tv Melissa Harris- Perry MSNBC March 3, 2012 7:00am-9:00am PST
on motherhood. it's not all mums and roses. plus, did you know we're losing in afghanistan on women's equality? and oh, yeah there is one radio talk show host who is not making an apeernpearance on today's sh. good morning. i'm melissa harris-perry. before we get to all of that, i want to bring you up to speed on a developing story overnight. as of this morning, reports of tornadoes in ten states and upwards of 90 touchdowns, at least 32 people are dead, 14 in kentucky and indiana each, three more in ohio and one in alabama. small towns in southern indiana like henryville are facing utter devastation with homes leveled and entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble. we'll keep you updated on this, this morning as developments come in. but right now i want to turn to one state in particular. this week started with sad news of a different kind from ohio.
three were murdered and two injured in a tragic act of violence at chardon high school. and americans turned our eyes to ohio in sadness and mourning. but politicians have had their eye on ohio for much longer. ohio is the pairn yell bellwether, a state rich in kront ra indications. they have labor yunz and rural farmers, ohio is football. highway ho is rock 'n' roll. a decade in decline in manufacturing has hallowed ohio's cities, the poverty in the prairie is striking. ohio is free soil where the und underground railroad ended, it is also the home of old ethnic neighborhoods still defined by the parishes of the church. and ohio is swing voters, lots of them. and that means ohio is a bad place to pander and pivot because once the primaries are over, you still have to come back to ohio.
you can't pivot too sharply. this tuesday mitt romney has to win. if he is going to retain the last shred of inevitability he has lests. for romney, ohio is the superest of all super tuesday states. and ohio is pretty much up for grabs with only four points separating romney and rick santorum in the quinnipiac poll released on friday. so if you were a candidate like romney, what do you do with a problem like ohio? do you talk about the economy and try to argue that the recovery isn't really much of a recovery, that, yeah, things are better but not as good as they should be? or maybe you try to revive a culture war, one that just might have worked eight years ago. remember in 2004 had when ballot initiatives to boon same-sex marriage in states including ohio were supposed to drive up conservative turnout. the former manager of george w. bush's former election campaign is now reflecting on the wedge issue. and this is what he told salon.com on friday. quote, at a personal level, i
wish i had spoken out against the effort. as i have been involved in the fight for marriage equality, one of the things i've learned is how many people were harmed by the campaigns in which i was involved. i apologize to them and tell them i am sorry. sorry? a study by the pew research center reveals there's only one state where this wedge issue just might have made a difference -- ohio. joining us now are reverend al sharpton, founder and president of the national action network and host of "politics nation" here on msnbc and ken blackwell, senior fellow for family empowerment and family research council and former secretary of state for the state of ohio. thank you both for being here. i'm so excited to talk to you. mr. blackwell, i really want to start with you because 2004, eight years ago now, the reelection of george w. bush, ohio became the centerpiece of attention. not just ohio but specifically questions about whether or not voter suppression occurred in ohio, and you were secretary of
state and had co-chair of the george w. bush reelection campaign at that time. >> absolutely. >> so i want to start with giving you an opportunity to address that. because there's no way ken blackwell can be on my set and we not talk about 2004. >> absolutely. all you do is look at the numbers. there was a tremendous turnout across groups in the 2004 election, and i think that as a consequence the answer to that question is no, there was no voter suppression. the turnout is the answer. it was tremendous. we, in fact, did a very interesting thing. in ohio, in order to have your vote counted you have to vote in the right precinct. >> right. >> we spent $1 million calling in to urban precincts to make sure people understood how to vote if the right precinct. as a consequence, minority vote percentages went up to a record number until it was beaten four years ago. >> well, that said, though,
directive 2004-33, the directive in which you issued as secretary of state which was about issues, for example, like whether or not someone who accidentally shows up in the wrong polling place would be given a provisional ballot, and the directive said, no, if you just accidentally show up in the wrong polling place you won't be given a provisional ballot. there was the discussion of the weight of paper, which ultimately was rescinded by you, mr. blackwell. but certainly there was high turnout. that high turnout seemed to be at least as much about angst related to president george w. bush and excitement due to the marriage equality ban, right? so there were lots of those sorts of things. but it does feel like, reverend sharpton, there were lots of civil rights leaders who at the time felt like there was not just a question of turnout but also every vote counts but also that we must count every vote. >> there was certainly a lot of controversy at that time. i ran in the primaries. i was still involved in the general. and i think it was the paper weight issue that a lot of us
had real concern with, which as you said later secretary of state blackwell rescinded and the whole question of the provisional ballots and others. there were clearly a lot of questions raised during that time. but i must say that they don't even smack of what i am concerned about today. >> that's right. >> as you know, i'm on my way to selma. >> that's right. >> even as much as mr. blackwell and i and others argued, debated then -- >> and we were always respectful. just disagreed in policy. they didn't come with the kinds of things that i think is coming. >> this is a point that i think we have to drive home. the paper weight issue, for example, when i took over there was an administrative rule that voter registrations had to be on a certain paper weight form. >> i know. i know that was rescinded. >> no, no, no, no, no. >> i don't want to cut you off, but -- >> it wasn't because it was
rescinded. "wa i want to tell people so they understand. the reason there was a specific paper weight is because the federal post office that came to us in the '90s and said, look, too light of paper is getting caught up in the shredders. therefore, we think you need a paper weight that will not be destroyed in the shredders. >> right. >> that's why it existed. in 2004, the ballots -- the registrations were coming over the counter, it was no longer any need for paper weightful we did away with it. >> so i wanted to have an opportunity to talk about '04, not because i need you to defend but mostly because i just want to enter for a moment before we go to break and we'll come back and continue, talk about where ohio is now. we're not talking about a general, a primary, particularly republican primary. what are republican primary candidates at this moment needing to say to this very diverse population of ohio voters? can they talk ethical family values stuff or does this need to be an economics conversation?
