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tv   Melissa Harris- Perry  MSNBC  April 7, 2013 7:00am-9:00am PDT

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by the armful? by the barrelful? the carful? how the bowlful? campbell's soups give you nutrition, energy, and can help you keep a healthy weight. campbell's. it's amazing what soup can do. morning, my question, how can gun control advocates lose the battle but win the war? plus, putting testing to the test and the return of the legendary dance theater of harlem. first, we're putting the nerd in nerdland. i have neuroscientists in the green room. you can't believe the conversation. good morning. i'm melissa harris-perry.
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there are -- almost 54 years ago this week, the first ever team of american astronauts was assembled and soon after this picture was taken of the mercury 7 all suited up and ready to blast off. photographs by the company that manufactured those spacesuits, this perfect 7 helped nasa to capture the hearts and minds of the country, not to mention their tax dollars. because americans space exploration needed a good pr day. before the united states could even get nasa off the ground, we were rocked by the soviet launch of sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit the earth. in the midst of the cold war, president kennedy was mired in the bay of pigs fiasco when the soviet union followed up with the first successful human space flight in april 1961. with no intention of being out done or outgunned, kennedy fired back with a big bold mitsch
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tiff. the moon. >> i believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal before this decade is out of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. no single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind or more important for the long-range exploration of space. none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. >> expensive indeed. that first call for a man on the moon which launched that giant leap forward for mankind ended up costing an estimated $170 billion of the contemporary american kind. not to mention countless hours of manpower, political energy and public attention. public attention that was looking up into the stars along with president kennedy while young men and women of this brave new world were getting on buses to test the desegregation jim crow south. the first freedom writers met by violent mobs inspired the
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courage of a thousand who joined the efforts that summer. the apollo mission was politically more about nationalism. kennedy made that clear up front. >> in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon. we make this judgment affirmatively. will be an entire nation for all of us must work to put him there. >> on july 20, 1969, just before the end of the decade, neil armstrong and buzz aldrin became the first people to walk on the moon. that image has carried through the decades as a symbol seemingly of what america is capable of doing. that sentiment was echoed once again this week by president obama when he announced the next great american project to unlock the secrets of the human brain. >> we have a chance to improve the lives of not just millions but billions of people on this planet through the research that's done. in this brand initiative at all.
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it's going to require a serious effort, a sustained effort. it's going to require us as a country to embody and embrace that spirit of discovery that is what made america, america. >> what president obama proposed this week, the brain research through advancing initiative neurotechnologies or brain initiative was to provide direct funding to accelerate the invention of new tools to it help neurologists visualize the neural circuitry of the brain. and follow the intraction of cells that happen as they say at the speed of thought. the obama administration long with the nih, the national science foundation and the projects agency hope that the funding leads to new treatments and even cures to brain disorders like alzheimer's, parkinson's, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury. all of that with the seed money of $100 million. yeah, $100 million for this next
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great american project. take that, china and e.u. actually, your scientists are already at their labs with $1.5 billion in funding for their human brain projects backed by the european commission and 80 international research institutions. after china's brain tomb initiative has been pumping out research since 2004, it seems like we're getting sputniked all over again. nih funding is flat lining for the first time since anyone can remember. >> they've fallen behind great britain and germany. if these sequester cuts hold, nih is looking at a devastating $1.6 billion cut for the remainder of the fiscal year. letters have already gone out to researchers with ongoing grants that they should start scaling back. when when we consider the state of the economy and budget battles, is president obama's brain initiative just a small
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step for this one man or a yient leap forward for us all? at the table sam wong, associate professor at princeton's neuroscience institute and paragraph that metra, biomath met ix from new york. laura flanders, host and founder of grit and dr. jonathan mets he will, professor of psychiatry at vanderbilt and author of protest psychosis. so nice to have you here. sam, i want to start with you. how big is this? is this as big as space, this idea of going into the brain? >> one of the great scientific frontiers remaining is understanding the brain. so far researchers have been working hard for the last decades at different levels, single cells, the entire brain, brain scan technologies, this seems like a good time to develop technologies to start filling in levels, joining those levels with each other. this initiative is an excellent proposal led by a very good
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scientist to start filling in the gaps to develop technologies and let us watch the brain in action. >> what are the deliverables. i know when kennedy is asking us about space, he's saying we're going to go to the moon. what are the deliverables on the brain? what will learning approximate this teach us? >> i think that's a great question. the deliverables that have been proposed, the technologies, to monitor in this case the activity of the brain. i think moon analogy, you really knew when neil armstrong really set his foot on the moon. that's success. the brain is a complicated thing to understand. people have been struggling for centuries. how do we know when we've succeeded? what is a deliverable is a good question and there's going to be planning, there's a committee that will think this through for the next year or fraction of the year and decide what the deliverables are and when we will know we have succeeded.
