending was over 70% of the economy. today, it is roughly 50%. that's happening throughout western europe. so if anything, as i said, liberalism isn't socialism. socialism may be becoming
liberali liberalism. government almost certainly won't do, but the same time, we need business to recognize the imperfections of the marketplace and be willing to do something about it. here, just some of the flaws of the market place and not necessarily an exhaustive list. the most obvious flaw in the marketplace are what are called extra nalties. its cost on to other people. if i'm imposing carbon on the entire world and don't have to clean it up, that means i don't have to quote-unquote internalize those costs. it cost me nothing to impose my costs on to you. that's an obvious marketplace flaw. the marketplace does nothing to force businesses to internalize their cost. another flaw is risk. i should add that with many of these flaws, someone could stand up and say, no, that's a virtue. yes, many of the marketplace flaws do have a positive impact. but we have to recognize that
they can be both flaws and virtues, and while not eliminating them as virtues, we need to do something about them as flaws. so risk is another marketplace flaw. if you do not have the money to handle risk, you are in big trouble. what do free market economists say. well, they say you can handle risk, just go out and buy insurance. guess what? the market -- the conference board says that over 30% of the american people have no discretionary income with which to buy insurance. let's take a step away from that just for a second to look at discretionary income. this is another problem of liberal framing. as you know, we're talking about inequality and when we talk about inequality, we're talking about household income. look how much difference there is in-house hold income. and that's one way of looking at it obviously. perhaps a more important way to look at it, discretionary, that
is income after necessity. now we're looking at the fact that over 30%, close to 40% of the american people have no discretionary income whatsoever. another 10 to 20% barely have any. so we know what happens with people who don't have the ability to buy insurance. but then we also know that if you focus in on the next -- on the 20% who have a slight bit of discretionary income, people will make bad choices. i mean, when your money is that tight, you're not necessarily going to spend it on insurance. in fact, a book was just written, "scaresty" the bad decisions people make when their money is tight. this is why we need universal insurance, social security, worker's c workers' comp and even our bank
accounts, obviously we need it for health care and any other area where risk is too much for people to handle. and i want to add that national insurance is not socialism. okay, social would be if all the doctors worked for the government. when we're talking about insurance, we're talking about having a marketplace but mitigating the flaws of the marketplace. the next flaw is lack of freedom. again, the free marketers just framed it in government versus the individual. but no, if you have no money, you have no freedom. i've already mentioned that nearly 40% of americans have no discretionary income, which means that they have political freedom, but their economic freedom, everyday life freedom is extremely limited if it exists at all. another flaw of course is inadequate information. again, conservativetists say
they need to. when they don't have the money, bad choices are going to be made. consumers will be harmed and the marketplace will be distorted. just ass an aside, my company i looking at one aspect of this now, which is consumers need to have information on a company's actions beyond price and quality. that's why we're looking to launch buying power, which will provide social ratings, including environmental labor safety and social impact at the product level for thousands of products. afterwards -- [ applause ] >> thank you. we're looking to launch before the end of the year, i hope. and if anybody wants to discuss it afterwards, i'm happy to do so. the next flaw is luck. i guess i could mention donald trump here. some thing choosing your parents is a skill, but it is actually
luck. so should capitalism depend on luck and inheritance. the republicans are going to do away with thee estate tax, unles we dedicate it. social security taxes, gasoline taxes, people may be trying to mitigate them. george bush was a good example. he was trying to change social secure see, but wasn't trying to do way with social security taxes. we should be looking at the estate tax, and figuring out how we should dedicate it. my argument would be let's dedicate it by -- to a purpose that parallels what estate taxes -- what estates are about, which is inheritance. we could take the $20 billion in revenue, divide it by 5 million births, $5,000, put it in a equity fund for all newborns. that $5,000, historic rates, would grow to $200,000 in today's dollars by the time
people are 60. at that time, depending on their need, what we would be encouraging them to do is to give it to the next generation, virtually every single american would inherit somewhere between $20,400,000. compare that in today's dollars. compare that to what is going on today, when half of all americans own no equities whatsoever and the median that people own is roughly $80,000. so basically you would be changing america by turning the estate tax into capitalism for all. [ applause ] >> now, the final flaw that i want to point out is lowest common denominator. many times the lowest common denominator can be good, but when it comes to wages, salaries, et cetera, it can
often be bad. and that leads to our need for regulation. that's right, i am a business person, advocating for regulation. we need regulation to deal with the lowest common denominator, as well as many of the other issues that i've already mentioned. so if i want to provide family leave, if i want to provide a higher wage. if i want to provide any number of, you know, living wage to my employees, the marketplace just may not let me do so. okay, we need to -- we need to -- we may need regulation to keep the marketplace playing field even in the best possible way. so what's really going on is we have a newy con economy, and t are two factors that business people and progressives are not facing up adequately. the first is globalization.