>> let me say this, certainly ken blackwell knows the republican voter better than i do. but i think, given the economy and the economic conditions are in ohio across the board, they ought to be talking about jobs, the economy, they ought to be talking about how they deal with the issue ohio is dealing with, collective bargaining. all of those issues. i think that there is the temptation to deal with social issues because they kind of get people emotional, they drive the base on both sides. but i think at the end of the day people are going to be more concerned about their pocketbook. that may not kick in until the general election. i don't know where they'll go between now and tuesday, but i know every day people have to eat, people have to pay rent. and if we just reduce this to social issues, i think we're getting an emotional charge but really won't change what's going on. >> reverend, mr. blackwell, stay with me. we'll stay on the question of ohio and talk specifically on
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one word will determine who wins the white house this november -- recovery. now, all trends point to an economic recovery under way in america, but to each voter the meaning of that word is personal, which brings me to youngstown, ohio, a once booming steel town in this ultimate battleground state. in the earl 1980s after the steel industry collapsed youngstown had the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 21%. but more recently unemployment at youngstown during the recession peaked at 13% in july of 2009, that figure now down to 8.8%, still higher than both the state and national average but falling at a rate faster than the national average, nearly 2% year to year.
so what does recovery feel like there? for that, i want to goo to clim gus, ohio, and bring in congressman tim ryan representing ohio's 17th district including youngstown and also let me bring in political analyst bill snyder, distinguished fellow at third way, still with me are the reverend al sharpton and former secretary of state from ohio ken blackwell. thank you for being here. i want to start with you, congressman ryan. i understand your district was not personally affected by the tornado but undoubtedly all our thoughts are with those in ohio and all of those impacted by the storms. >> absolutely. >> i want to ask you about youngstown in particular, and do you think it's an overstatement to say that the city is in a moment of recovery? are we really in a different place in youngstown than we were 10, 15, even 20 years ago? >> yeah. there's some very exciting times in youngstown, not that we don't have our share of problems. but if you looked just 10 years
ago at some of the real chronic problems we had in youngstown compared to today where you have magazines like "entrepreneur" magazine saying youngstown is one of the top ten best cities to start a business in, you have international press saying, you know, what a great place youngstown is. we've had investments in steel, auto. we have a tech company that actually insourced jobs, a san francisco technology company, insourced jobs from indiana to youngstown, ohio, because of its low cost of doing business and the way the community is operating. so we have a total renaissance going on in youngstown. but, at the same time, we have high levels of poverty, chronic poverty, concentrated poverty, that we need to address as we begin to move out of the recession, the great recession, and into the next recovery. we've got to make sure everybody is on board in towns like youngstown. >> mr. blackwell, let me turn to you on this sort of story of recovery coming out of youngstown. we have reverend sharpton saying before the break how critical
talking about economic issues and jobs is going to be in ohio and obviously we've just come out of michigan where the president was there almost as much as the gop candidates, kind of touting his recovery in michigan. what is the ohio story for gop candidates in the next three days, and then whomever becomes the nominee as they face the president when youngstown is the kind of story the president can tell? >> i think the issue is economic growth and job creation. i think that is first and foremost in the thinking of anybody running for president or who happens to be in public office in ohio. the yungsz town recovery mirrors the sort of restructuring that we experienced in akron. it also has put pressure that the state to look at more regional strategies like they have in the southwestern part of the state. you know, but, look, at the end of the day your question in the last segment, you know, what do these candidates talk about, i think they talk about the full package.
you know, voters are not just single issue voters. >> sure. >> they want to know, one, how you address the issues affecting families, how you address the issues affecting religious liberty, and i think they want to know what you're going to contribute to the economic recovery. >> people's whole lives are at stake when they show up at the polling places, not just one subject. i felt like you, bill, were hoping to jump in here on the question of the importance of ohio how it's important on tuesday and going forward. >> republicans have never won the white house without carrying ohio. it's as simple as that. it's a key state. it is the key swing state, florida and ohio, the two of them the biggest swing states. republicans have to hold on to it and the signs of recovery in ohio are very good for president obama. he's delivering on some of his promises. you know, mitt romney who still is likely to be the republican nominee, the whole premise of his campaign is that he's a turnaround artist. >> right. >> he claims that he turned around failing companies, that
he turned around the winter olympics in 2002. >> yeah. >> well, if the economy in places like ohio is turning. >> larry: -- >> turning already around already, what dhoe need romney for? >> how will the gop candidates counter that in places like yungz toub town? >> you can't counter it because it's the truth and you have people going back to work. the unemployment rate is going down in ohio, down in youngstown. the auto industry, for example, in my district we make the chevy cruz at the lordz town plant. that money is rippling throughout the entire state's economy. one of every ten jobs in ohio is tied to the car auto industry and president obama cherred the auto industry while mitt romney not only in michigan says he was against the auto rescue package but he's saying it now in ohio. we have a lot of people who just
beat back the collective bargaining issue that was on the ballot last year, police, fire, teachers, nurses, they're all feeling the effects of democrats coming together. you can't deny what president obama has done. he stopped us from going into a recession, saved the auto industry, put tariffs on chinese products, investing in education, lowering interest rates for people who have to take out student loans, investing in community colleges. i mean, what more do you want this moan to do? he's ended the war in iraq, he's ending the war in afghanistan. i mean, when all is said and done here, he's done a heck of a great job for us in ohio and we've got a lot more work to do. we don't want to turn the clock back with mitt romney. >> so, reverend al, i want to bring you in on this. obviously in 2010 ohio voters seemed to have felt differently. the midterms went sweepingly overwhelmingly to the gop despite the fact some much these
things touted by the congressman were under way. has the president reclaimed ohio, do you think? >> i think 2010 we were at a different mrailplace, but i als think that ohio, indiana, wisconsin, other places the republicans overjumped the runway because right after 2010 senate bill 5 which the congressman referred to and i went in and campaigned with that so i know what the unions did, i know reverend cav anus out in the state and others involved. you have to look at the initiatives that turned a lot of what happened in ohio around, which shows fertile ground for the president because there was an answer with some of these initiatives at the ballot in 2011 to what some of the government didn't do in 2010. i must also say that when bill said that mr. romney was running as a turnaround candidate, i think he is. he's turned around on every issue he's taken. >> right. this is a different kind of
turnaround. >> he has turned around on every issue. he's unquestionably the turnaround candidate of all time. >> mr. blackwell, you were mayor of cincinnati -- >> ken won't let me away with that. >> right. i don't mind if he flips as long as he flops to the right position or left position maybe. when you look at this, what do you think the things republicans will be doing differently in the cities of ohio? >> well, look, the president doesn't get all the credit for the turnaround in ohio. we have a governor. governor kasich, in fact, his numbers are up, bill, tremendously over the last 90 days. people are starting to sense that what they are doing in ohio in terms of limiting the reach of government in our lives, driving down tax rates so we are competitive, attracting capital back to ohio, i mean, those things, in combination with the
efforts on the national level, are in fact helping ohio turn around. here's the choice. >> you've got to -- >> no. here's the choice. >> they're screaming in my ear, mr. blackwell. >> recovery at 10 miles an hour with the president or recovery at 35 miles an hour with mitt romney. >> oh, it's an auto industry metaphor. i love it. >> romney said let detroit go bankrupt. you'd be going no miles an hour. >> thank you, tim ryan, for joining me today. >> thank you. coming up, president lyndon b. johnson gives us our marching orders. we are going to talk about marching orders even more with reverend al and congressional leaders in the march against voter suppression beginning tomorrow afternoon in selma, alabama, throughout the week until it reaches montgomery, alabama. we'll be right back. we have not had the last word yet, still things to be said.
