tv Public Affairs Events CSPAN November 2, 2016 2:45pm-4:46pm EDT
called buckley versus valeo. that case was decided in 1976. it was after the watergate scandal. around that time, the congress had passed a fairly comprehensive package of money and politics reforms. some of the provisions in that package were challenged and were the subject of this buckley litigation. so some of the provisions in that package were upheld and they remain part of our legal landscape today. that includes contribution limits. there are limits on the amounts that individuals can give to a particular candidate or party. but on the other hand, the buckley court struck down limits on spending. that includes limits on how much individuals can spend of their own money on elections as long as they do so independent pely candidates. so we have never really gotten a chance to see how this
comprehensive package would have worked together. properly more problematic is the reasoning that the buckley court gave us in that decision. the court said that the government has to have an important reason to pass campaign finance reform. it told us that the only reason that's important enough to justify a campaign finance reform and limits on big money is to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption. the same time the buckley court said that government cannot act to enhance political equality or level the playing field among candidates. so since the '70s, courts have been asking this narrow question of whether a campaign finance reform is necessary to prevent corruption. the effect of this framework is that we haven't really been allowed to address some of the biggest problems that we face in our political system. that includes things like barriers to entry.
candidates aren't taken seriously politically unless they can raise a lot of money. that leaves a lot of people out. it also means that we can't talk about the vastly unequal political power and political voice in this country in these cases. we know that elected officials are a lot more responsive to wealthy interests in the donor class. that's a problem for many reasons, not least of which is that the donor class is very white. also male, wealthy. frankly, there aren't a lot of millennials in the donor class either given that we just don't control that much of the wealth. we're burdened by student debt. >> thanks. >> thanks. thanks for having me here. so one point i want to emphasize is that it's not only the supreme court that's to blame for the broken campaign finance system that we're living in. it also rests in large part with
the fec, the federal election commission, which is the federal agency charged with administering and enforcing federal election law. six member commission. enacted after the watergate scandal. requires four votes to take any action to take -- four votes to promulgate new rules, to open an enforcement action. no more than three members can be part of the same political party. there's three republican members, currently two democratic, one independent. the problem with the fec is not so much that it's a partisan split. it's not that republicans want to enforce the law -- it's an ideological split. currently, the three republican members are ideologically opposed to the enforcement of campaign finance laws. even the laws that exist after citizens united are not
currently enforced. for example, as ali described, citizens united said because independent expenditures are independent, there's little risk of those corrupting a candidate. therefore, spending by independent groups like super pacs can't be limited. but if spending is not independent, it does pose a risk of corruption, it's a contribution to a candidate subject to a $2,700 limit. it falls to the fec to preserve that independence and to uphold the laws and regulations guaranteeing that independence. enforcement of laws and regulations defining coordination. the fec has interpreted it to allow presidential candidates to appear at fund-raisers for super pacs. the fec has declined to enforce even its weak rules on coordinated spending. you have seen both presidential candidates this year edging ever closer to their support of super
pacs undermining the idea of independence. again, citizens united, the reasoning rested on this notion that independent expenditures are independent and it's the fault of the fec we have single candidate super pacs. we have single candidate super pacs. citizens united also endorsed disclosure of donations, that it would help eliminate the opportunities for corruption from unlimited independent expenditures, but dark money, undisclosed political spending has exploded in recent years and that's the fault of the fec, that's the fault of the fec undermining the existing disclosure laws by narrowly interpreting it to only apply to when a nonprofit spends on elections they only have to disclose contributions made for the purpose of funding those particular ads so any nonprofit can assert none of the contributions that were made to it were given for the purpose of funding those particular ads therefore we have no donor disclosure therefore we have dark money.
so the system wouldn't -- the political system, the campaign finance system wouldn't be great after citizens united if the fec enforced the law but it would be better than what we have right now. also looking forward it's important to keep in mind that a critical element in any campaign finance regime is the administration and enforcement of the law even if we successfully overturn citizens united, congress enacts new laws, those laws will really not be worth the paper they are written on if they aren't effectively administered and enforced. so this can seem dis con sergt but in some ways this is an opportunity because fixing the fec is a lot easier than overturning citizens united. the commissioners to the fec are appointed by the president, the next president could appoint new commissioners that enforce the law, one of the things we've been calling for is for the president to appoint a blue ribbon commission the nonpartisan retired judges,
nonpartisan retired law enforcement officers and they could come up with a list of potential commissioners and the president could appoint commissioners off of that list and we would actually see the laws that continue to exist after citizens united effectively enforced. so that's one thing. there's also been bipartisan legislation introduced in congress to reform the fec and make it a more effective agency. so that i think is one thing that can happen legislatively or via the executive branch after citizens united which would make a big difference in improving our campaign finance system. but after citizens united there's still plenty of room for proactive legislation in the realm of disclosure, in the realm of coordination, strengthening coordination rules and also public financing, i think aquene will talk more about that, but you've seen congress is hopeless, congress is not going to pass any proactive legislation on these issues, but you have seen many
states and cities really advancing proactive legislation. south dakota has a ballot initiative currently pending that would improve disclosure, seattle recently enacted a really innovative democracy voucher program where every voter gets four $25 vouchers they can give to a candidate of their choice, california has improved its coordination laws. so those are just a few things that could still happen even short of overturning citizens united, even short of confirming a new justice on the supreme court. >> so overall it's not good news, but there's reason for hope. you know, we focus on the first two branches a lot, right, the legislative branch and the executive branch, but a lot of the work that the american constitution society has been focused on is how is our campaign finance system affecting our judges and these are state court judges. so our judges are elected in 39 states across the country, 95% of all cases that are filed in the united states originate in
state court, state court judges hit on a ton of major policy issues from the environment to labor, criminal justice voting rights and we will be talking a little bit later about a report that the american constitution society put out recently talking about who makes up those state court beverages and are they reflecting the communities that they serve. it's important to keep in mind at the same time that super pacs have come to dominate legislative elections it's the same story for judicial elections. you have seen more spending in judicial elections across the country than ever before. special interest groups are spending a larger piece of that pie than they ever have before. so let's turn to what has been possible, a little bit of bright lining to this and we will go to austin with the democracy alliance. 78% of americans across the political spectrum oppose citizens united, it's been a good rallying point especially for young people. can you give us a sense if there is any good news what is that
good news and what's been possible underneath this world we live in. >> thank you first of all for having me, having all of us in the conversation will be rich because there are a couple points i think we can have even a bit of debate about even amongst friends. i will say that it's kind of strange having somebody from the democracy alliance which is a network of wealthy liberal donors talk to you about getting money out of politics. a little paradoxical, but the truth is there is a big difference between liberal donors right now and conservative donors across the country and it is actually a bit of good news to allie's point which is that traditionally the donor class has been pretty conservative in its views about some of these legislative juris prudence issues but you have millennials entering the donor class and are spending a lot of their resources figuring out how to get dark money out of our politics, which may team like a
self-defeating thing but many know that over the long haul the interest of the 1% and the interest of the 99% in terms of an inclusive economy and a democracy that works for all there is a lot of intersecting there. that's one silver lining that i think people should think about and why for the democracy alliance the issue of money and politics is front and center for the community. so there are a ton of movements we've seen over the past few years post citizens united which have been able to tap into the consciousness of a new generation and put a lot of momentum at the legislative and other strategies that the money and politics folks have been working on for a long time and there are three principles or cross-cutting kind of strategies or friends that you can see in these movements, movements like occupy wall street which i think at the end of the century you will see almost historians talking about the era before and after occupy wall street.