okay, so how do i know globalization is having this kind of effect. well, back franklin roosevelt's deficit, federal budget deficit, was 4.25% of the economy, of gross domestic product. ronald reagan's was 5.25%. obama's is 10.2%. roosevelt's deficit reduced unemployment by 40% in three years. reagan's reduced it by 60%. obama has reduced it by 20% in three years. so why does a deficit that's twice as big reduce unemployment half as much. well, i would argue that globalization is the reason that our money is now going all over the world, and it is true of any economic model. our money, whether it is monetaryism, kensism, and not
have the same impact. growth rates in the various recoveries to recessions, you will see that they are always declining. that they were at their peak in the early '50s and then declined and people talk about how great reagan's economy was, but it wasn't as good as johnson in the '60s and again, i would argue because of globalization. meanwhile, the other huge factor, obviously, is technology. what's going on with technology. now, of course, it is one of the toughest issues to confront, because technology does create jobs as well as destroy them. but you know, some recent economic studies have said most of the 6 million in manufacturing we've lost has been because of technology. how many know what the male occupation in this country is in anybody want to take a guess? the number one male occupation is driving.
trucking, delivery, taxis, li limos, and we're on the threshold of driverless cars. uber has already started testing driverless cars in pittsburgh. what will be the impact? if driverless cars are safer, by the way, as advertised, what will happen to the jobs that body shops and repair shops. now, as i've already noted, as i've already noted, globalization has its positives. you can increase from either one of them. should that justify if all the benefits go to the top 1%, go to the top 25%. we need to be looking at what the impact of all of this is on the bottom 50%. i want to be clear. i believe in free trade. i believe in free trade in canada and europe, similar
environmental labor laws that we do. when we're trading with other people, without tariffs or anything, then obviously we're undermining those laws and the people who benefit from them. so we need to figure out how to gig money into people's hands. even apart from work. okay, one model, if people are -- some people might be familiar with it, the alaska permanent fund. the alaska permanent fund, people receive a check every year from oil royalties. recently, every alaskan got $2,000, man, woman and child. if you had a family of four, you got $8,000, which is significant. we need to be looking at that from the national level. you can have carbon tax, broadcast spectrum money, any number of sources that would put people -- put money into people's hands. we also need to figure out how
to make it easier to earn a share for the businesses they work for. the universal trust funds that i mentioned above. so as i mentioned, we need capitalism for all. where people would still manage their money. there would still be the marketplace. they would not be dependant on the government per se. but they would have the opportunity to grow their assets. but it is necessary, because we all understand the marketplace isn't perfect. what can people here do? well, if, first of all, if business people are not -- if you are not a business person, then you need to be talking about the flaws of the marketplace with your parents, your friends and other business people. if you're business person, you know, we need you to look at business with fiscal responsibility, the american sustainability council, but we also need you to consider joining your own chamber of congress and starting to talk about this stuff to other
business people, whose instincts may not be ours. any way, capitalism for all is a form of civil engagement in a responsive new economy that conservatives should be able to support. they support the alaska fund. thank you very much. [ applause ] you know, i didn't mention when i was introducing mitch that he is a graduate of the wharton school of business. you may not believe that, but it's true. >> me and trump. >> that's right. >> so something must be changing there. okay, for our next talk, it is going to be a panel discussion with ralph nader and
kim o'neal, and they're going to discuss the new citizen library. kim o'neal has been a schoolteacher in liverpool, new york, for 35 years and she also served on the national board of middle school and childhood generalist standards committee. she currently sits on the board of directors for the national council for social studies, and the commissioners advisory panel for the new york state social studies education department. please welcome kim o'neal and ralph nader. [ applause ] >> thank you. this is going to be a great
opportunity, because a few people know what's going on in the schools as kim o'neal does. both as a teacher and a long time high level official in the national association of social studies teachers. and so i just want to frame the discussion with what i mean by a new citizen library. there is no citizen library in the united states. in the world as far as i know. this would not only be a library that would do traditional library functions of archives of books and digital information sources, but it would be a teaching library, both direct and by remote technologies. it would take a successful pilot project here and tell everybody about it. and show how others can do the same thing. so you have an emulator function. it would propose new ways that
people have written about but haven't applied into how to create thousands of citizen groups. we need thousands of citizen groups, local, state, national. look at how we've progressed in this country, because we have a handful of citizen groups. how do you start a local neighborhood broa neighborhood broad, h neighborhood group, how do you recruit good people. there needs to be hundreds of thousands of new jobs in this civil society that are not charity, not charity jobs, they are justice jobs. a society that has more justice, needs less charity, like soup kitchens we have, they're important for hungry people to have food. but why do we have a country that has to have soup kitchens. we're rich enough so people can have a good livelihood and not have to go to soup kitchens.