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>> certainly not like this is the first moment, right? >> people have been working on this for years. there's been excellent technologies coming on for man incompetent lating tissue with light for -- there's been a lot going on under the radar. one thing that's missed in this announcement is that people been at work for dwigquite a while. there's been a lot happening. it feels like there's a turning point where at least our ability to start asking questions with more precision is about to improve dramatically. >> jonathan, i wanted to start with the space vrs civil rights paradigm, at some point my team would make me have the space people on because i have a lot of angst -- i have a lot of angst about it because it feels to me like there are resource constraints in the world. so when we put money towards one thing and we put attention towards one thing, we'll often miss the other. at the same time that we're space gracing, we're in the middle of the civil right
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movement. we're in the context of sequester and yet going into the brain. is that a good, is that a sign of us going to our frontier despite our economic resources, or is that a maybe we need to not go to the brain, we got to put food on the table? >> i'll take two things. i think this is an exciting development and we should be thinking big. this is what our country does. it's a tremendous opportunity to jump-start something at a time in a way that's encouraging that it's happening at sequester to say no, our research is not going to stop. the caveat for me actually is that the brain doesn't exist -- the pictures are nice, it looks like the brain is a totally isolated thing. but a lot of times we find out from brain research is something that's linked to the social environment. so we have at genome project for example we learn from genetics, that people live in resource poor environments have poor brain development. in a way, a lot of times the brain issues point back to
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social infrastructure issues. it can't just be money toward the brain, we also have to invest in the infrastructure of brain disease. >> for me on the nsf piece, i just saw nsf through the coburn amendment take all of the money for nsf for political science funding. at the same time we're talking about nsf and nih going on the brain. i'm down for stem, this science -- >> i think it's confusing. i think what jonathan said is important. you can data form and map what you want. but nurturing the next einstein is going to take more than a gps of the brain device. in terms of the public perception, it's super confusing. how can the sequester take $10 billion from american science and then suddenly there's this $100 million or $3 billion down the road money for mapping the brain. i hate to be the cynic here but what i see is that picture you
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showed of the astronauts in the picture by the folks that made the suit a picture like that today, the suits would be made by eli lilly, johnson and johnson, big pharma. alzheimer's is the next big -- the alzheimer medications. it's the one thing they're failing at. u.s. companies have -- eli lilly not doing much better. i can't help but see this as a little bit of a kind of gift to big pharma. i think it's about generating jobs and money and that's what obama talked approximate. we're going to stay on that topic. i want to talk about alzheimer's, what we already know and maybe sam will take the brain apart a little bit. i think there's something to be said about this shift in priorities. when we say alzheimer's, it tracks the boomers. there's a lot of them and now
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new research this week from the rand corporation showed that both the costs and the number of people with dementia in this country is expected to double by 2040. a rate rarely seen in any other known chronic disease. currently, 3.8 million people over 71 years old have dementia. in 30 years, that number will be 9.1 million. behind the staggering prediction is the concern that with an aging baby boom, generation this country is wholly unprepared for the cost and resources needed to care tore this population.