when you think about the consciousness change. or movement for black lives or other movements. so here are the three things that i think -- three trends that we should be excited about but we should also look at carefully if we are talking about reinvigorating a democracy movement in the country with millennials, the first is that the movements i mentioned a second ago that are stepping into this gap in challenging the role of money in politics or other issues, they are national movements, not local movements. and so if you look at the way that our news cycle, for example, c-span is in the room and i'm sure all the millennials at home are watching right now, but the reality is that local news outlets have left the landscape and so most of the information that young people, millennials, are getting are coming from national news outlets and this is a big deal for the money and politics fight because a lot of the narrative that you all shared was national and that's what these movements have tapped into. that's an advantage for us i think as we look at this. the second kind of trend that's
happening amongst millennials that should give us some hope and optimism about getting money out of politics is that millennials aren't gravitating around organizations, per se, but networks and so in the past you had people were a member of a local union or a church or a civic association that was place-based in geographically defined and i think that made it difficult at times to reach scale in a way where you could take on some of these big problems like money in politics and have large leaps of progress, but that's no longer the case because of the internet. now people are -- young people in particular -- are using networks to get to a scale and is able to also mesh together the role of individuals in organizations. and then the third kind of trend that's happening that i think is an opportunity for us but some people may see as a challenge which is that millennials have been mobilizing post citizens
united at the margins and not at the mainstream. that in some ways the dissatisfaction at this convergence between rising inequality in the country and shrinking political opportunity has led to a radicalization of our generation that cuts across party line and we've seen it play out in the primaries of course with bernie sanders and his campaign, but i saw some recent polling that showed that if you look at jill stein's support base or hillary clinton's support base across the board millennials are saying they want radical social change and so at the margins not at the mainstream. so these three trends together, the national movement energy, the networks that are emerging and then this kind of radicalization of how people are thinking about their role in the democracy are great opportunities that should make us hopeful. the final thing i would say as we kind of think about how do we channel this energy and bring it into the democracy movement is
are we building a teddy bear or are we building a grizzly bear because what millennials are saying post citizens united is they don't believe that we can take on the problems that we mention in the fec or supreme court or with the presidency with a teddy bear, with the old incremental solutions, with kid gloves on. they think we need a grizzly bear. they think we need to build a movement that's dangerous enough to shake up folks and i think that's the kind of movement we need to support and talk about here today. >> that's wonderful. so as our fourth panelist joins us i was talking about fair courts. if you take a look at things that have been successful while all around us other areas have sort of been falling apart in the world of campaign finance not a lot of people realize that the u.s. supreme court has had three consecutive positive decisions when it comes to fair and impartial courts, the biggest one was a decision caper
ton v massie in 2009 that says if somebody spends too much money affecting a judicial election then that violates the due process clause and that's a constitutional principle that, you know, the legislative and executive branch don't have in their operative frame works, this is something that only applies to the judicial branch but that was a victory. we had a victory a couple years ago in a case williams versus the florida bar, the first time chief justice roberts has upheld a restriction on a candidate's ability to raise money so this is about judges going to people and saying, hey, can you give me $10,000 i'm running for judge and the state of florida had a restriction on that said they couldn't do t the supreme court upheld it in a narrow decision. this summer there was a decision whether or not a judge who oversaw the prosecution of a defendant when that decision came up to him as a member of the pennsylvania supreme court he had to recuse himself from that. so there is good news, i would say it's more holding the line but the fair courts field has seen positive outcomes as well.
aquene, perhaps rubbing speak about areas pushing back on citizens united resolutions, local organizations how they have been able to respond to the environment created around them and see positivity around it. >> sure. i apologize to everyone for being tardy, i was confused about where we were holding this event. my apologies. i'm with public citizen, we are a 45-year-old organization committed to representing people's voices in the halls of congress, in the halls of the supreme court, in the halls of power. i wanted to briefly comment on my experience working with peers organizing to take back and stand up for our dem straes and then drill down a little bit about that's okay. >> absolutely. >> into how that's happening and how it can happen. so folks are pretty frustrated and i'm sure we've talked about that because the game has shifted and we haven't seen as many movements really succeed where people rise up, there is a lot of media coverage and then
you actually see congress pass laws to address that outrage. so i think a lot of millennials are feeling like so why movements, how does that work, is that what we need to be doing? and then there's another group of people who i think feel like maybe we just haven't had the right idea and if the right person with the right idea and the right way to market that idea would come forward then we could fix the problem, but i think our perspective and the perspective i think we've seen in movements over the centuries in the united states is that we have to really shift power, we have to reach people, we have to be willing to get away from our phones and our desks and our beds and wherever we're engaging online and also not to exclude those things but also get out on the streets and talk to people that have power, figure out strategically how to influence those people and if we don't have enough people working face-to-face with others to
actually build stronger relationships, real face-to-face relationships. so i think part of the reason people are looking at ideas and marketing instead of movements and i think there is a lot of millennials that get movements, i'm not saying that, but there are a big chunk of folks that if we just had an app then poor people in africa might be able to access water. i've heard that from peers, right? and maybe that's not the reason that people are lacking access to water. we've given a lot of power to corporate entities and we've seen a very intense attack on government as an institution. while democratic government is supposed to represent everyone in this room it's ours and if it's screwed up and messed up we have to fix it, right? but the entities that are gaining power are multi-national corporations they are not even american corporations necessarily, they are corporations that have a profit motive, they are in many different markets at once and they are interested in having
more control than government because government sets s limitations that might limit their profits. so we are seeing a shift and attack on government and we are seeing a group of people who are extremists who do not represent most people willing to shut down the government and shut down and break the systems that are supposed to protect us, supposed to protect us from outrageous student debt, supposed to make education accessible so we have a country where equal opportunity is a reality not a dream. and so when we break that government from enforcing those laws and providing what we've set it up to provide the status quo runs the show, right? congress isn't making the laws, if the regulatory agencies aren't doing their job then the corporations that provide our transportation and our food are doing what they're doing, right? they are already in power so they're going to keep the status quo. so i think it's important for millennials to find our own ways
of organizing and i think there's so many different ways to communicate and build power through technology but also to take back our government. it's our government. it's our democracy and it needs to represent everyone's voices and if it's not doing that then we have to reclaim it as ours, we can't put it away somewhere. so how are we building power? the democracy movement is focused on making sure that we get big money out of politics and also that we protect voting rights. we need a constitutional amendment that would establish reasonable limits on spending and elections or allow congress to do that. we need small donor public financing to replace the privately funded elections we currently have. if government is a dinner table and the elections set the table, decide what the agenda is, right, who funds the elections helps write the laws. so we can get money out of politics and make sure that the people are actually setting the table but if we're taking away people's rights to vote then they won't get to sit at the
table at all and maybe they are on the table depending on the group. so we need both. so how are we doing that? we have had a keeping movement all over the country, people have gone to their state and city lenls lay tours, they have gone to their county legislatures and said we are tired to big money in politics, with he see congress isn't moving but we are going to pass a local resolution, a county resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn citizens united and related cases and 700 cities and towns have done that and 17 states have done that and it's on the ballot in washington state and california. so that's really, really exciting and that happened because people decided to get together face-to-face, think about who has power and how to hold them accountable and build their own power as a collective. we're also doing public financing all over the country, there is a campaign here in the district of columbia and i'm actually going to pass around a petition that you can sign if you are in the district and you support changing the way that
elections are funded so that we are not, you know -- in the district of columbia the people who fund d.c. government are contractors and people who have construction projects in the district. the biggest donor is fort meyer, they are an asphalt company, they make all the roads and actually do a pretty good job but there's also been a number of scandals with them where they li give 20, $25,000 and have millions and millions of contracts from the district and they are monopoly actually here. so they make a small investment and get millions of dollars of our taxpayer money back. if we have a different system where once a candidate shows they are serious and they get small contributions from district residents public funds can match those small contributions so we reward candidates that are serious and have public support but we also don't have fort meyer and some of the biggest construction company names that you see all over the district literally running our elections here. they own our elections
effectively because they provide 40% of the funding for those candidates. you can bet they're going to be careful. >> so i know i'm probably running low on time. and then the other thing is howard county, south dakota, washington state they all have public financing and transparency bills that are on the ballot. so there is a lot moving and it's really people driven. so i'm not going to take so much more time but we do have a thunderclap. if you sign -- if you sign the petition for d.c. fair elections we will also share a thunderclap that lists all the different measures on the ballot for democracy on november 8th so you can help spread the word and help us score some serious wins for democracy all over the country. thanks. >> great. thank you. perfect. so we're talking a little bit about issue intersection nalt if we could. millennials get certain issues, we were really cued into the marriage equality movement,
we've been engaged in the fight for 15, we've been good on recognizing citizens united but a lot of this stuff is dense and difficult to understand campaign finance reform. there is a lot of intricacies even for the attorneys among us. at the other end of the spectrum there is literally an organization called issue 1. if you get money out of politics you can fix issues whatever the range or issue you care about there is a financial interest in there, right? so what are some issues that have been able to provide pathways for millennials to get this on their radar to move them from just, you know, maybe outrage into engage and get them plugged in and really put some sweat behind it? austin, do you want to start us off? >> sure. just a couple -- one response i wanted to say is to what's been said so far is i think policy change is really key, but i also think that it can't be seen as the sole end goal of how we evaluate progress and, you know, abraham lincoln has a quote that