that's the difference between justice and charity. so i want to start the discussion with what is the field of opportunity where a citizen library, should it ever get funded by either some rich people or foundations, what would be the field of opportunity. it would obviously be students, schools. that's where you would start. the earlier, the better. the earlier, the faster. and we've all been to grade school and high school. i consider it a huge waste of time. i think you could teach everything in eight years in two years, and find something else for the kids to do, if they can be kept off the street. and it isn't because the teachers don't want to teach. it is the bureaucracy, the people who have control over society. it is a lack of imagination.
there are great examples here, there, all over the country in schools. but they don't get diffused over thousands of schools. that's one of the problems that bureaucracy generates. so let me start, when we talked on the phone, kim, you mentioned that social studies are under tremendous pressure, because leave no child behind, and other, they emphasize the sciences and math. but the humanities, history, politics, study of government, economics, that leads possibility to free thinking. that's pretty dangerous. and so this could be education in contrast to training, you know, computer design, code, that sort of thing. so let me ask you, tell us what the situation is in thousands of schools around the country in social studies, and first, for
those who doesn't know what social studies cover, just quickly define it. >> very quickly, it would be all the disciplines, geography, history, civics, economics, the social sciences, we're very inclusive. we like everybody. and it is just a great honor to be here and i love to be in a room that looks like a social studies classroom. it is quite appropriate for choosing this. to tell you what is the state of social studies, i would have you just picture an electric stove, the pots are on there, things are going crazy, and that's english and math. the back two burners, the next one, it is going okay, it is not boiling over, but that science, and then the other one, remember, it is electric stove, the burners is turned off, but the lid is on the pot, and that's social studies. because at this point, we are so marginalized, it is unbelievable. the elementary classroom, if
you're getting 15 minutes a week of social studies, that's unbelievable. that's the truth. i mean, that's what is out there. it is so marginalized. you want to say why is that. you mentioned it, with no child left behind, because they were like, well, let us have the schools have report card, let's make them accountable. let's have assessments. social studies isn't tested. so first, we're like we don't have to be involved. isn't that something. but you're not tested, there is this -- you're not counted. so therefore, there are no funds put towards the content. it's unbelievable. so the national council for social studies, of which i'm the past president, we have one lobbyist, i like the group you said had 400, but we have one, and then those of us on the board will go to the hill and we'll meet with the representatives, and i'm thinking, well, i'm with the
choir, right, because everybody there must be a political science major, right. right? so i thought everybody would be pro social studies education, and they just go, well, we don't have anybody who is heading ha demt department, but we'll give you our stem person. isn't this sort of an ox ee mor -- oxiemoron, maybe this is a conspiracy or something. they said i was giving washington too much credit. it is very serious. it is very serious. what i see and hear today, you want people invested in democracy, we want people to feel empowered, we want critical thinkers. exposure to a range of perspectivesment i'm sitting there going isn't this social studi studies, but yet under this marginalizati marginalization, so i sound like a rabble rouser, but you need to
know about this. >> what about the teachers, why don't they organize and have a full-time group to advance and protect their careers by having a full-time group of advocates who can be one step removed and have the social studies teachers feed them all the information and how the propagandaists are eroding most important subjects in school. these are the most important subjects. our founding fathers when they went to philadelphia in 1787, as far as i know, none of them were experts in stage coach technology. they knew jurisprudence, philosophy, geography, history. that's what hay they brought to their deliberations. what do all the social studies teachers do? i've addressed the social studies teacher convention, and it is a big convention. so you got a lot of numbers are.
they intimidated? are they frightened? lack of leadership, are they worried about the boards of education, corporate influence, the politicians in city hall? what's your view on that? >> well, first of all we have 10,000 members compared to other areas with 60,000. when i spoke with someone, they said how is your membership, they go, i won't tell you the group -- they go, we're only 0,000, we had 100. wire 10, you had 20 it 30. you're saying why aren't social studies teachers out there. they are, but again, you have to realize this only half of the states require government and civics as a requirement to be taught in the high schoolment you know, your level of number of teachers that are out there wouldn't be the same as in some of the other classes. >> there is amazing. >> i'm so happy to tell ralph nader something.