as my colleague reverend al sharpton says, amazingly we're under 00 tack again. tomorrow reverend al and the lawmakers will begin a new march from selma to montgomery, alabama, 47 years after the landmark civil rights demonstration. the march focuses on the attacks of equality of today. reminding us of the events on a bridge in selma, alabama, on a day in 1965 that history recorded as bloody sunday. from the vault today, a clip the nerd land dug up from the american promise, president lyndon johnson's address to congress following the horrible brutality civil rights leaders faced at the ands of law enforcement in selma. >> their long-suffering men and women peacefully protesting
their rights. many were brutally assaulted. one good man, a man of god, was killed. there is no cause for pride in what has happened in selma. there is no cause for self-satisfaction in the long denial of equal rights of millions of americans. >> as the struggle for equal rights continues today, i want to highlight an op-ed from this week in the "new york times." richard colinburg of the century foundation and labor lawyer marsha marvet write that to martin luther king no two causes were more closely aligned than the civil rights and union membership. they argue the union membership has fallen to a dangerously low 7% because the laws protecting
organizers from retaliation are too weak. if we're to move forward on dr. king's vision, we need to offer protection to labor organizers as we do an the basis of sex gender and religion. the place to start is writing this protection into the civil rights act itself. up next, why we can't always get out the vote or even vote.
take a look at this photo. if this moment could be reenactsed, who would president obama be? first guess that many people make? martin luther king. but in this picture president obama is actually president johnson. now, it's not that it's wrong to think that king still has a place beside president obama. all presidents need kings in the plural. they need active social movements to hold them accountable and to give our
leaders the leverage they actually need to make bold change. the vote is just a blunt instrument. protests can produce more defined outcomes. protest has to be initiated by the electorate. without it, there is no basis for change. with me now to discuss voice and vote is reverend al shoorpton and bill snyder, senior fellow at third way and i'm so excited rebecca walker author of "black cool." thank you all for being with me at the table. reverend sharpton, i want to start with you. you've been on all sides of the protest question. you are iconic in the question of protest. you of course ran for president of the united states. how do we at this moment strike the right balance that with a friend in the white house, part of what i said about lbj, a friend to civil rights, a friend in the white house to issues we're concerned with but with the continuation of importance of social movements on the ground. >> well, a couple of things. one, i think having a friend does not mean that you can
assume the friend is supposed to lead the movement to themselves. i think that president obama must operate in the given social climate that he is president. and one of the reasons we're dog this march is not to commemorate -- this is not a commemoration march. we have new vote challenges, voter i.d. laws, same-day registration, they are actively suppressing the vote now. so we're doing it on the anniversary but we're dealing with issues now. out of that climate setting, then it gives the climate for president obama to do what a johnson did. the story that i was told -- i was too young to know dr. king well, but i knew mrs. king well -- was when president johnson brought dr. king to the white house in '64, nobel prize winner saluting him, dr. king said, this is all well and good, wu but we need to right the vote. president johnson said, i just
got the civil rights bill through of '64. he said, i don't know if i can do it. dr. king sid, i know how to do it. that's when they went south and started climbing and created the climate. i'm so happy, melissa, you made it clear it is wrong to assume the mantle of dr. king went to president obama. the mantle of kennedy and johnson went to obama. he's a president, not a civil rights leader. there are others that must pull the mantle of dr. king and bring the pressure to the white house, but he did not become the answer to dr. king. he became the extension of a president. >> actually, rebecca, i want to pull you into the conversation because when i say kings in the plural, i like to say dr. king isn't sitting there with the president because he is the smartest, biggest voice. he needs ella baker, right? king needs ella baker, mayor rusten, fanny lou haimer, right? >> absolutely. >> you've been fundamental in these questions of how we make a kings movement, not just a king movement. talk to me about that. >> well, just to start, i wouldn't be here if it wasn't
for the voter registration movements in the '60s. my parents met in the movement. my father was desegregating public schools, my mother doing door to door registration. my first work with third wave foundation is going to inner cities and registering people who felt disenfranchised. so we reached out to environments where people were not encouraged to vote, to unemployment offices, to the housing projects. we had police following us when we were trying to register folks in housing projects. so i'm a real product of these movements, and i feel very strongly at this moment as my parents did that not only do we need to change things like voter registration laws, we need to have the day off so people can register, we can vote for people on "american idol" via phone, we should be able to vote for president, make it easier. one of the things that it dr. king did so well is he made this a moral imperative. this is the question of who we want to be as a country, you
know. this is about evolving as human beings. wh what do we want? do we want democracy, people to participate? people have to feel that in the fiber of their being. >> there may be an answer to that question. do we want people to participate, bill? i just wanted to show here our map about the strictest voter i.d. laws in eight states, alabama, kansas, mississippi, rhode island, south carolina, tennessee, texas, wisconsin, some of these preclarence states, others not preclearance states. but all of them saying, maybe we actually don't want people to participate. we would like to limit the number of people who can participate to just folks who have photo i.d.s, which we know will impact at least 21 million people who don't have i.d.s. >> that's right. this all strikes me as a solution for which there is no known problem. >> right. voter fraud, right? >> voter fraud, are we hearing sensational incidence of voter fraud? in a couple of places maybe. it isn't a widespread issue.
i think something else is going on here and it looks more like voter suppression than voter fraud. now, you mentioned the importance of protest movements. i call it the rule of the jewish dinner table. if you don't speak up, you ain't going to get. you know what? i grew up in the segregated south. >> right. >> i grew up in the segregated south. and southern whites, millions and millions of them, allowed themselves to believe that the system worked because they didn't hear any complaints. the complaints weren't vocalized. when rosa parks gave up her seat on that bus in montgomery, alabama, in 1955 there was a sudden change of consciousness. millions of americans are saying, maybe it isn't working. maybe million are humiliated every day. >> rosa parks and selma, we saw those images in the last segment of lbj talking about selma and showing the images. just looking at the front page of the "new york times" today, it is obama backs student in
birth control fewer uror that t notion that we are now seeing and what felt like to me, this young woman, a law student from georgetown, it's not even so much her testimony but the attacks on her testimony. it's not even the march but it's the attack on the march ors that pique the consciousness, the sense there's humiliation, literally blood on bloody sunday and this case we have a young woman being attacked and sort of the willingness or the ability of protest for us to see how ugly the repression is. >> well, i think the job of activists is to really bring out into the public eye, as bill has said, exactly what is going on. otherwise, you never are going to deal with a problem unless it's exposed. even in the north, when we marched in howard beach or whatever, people never thought there was racism in the north. i knew if we went and marched in these neighborhoods and they threw bananas and watermelons at us, people wouldn't like me for
doing this, but they would say, what, in the north? that is a job of the activist, you take the wrath in order to expose the poison. >> up next, we'll talk more about the role of activism in the role of democracy and why we need to get a little more louder. more protest politics after the break. i love that my daughter's part fish. but when she got asthma, all i could do was worry ! specialists, lots of doctors, lots of advice... and my hands were full. i couldn't sort through it all. with unitedhealthcare, it's different. we have access to great specialists, and our pediatrician gets all the information. everyone works as a team. and i only need to talk to one person about her care. we're more than 78,000 people looking out for 70 million americans. that's health in numbers. unitedhealthcare. dave, i've downloaded a virus. yeah. ♪
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family research council and former secretary of state of ohio. thank you for continuing this conversation. this is in fact not just an issue of african-american politics but everyone's voices. one thing that impressed me about how the tea party was functioning is it was doing both protest and politics, taking to the streets and running tand in candidates. is there something we can learn about them running together for the other movements? >> if you want your agenda passed, you have to get it through the political system. i don't think the occupy movement has done that. they're aloof from politics. they think it's dirty. one of the consequences is they haven't been very effective politically. >> they may not be wrong, but you have to get in the mud and do the work. >> and you also need a mul multipronged approach to change. there has to be people on the ground, folks in corporations, folks in politics. we need people everywhere, you know, framing the debate in different ways and transforming people's thoughts in all of these different locations in order to move forward.