many of you know where he talks about the shaping of public sentiment as the most important kind of role and when we talk about the role of millennials and how they intersect with these issues a lot of the ways they are intersecting with money and politics is around shifting the narrative of changing public sentiment and it may not end up in a local policy victory but in some ways it's putting the wind at the sails of some of the reformers who are working at the local level. just some examples of that, i think, one is around the issue of transparency. there has been a lot of discussion post citizens united about disclosure and some of the policy and legal work that needs to be done there, but who could match the explosive energy of the most recent wikileaks that have come out or the panama papers where you see people, young people in particular, on the internet demanding radical transparency and these are libertarians, progressives,
conservatives who are seeing transparency as an issue that's front and center in how they're thinking about their agency in a democracy are money and politics folks engaging them. then the second one i would talk about is this tactic that i think a lot of the more traditional campaigns are not as comfortable with, but it's really, really important in taking off amongst millennials which is bird dogging. i don't know if people are familiar with that. where you follow a candidate around when they're running for office and you do a direct action aimed at that candidate and then force them to respond. so one example of this is the fossil fuel movement who has been going after campaign fundraisers from big oil and fossil fuel and doing bird dogging actions against candidates and getting them on record saying, well will you no longer take fossil fuel money in support of your campaign? and what it's doing is lifting up the conversation about money
and politics but through a fossil fuel divestment lens. and then the second example of this that i think is really key right now the country is having a national conversation about race in america and color of change which is a nonprofit organization working digitally around issues of race and inclusion organized a campaign to bird dog candidates who were taking private prison money and then getting candidates to go on record and say, we do not want private prison money, it lifted up this conversation about money and politics. i think the choice, though, for us is they didn't lead out front with money and politics as the issue, they led out front with fossil fuel divestment and climate change, they led out front with racial justice and equity, but it's really about money and politics. and so i think that's kind of what we have to figure out is how do we find opportunities to bring more folks into the movement with a much deeper and scaled issue frame. >> yeah, we just saw a super pac
accepted $150,000 contribution from a private prison company out of florida just a couple days ago supporting donald trump. allie, i want to ask you talk about issue intersection at, a lot of folks are aware of the economy, talking about occupy wall street, income inequality has been at the top of the agenda at least for democratic candidates for president during the primary. is there a way that we can use this issue to tie in democracy and get folks aware and engaged? >> yeah, absolutely. i think that the economy and economic inequality is very much linked with big money and politics. we see the economy that millennials are inheriting is really a web of policies that favor the donor class and we know that the donor class particularly in areas of economic policy tend to have different views than the 99% and
just one example here is on the federal minimum wage. we know that general public opinion support is very high for a federal minimum wage in which if you're working full-time at the federal minimum wage you should not live in poverty, i think 80%, something like that of the general public supports that belief. among the donor class the affluent in the united states the support for that level of minimum wage at the federal level is much less, it's about half of that, and yet, you know, we've seen congress be very stagnant on the federal minimum wage even though we have incredibly high national federal support for increasing the minimum wage. and i think, you know, other areas in our economy are also impacted. think about student debt and the burden of taking on student debt to go to college, something like 78% of the general public think
that the federal government should do more to make sure that college is affordable and yet again we have seen congress be really stagnant on these issues. >> anybody else want to weigh in on this issue of intersection nalt. >> unthing to echo what austin and allie said, one thing to emphasize about the way millennials and other people have approached this issue is citizens united has come to have symbolic value well beyond the actual -- what the decision actually said. the decision was about corporate independent expenditures, it allowed corporations to make expenditures in elections independent of candidates but it has taken on this huge symbolic value. when the decision was issued in 2010 there was growing recognition and acknowledgment about the growing nick inequality in the u.s. and in the world as a whole and the broken campaign finance system
and the amount of money that flooded into our elections after citizens united really showed this vast economic inequality being transferred into political inequality and citizens united has come to symbolize these much broader issues of inequality and much broader issues about corporate power. and also to echo what allie said, the people who have this power partially as a result of decisions like citizens united are older, they're whiter, they're maler than the country as a whole and particularly older, whiter and maler than millennials and it's not a surprise that government is acting -- and as a result of economic inequality being transferred into political inequality it's not a surprise that government is acting in the interests of the donor class and not in the interests of the rest of us and particularly not in the interest of the millennials. >> so, i mean, we've seen --
given our arguments there are dispositions of this we think we are on the right side of history, right? so our issue ties in with a ton of different issues, it has the moral force behind it, big sweeping narratives like economic inequality and what we can do about this. let's talk about what's holding the field back and i want to prime you all with some work that the american constitution society put out last spring. so acs put out a national report called gavel gap, what they did for the first time in history is they looked at state courts all across the country and they looked at the racial and gender makeup of those courts. so i want to prompt you all with just a few numbers. so nationally women of color make up 19% of the u.s. population, state courts it's 8%. men of color it's 19%, state courts it's 12%. on the other hand white men 30% of the population of the united states and a whopping 58% of all state court judges.
so they were able to trace when opportunity falls off along the pipeline, say going to law school and becoming a judge, but what does this environment say about this field, that we feel like we have a lot of the wind at our back and yet the current makeup of the democracy field really isn't too dissimilar from what that study was able to find. aquene and austin do you want to jump in on that? >> i think nonprofits reflects the power structure and the fundamentally racist background of our society as a whole and i think the type of people who get the education and have the ability to do unpaid internships in particular, to access these positions, is definitely a huge problem. we have to be able to pay people who are working their way through school, taking on an incredible amount of debt, if we want them to gain the skills necessary to do this work
professionally. on the other hand, i don't think most movements are only professionally staffed, we should be a tiny, tiny minority in terms of the people working on this issue. the washington ballot initiative which is 330,000 signatures that were gathered over a nine-month period, 88% of those by volunteers. so it does not need to be staffed but certainly if we want lower income folks of all races to be in this movement there needs to be a funding aspect that's much bigger than what we have right now. >> and i would say in addition to kind of the structural barriers that you mention and the gavel gap that you mention there is a trust gap and the trust gap in particular is happening with communities of color. we all know that the preamble of our constitution starts with "we the people," but yet generation after generation the calling of social movements has been to expand that we to include more
and more folks because the framers of the constitution looked much like unfortunately the structures of today look. and so there's always been this psychological distance as a result amongst communities of color and the fundamental institutions of u.s. democracy, including representative civil society organizations. and so this trust gap, this psychological distance it plays itself out as a third party of both our democracy by communities of color where they will see government as a "they" or they might even see some of the organizations in the fighting around money and politics as a "they," they don't see it as a "we." so the fundamental question on this, it's not just more diversity because you could have more diverse voices essentially keeping the system as it is and people still having the psychological distance. we need to move from talking about diversity to equity and
how do we build a more inclusive we? how one way we do that is starting with trust. that we need to be in conversation with communities of color who may have different theories of change about how it gets done. they may not see inside strategies at the local level being the most productive way to get change. are we open and willing to listen to their voices and be in dialogue with them? if we can close that trust gap with communities of color i think we will get more than diversity, we will really get a more equitable and more influential movement. >> so millennials, we get some shade for, say, voting less frequently than other demographic groups. we are certainly the most indebted and statement we are the most educated generation in american history. we are the most racially diverse generation in america. so question to you all, what can we do differently and if you know of some, say, successful models of reform, other areas that folks have been able to push forward progressive
policies under a more inclusive framework and coalition, you know, what have they done to be able to get those things -- get points on the board? i hope it's not all bleak. somebody must know. >> i will say one quick one because i think it's an outlier that we've talked about a little bit on the donor class but there are successful efforts to organize a base of donors who share the values that we share here and one example of this in the money and politics space is the victory 2021 fund which is where you have donors coming together who are wealthy individuals and bundling their money to support some of the ballot initiatives and other campaigns that were talked about earlier. and so there's success there that, in fact, there is a book that i recommend to folks if you're interested by david callahan called "fortunes of change." and it's an older book, i think it's 2008 or '9 published version, there is an updated
copy, but what it goes through is that there is a fundamental demographic shift not just amongst millennials but within the donor class itself, donors in tech, donors in science and research, donors on the west coast or in new york city who went to liberal universities and they're hearing acs have talks like this one in their most formative years. to me that gives -- that's an example of one of the strategies we should have is how do we engage directly the donor class, particularly millennial donors? >> i would just say on the local level i think it is very, very specific. like here in the district we have an affordable housing price is, nobody on the council is very serious, they all care, i think they actually genuinely care but we are not seeing the level of serious policy bro duks that would actually change the problem and it's partly because of the funding system here locally. so that's an issue that really matters deeply, the bleeding
edge of gentrification in the district is the most african-american part of the district, it's ward 7 and 8 across the river. so there is a lot of deep work and trust building to do there and thankfully the d.c. fair elections coalition is already a pretty diverse group, d.c. fair budget coalition which represents a lot of the service organizations but also people's organizations in the district has been a partner from the beginning and i think there's continuing work to have as many conversations in community as possible, but i think one shining example of where we're trying to go in the democracy movement is democracy awakening and democracy spring which happened this past spring. the naacp and sierra club and public citizen and many, many other groups, demos, came together and we had about 5,000 people here in the district protesting for both voting rights and money in politics.