>> if cut the number of time, cut the number of teachers, right? what about the parents? you don't need 80% of the parents to be concerned. what about 2%, 3%? are they worried their children are not being taught how to be good and skilled citizens, to stand up for their rights, to pursue their aspirations? >> well, when you talk about the testing again, as we're saying, if it's not tested, there's a perception that it's not important. and when you start that and you build upon that, and this has been going on since 2001. and it's just perseverated that now we get into the common core, that went crazy. and people were so focused on the math and the ela, and that's just -- that's been where the moneys are. i now work for -- i'm retired, but before i retired i became a national board-certified teacher. because i workds on the
standards committee, i have now worked for them. and what we've been able to do is to take a look at certified teachers, videos that they submit, and were able to look and pull out what are the social studies pieces of accomplished teaching that you can see, one of them is take action. we're getting it in there. in order to be funded by that, it's a nonprofit. the grants that were coming in, i go, do we have one, can we do the social studies yet. they said, we want you to do science. it was so hard to get anyone to be grant funded for social studies. so why -->> t >> the foundations aren't stepping up. ford foundation, rockefeller, macarthur -- >> let's meets some. the ones that are truly -- >> let's bridge science courses with what social studies courses should be concerned about. let's say, you got high school students and chemistry courses,
biology courses, physics courses, they usually have labs. say as part of a new curriculum they test the drinking water. there's a periodic report from the students of ajak high school. they learn how to do protocols and heavy metal test iing, cadmium, arsenic, lead, they learn about the drinking water safety law, what their rights are, what the local municipality has to report to them, and periodically about what's in the daughter, how under invested they are in public works. what happens when you -- you take advantage of this tilt toward so-called science and s.t.e.m., et cetera, and you bridge the two? would that be controversial? >> some areas are doing that, some schools i know are doing that it's not necessarily being done. it can be done. what would be the push to do it?
would be the teachers able to collaborate. you have a lot of pieces to put together. proclaimarily, that might be something higher in a secondary level. >> let's take another. our c-span audience might want to pitch in with local schools on these ideas as well as our live stream. let's say you had a government class in high school and they decided, the teacher decided to have a part of the course do a voting record of the local state legislature or congress. let's call it congress 101 or state legislature 101. where they look over the voting records, what the campaign finance pattern is for their lawmakers, they try to interview them. they put it out on the internet so it reaches a large audience. the politicians know the students are going to do this. it really gets them interested in government because they see
how important they become just by sheer knowledge about what their legislators are doing, they distribute it all over in the districts. would that be too controversial? it's a good way to teach civics. >> yeah. i don't think it would be controversial. it would be depending on where you'd be able to do it, if it would be a high school. you know, what level. middle school, depending the report card for testing. the middle school might be limited in the social studies classes. there might be, again, a push for the ela. so because social studies isn't necessarily mandated in middle schools, you have that leeway there where it's not taught. sometimes you're finding groups, a gap, you know, among students depending on what schools they go to, what areas, a student is actually getting any civics education. >> what about the standardized curriculum? to eliminate any individual initiative like this by the physics teacher or the chemistry
teacher? >> often it comes to districts, new york, i don't know many different states. sometimes it's at the district level. you can have a state standard, state framework, and from within that, the districts control it -- >> how do you think the students would react? one of the problems with students, short attention span, nonstop looking at their cell phone. and being bored. that's what i hear. being bored and so forth. do you think this excites students? they become important in the community, let me tell you. >> you know, i totally agree. and just personally, what i did -- it was more through grants where things that i did with my students in the community because that was always trying to be the reach that i was trying to do. if it's not written in, i don't necessarily say it's going to be happening. >> there's a fifth grade student in salt lake city about 20 years ago, you probably heard about her because she got national attention. a little girl said there's a waste dump down the street, and
the teacher said, what do you mean? and so she took the teacher down, and it was a whole square block that was covered with shrubbery. it turned out it was a waste dump. and show she put the students on the project. and you know, they had press releases, became minor celebrities, they cleaned up, the mayor ordered the cleanup, and so the teacher wrote a book on kids and social action for all teachers. and she found the fifth graders incredibly mature. you know how young people are. if you have low expectations of them, they'll oblige you. if you have high expectations, they'll surprise you. so she was really surprised. and you know, salt lake is kind of conservative, in utah. but this affected everybody. it didn't matter what the ideology was. if you don't like, you know, cloistered, toxic waste dumps. let's take the fifth grade. i've often told -- i'm often
told by teachers that the peak of idealism and imaginative questioning is about 11 or 12. after that, they have other things on their mind. and by the way, ronald reagan was more terrified being questioned by teenagers than any of the press corps. one of them once said, he said to them, to ronald reagan, ask the question out of the blue, and ronald reagan blurted out, "80% of pollution comes from trees." well, you know, not many reporters would provoke that kind of response. what do you think of the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh grade for really getting down into civics, practical civics, learning about their community, going to historical society and learning about the rivers and lakes and woods and whatever? >> i think you should be superintendent or at least be doing some curriculum writing. i mean, it's what was done.