it's not just going to be one group that changes the mass. >> engagement is the watchword. i think al and i have operated in four arenas, first direct action in the streets, the legislative bodies of our congress, state legislatures, and city councils. then you have the courts, which are very important. and then i think fourth is engagement with people on a one-on-one basis, changing the hearts and minds of people through dialogue. >> you know, so interesting that you say reverend sharpton and i both have been using all of these tools. often you're on different sides but strategically these things should be open in democracy. i worry if one of them gets shut down, we can be enthusiastic about the protest, but dr. king said, we're going to need the vote. when we look at the current situation relative to the vote, the current voter i.d. laws and voter fraud sort of false voter
fraud kbes, th questions, this you brought up and this is what your march is about over the next couple of days. >> i think rebecca made the right point. people that are in whatever area ken talked about must be mature and sober enough to understand you need these other aspects even if it may be your day out front. >> right. >> we must remember that you had dr. king in the south but you had adam clayton powell in congress and thur good marshall in there. and had you not had the symphony, we never would have achieved it. adam powell had to legislate it, marshall had to deal with it in the courts. i think with what we have to do is deal with that combination now. the other tension that you touched on that's real tension that i know rebecca knows about is, as you expand and deal with other parts of the protest movement, there are tensions inside. when i went to arizona and marched about immigration rights and immigration is part of our
march this weekend, i had blacks saying, what are you out there marching for latinos there? when i stood up for gays and lesbi lesbians, i had preachers saying, i don't want you in my church. we have to deal with the fact that none of this is easy and none -- it's what dr. king calls creative tension. >> it's not narrow, not just one version of blackness. >> the critical component here is raising people's consciousness about a problem. that can happen overnight. when rosa parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, suddenly people's consciousnesses changed about the jim crow laws. when anita hill testified about sexual harassment, i covered that story. the day before she testified men thought sexual harassment was a joke, they enjoyed it. >> they thought it was normal. >> the day after it became a crime. people's consciousness changed. when matthew shepaherd was brutally murdered, i saw a change of consciousness this this country. aloft people used to say that gay rights was a solution that didn't have a problem.
suddenly they realized there really is a problem out there and that gaze face brutality and discrimination all the time. >> and in that sense, maybe occupy is a little more successful than you initially gave them credit for in that occupy changed the conversation to a deficit-hot conversation to equality conversation nearly overnight. >> brilliant slogan which is lasting. 99%. >> that's right. we are the 99%. and we are going to take a break at this moment. thank you to the reverend al sharpton. you have a million things to do today. you can catch reverend all again tomorrow morning on "up." you can catch his show weekdays 6:00 p.m. here on msnbc. and coming up, three cheers for personhood? can't believe i just said that. stay tuned for more.
our best to see the brighter side of things. that's why i'm here to tell you there's a silver lining in personhood. what, you didn't think i'd say that? hear me out. we all know republican lawmakers are trying to pass bills in various states that would assign human rights to a zie goat, fertilized egg at the moment of conception. sure there are a ton of negative effects on women's reproductive health that could result. think of the possibilities, rick santorum won't have to worry about prenatal testing anymore. remember it this? >> the bottom line is prenatal tests are done to test. >> personhood solves that, if not prenatal testing it's a first checkup well child visits in utero. and think of the benefits for immigration. no more so-called anchor babies.
that's right, come over the border and have a romp and go home. automatic citizenship through coffin sepgs. and everybody likes money, right? with personhood there's no more contraception. ladies, you'll save $30 every month on birth control, cha-ching! don't fret about the child care costs. but wait, there's more. we don't have to talk about reproductive rights. who wants to waste preshcious te talking about things like that? there are still options for safe yet satisfying sex that is 100% certain not to lead to the creation of persons. for example, same-sex sex. so, you see, when you look at the brighter side you can see the silver lining in anything, even personhood. coming up, what we're teaching our kids at school. and, no, this next conversation will not be about sex ed. but you still need to watch it because we're going to talk about how teaching our kids is sometimes failing. that's next.
it. arne duncan is at it again. don't get me wrong, i know he means well. he's talking about save willing kids. but from where i sit, the plan he has simply won't get it done. take a look at what the secretaries of education said yesterday at washington at a roundtable led by nbc's own andrea mitchell. >> the vast majority of children in these three school districts are poor. the vast majority come from the minority community, black, latino. these are the kmuntds where we have high high school dropout rates. these communities are destined to remain poor. their families, the entire communities the only way to end the cycles of poverty is get dropout rates to zero. they have to graduate in some form of higher education. >> it sounds right, but i just can't believe the only way to end cycles of poverty is to get dropout rates to zero.