i have to say unfortunately money in politics up until that point has largely been a white grassroots based supported issue. we've been working very, very hard to mobilize our majority white members to work on voting rights as well as money in politics. but it is a long journey for sure. >> aquene, i want to ask there's so many issues in the district, you name a few that are eye priority items for communities of color. when you talk about the coalition that's been built here around democracy work, how is that created and how is that supported and what resources came to be that this was able to be something that is now, what, 40, 50 organizations behind? can you see any friends in that that perhaps people around the country can pick up on? >> i think, again, showing up in person. like i've gone to probably a half dozen african-american churches, i've showed up after service or even sat through service and worked with members of the community that way. i think we have to be willing to go in person and really talk to
people and show that you're committed. show you're willing to go anywhere in the district where people want to organize and not, you know -- and cross racial lines, unfortunately, that still exist in our very segregated cities. so i think that's one piece, but also here, i mean, the corruption is so blatant, you know, ted lionisis who is a billionaire is having the district spend $60 million building him a new practice facility and he was a major donor in this last election, he helped the mayor's coalition and that's not where we want to be spending our money when we have an affordable housing crisis, jobs programs that have not been fully funded the way they should for our youth to help those who don't have friends that can get them internships and can afford to do unpaid internships, a chance to get experience and get some work. >> right. so one thing that's been a real highlight for me working in this field is some of the work that
demos is doing and allie is here representing demos. so a lot of your programming has been focused on researching money in politics and equity through a racial justice lens and putting out research and studies and drilling down and naming names and putting numbers and facts behind how our political system operates and disenfranchises certain communities. talk to us a little bit about the work that you guys have been doing in relation to that. >> yeah, well, i think i would recommend everyone checking out our report stacked deck which really talks about the link between big money in politics and racial injustice in this country. i think, you know, it's important to keep in mind that, you know, austin talked about the trust gap and we also have a big racial wealth gap in this country because of a history of exclusion of people of color not just from our democracy but from our economy as well. and this matters because the
entrenched donor class, hopefully this will be changing but the entrenched donor class is a lot less likely to prioritize the needs of people of color because they are disproportionately white. so in this context and in the context of the trust gap we know that candidates of color are less likely to run for office in the first place and when they do run they raise less money and i think these are patterns that millennials should really seek to interrupt. scott, you've mentioned that we are the most racially diverse generation yet. and in terms of fundraising, i think -- i think this is an area where white people have an extra responsibility to show up and support candidates of color and groups led by people of color and in a way that we probably have not historically done and i think white millennials could be leaders on that. another thing that i wanted to mention is what's called our
inclusive democracy project which is a coalition between demos and grassroots organizations, leaders from grassroots organizations around the country and these grassroots orgs are not dem tracy orgs which aquene mentioned have been traditionally very white, these are orgs works on different issues like racial justice, immigrant rights. the purpose of the inclusive democracy project, it sees democracy reforms as a tool for building political power. structural reforms like public financing of elections, automatic voter registration, restoring the rights of people to vote who have felony convictions, these are all ways that can facilitate our -- our broader platforms and the changes that we need in this country like racial justice, gender justice, economic
justice. members of this idp cohort helped draft the movement for black lives policy platform on political power which i definitely recommend checking out if you haven't yet. >> great. okay. so we are going to move to the last part of it. this is the optimistic brighter day tomorrow portion of our talk. so, you know, the prompt is given that we have the opportunity first time in over 40 years to have a progressive majority in the supreme court which sets so much of the policy we live under in campaign rights what can be possible for the different orientation, what can be possible with different rules. imagine a new jurs prudence where you have such an expansive for someone else right to a fair trial if a person in the case of party to the case gives the judge a few thousand dollars or a certain amount of money or spends money on an independent expenditure in support or attack of that judge during election
season that, you know, with an expansive due process mindset and jurs prudence through the court you would have able to limit the amount of money that folks could put into that which would compromise the creation of judicial bias or potentially compromise the judge's ability to remain fair and impartial. so let's go to our resident legal experts, brendan and allie, talk to us about your respective organization's vision for a new juris prudence if we have a progressive supreme court majority 2017. >> well, maybe i will do two things. first of all, the organizing strategy, the strategy on the ground is linked to but distinct from the strategy in the courts. i think we are at -- as everybody has just explained -- we are at a real moment where people are engaged with this issue, others overwhelmingly bipartisan support across the political spectrum for campaign finance reform, overwhelming recognition that citizens united is a problem and people want it
overturned and historically the knock against campaign finance reform was that it was something that people cared about but not something that people voted about, that the intensity wasn't there, but i think that is really beginning to change, especially among younger people. and as austin said there is this question of building a grizzly bear or a teddy bear, what do we want this movement to look like? on the ground it should be -- it should be a grizzly bear and to a certain extent the broad public dissatisfaction with our campaign finance system will have some influence on the court but the -- the appointment of a new justice on the supreme court is an opportunity but we don't -- we don't expect the court to reverse course overnight. even the liberal justice -- i shouldn't say this. the court has a whole is concerned about its own legitimacy and it's not -- it's unlikely any justices are going to want to entirely reverse
themselves. so for the immediate term the opportunities are expanding -- are looking for opportunities within the court's current juris prudence. so, for example, going back to the buckley decision that allie mentioned earlier, the campaign finance restrictions can be justified based on -- as a means of combating corruption or the appearance of corruption but the appearance of corruption is not a fully developed theory and that could present an opportunity. justice breyer in his dissent to mccutcheon explains how campaign finance laws can further first amendment interests, can further the public's interest in self government and getting the court to expand on that and recognize that first amendment -- that campaign finance restrictions can advance first amendment values, can move us beyond that balancing test where any campaign finance law is just balanced against the supposed infringement on first amendment
rights and the legal strategy is also distinct from the school desegregation legal strategy, for example. we are not challenging existing laws, we are not trying to knock down desegregation laws, we are really trying to defend -- defend good laws. so any successful case will probably result from a challenge to an existing law and any existing law is more likely to be upheld if it's narrowly tailored to a strong -- to a localized record of corruption. so those are the general principles that we are looking at and thinking about moving forward as we -- as we anticipate the court's juris prudence changing with this new justice, but, again, that's distinct from what's happening on the ground. at best if we do achieve the new juris prudence that we're hoping for that's going to create an
opening for new legislation, it's going to create an opening for if you new ballot initiatives and that's where the importance of having people continually engage with these issues and organized around these issues and motivated that's where it becomes so important. >> yeah, and just picking up on that, i completely agree with what brendan has said. i think looking at the longer term, for us we see citizens united as really useful tool to spark activism and movements on the ground but legally we kind of see it as the tip of the iceberg of what the court got wrong. so as early as buckley versus vallejo the court has put a lid on our ability to limit big money in politics and we've seen what that looks like in the current system, you know, where wealthy candidates can spend as much money as they want on their own campaigns, wealthy individuals can spend as much as they can to elect their favorite
candidates if they do so independently and maybe more importantly a lot of really awesome potential candidates never bother even running for office because they are not taken seriously if they can't raise tons of money. so -- and this is all on top of corporate spending on elections which was unleashed by citizens united. so i think to us it's important that a new juris prudence allows us to combat all of these problems and not confine us to sort of a clean government or anti-corruption lens. i think millennials see that the problems of racial and political and economic inequality are deeply connected and it's time for a court to interpret the constitution in a way that doesn't ban us from addressing these problems and that's pretty much what the current doctrine does. you know, and all the while
affording heightened privilege and protections to wealthy interests. so we're optimistic that -- we're optimistic that things could get better on the court. >> anybody else want to weigh in, big ideas or strategies with a new democracy juris prudence what they could do? >> i think there will be more opportunities for local organizing to challenge a ruling over time and that's exciting. i think that's the kind of serious in the trenches campaigns that maybe millennials are excited about, let's upend the order, let's do something that could actually lead to a challenge to citizens united or buckley or another piece of this puzzle. i also think, though, we have a united states senate that does not respect the institution of the court and the confirmation process and so, you know, we are at a point in general where we've kind of held congress in this trust that they would fulfill their duties to make sure that the balance of power
remains, that we have fully staffed, i guess, court, let's probably not the right word for it, and they failed and is there any punishment for that at all? i mean, the big money in this election is in the senate races and it's real out there, are millennials mobilizing for those senate races? i think so. there's probably a lot more we can do but until there's political consequences for breaking our government, for breaking our courts, you know, it provides an incentive for them to continue those who don't think that the senate has a duty to confirm whoever the president -- or at least have hearings and consider whoever the president nominates, what's to say that's not going to continue and are we mobilized enough to really have a strong voice on that? >> okay, for example, it's time for some q & a. if you have a question we have a microphone we can send around the room and if you would just tell us your name and if you are here on behalf of an organization tell us who you are