it truly was what was done. we had tremendous social studies programs. and again because of the testing and this focus and that's where your funding's coming from, it was just marginalized. and when i talked about the pod on the back -- it was an electric stove, so there's still energy in the burner, even though it's off. and that pat had the lid on, we still feel social studies is czyz illing. we had our national standards put out, the college career and civic life called c3. and within the four dimensions, one is take informed action, so it's there. new york state put it into their framework which is where i'm from. we had a commissioner at the time who took the only -- the only state to take top moneys and put the into social studies. the only state. he happens now to be the secretary of education, john king. >> yeah. >> we're pleased about that. >> i think we're neglecting that
age group tremendously because -- >> well -- >> -- i once was chatting up with a group of 10-year-olds, and you can't believe the questions. look at the imagination. it's snuffed out a few years later. girl stands up and asks me the question, why does coca-cola cost more than gasoline? i said, what? she said, yeah, that's when -- it was. a gallon of coca-cola cost more than a gallon of gasoline. and she says, sort of simple, coca-cola. and you see the imagination there? to even ask that kind of question. gasoline, you got to get the oil, fracking, refine it, ship it, and so forth. and it comes in cheaper than coca-cola which is, you know, water and a formula, as i said earlier from atlanta, and some sugar. and then someone else asked me that they were figuring out this
is when you had long distance calls. they couldn't figure out why it cost more to phone new york to los angeles while someone could fly from new york to los angeles cheaper. so long distance call costs more for five hours than getting on a plane and flying. i'm saying to myself, look at the combination of imagination here that's snuffed out by a whole variety of things. my sister, claire, started a bakery project in connecticut for fifth graders. you can't believe how excited they are to bake their own bread. something real. they took it home and said, look, i baked this bread. we had someone talk them about grain and yeast and, you know, all the processes before they got the flour. so -- a simple question, give me
your most revolutionary thoughts. [ laughter ] >> getting social studies education back on the burner? >> yeah. >> it's like -- i feel if there's a way that we can collaborate, be it the various organizations, the content areas to work together, right now we're trying to do that with science because they don't feel they're right on the docket. it's other organizations if we can work to get the word out there because we're by ourselves. people can't believe it. they can't believe that it's happening. how we go about that, as you say, trying to get membership, we've tried and tried, obviously, hasn't worked. how do we get our membership working together and being advocates? what i really think, we've spent time and the hill, i think it has to be right back door to door. i think it has to be right back on our communities. and that's really where i think the focus is going to have to be to let something happen.
how do we do that? we turn to you, i guess. >> there is a drive for expereiental experience. what do you think of that? >> we're in social studies, art, we're into the compelling questions. that's how we want to teach it. it's not the memorization that some of us grew up with. it comes with the question why can't we get everything we want. present that -- you know, to even seniors actually. as a topic, as a question, to get involved in the rights and so on. so that's really the way we want to teach social studies. we want to do it, but -- let us have time -- >> give the audience around the country your website, your contact information so if they want to start something in their local community, no excuses there, you got parents who would love to have their school children come alive intellectually and normatively,
instead of coming back drudgingly from school. >> nccs.org is the national council, ncss.org flea markets and , and koneil, one "l," at ncss.org. and we will work with you and our state councils to revolutionize and get social studies education back into the classrooms. >> do you have materials that you can send to them? >> we sure do. sure. >> you want -- years ago, we started what we call an academic cookbook. it's for the people. and had all kinds of projects for high school students, for example, learning how we should select the jury. so it's representative. learning how to rate hospitals. learning how to compare food prices and different supermarkets for the same brands, to see what the best shopping location is, and -- >> i mean, we're ready. >> yeah.