yes, dropout rates have got to go down, but quick-fix band-aid reforms are not the answer. remember the dry triumph of no d left behind? me either. people are opting out of that by the minute it seems. 26 nor states and washington, d.c. applied for waivers, on top of the 11 other states already excused. why? because they need relief from the strict benchmarks the law required like having 100% of their students proficient in reading and math by 2014. a standard that 82% of tool xools will fail to meet according to arne duncan. then there's the obama administration's race to the top. it sounds great, like a game show almost. but what is it supposed to do? it's supposed to encourage and reward states that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform. but what happens if they don't? here's what i take away from all of these reforms, these prove it to me, then you'll get the money ideas. often they don't help struggling
schools now. and the truth is it not all public schools are failing and not all charter schools are succeeding. in fact, a 2009 report by stanford university found the following -- 17% of charter schools reported academic gains that were significantly better than traditional schools. 17%. and the same study found that just 37% of charter schools showed gains that were worse than their traditional public school counterparts. and 46% of charter schools showed no significant difference. that's almost half. now, my goal in using these statistics is not to say that there isn't merit in charter schools. it's to say that they are not a sure h surefire solution. we need comprehensive not piecemeal reform. joining me is eva mosmoskowitz,e founder and ceo of charter schools. so nice to have you. >> thanks. >> i live in new orleans where charter school conversations are
just at the core of what is going on in our education discussion. and i'm constantly feeling this sense of angst not that charter schools don't have some role in a kind of broad education menu, for example, but the extent to which it feels like we think charter schools are the solution to the problems we're facing. >> well, i agree. some charters are great and some are terrible. charters give you the freedom to get it right. they don't mean you will get it right. and there aren't easy answers. that's what we're looking for, a knight in shining armor to come in and save us. >> superman we might be waiting for. >> well said, yes. we're going to have to do the hard work of improfg the quality of our teaching force, training school principals. we're going to have to up the rigor of our kids. if you look at the academic bar in america and you look at it in china, there's no comparison. our expectations for our kids are low. meanwhile, we have the global competitive economy. >> so here's my anxiety around,
for example, the language about teachers. on the one hand, many of us have wanted to see comprehensive change. but at the moment it feels like so much of the conversation about comprehensive change is falling on teachers and the solution seems to be break the unions. if you break teachers unions somehow that will improve education, as though what is good for teachers is not what's good for students. >> well, i do think that the union work rules are an impediment to great teaching and learning, but i certainly wouldn't pin all of our problems on that. we have a workforce that's not as educated as it used to be 50 years ago and we're going to have to support our teachers. we're going to have to not only support our teachers in the classroom, but parents are going to have to step it up. i'm the mother of three and you can't ask the schools to do everything. we as parents have to offer support in terms of the discipline of children. what is this rolling your eyes at teachers, cursing at teachers, throwing chairs at
teachers? no, no, no, no, no. that's not how a great school works. so parents and teachers are going to have to strengthen the social compact so that we can provide an orderly learning environment and where we can educate kids. >> that's an interesting point. i also have a daughter. you have three kids. obviously you know that once you start making choices for the education of your kid, a lot of the theories about how education go out the window and you're just trying to find the single best school for your kid. but here's my concern about, for example, why are kids rolling their eyes or throwing tables or acting out in anger? it might not be a failure on the part -- it might be a failure on the part of parents, but it might not be. it might also be because they're hungry, because they actually have insufficient food in their household. it could be because of instability in the housing situation. we know that the foreclosure crisis has had a disproportionate impact on children. it could be because they're -- in other words, the answers might not be because they need someone to yell at them even more at home. >> well, i wouldn't argue
yelling. >> to be stricter at home. >> i just think you have to support your child's teacher. i would agree it's complicated. but, as an educator, i'm not going to be able to solve poverty or the housing crisis or the lack of jobs. obviously from a national policy we have to have a holistic approach. but as an educator i'm successfully educating kids despite the poverty, despite the housing crisis, we're aware of the impact. the impact is profound. but i look at a child who comes through my door who's had a bad morning and my job as an educator is to turn the moods of that kid around and make sure that child is successful despite all the obstacles. and so i'm a little leery of saying, we've got to wait until we solve the crisis. we need to -- >> we lose kids in the meantime. >> every single hour of every day. and the problem is that if a child doesn't learn to read by third grade, it's really hard to catch up. i wouldn't say it's impossible,
but it is really hard and it takes a lot more resources. >> actually, think this has been part of the argument or the anxiety about charter schools in particular. i want to take a quick look at a graph about unemployment rates and people with bachelor's degrees. irthink this is such an effective tool for showing that even in this economic crisis it really is that top blue line that you're seeing there that spikes way up, those are people without a high school diploma. folks with a college degree, even though it gets worse, right, it's pretty good if you can manage to get that bachelor's degree. it's pretty bad if you're never able to even get that high school diploma. but your point about, okay, if you kind of mess around in the first six, seven, eight, nine years of a child's life, if they don't get the literacy skills up, but the charter school does provide a marketplace, juch just as in the market place, things fail, things succeed. we test it out, see what works. but if you're one of those kids in the failing charter schools,
what if you lose for a second grade and don't get the opportunity? how do we fight back against that while still wanting to have are reform? >> i don't think charters are the answer to everything. the vast majority of our kids are in district schools. we're going to have tory form the district. what i think is interesting about the charter movement is it gives you visibility into best practices. but we're going to have to change district schools we've been educating kids the same way for quite a long time. we've got to think about, how do you bring in the talent, how do you organize schools? and i would argue that's not just the academics. if we don't provide kids with a reason to come to school -- i ask my teachers and my principal, if there was no law that said kids had to come to school and parents didn't need child care, would the kids come? and if the answer to that question is no, your school is not interesting enough, it's not compelling enough. >> i like that. >> we've got to make schools joyful, interesting places. >> i love that language of joyful, interesting, that art and music and sports and all the
things we started to relegate in the land of testing to extras are critical. when you teach at the college level you see that the kids that are coming are not the ones that have been in classrooms for the most part where they've been marching. they actually had the opportunity to investigate their world a little bit. >> absolutely. >> and make mistakes and to experiment with the world. >> you have to teach kids to be independent learners. they ultimately have to know how to learn themselves. and the joy -- i can't stress enough that if you do not have sports, if you do not have chess and art and music, the testing is not going to be sufficient. it will not get those kids through college graduation. >> we are going to continue this conversation. we're going to add a few more voices into it. but first i want to bring you the latest on those devastating tornadoes that swept through ten states from the gulf coast to the great lakes, killing at least 32 people. this morning indiana governor mitch daniels is out touring the damaged areas and speaking with reporters.
i'm back with eva moskowitz of charter schools a s joining conversation is rebecca walker and former ohio secretary of state ken blackwell. now, i want to play a quick clip from the movie "the lottery" that came out a few years ago and featuring one of our guests. take a look. >> you are not welcome here! we will not welcome you here! we will fight!