representing. so floor is open to questions. >> hi, i'm chris, i'm from a law firm. i was just thinking given that this election has exposed that most of the republican base resents the donor class as well, does anybody have like any idea how congressional policy that maybe there is some sort of red/blue coalition in the upcoming congress, you know, with president clinton to take action on campaign finance reform? >> so one problem that i think that as you -- as you describe and as this election has really demonstrated and as polls
demonstrate that republican voters care about this issue a great deal, it's republican politicians who block reformat every turn. and you've seen with some of donald trump's messaging, he attacks hillary clinton as corrupt, he says she is beholden to her donors but he has yet to put forward any actual policy solutions that would address the broken campaign finance system that he has in many ways correctly diagnosed. so in some ways it's a question of whether republican voters will hold their officials to account. i described earlier that there is a bipartisan fec reform bill that possibly with a different congress could have a chance of going somewhere. disclosure is something that is overwhelmingly supported by republican voters as well as democratic voters, that is something that the next congress could address. the question again is whether any republican officials will do
what polls show that republican voters actually want. >> i think there has been a proposal in congress i'm not sure it will move but certainly at the local level there's more room for motion like in south dakota the ballot initiative there is actually a tax credit system for public financing which a lot of republicans feel really good about, i think there are some challenges with that in terms of people with lower incomes waiting until they get the tax credit back might impede their participation to some extent, but, you know, it's definitely ground zero for that question of whether we can really get some serious change on the ground with republican support, and that is -- like both in south dakota and in washington state, the public financing proposals there are vouchers or credits and they have significant republican support at the grassroots level
pushing those. >> all right. next question. >> hi. aaron jordan, alliance for justice. one thing i hadn't thought about, i think brendan made the point, is that basically to get citizens united overturned you need a case, but in this case we're not really worried about the laws on hand for gay marriage or civil rights, it was challenging bad laws, here we are trying to defend halfway decent ones. so why would a conservative advocacy group take a case to court when it's a lose/lose for them? how would it get overturned? >> interesting. >> that's a great question. >> it's a good question. i don't know. i mean, you've -- you've consistently seen conservative legal advocacy groups challenge campaign finance laws when they are enacted and even challenge campaign finance laws that have been on the books for a long
time. so i think it's a question you have to ask to a group like ccp or center for competitive politics, but it is a good -- it's a good question. >> allie, any thoughts on that? >> yeah. >> pick your legal brain. >> it's a great question. i would he can cho everybody that brendan said and i think -- hope that they just simply can't contain themselves. >> it's not a unified structure. right. i would say these folks aren't always working in such tight quarters. there isn't exactly an anti-democracy field having a comparable event like this somewhere down the street. so that is -- >> that's public anyway. >> they won't be filming, put it that way. anybody else? yeah. >> it's jordan mcveil with crew. just a brief response to that
comment. there are two strategies you could bring a challenge to citizens united, one would be getting a small locality to pass a law that would be in conflict to this case an bring a defensive action if and when that was challenged and that would raise the opportunity. the other option, it provides the ability to sue the fec for failure to act and act in contrary to law and those -- we have brought those kind of actions, try togd the fec to change its activity. there would be a supreme court case and facing that barrier, through that you can get the court to reconsider if pressed. >> anybody want to respond to that? >> so, i mean, i would say free speech for people is pursuing both of those avenues right now. we have a complaint depending at the fec that challenges the decision that created super pacs and folks in st. petersburg, florida, are leading a piece of legislation that if passed could provide a challenge to the decision that created super pacs
as well as potentially take a shot at citizens united. okay. other questions? we have a few more minutes. >> people for the american way. a wonderful panel, great to see fellow millennials doing such great work. my question is in regards to engaging donors and it being the case that, you know, we have billionaires like warren buffett and the facebook founders basically pledging to give the majority of their wealth away. what do you think it will take for some of that money to go towards structural democracy reforms, whether it be overturning citizens united or ending any of the things that were talked about tonight given the fact that so many of the topical concerns of not just millennials but the country in general can be traced back to the influence of money in politics. >> that's an austin question. >> i don't know if you can hear me without microphone.
i would say that the short answer is that it's going to take time to get folks there, one reason why this is so -- it's going to take some patience is because unfortunately a lot of the tech donors right now who are emerging and are going to far surpass the older money that's happened in the philanthropic landscape, they have not been engaged at the level that they should up and to this point around these kinds of bedrock issues. so there is a massive transfer of wealth from baby boomers going to millennials in the ballpark area of over a trillion dollars and so now is the time to take the patient steps to cultivate real relationships with donors. some of whom might be inheriting wealth in this room that we don't know and they are beginning to shape their world view.
it's important to get them when they are in spaces like this as young folks and it takes a lot of donor education and there is a statistic on this around focusing on these donors when they're young and that is that "the new york times" and catalyst did a study that shows political events that happen at the age of 18 are three times as powerful as events that happen at the age of 40. and so if you want to change and fix this issue you are addressing we really have to start younger down the pipeline and there is a network called resource generation that's focused on that, on finding young high net worth individuals and bringing them together and then a lot of movement work and they have been doing convenings with tech donors in the bay area recently trying to cultivate those relationships. that's the one factor. the second one is a lot of direct action and continuing to change public sentiment. when occupy wall street got on the scene back in 2011 and
people were saying 99% and 1%, that polarizing kind of action for better or worse depending on your perspective did draw a lot of young donors to the side of the 99% where their moral conscious was touched through the heroic actions of the young people in those parks. and so i'd say it's a combination of both the donor education with a long-term kind of view of the relationships that need to be built there, and then secondly sometimes it will take holding high net worth individual donors and corporations' feet to the fire about their relationship to our democracy. >> anybody else? thoughts on that? okay. we've got time for one more question if it's out there. any last minute burning questions? okay. well, this has been a presentation of the american -- we have one more? i'm sorry.
go ahead. >> hi. tim >> i was curious with the lack of diversity on our federal pensions, what role do you think that plays? what role do you think that continues to play in our campaign finance laws and do you think it's necessary for us to change? >> yeah. it's a great question. there is probably a degree they are intertwined or interrelated.
certainly the u.s. supreme court's decisions was entirely detached from reality. i don't think the current sitting justices were elected officials. they haven't gone through a campaign. they don't know how the campaign finance operates. there are assumptions in that case and a case like mccutchen that were entirely off base. they were unrepresentative of the country as a whole. anybody else? leave it at that. >> enough said. okay, folks, this is part of the american constitution society, d.c. lawyer chapter. thank you all for coming out. could we have our board members put your hand up. folks, these are chapter ambassadors. find them, engage them, buy them
a drink at the bar. thank you to g.w. for the space, for c-span for providing coverage. you are all free to sob quietly in your pillows and watch the presidential debate. >> if you guys didn't food, there's plenty left in the room right over there. >> the road to the white house continues to run through battleground states. join us later today for remarks from nominee donald trump in orlando, florida you can watch 4:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. after that, should libertarians vote this year and, if so, for whom? cato institute hosts at 5:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2.
on election day, november 8th, the nation decides our next president and which party controls the house and senate. stay with c-span for coverage of the presidential race, including campaign stops with hillary clinton, donald trump, and their surrogates. and follow key house and senate races with our coverage of their debates and speeches. c-span, where history unfolds daily. . first of all, i did research information because -- and this is definitely the case with a lot of pieces that will be done for this competition. but mental illness especially. it's not black and white. i had to research to get a base knowledge of what i wanted to talk about in this piece. and obviously there was a lot of -- it's so complicated that i
can't talk about it all in five to seven minutes. >> it is a really broad topic. i thought it would be nice to have a focal point that i wanted to focus on. before i even started interviewing my parents, before i started shooting, i researched this topic extensively. >> this is my dad's pharmacy. i talked to the pharmacist there. >> i talked to my mom and her leagues and co-workers. i did a lot of internet research and the library. >> a lot of internet research to find facts and data and statistics about employment of those with developmental disabilities to see really what was going on. most of the information that i got off the internet came from government-founded websites. so that's how i knew most of the information that i was getting was legitimate. >> this year's theme, your edge to washington, d.c. tell us, what is the most urgent issue for the new president and
congress to the address in 2017. our competition is open to all middle school or high school students grade 6 through 12. with $100,000 awarded in cash prizes. students can work alone or in a group of up to 3. explore opposing opinions. the $100,000 in cash prizes will be awarded and shared between 150 students and 53 teachers. and the grand prize, $5,000, will two to the student or team with the best overall entry. the deadline is january 20th, 2017. so mark your calendars and help us spread the word to student filmmakers. two to studentcam.org. . education secretary john king recently spoke about education policy and civic engagement at the national press club. he talked about the role u.s.