>> we got the stuff. >> it's so simple. >> teachers are ready to go. that's why it's great to hear these people speak. >> yeah, you -- you can learn how to put on a news conference, they can learn how to develop coalitions. they can learn how to avoid being discouraged because the history of success is always preceded by discouragement or failure, defeat, and you got to rebound. they learn how to share credit. you want to know what i think is the worst peril to education today? >> what? >> well, karl marx once said religion is the opiate of the people. that's pretty offensive to a lot of people i think there ought to be a modern version of it. the cell phone is the opiate of the people. [ applause ] and when -- this is an addiction. it is a narcotic, especially for younger people. they have it in their hands all the time. and when you look at the screen, the television screen, the computer screen, the cell phone
screen, 10-year-olds, the study shows seven to eight hours a day, seven to eight hours a day, and those aren't even the ones addicted to video games. that's a 24/7 problem. so how do you face up to that? do you think school should ban cell phones in the classroom? do you think colleges and universities should do it? what's the point of lecturing students and having interaction with them? they're figuring how they're going to win a video game or when they're going to buy some clothes. >> what they've done is try to use the cell phones within the lesson. so it's not that you're watching a video game, but when it's looking something up or they're trying to incorporate it because the fight is almost too big to win. >> recently i was talking to a high school, and after the speech, the six students went and had some food at the cafeteria. so they preselected themselves. they wanted to know more. so i'm talking with them, and
suddenly i realized they're terribly fact deprived. how can you have an information age and be fact deprived? right? so i said to them, you know, do you know the names of your two senators? no. do you know the name of the governor, connecticut? no. how about the name of your member of congress? no. do you know any supreme court justice? no. do you know why they don't? because they can get it instantly on the internet, so why bother putting it in their heads and developing a context day after day where they can build on it? i think we've got to do something like an arm around the shoulder because we're allowing a complete generation to grow up supremely unself-conscious about their addiction because it feeds their ego. it feeds their befriend's world. it feeds what is gratifying to them. sometimes i have to tell young people when they're crossing the road, hey, look, look the other way.
you know, they're looking down. petitioners can't get signatures a as fast per hour because everybody's walking down the street looking at this thing. you think i'm exaggeratinexagge? >> i don't know if it's just "young people," i've seen some over -- >> no doubt. no doubt. >> i wanted to put that out there. okay. >> it's very pronounced in terms of lack of self-consciousness what it's doing to their brain. >> uh-huh. >> what would you do? >> i guess we put stock in apple, i don't know. i mean, i don't really think there's -- at this point, i'm sure we look back in generations they could say would be the twirkz t television, the telephone, being able to use it in a positive manner versus, as you're saying, puts it into a negative. i don't have an answer. >> there is a big difference. the parents can turn off the television. >> well, you can also disconnect -- >> you can pull the plug. are we left with electromagnetic
attacks? that's the only thing. >> i don't know. >> we could do with it. i think there's a writer in canada who wrote a best seller on the unself-conscious society. i think we have to pay attention to it because we could be running uphill forever unless we get the people's attention. and if there's no attention, if there's a short attention span, you can't get anywhere if you don't have people's attention, young people's attention. >> you're saying engage people to something that means something to their lives, which drives me back to social studies. that's what -- we have to get them en. >> person to person, outside of virtual reality, in the real world. >> that's social studies. >> they like that. they like that. it's social interaction. >> yeah. >> you have to save them from themselves, right, kim? >> yeah, okay, i'm ready. >> any last thoughts? >> again, thank you for being
there. anything you can do, people you know to get the word out there, if you want citizens to be the foundation of what we have for a democracy, we'd better get out there pretty famst. we've had ten years where it's been slipping out of the classroom. >> thank you very much, kim o'neil. [ applause ] >> thank you. >> thank you, kim o'neil. i hope those of you around the country seeing this will connect because there are a lot of good materials out there. amazing how many materials for civic activity everywhere, on every conceivable specialized issue. and there are manuals and paperbacks and websites. i just wanted to make a few
comments on this idea that it doesn't take more than 1% to make change. as long as you reflect the public sentiment or public opinion. we heard earlier today there's a lot of left/right support. there's a lot of non-polarized opinion out there on all kinds of very important issues. but you know, if you're ruling a society, how do you control people? one way is you divide and rule. 2,000 years, divide and rule. you take the areas of real division, reproductive rights, school prayer, gun control, et cetera, and you hurl the focus and the media follows on these kinds of conflicts and their repercussions. whereas the areas that are more unified among people 70%, 80%, 90% of public opinion, that's considered dull for the mead kw kwia.
that's not conflict, that's not static. people don't shout at each other. yet, we are losing the great asset of social consensus which really starts making change. we're seeing it now with the minimum wage, 75%, 80% support ab an increase. we seeing it with criminal justice reform. we're seeing it with big banks too big to fail. we're seeing it with bloated military budget. ron paul, congressman ron paul got together with congressman barney frank, and they formed a defense department caucus in the house of representatives to deal with cutting down the defense budgets, waste, and redundancy. so it does come down to not just the 1% or less. we got bills through congress where we're lucky to have 300 people around the country supporting us actively. but we had public opinion on our
side, and we had to hear some key members of congress, and that's what you need for the mass media to start covering it. they like to see power, they don't just like to see good ideas. so the 1%, however, has got to be deconstructed a bit. the 1% has to work through full-time groups. there have to be full-time groups. for example, a lot of people talk about drunk driving for decades, and not much was done about it. then a woman lost her daughter to a drunk driver. her name was candy litner in california. and she got real angry. she didn't just have knowledge about drunk driving in the succeeding months, she had fire in her belly. she had emotional pitch which broke her routine. she started the group called mothers against drunk driving
chapters all over the country. laus were toughened, and it had an effect on reducing drunk driving. ralph hodgekiss, for example, had a bad bicycle accident when he was in high school. he became a paraplegic. he studied engineering at oberlin and decided that wheelchairs were crummy, they were expensive, they were unstable, they broke easily. and they were controlled by a monopoly called the jennings corporation out of london. and he broke that monopoly. and he invented all kinds of ways where wheelchairs could be built, sturdy, inexpensive, simple local materials in third-world areas, and he did it as a paraplegic. and he got the macarthur genius award at one point, but he had an organization at san francisco state. there is a structure there.