i will fight until my dying day! i refuse to see 194! it will not happen! it will not happen! over my dead body! over my body! >> so everyone at the table is taking kind of a deep breath. you can feel the tension coming through the screen on that one. you know, this is eva something that you deal with on a regular basis, obviously some folks when charter schools come to town are excited about new school choice option. other folks when charter schools come to town are not excited about what it means for their local public schools. i want to throw this open and ask you all about where you stand, maybe maria, since you're new to the table, you can start. >> thank you. as a latina mother, this was a study that mommy verse.com did. there's no surprises. education is a top issue for
latina mothers and as for most mothers. i live in d.c. and i have two children in a bilingual charter school. i heard you talking about this earlier. there are no quick fixes. there is not one thing that is going to make everything better. we really do need to look at what all of the options are. my family is lucky in that we have this great charter school, but we're also inbound for a public school that is one of the best public schools in the country, where michelle rhee sent her kids and is bilingual. i think what latina mothers and frankly again all mothers look at is, what is the effect of the school, the environment, the teacher, the programs? what is going to be the effect of all of that on the kids? and that i think is the comprehensive evaluation we all need to make as a community. >> absolutely. mr. blackwell you were saying earlier talking about voting, voters don't go for just one thing. it's always comprehensive.
talk to me about where you stood. this has been maybe not that tense but a tense part of the your kitchen table conversations in your own household. >> well, my wife was superintendent of cincinnati public schools and we have had many discussions on school choice. but she started out by not being afraid of competition. she thought competition was good. we agreed on this, that the most important organization is the school building. the most important relationship within that school building is the teacher/student relationship. and we both had a fifth grade teacher, ida may rhodes. i remember asking mrs. rhodes one day, mrs. rhodes, what's the difference between i is rich and i am rich and she looked at me and said, me. you might be rich one day, but you will also know how to speak. that's the relationship that i think we have to protect across the wide range of school options. >> i agree. i think -- i have a 7-year-old, and i've just -- >> 7 already?
wow! >> i know. it's heartbreaking actually. i want him to stay 5. but i've just gone through the process of putting hi ting him montessori school because i went to one and i believe in the philosophy. he was bullied in that school and i pulled him out. i put him in the public school. we live in hawaii, where it's struggling to the point we've had friday furloughs, only four days of school a week and overcrowding and also bullying. and now i have him in a homeschooling cooperative where the parents are very engage. what i've learned from this is that we really do have to be thinking about the relationships of our kids to their teachers, to their environments. i mean, that's the most important thing. we have to be protecting them. we have to be engaging them creatively. and it's not really about, is it charter, is it private, is it public? it's about the relationships, do the kids feel safe? what are they learning? and so, you know, i have great
hope. when i look at that clip, i see the passion of that mother. >> right. >> and i so identify with that. and i think that is the energy that we need that will transform this system. >> i know you were actually, eva, in that film, but it's interesting as i listen to all of us talk as our role as parents and choices we make, we are all sitting in a position of privilege. my daughter, i can look and say, do i want this school or maybe this one. i can take the time. when i present myself as a parent, i do speak in a particular way. i have a certain kind of economic privilege. and so part of what i heard in that moment was, not only passion, because all of us are passionate about our children, but also the ways in which once you take away certain aspects of privilege, not being able to make a choice for private school because you simply can't afford it, not being able to make a reasonable choice for a public school because they're dangerous. not being able to make a homeschool cooperative opportunity because there isn't one, how distressing. so i heard both passion but also a certain kind of distress in
that conversation or that voice. >> absolutely. a deep fear that our children won't be prepared. you know, the world that they're entering into is highly competitive, and parents understand if their children are not getting their needs met educationally they're going to fail. >> eva, how do you -- >> the passion is -- >> i'm a deep believer in parent choice and i think that disadvantaged parents need the same choices that more affluent parents have. and so i don't think that we should be making choices for parents, and that's why i support the charter movement. it's also why i support tax credits, the parochial school system in this country has done an incredible service to often disadvantaged children. they would have no other way of getting a decent education. so i'm very appreciate of districts who are open-minded who say, we don't have all the answers, neither do the charter schools, let's give parents more choices and let's see what works. >> i want to show you a quick
picture of a chart showing school success rates. and these are actually your school, success charter schools. we've got 95% of students pass the state math exam, 81% passing state english arts exam and 100% of fourth graders passing the state science exam. i always panic when i see charter school numbers. my panic is about the fact that we're not always comparing apples to pap ells. there are charter schools, for example, who say, all of our graduating seniors ended up in college. my question is, how many of your freshmen that started four years ago, how many children with learning disabilities? part of my angst around the question of choice has also been how public dollars end up -- so i love the success stories. like i want to be excited about the success stories, but the data person in me goes, am i to really believe those numbers? >> well, we have a real interesting comparison because we're co-located with district schools. we're in the same building so you can compare the poverty rates, you can compare the attrition rates.
one of my frustrations is that critics often look at the charter attribution rates and not the districts. our attrition rates are significantly lower than the co-located districts and the citywide average here. now, that may not be the case for all charters. we have a deep commitment to serving special ed. i'm the mother of a special ed child so for me that's something that's a real passion. and i do think -- it's not a perfect comparison, because parents are electing to go there rather than being assigned a school, but i think we can't ignore the successes of the charter while not universalizing it as the magic bullet. there are some incredible successes, and, you know, we are, despite incredibly high poverty rates, we are outperforming affluent suburbs. and i would argue it's not just the test scores. i would ask critics or skeptics to come and look at the children. >> yeah. >> see whether they want to be in school. and i would challenge anyone
sitting at this table, if they went to the block room or the chess or sports, they would see that kids want to be there. >> ladies, stay here. mr. blackwell, thank you so much for coming and joining me today. >> thank you. up next, how afghanistan is more progressive than we are when it comes to women in office. yep, that's right after the break.
it is it time for change in the way we govern, and i believe there are unique opportunities for me to build support for that change from outside the united states senate. >> this week we lost a big one. the ma maine senator olympia snowe announced she wouldn't run for reelection. moderate and woman. perhaps if we had more of the latter we'd get more of the
former. the numbers make the need clear. 17, the percentage of women in both houses of the u.s. congress. 51, the percentage of women in the u.s. population. 2%, the minuscule amount of women who served in the u.s. congress since 1789. 78 is where the united states falls on an international list of women's representation in the national legislative body. that's 45 places behind 33, the position on that same list occupied by afghanistan, a country that was run by the taliban for five years. 6, that's the number out of all 50 states that have women as governors. 24, the percentage of seats occupied by women in state legislatures. 92, the record number of new provisions enacted last year in 24 of those states to restrict a woman's choice not to become a mother. 6 women in the u.s. senate as of 2010 who were elected when their had children were under the age
of 18. which brings me back again to the number of women in the u.s. congress, to which i'd like to add a few numbers of my own, 34 and 149. the numbers of additional women who we'd have to elect to office in the senate and house respectively in order to receive full representational equality for women in the u.s. house and senate. finally, one. one woman in congress, sandra fluck, not elected but testifying about an o-- an out-of-control radio host. up next, a different take on motherhood. that's right after the break.