should play for students with civic awareness and interests. this is about an hour. good afternoon and welcome to the national press club. i'm news editor for the americas al jazeera english in washington, d.c. our guest today is john king. i would welcome our radio and c-span audiences. you can follow the action on twitter using the #np can c
live. turn off or silence your cell phones. again, if you have any questions for our speaker, you can write them on cards, pass them to the head table. we will try to get through as many as time permits or tweet them to npc live. now is the time to introduce our head table guest. on your right is and my far left, carry airns at the data quality campaign and vice president of the writers association. editor of india america and white house skoerpbd epbt. emily wilkins, education and labor reporter at roll call. amy macintosh, assistant
secretary, u.s. department of operation. fed man, education editor at the associated press. johanna hayes, national teacher of the year 2016. [ applause ]. chair of the national press club speakers committee. lisa matthews and the member who organized today's meeting. thank you, lisa. gentleman ma will ailene, higher education. candace smith. and president of the creative
alliance communication sps was involved in the 1979 transition team for the then new u.s. department of education. which was established in 1980. [ applause ]. it was just seven months ago that our guest was confirmed as secretary of education. but dr. john king jr. has been involved in public education all his life. king, a former social studies teacher from new york, is known for crediting the public school system with his very life. king had a difficult childhood. by the age of 12, both parents who were public school teachers, had died. it was a rough and tumble time. but after school, after that school was a sanctuary. years later, dr. king would go to to lead new york state education department from 2011 to 2014 before joining the department of education. despite his emphasis on making sure all students are receiving
the same level of education regardless of race or zip code, king's tactics have been criticized on all sides school districts, pta meetings, congress. at the same time, he has been praised for understanding the importance of a diverse, rich, well-rounded education. dr. king supported the implementation of the every student succeeds act which replaced no child left behind. he has urged states to use the new federal education law. that's what i get for covering elections for so long. to expand and focus more on science, social studies, arts and world languages. i like that last one. dr. king has also pushed for higher standards as a stepping stone that ensures all students are ready for what's next. today he returns to his roots as a social studies teacher to speak with us here at the national press club about the role of schools in prepping students to be active citizens.
please welcome to the national press club podium, dr. john v. king jr., secretary of education. [ applause ] >> good afternoon. thank you so much for the introduction, and thank you to the press club for inviting me here to speak with you today about a topic about which i am passionate both as a former social studies teacher and as an american, the importance of civic education as part of a well-rounded education. i've spoken about well-rounded education many times before. i often speak about my teacher in fourth, fifth and sixth grade at ps-276. he made a huge difference in my life after my mom passed away. he made school engaging, compelling and nurturing. we read and discussed "the new
york times" every day in his class. performed shakespeare and went to the met and museum of natural history and other cultural institutions. wherever we went, whatever we were doing, he would really listen and respond to our questions and our observations. he made each of us feel valued and unique. last december the president, president obama, signed the every student succeeds act or essa. essa creates an opportunity for states and schools to reclaim the promise of a high quality well-rounded education like the one i had thanks to great new york city public school teachers. an education that prepares every student regardless of their background to succeed in college and careers. later this week, the department of education will release
nonregulatory guidance on one part of essa. a new grant program designed to help schools and communities provide students with access to well-rounded education, to create and save in support of school environments, and to improve the use of technology. we owe it to every child in this country to provide them with access to music and the arts. world languages. physics, chemistry, biology. physical education and health. coding and computer science. and social studies. geography. government and civics. these are not luxuries. they are essential for preparing our students to thrive in the world they will experience beyond high school. today i want to focus on the importance of civic education and what that might look like in schools and colleges. when we think about the responsibilities of citizens, we often think primarily about
voting. and voting is unquestionably the cornerstone of freedom. the right to vote undergirds all our other rights. to not vote is to turn your back on your neighbors and your community and your country. and throughout our history, people have fought and even died to be treated as full citizens and to be able to cast a ballot. it was 132 years after the ratification of the constitution before women were allowed to vote thanks to the 19th amendment. it wasn't until 1965 and the passage of the voting rights act that african-americans were trial finally guaranteed the right to vote, despite the 15th amendment having been added to the constitution nearly 100 years earlier. it's not ancient history, 1965. congressman john lewis was among many who were beaten and who suffered as part of that
struggle, and some older african-american voters can remember having to take literacy tests before being allowed to register and vote. we need to be ever vigilant to be sure this right is not taken away. however, as i would tell my students, when i was teaching, voting, as important as it is, is only one responsibility of citizenship. the strength of our democracy depends on all of us as americans understanding our history and the constitution and how the government works at every level. becoming informed and thoughtful about local, state and national issues, getting involved in solving problems in our schools, communities, states and nationally. recognizing that solutions to the complex issues our nation faces today all require compromise. being willing to think beyond our own needs and wants and to embrace our obligations to the greater good. finally, i would argue our
democracy, our communities and our nation would be stronger if all of us volunteered on behalf of others. none of this will occur automatically. as americans we celebrate our individuality and differences. but to remain a functioning society and democracy, we values to recognize that we are dependent on society and society depends on us. all of us. parents, elected officials, educators, journalists and everyone else must set a good example for our children and newcomers to this society and to make this in lincoln's words, a more perfect union. but today i want to argue that our schools and colleges have a special experience to prepare
their students to do so. educating students about their role in democracy is one of the original goals. and it should remain so today as our nation becomes more and more diverse. and right now, it is clear that our schools and colleges must do more to meet that goal. only 1 in 5 eighth graders and 12th graders have a working knowledge of the constitution, the presidency, congress, the courts and how laws are made. not surprisingly, we're failing. even more of our children of color and children from low-income families. only about 1 in 10 -- 1 in 10 african-american, hispanic and low-income students have a
today all 50 states and the district of columbia make some civics instruction a graduation requirement. that could be a good start, but it is civics light. knowing the first three words of the preamble to the constitution or being able to identify at least one branch of government is worthwhile, but it's not enough to equip people to carry out the duties of citizenship. everyone above a certain age who watched saturday morning cartoons remembers how a bill becomes a law from schoolhouse rock. but that doesn't help them evaluate different positions on
issues such as immigration or climate change or taxation. so today i ask our nation's schools and colleges to be bold and creative in educating for citizenship. make preparing your students for their civic duties just as much a priority as preparing them to succeed in college and in their careers. and i ask educators to work from the broader definition of civic duty that i've described. i ask teachers and principals and superintendents to help your students learn to be problem-solvers who can grapple with challenging issues such as how to improve their schools, homelessness, air and water pollution, or the tensions between police and communities of color. it is also critical that these conversations not be partisan. civic education engagement is not a democratic party or republican party issue. solutions to problems can and should be rooted in different philosophies of government. we have to make sure classrooms welcome and celebrate these different perspectives. i recognize this could lead to uncomfortable conversations and that teachers will need support and training to foster these conversations in productive ways. principals will need to be courageous and back their teachers up. superintendents and school
boards need to make sure their communities understand what they are trying to accomplish. i know from personal experience that these issues are not always easy to talk about. i have two daughters. one in elementary school and one in middle school. over the past year, we've had to talk to them a lot about the fact that the vast majority of police officers are dedicated public servants who are doing their best to keep people safe. and at the same time, the reality, we've got to talk as a country about systemic issues of racism, prejudice and bias. and how they affect the relationship between police and communities. also made the same point when i was in st. paul, minnesota, earlier this year meeting with families and staff members at the school where philando castille worked. he worked at a school in st. paul. beloved by the faculty and kids at the school. he was kill in an interaction with police officers in falcon heights, minnesota. and i went to mourn with the families and talk with the families. talk with the reality that castille was stopped more than 40 times by police before the
incident where he was killed. i urged the parents and educators i met with not to sink into despair but instead to work with others in the community to make sure that an event like that would never happen again. i wanted them to act on the same belief that i want my daughters to understand. that these issues can be resolved, but that it will take concerted efforts at all levels of government. national, state and local. because reality is that for many of the biggest issues, including tensions between police and communities of color, they're not going to be settled solely by decision by the president or congress or even a bill passed in a state legislature. the department of justice can monitor policing, can identify violations of civil rights and can order changes in practices and policies to prevent these violations. that's a start. but what's also needed are citizens who will work with
others and vote strategically to demand changes in police training to include bias, cultural competencies and ways to defuse tense situations in their police interactions. and an end to racial profiling, to demand an end to discriminatory practices by prosecutors and courts that have a dire impact on poor people. the same activism beginning at the local level to make the difference in the creation of jobs, better housing and improved mass transit and so many other issues. but this won't happen unless people have the knowledge, skills and inclination to get involved that can be learned in school. i know there are schools around the country doing a good job of this. and there are advocacy groups started by former supreme court justice sandra day o'connor that are working to get more schools
involved in civic education. one organization that's helping to make this happen is the james madison memorial fellowship foundation which was established by congress in 1986. when i was a teacher, i was fortunate to be a madison fellow which allowed me to take classes on the teaching of the history of the constitution and participate in a community of talented and passionate social study educators. generations of madison fellows selected from all 50 states are in classrooms across the country ensuring their students have a good understanding of the foundations of american democracy. one person who is doing this kind of work extraordinarily well is johanna hays who is a high school social studies teacher in waterbury, connecticut, in addition to being the 2016 national teacher
of the year. she's passionate about teaching her students at kennedy high school about history and the importance of community service and their obligation to improve the human condition. she's the adviser to the school's helping people out everywhere club. she and her students participate in the annual walk for autism and rally for life and have raised thousands towards cancer research. she points out that students want to help but they need role models to show them how. we need more teachers like johanna and more schools and districts to support them. so what are the elements of a robust and relevant civic education? first, students need knowledge. they need to know the constitution and the legislative