as one of the founders of the european common market once said, without people, nothing is possible. but without institutions, nothing is lasting. so we have to build many more civic groups, and you can see what a few civic groups have done for our country, the naacp, for example. the american civil liberties union. these are not huge groups, but they reflected people's sense of fair play and justice. they won cases and got laws passed. so we know it works. we just need more citizen groups and more young people have got to say i want to start my citizen group. i want to be a leader, not just a follower. the idea of developing expectation levels -- just a mint on that. if we don't have expectation
levels that are high, the politicians will give us all kinds of low expectation levels, right? and if we think politics is daughtery word, why are we surprised when we get dirty politics? because by saying politics is daughta dirty word, we have lowered our expectations of our political reppists. it becomes a downward spiral. and we stop learning from history -- it's easier than we think to make change. how many times do we have to prove that throughout american history? how many times do we have to prove that few people can make a difference, that one person can make the difference? in order to encourage more people it step out into the civic arena and make the difference. now part of the expectation level is self-respect. you have to have a higher estimate of your own significance and what you're going to accomplish in life so when you retire, you look back on your life, it's something more than making a lot of money
or trivializing your talents. and only you can decide that. somebody's got to help save the equatorial forest. somebody's got to save the ocean. somebody's got to reform the tax system. somebody's got to build decent housing. somebody's got to abolish poverty, in our capability. western europe essentially abolished poverty. somebody's got to do all these things. so why not you? and i think it helps to go back in history, especially for the young people here, and i want to show you what happens when you don't have self-awareness and self-consciousness. and now you'll think it's crazy when i tell you what it was like in colleges in the 1950s and what it was like on airlines in the 1950s. then you have to ask yourself, what am i not aware of now, like the multiple ways corporations are strategically planning every aspect of your life. they're planning your education,
commercializing your childhood, planning your genetic inheritance, planning public budgets, tax systems, foreign military policy, planning the food. if you don't have mike jacobson in the opposition, they're planning lands use practices. they plan everything because they want to control everything because that's what they do. that's what's in their dna. it's called predictability. predictability. it is under their control, and their commercial value's extremely focused, extremely motivating against the civic values that they have to shunt aside, co-oped or destroyed. so i'm at princeton kbrfrt, 1950s. i walk into my classes, i can hardly see my fellow students. do you know why? they're smoking. they're smoking. what will happen if you went in your class at hood college or goucher college whose students were invited but the teachers
couldn't be bothered or the administration, what would happen if you walk into class, people were smoking? you'd be totally off the wall, okay. see what i mean? okay, i'm at harvard law school, we have 550 students. 15 women. one african-american called the negro, and a couple hispanics who were the children of oligarchs in south america. you think any of my white male colleagues were worried about that? i would write about it in the harvard law school newspaper, they couldn't care less. i would talk to provis, and they were best and brightest law professors in the world. if you didn't believe it, you just had to ask them. [ laughter ] i'd say, why aren't there more women, why aren't there m negros in the class. they would say as far as negros, we don't have any
discrimination. ? th if they get a got s.a.t. score, lsat score, we'll let them in. never mind that the test correlated heavily with income level and when you grew up in a slum with sirens and rats or when you grew up in scarsdale, new york. what about women? well, i was told by a professor, women -- a seat at harvard law school is very valuable. if we have more women, they're going to graduate, and they're going to get married and have babies and not practice law. so it's a waste. best and the brightest. you see? now, you wouldn't be caught -- you wouldn't catch a harvard law professor saying that if you gave that professor a million bucks and ten years. you see how things have changed? how many people were responsible for those changes? tiny, tiny fraction, and then they built the public sentiment behind it. at the harvard law school, there was a course on criminal law. it was all street crime. there was no course corporate
crime. like there wasn't a corporate crime wave then? there is, of course, on estate planning, but -- there was a course on estate planning, but it was only on multimillion dollar estates. that's where the money is when you graduate. there was no course on environmental planning. see the difference? there was flow course on civil rights and civil liberties. you took some constitutional law courses, but basically there weren't -- now there are seminars, there are clinics. there are all kinds of things now. a bunch of students protesting did that with some professors. what i want to convey is what is it today that we're not aware of, that we would be shamed 15, 20, 30 years ago for not being aware of it. and that's what education is partly about. it's raising your level of awareness and self-consciousness. last point, thinkers read,