connecticut pled guilty to felony accusations. her crime? four counts of drug possession and sale and lying about her address so that her 6-year-old son could attend public school in a better district. her punishment? a 12-year prison sentence. now, mcdowell who lived in a van and sometimes slept in a homeless shelter or a friend's apartment is also required to pay $6,200 for stealing $15,000 in educational services. stealing the free public education to which every child in the state is entitled. now, tanya mcdowell's story of trying to make a way out of no way is shared by the 47% of single mother families who are living in poverty in the united states. so this week, as the republicans on the hill nearly succeeded in yet another attempt to limit a woman's access to contraception, as oklahoma adds itself to a growing list of state legislatures seeking to outlaw women's right to choose, i want us to think about tanya and that
47% because this is what it looks like at this moment for these women who have to choose motherhood. so if conservative lawmakers want to force everybody to have to choose motherhood, then they should know that ending a woman's reproductive rights may mean the beginning of more mothers in desperate times. back with me now, eva moskowitz whose name has been bandied about as a potential candidate of mayor for new york city, maria correspond dover adova an walker. rebecca, i love your book "baby love." this question about sort of, how do we love our kids? what does it mean to be a parent? and the fact is, tanya mcdowell's story is not an isolated incident. last year another mother in ohio was put in jail for illegally registering her daughter at the father's address to get into a better school district. >> it's unconscionable what's
happenin happening, you know? why is it that we have to -- why is it so expensive to have children? why don't we have a more functional support system, a social net that supports families? i always talk about the international view and i spent quite a bit of time teaching in sweden. i'm always amazed at the mothers with eight months maternity leave fully paid, the support for fathers to stay home and take care of their children, completely part of the cultural eth ethos, affordable child care in their neighborhoods, two, three blocks away. you know, these are things that we can do as a country, but i think because so few people have actually seen these different models and experienced them, we don't really have this visceral understanding that our lives can be very different. >> hard for us to even imagine it. >> i think the other problem going on in this problem is that we really are not understanding how to deal with the demographic changes that are going on. so, as a spokesperson for mommy
verse, one of the studies that we did revealed that -- and this is talked about in the census, too -- 55% of the nation's growth in the last ten years came from latina mother. one in four babies born in the country today is born to a latina mother. communities much color, mothers in communities of color are the ones that i think are the ones hardest hit when you look at the recession, when you look at that percentage of single moms in poverty. and this is i think a percentage and statistic that are not really being looked at when public policy makers are looking to see how you deal with that kind of growth, with the kind of changes that brings our communities, and the kinds of needs that these mothers have in these families. >> and we have this kind of assumption that these kind of mothers, poor mothers and mothers of color, may somehow be bad moms. i wanted to show -- we were putting this show together and i was on the airplane which i do a lot, i fly back and forth,
reading "redbook" magazine. the headline on one of the stories was, i'm a parent who smokes pot. and it was certainly not -- it certainly was a celebration of these women, presumably i think sort of middle class white women who are drug users, but it was presented in this sort of oh, i skip to school with the kids and sometimes i need to take the edge off of parenting. and you look at that versus this woman who's just received 12 years in jail, yes, for drug charges but also in part for being a feersz advocate for her kid. your role is part as educator and mommy. where do you see all of this going at this point? >> i think parents need to be fierce advocates because their kids will be at a serious disadvantage if they are not fierce advocates. and i think it's not so much she was stealing from the district, the district was stealing from her child and her child's future. that is just -- we're doing it all over this country.
we're spending millions and millions of dollars, and kids are not getting the education that they deserve and are entitled to. and i encourage parents wherever i go to, you know, put their advocacy armor on and go out there and fight like hell for their kids because no one is going to give it to them. i wish we could change the policies in this country to make sure that the quality of educati education, but the truth of the matter is, in the interim, until we figure out that comprehensive solution, until we figure out the role of charters, how we do district reform, paifrnlts can't wait. their kids go through kindergarten once. we have to get it right the first time. >> i think that's something we actually have to tell parents because one of the issues that we see in the latino community, while momiverse caters to latina
mothers, 86% of these online mothers look for information on education and how to make sure their kids get ahead, there's a another section of not just latina mothers but mothers of color and parents of color who don't have the means to be that fierce advocate because they might be working one or two or three jobs to get ahead. >> one of the things in my new book about "black cool" one of the things we talk a lot about in our family and community is this -- the culture of the family. you know, when kids say it's not cool to go to school, that's ridiculous. traditionally in black communities you were not cool if you did not go to school. it was all about developing your intellect, all about engaging with education. that was the way forward. and we need to be embracing that legacy again, with as much vigor and commitment as we always have. because education has gotten us through very, very difficult times in the past and will continue to. >> i also just want to put in a
hand here because, how do we get kids to be ahead? i did want to look at this study this week on upper class amorality, right? this just struck me when i saw it, that people from the upper class are more likely to break the law while driving, to take candy from children, to lie in negotiations, cheat to raise their odds of winning a prize and endorse unethical behavior at work. yes, jobs matter and gets ahead matters but we're also feeling like it's almost like, parents, don't let your kids to grow up to be the 1%. if they do, maybe they'll have lots of income and wealth, but they'll also be willing to engage in these sorts of behaviors. >> i think that's such an important point. and i was interested in the "times" piece last week about affluent european immigrants putting their kids into public xooldz because they feel very strongly the diversity is more important and they want to make sure their children have a sense of global engagement and they
feel there is a different kind of moral standard in these places that are more democrat iks, that there isn't a sort of elitism that supports fundamentally, as you were saying, a kind of 1% mentality that's very unhealthy for the rest of the community. so i think this is a great discussion to have, you know, the idea that some parents can smoke pot and do drugs, you know, but the rest of us feel that, of course not, we don't, but also we don't have the luxury even to suggest that we do as women of color, particularly. >> and we're going to look -- i mean, that's exactly -- that is where the politics comes in. bill snyder is going to join us and we'll take this conversation into the politics and mommy groups that count when it comes time to vote.