powerful and unforgettable. i visited and was filled with horror as i read the bill of sale -- bill of sale -- for a 16-year-old girl name holly. i gazed upon a statue of thomas jefferson with the names of the human beings he owned inscribed on a stack of bricks behind him. as i stood in front of what was once emmett till's coffin. that's not the only story the museum tells. it also tells the story of resistance and dignity in the face of oppression. from turner, harriet tubman and the tuskegee airmen. a wonderful new story for educators. students should understand the constitution protects the right of nfl quarterback colin kaepernick to protest during the national anthem and why players across the country, including high school students, are doing the same. and they should also understand and be able to explain with evidence why some people are offended by that decision or would choose a different way to express their views. civics shouldn't be an add-on. it can be made a part of every class. not just social studies and
history but read, writing, science and math. studying climate change in science class can be broadened and made more relevant by asking students to find out whether their local government is prepared to respond. math can be made more engaging by having students research the ratio of liquor stores to grocery stores to population in various neighborhoods. and then asking the mayor why that is the case. beyond knowledge, students need civics skills. they should be able to write persuasive letters to the editor or mayor or member of congress and learn to speak at public meetings. in addition, they should have opportunities to do democracy. when i was teaching, i had my seniors do research projects tackling local problems in the community. i can recall students who worked with a local non-profit to end the dumping of garbage in their neighborhood. to support urban agriculture products and advocate for more affordable housing. they learned they could make a difference and that there are many ways to serve. join the military is certainly one way to serve. but so, too, is assisting the homeless or fighting sexual violence or tutoring younger children. by getting involved in real
issues, students learn it's not enough just to shout about their disappointments and criticize the ideas of others. they need to offer solutions. they have to work together to advocate for those solutions to see that they're implemented and understand that change takes time. i'm proud we as a nation provide opportunities through americorps to support people who want to give a year or more giving back to a community in need. we currently have 80,000 folks serving in this program. over half supporting our public schools. and we should have far, far more. when i was an under graduate, i taught civics one day a week in a school that served largely low-income students of color in boston. i also tutored young people in the mission maine public housing development and the roxbury section of boston and ran a summer camp there. with my fellow harvard under graduates, we lived for the
summer in the community in the mission main housing project which sadly at the time was rife with crime and drugs and violence. but also rich with hope and resiliency and tenacity. we learned about those challenges and those commitments in the community in a way that i will never forget. in fact, those experiences helped shape my decision to pursue a career as a teacher and a principal in the very same neighborhood where i volunteered as an undergraduate. we also want our students to look beyond their own interests to their own -- to their enlightened self-interest in the common good. i recently visited flint, michigan, and while i may never live in flint, i recognize that it's in my interest to make sure
that children and families in flint and every other city in the country have safe water to drink and an opportunity to fulfill their potential. service both helps students understand the challenges in the community, helps them understand themselves and also helps them understand the importance of the common good. colleges also have an important role to play in preparing young people to fulfill their responsibilities as citizens. back in 1947, the truman commission on higher education for democracy concluded that educating for democracy should come first among the principle goals for higher education. should come first among the principle goals for higher education. that is just as true today, but this goal too often has been forgotten at times. and at times education policymakers, educators, students and families have approached colleges if its only worthwhile goal was a means of success to the competitive job market. it has to be about more than that. but it's k-12 education or higher education, we have to see it as preparing students, yes, for college and careers and, yes, for civic participation. for citizenship. for caring about the common good and contributing to the common
good. the good news is that this kind of civic education, civic education that digs into challenging issues and teaches knowledge, skills and inclinations to serve actually works. it changes students behavior as adults. research compiled by the campaign for the civic mission of schools shows that students who receive effective civic education are more likely to vote and discuss politics at home, four times more likely to volunteer and work on community issues, and more confident in their ability to speak publicly and communicate with elected officials. this type of civic learning can prepare students for demanding careers in a globally competitive labor market because they'll learn to think critically, write creatively and persuasively and work with
diverse groups of people. but the biggest and most important outcome of all is high-quality civic education prepares students to help the nation solve difficult, challenging, complex issues to make it a better, equitable place to live with genuine equity for all. it must be part of a well-rounded education and must be at the foundation of the future, not only of our economy, but of our democracy. thank you for this opportunity to talk with you. i look forward to your questions. [ applause ] >> thank you, mr. secretary. even before the lunch, there's a lot of interest. there are cards coming up and stuff coming on twitter. we try to be in the 21st century with our questions. just to tack on to the end of your speech.
you engaged in a lot of wonderful sort of rhetoric of where we should be in the civic space in terms of education and talking about current issues. it's one thing to talk about it and another thing to implement it. how do you implement it? >> three thoughts on that. one is later this week, we'll put out guidance on title 4, which is a funding stream as part of the every student succeeds act that states and districts could use in support of civics education, social studies to provide communities of practice around issues of civic education. two is schools and districts need to make the decision that this is a priority. and one of our challenges during the no child left behind era was that in some schools and districts, the focus on english and math was so narrow that it crowded out social studies, science, computer science. and we've got an opportunity
with every student succeeds act for students and districts to rethink that and think about what is an excellent education and to ensure that includes social studies and civic education. and the third piece is to lift up teacher leaders like johanna. all over the country, there are great -- there are great -- it's well deserved. there are great social studies educators or great civic educators. sometimes they aren't even teachers. sometimes it's a science teacher who cares about issues of environmental protection. sometimes it's math teacher who is deeply concerned about economic opportunity in the community. but there are educators in every school and district who could be empowered to lead within their school communities around civic education. >> a couple of follow-ups to this. here's one. and i think this goes to current events. tonight, of course, is the final presidential debate.
there are a couple of questions on that front. do you think there's been an increase in bullying in schools due to the tone of the race? >> you want to ask them together or -- >> let me just throw one other in here. no, go ahead. that suffices. >> look, i can't comment specifically on the 2016 election, but what i can say is i worry intensely about ensuring every school is a safe environment for every child. the first thing i did at the beginning of january and the last thing arne did on his last day as secretary at the end of december was to sign a joint letter to school districts and school communities about the
importance of creating environments of religious tolerance because there's no question we've seen over the last few years an increase in anti-muslim bullying in schools. we also worry intensely about the issue of bullying of students who are immigrant students. and i think we have a challenge to make sure school is a safe place for all kids. i think it is possible to have constructive conversations about issues of civic engagement and about political debates and at the same time have as a nonnegotiable principle that school has to be a safe environment. >> i know you can't comment on the race in depth but have the debates and the race said anything about our civics education since you dove so deeply into it? has it opened up a scar and just what's lacking? >> i think there's a danger always in this conversation about civic education to focus
just on immediate events. i would say if you look broadly at where we are as a society, we've got a lot of work to do to make sure our young people are prepared to engage as citizens. part of why i raised the issue around the relationship between police and communities of color is that we've got to make sure that young people who are rightly very concerned about what they see and scared and parents who are scared understand how we use the levers of government to try to tackle those challenges. that we can talk to the mayor and the city council about the kinds of training that are provided to police officers. that that's something we can impact if we engage at the local level. so, you know, i don't know if -- there may be reasons in the current discourse. there's more attention on this issue, but i think it's deeper than that. we've got to ask ourselves as a society, how do we do better preparing all of our citizens for citizenship. the president was at a local high school and touted the high graduation rates in high school and test scores. but one thing that this questioner asked, it comes against -- excuse me.
higher graduation rates but in some cases, lower test scores. the questioner asked whether or not students should be more college ready when they graduated from high school? you said at the beginning of the administration you believe high school and college career ready standards must be a reality of students for all students. how do you bridge that gap between these record high school graduation rates and in some schools record low test scores in critical areas like math and science and so forth. >> we worry a lot about that. if you go to any community college around the country, you'll find 50%, 60%, 70%, 80% of students who are entering required to take remedial courses. essentially high school classes while in college for which they and their families are paying college prices. and so we've got to figure out how we ensure that graduating from high school really means
ready for what's next. ready for college and careers. it is encouraging that 40-plus states have been deeply engaged in the work of raising their standards. the every student succeeds act requires every state commit to college and career ready graduation standards such as their students will graduate from high school ready for credit-bearing course work or good jobs. so i think we've made progress over the last eight years in bringing attention to this work. and there's professional development that's happening for educators. there's work that folks are doing on teacher preparation and teacher support. but there's clearly more to do. and one of the things we've been careful to say is, y we're very proud the graduation rates have gone up significantly and very proud they've gone up significantly for
african-american students, latino students, low-income students. students that had large high school graduation gaps. but we've got to stay focused. at the state level, district level in ensuring all students graduate ready. the every student succeeds act creates plans that will achieve that. and one of the things we've tried to make clear is that states have a responsibility to make sure those plans ensure opportunity for students in every community. can't just be in some places kids get access to college ready course work and others they don't. can't be that in some places kids get advanced placement or individual baccalaureate. some places kids can take as we see chemistry and physics and algebra 2 and other places they
can't. states have a responsibility to ensure all students have access and the implementation of every student succeeds act, one measure of its success will be, are we able to close those equity gaps? states seem to be vigilant about that and the department needs to be vigilant about that. >> this raises the very act you cite. recently in fact, over the summer, you've had breakfasts with various colleagues, including some members of the club here. you were talking about new regulations you'll be promulgating. this is met with stiff resistance. you want to bridge this funding gap, level the playing field and there are members of congress who are saying you're breaking the spirit if not the outright intent of the brand-new law just signed in december when you are trying to implement these regulations, trying to level the playing field. how do you answer those charges? >> so as a high school social studies teacher, let me give the history and historical context on this question. so when the original elementary and secondary education act was passed, it was passed as a civil rights law intended to address gaps in opportunity. one of the things the naacp and ldf found was that districts were actually taking the money that was provided for esca and
intended to benefit the highest students and using that's to backfill local and state obligations so students in high-need schools were still getting significantly less. they were not getting the money intended to support them through the original esca. and at that time, language was added to the law around supplement not supplant. this is a 50-year struggle to ensure the federal dollars are, in fact, sup elemental. not used in a way that supplants local and state obligations.