readers think. too many people have become illiterate. that is the read. they know how to read, but they don't read. they engage in bits of information and don't move it to knowledge, to judgment, to wisdom. that's the sequence, right? and as a society, we know a lot about how to improve it. all kinds of pilot projects in schools, energy, public transit, and arts and -- healthy participatory sports. but they're not defused enough. but we have the examples, they work. they're underground here and there. we also have all kinds of solutions that aren't underground at all. although they're starting like solar energy. and you know, that's been around a long time. now, it's being deployed. solar panels, solar thermal. i think it's irreversible. why did it take so long? because the fossil fuel industry
and nuclear industry had the political power. so let me add to that just for a moment, which is what is the future hold for a society that can fill constitution hall two weeks ago, every seat, with bill maher talking off-color jokes? like bill maher, i'm on his show once in a while. we are going to try to fill constitution hall for statehood, for the district of columbia, which does not have the vote in congress. the only national capitol that gives people the vote that strips them of the franchise. you wouldn't want to bet how many people show up. what happens when people do not
want their rights, do not avail themselves of their rights? do not know about their rights? we get down to the basics here. i hope that those of you who watch this on television, those of you who have come here will be explicitly inclined to talk to your friends, neighbors, relatives, and co-workers, everything starts with a conversation, everything starts with a person-to-person conversation. and in so doing, we start things underway, that's how the students became a force in the '60s. that's why we think that the title of this -- these four days, breaking through power, it's easier than we think, which i've put in my paperback book
that's just out. "breaking through power: it's easier than we think," is the first step to overcoming people's discouragement, disillusionment, sense of powerlessness, sense of possibilities, going nowhether. we have to believe in ourselves. and believing is a good thing if it's preceded by some thinking. and thinking is not the top priority of our formal educational system or our mass media or the controlling processes of corporations. they have an interest in stupifying the public so they can make more money over an uncritical citizenry. i want to switch now to your questions. now i'm not -- i'm not able to
answer all your questions because our speakers are not here. i've selected almost all of them directly or indirectly. i'm going to read and respondtot them. the first is, if i heard you correctly, you have phoned bernie sanders 18 times without his return returning your call. so sad. we need our heroes cooperating, what can i/we do to bring the two of you together so we can benefit from your synergy? correction, it's been 18 years since he's returned my calls. [ laughter ] i knew him before he was mayor of burlington. we've never been in conflict. he's just a lone ranger. there are some -- they don't do what senator paul wellstone did, which is connect with citizen groups all the time. and it's unfortunate because if
the citizen community doesn't connect with leaders in congress obviously less gets done. 's got to be a constant vibration back and forth to keep the momentum up. i've written him a dozen time, invited him on corporate symposiums on corporate power. i don't know. ask imihim. i'm not going to speak for him. how do young people passionate about progressive change balance their need for social good with a society that's hollowed out public snugdss and civic organizations -- institutions and civic organizations? what's the best avenue to making advancing social good a career? i would say joining the state public industry research groups. if you go to uspirg.org, that's the national student-funded group with full-time people,
that represents the state. public research groups such as the one in colorado or california or massachusetts as i mentioned or other other states and see if you can start one yourself, even a small one on campus. you develop a check off on the tuition bill or allocation on government funds and get it underway. however small, it will give you experience, and it will connect you to all kinds of civic groups where you can pick and choose which one you want to intern with, which is step two. which one you want to work with which is step three. it's also good to read certain very influential books that have been written like sol linsky's book on "rules for radicals" how to mobilize people out of their sense of hopelessness and -- or
passi passivity. and they're very good books like that. i was motivated a lot by books to a point where i would read the muckrakers of the early 20th century. i'd be so excited, i'd be trembling holding the book. and -- in hand. i could never stand bullies even when i was a kid. couldn't stand the sixth grader beating up a fourth grader. just viscerally. couldn't stand it. when i became an adult i realized there were corporate bullies around. there was an easy transition. third, this election has made me question when we need a president, a congress, a supreme court, elected officials just direct power and wealth to the 1%, what's in it for us? can we have a healthy society without them? this seems to be a theoretical anarchist, a well worked out