voters into boxes, soccer moms, nascar dads, last week one fit allah teen knows. we've unwrapped another one, waitress moms, working women employed in the service industry. i can't promise we won't box up new categories by this time next week, but i can assure you there's no chance that box will contain, say, immigrant moms or poverty moms or cindy sheehan angry veterans moms. these are not the groups we talk about when we talk about voting power. so call it a wild guess, but my sense is that moms undoubtedly will be important in all of their variations. still with me, rebecca walker, eva moskowitz, maria cordova and bill schneider is joining us. we were talking about the challenge of parenting and motherhood. what about the politics of it? what kinds of moms are the moms that candidates start thinking,
this is the category i want to talk to and how do they talk to them? >> younger moms, they tend to be independent, they tend to be open to new ideas in politics. a lot of younger moms are single, and they rely on the safety net, which is why most of the time they vote democratic. the safety net is a crucial issue to young mothers and in 0 2004 so was national security. a lot of them voted for george w. bush we called them security mo moms because they thought he could protect their families. >> a different way of thinking about moms. on the question of single parenthood the. we were looking at the census numbers, an $800 payment gap between men's and women's earnings. if you are a single parent, if you have the college education and that, you are looking for a real gap. that's why you need the soishl safety net. >> yes. what's so ironic about that number is that the majority of the electorate -- bill, you know this -- 53% of the electorate are women. so we are the ones who actually
hold the power, yet you see that gap still exists. i think politicians from both parties are going need to really start talking to these women, the younger independent women, a lot of latina mothers fall into that category. and really look at what they are look at in terms of what their top choices are. again, it's jobs, it's education, it's what is the safety net that will be there for their families? or you know, now but also 5, 10 years from now. >> i want to argue that as a former elected official that who runs for office determines what the issues are. >> yeah. >> we'd have a lot more issues about paternity and maternity issues and the social safety net if there were more women defining what the issues were. >> to your point, in terms of the numbers -- >> yeah. look at those numbers. >> i would always argue against an essentialist mother. i know there are men who are deeply invested. my husband is deeply committed to the education of my son and
often more of a fierce advocate than i am. i want to make sure men out there understand that we have a lot of faith that you, too, are caring about the safety and well-being of our children and our families. and i also want to say that, in terms of women voters, we care about candidates who care about peace. because, as a mother of a young boy, i'm constantly thinking about war, i'm thick about the draft, i'm thinking about, you know, how can we position ourselves globally so that i don't have to worry that my child will have to go and possibly be killed? >> right. mothers saying, will my son have to go to war? mothers of daughters are saying, is my daughter going to have reasonable access to safe birth control as a young adult, right/. >> exactly. and women are going to be drafted too possibly and have to go to war. i don't mean it gender specific. >> the gender gap started really with ronald reagan when he became president in 1980. that's when you saw a big difference in men and will. women started voting more and
more democratic because they saw reagan and republicans as a threat to the safety net. a lot of men started voting for republicans. they were attracted to presidents like reagan and george w. bush who presented themselves as risk takers, men come out of -- more often they come out of the world of sports and business like bush did. and he made fun of al gore because he said he practices the politics of the stop sign, you know. if george bush was a big risk taker. the tax cut, the war in iraq, huge risks. >> yes. >> on the whole, women are more cautious about risk than men are, and you want proof? look at the prison population. the number of men in prison because they take stupid risks and the number of women in prison. >> although it is true that women are now the fastest -- black woman in particular -- growing population of newly incarcerated population because often they're holding the drugs. as we talk about women in
politics, i've wondered if michelle obama and her mother and the girls in the white house, if the visuals of that were going to make any difference, if we would be thinking about mommihood in some different way, given that we had this first lady, particular a a first lady of clofr r cololor, daughters and her mother living in the white house. instead, we've seen this back lack against motherhood or maybe not backlash against motherhood, but the backlash against choosing motherhood and this idea you'd have to have compulsory motherhood. >> here is what i think. it really focuses on the conversations we have at home with our families, with our sons, with our daughters, in terms of what is it that's going to be available to you. you do look at michelle obama as a role model and i certainly talk to my daughter about, look what you can do. and with hillary clinton, too, you know. i mean, she really blazed the trail. >> i've got to take a moment. spoking of role models, i have to talk for a moment about the
preview of "weekends with alex witt". more stories of that deadly tornado outbreak in the midwest. what people saw and how they survived. it is frightening. we'll talk to fema also. the two gop front-runners have waded into the birth control/rush limbaugh controversy. you'll hear their exact reactions. you might be spriefzed or not. the game of life. a new article talks about how the child's game we used to play was closer to the truth. lindsay lohan is in the headlines again this morning, in the must-see or must-avoid segme segments. coming up, we'll talk about what some college students ta taught me this week. there's so much more to stay. e. they're all like, "hey, brother, doesn't it bother you that no one notices you?" and i'm like, "doesn't it bother you you're not reliable?" and they say, "shut up!" and i'm like, "you shut up." in business, it's all about reliability.
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this week collegiate foot soldiers taught us a few things. for almost two weeks a group of students at the university of virginia refused to eat. why were the kids at the commonwealth flagship institution going hungry? they were hungry to protest the inequality on their own campus. yes, that is more than the virginia minimum wage which is currently $7.25 an hour, but there is a big difference between the minimum and entry level wage and living wage. they've pressured the university for years to up their entry-level rate to no less than $13 per hour, a figure based on the family budget calculator created by the economic institute. over the years, the students involved with the living wage campaign have tried sit-ins letter writing, community outreach and all to no avail. uva didn't budge. now, here's what you need to know about uva. it is a school guided by its
160-year-old honor code, a code of conduct that requires exacting standards, honesty, trust and, well, honor. these students could see little honor in a school where the president makes $485,000 a year while some of the people who pick up after students on the street and in the dorm and the ones who wash their dishes, service their bathrooms and keep the lawn perfectly manicured are not paid a living wage. one might argue that glaring inequality is a violation of the university's honor code commitment to creating a community of trust and in response to this violation, these students staged a hunger strike, drawing inspiration from a successful nine-day hunger strike at georgetown for the same cause. the campaign posted testimonials from these student activists. >> the reason that i'm hunger striking is because we have a clear discrepancy between the people that go to this university and the people that help run this university and,
frankly, i think that that's unacceptable. >> it saddens me a lot that something like this is required to bring about positive change, but, i mean, the story kind of speaks for itself. this is really the last thing left. >> though proud of their commitment of who was watching all of this unfold, i kept wanting to bring these kids a sandwich and i wanted them to eat. i was thankful the protest ended on thursday. the students did raise a ton of attention for this critical issue. remember when rick santorum said this on monday. >> president obama once said he wants everybody in america to go to college. what a snob. >> and i don't think it's snobby to want all kids to have access to higher education especially when students like this at uva use their privilege to address inequality. one of the hunger strikers, joseph williams, also happens to
be a safety oat virginia football team. we interviewed him shortly after the hunger strike ended and he said this, quote, the university is definitely afraid of the power and the media attention we have brought to the subject. it's not a matter of if, but a matter of when a living wage will come to the university of virginia. thank goodness these students are eating again. they will need their strength as they continue to stand up for the interest of others and bring national attention to those who could easily have been ignored. you can read the full interview with joseph williams at the mhp blog at msp show. and visit our facebook page to give your nomination for the foot soldiers in your community. that's it for our show today. thank you to rebecca walker, eva moskowitz and bill schneider for sticking around. thanks to you for watching and i'll see youio tomorrow morning, sunday, and my guest will include cory booker, mayor of
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