what we see is still today, 50 years later, there are communities where you can go, same school district, ten blocks. a school that serves affluent kids spending 25%, 30% more than a school ten blocks away serving high need students. that's clearly a violation of the very words of the law. supplement, not supplant. it's a part of the every student succeeds act. there were some changes to the language around supplement not supplant that require us to regulate and make clear how we're going to finally deliver on the words of the law. supplement not supplant. and our regulations that are now out for comment are designed to do exactly that. to ensure that the federal dollars are genuinely supplemental and ensure the resources that are intended back in 1965 to get to the highest needs students actually get there. there are folks calling for ignoring the supplement not supplant provision. they are saying, no, no, don't try to ensure that the law is followed. now on the other hand you have senator murray and congressman scott who have been clear that supplement not supplant is in the law and that they see our regulations as implementing the very words of the law. and so we're taking public comment.
we will respond to that public comment in a final rule, but we're clear that the purpose of this law is to get resources to the highest needs students. >> you aren't overregulating? you're upholding the law. >> exactly right. >> let's see. speaking of inequality, how should educators address the tack -- tackle the issue of growing economic inequality in the united states and what's the role of financial literacy? >> one of the most encouraging things about the improvement in graduation rates is we know students who graduate with a high school diploma are much better positioned for the economy. but the reality is that the fastest growing areas of our economy require post-secondary education. one thing the education sector can do to address income inequality is to ensure more students are prepared for college or careers that provide family sustaining wages and ensure that students don't just get to college but through college. that's k-12 and in higher education in terms of the support students need to actually finish while they're there.
from the beginning, when the president was working on the stimulus and responding to the economic crisis that he found when he arrived at president, from the beginning, the president was clear we need to take emergency steps to get the economy become on track but also need to make smart, long-term investments in our future and that education was central to that. that's the reason behind race to the top, behind the large investment we made in the school improvement grants and improvements in our struggling high schools in particular and struggling schools generally. so we believe that improving the quality of education is inextricably linked to improving our economy and ensuring opportunity for all people. the other thing i'd add is the president's proposed something call preschool for all. we'd ensure that all 4-year-olds would have access to pre-k from low-income and moderate income families. we've got to acknowledge that given the brain science, a lot of learning takes place in 0 to 4 and our failure to invest in universal access to pre-k, ultimately for 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds, that's a failure to invest in our long-term success.
so we've got to sudden the work to strengthen k-12 and higher education. it's also time for an investment -- a big investment in early learning because we know it will have a long and large long-term return. >> that raises an interesting follow-up. you want universal preschool. in fact, i believe you were at a forum earlier this week where you talked to melissa harris perry about this. but if you want more funding for schooling, how does that work when trying to put forward these new regulations which are upsetting congress who is holding the purse strings? it's going to blow back at you. how do you deal with that? >> ultimately these things are interrelated in that at the end of the day, we've got to realize as a society, this is true for all of our elected officials, that we have a stake in the civic other people's children. that we have a stake in the success of the kid in the neighborhood down the road in the city down the road in the rural community down the road living on a native american reservation in the next state over. so when we say we want to
continue to direct resources that should be going to high need kids and affluent kids, we're undermining our long-term future as a country. we say we can't afford to invest in early learning, we're making a very shortsided decision because the research evidence shows that early learning has an 8-1, 9-1 return on investment if it's high quality. if we invest in high quality early learning we'll save money later on prisons, on the cost of social services that result from students not having the skills and opportunities they deserve. >> you mentioned prisons. you rolled out a new program in trying to partner with a lot of
universities, with those who are incarcerated. for a long time, people could get geds, high school degrees, other degrees while incarcerated. what's significantly different and new about this program versus what's been available within correction at institutions for decades? >> the history on this is that in the mid-90s, congress made a terrible mistake. they banned access to pell grants for folks who are incarcerated. prior to that if you're incarcerated you were able to use pell grants if eligible to support higher education. when congress banned pell grant access for folks who are incarcerated, many prison education programs are providing higher education opportunities shut down around the country. what we've done is through the president's experimental
authority, the experimental authority under the higher education act we launched a pilot. they are providing what will be 12,000 students with the opportunity to pursue a higher education while incarcerated. we know from the research evidence that those who get an education while incarcerated are less likely to return to prison. a study that showed a 43% reduction in recidivism for participation in any educational program. so this is another place where it's a smart investment because we reap the returns in folks not going back to prison, folks leaving aside crime and focusing on supporting themselves and their families. and i've had the opportunity to visit some of these prison education programs and what you see is the folks will tell you, part of how they ended up there is either the educational opportunities they didn't have, the first chance they didn't have, or the educational opportunities they didn't take advantage of. but they recognize that through higher education, through acquiring skills, they can change their lives. and this is a place where as a country, we want to undo the
damage of mass incarceration. one place to start is ensuring access to educational opportunity. >> this goes back to funding. so how do you navigate that congressional land mine field when deal with the regulations piece, preschool piece. how your going to fund this ideal program? >> on second chance pell we know from the history of when pell access was available to folks incarcerated, it's actually very, very small. i think it's about 1% of -- or maybe less than 1% of pell spending. we currently have a pell surplus. the president proposed in the 2017 budget, which is a budget that respects the constraints we need to given our broader fiscal challenges as a country. in his 2017 budget he's restored
pell grants for those incarcerated and within the pell budget. this is a place again where we risk as a society being penny wise and pound foolish. we spend much more over the long run if a person leaves prison, commits further crimes and returns to prison. >> different subject. common core. since you have addressed standards. the question, you and the president have praised schools for achieving common core standards but school districts and politicians on both sides of the aisle have called it a punishment-driven shotgun approach to achieving high education standards. they want better testing stomach system -- systems, curriculum support. some parochial schools say common core standards are incompatible with a catholic education and called it a federal overreach which is not education but rather the training and production of workers for an economic machine. and the standards treat student as nothing more than human capital. do your critics have a point?
>> lead me start with the historical context on this. so the role of the federal government is not to tell states what their standards are. what we've said and what essa actually requires is that states have college and career ready standards but they determine the content of those standards. some states have chosen the common core. those states did so after the common core developed by educators and governors and state chiefs working together to develop those standards. those were state developed, state chosen. and so sometimes folks get the history wrong on this. our position has always been college and career ready standards. it's up to states. what the content is of those standards. that said, adopting college and career ready standards is just the first step. states then have to follow with professional development
support, with training for teachers and principals. and we're seeing many states engaged in that work. many states have used federal resources whether it's race to the top or dollars to support strengthening teacher preparation and professional development so that they can successfully teach their students to college and career-ready standards. we've got a ways -- how to get there is ensuring the standards that students are appointed towards from k to 12 is college and career readiness. >> that helps close the 18% gap of students that are still not getting out with the proper skill-sets and so forth?
>> that will help, but it's not -- there's no silver bullets in education. so standards have to happen alongside other steps that we need to take. mentioned early learning. we know that schools that pay attention to chronic absenteeism and the kids who, because they're chronically absent, we can see that something else is going on. and ensure they get counseling or mental health services or help for their families. they've been able to improve their graduation rates. we know that schools that are diverse and that are intentionally diverse that bring together students across lines of class and race perform better. we have decades of research evidence that's suggests low-income students who have the opportunity to go to schools with affluent students will not only do better academically but they and their peers are better prepared for the diverse world we'll inhabit. we just had a two-day convening at the department.
anyone who says just change this one thing and everything will be perfect, that's clearly not right. we've got to do multiple things to close that graduation rate gap and to ensure that when kids graduate they graduate ready for what's next. >> charter schools. you have said what i worry most about is we have some states that have done a really great job with charter authorizing and so have generally high quality charters and have been willing to close ones underperforming. on the other hand you have that have not done as good a job, like michigan. what's your view on where charters should be by the time you leave office and how do you plan to get there? someone who cites your own education in new york for saving your life and trajectory.