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it feels to me like the economics of jobs are part of it. but the other piece of it is a concern with human health, particularly of the baby boomer generation. what can we know from the brain and what do we already know about issues like alzheimer's, dementia? >> there's a long study going on in baltimore for example for many decades. study of aging using techniques as well. we are developing these basic knowledge about what causes the disease, but one of the important points is that we don't really know and there is need for basic research and that's kind of what this initiative is about. it's also important to keep in mind we need to keep on the research for a while and sustaining that i think the president said sustained effort. there should be emphasis on that. it has been going on already and sustaining it into the future. >> right. when you look at -- just so
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happen to have with me a model of the brain. if you look at brain structures, it's possible to see postmortem structures, temporal areas next to the temple, they show deteriorating yeas. it's possible to determine that people had it postmortem. technology has allowed us to see that earlier and perhaps adopt therapies, implement therapies to help people at greater risk of dementia. >> i'll never forget this. >> hard to put it back in. >> but i will never forget hearing you say don't invest in the hand-held games, memory games. that actually will not improve and protect your memory. >> that's right. >> invest in a treadmill and get yourself exercise. i thought, well, whoa, that's such a different kind of argument to make about how our brains operate. it's much more holistic about our bodies and ways that our brains exist within our self. >> a big public health priority, we talk about fancy research
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methods. those are for understanding the disease. in terms of what we can do about alzheimer's disease, we have tools available now involving physical exercise, epidemiologically, things good for your heart are good for your brain. alzheimer's risk can be reduced substantially or people believe that by aerobic exercise and that could make a difference in the statistics you're putting up. >> i just had a question about the money part of it. before i make that point, the clarity with which the president talked about $1 billion in in investment produces 140 in the economy. i wish he would talk about that when it comes to stimulus. could we be this in investing in kids and education, health care, okay. that point made. my question is about his ask. this $100 million, the money we're talking about, you raised this earlier, sam. if there's a different ask in the works down the road why are they talking small amounts. it seems to me politically they
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lose at both ends. some say it's not enough to make a difference and you say it doesn't compete with what's happening elsewhere. it's given a lot -- is it enormous investment or middle investment and how do we get people behind it? >> jonathan. >> the other financial piece of this is the study that came out looking at the rising cost of dementia over the next 30 years came out of of the same moment we started thinking about seriously cutting social security. >> exactly. >> in a way, if you look at the ways other countries deal with this, canada had the rising tide report that came out that said we need to improve infrastructure and physical therapy and improve human connectiveness. we're in a groupon society. we have costs that we see but we're cutting out the safety nets that we're enabling this spread. >> we're cut your eligibility to medicare but maybe you'll get brain science. >> i think for me this is part
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of mych nerd challenge. we need to invest in basic science, right? there's a shrimp on a treadmill drama. someone said how shrimp responded. images of shrimp on a treadmill and this was 'emblematic of science gone wrong. a lot of times you're doing these small tiny, seemingly irrelevant things -- but the shrimp guy -- >> one of the most important tools in mapping the friend was a protein that came out of a jellyfish out of puget sound. proteins that's -- it's the kind of tool that makes possible to start imaging the brain circuits in action. these things may seem distant to everyday concerns, but who do you want putting the shrimp on the treadmill, congress doing that or scientists, nerds with their classes saying well, let's see how animals walk?
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why don't we learn about walking in it turns out that shrimp are maybe not a bad way to do that. >> for me, to the extent that there's a politics here, i'm wondering if that's part of the politics of president obama planting the flag in the ground and saying, you know what, we as a country and as a party still care about science. still care about basic research, still care about the exploration of ideas. despite the challenges that we face economically, that even if you're in a household, if you're going to take that example, where things are touch, you still invest in education pour your kids, right? we still invest in the jellyfish goo, which i'm sure is not the appropriate technical term. more on all of the questions and implications as soon as we come back. i want to ask about whether or not as we map the brain, we're going to try to police it. do we have a mower?
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when i heard president obama's announcement on tuesday of the brain mitsch tiff, it gave me pause. not because i don't support human knowledge through research, i absolutely do. because history of applied scientific research has been fraught with problematic approaches and effects. in the 19th century, early neurologists who focused on it used the shape and size of the human brain for -- people of color and criminals were used to social darwinist ends. elements of it linger. it recently published study gave me the same kind of pause. the study highlighted this week shows that brain scans have the ability to predict with what is considered so-called startling accuracy. the likelihood of that convicted criminals will reoffend. i will look into your brain and determine whether or not you should be paroled. the implications could be
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serious. my angst here is if you start looking into the brain and i decide i look in there and i see oh, yes criminality or that you're never going to go to college. i can just track you from the beginning from an fmri. >> well, these are very early state studies and they affect -- you can't really tell on an individual basis. there's a large population that is being studied. in this particular study that you're talking about, it's pretty close to a conflict. there is a sta tis particular cli significant effect that you can't from an individual. >> there is something about science. it's part of why when we come into these kind of conversations and you can show this and this and this to me, i think oh, that must be true because it's science. it's a science that i don't quite understand and therefore, if you say to me x i'm the
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scientist and i can predict that this person will be a criminal or i can predict that this kid will never learn, there's a way to -- sort of general populations have a tough time arguing back against us? >> that's right. i think there's a cache that shows the kinds of investigations in the laboratory when couched in neural terms sound much more convincing than all the things that sociologists and economists been working hard on. it doesn't take away from the kinds of grand things that we're finding out about brain function but one has to be careful to not get too worked up by science fictional scenario in which you'll get scammed and sorted out -- >> superiority -- >> everybody is following the nypd stop and frisk. we're criminalizing people on the basis of race, geography. we're not talking science fiction decades ahead of time where we start studying people's brains and finding that criminality. >> this is 1969, right?
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>> i think people recognize that and people will take these scientific studies with the caveats that they may not be a. applicable right now. >> there are links between social conditions and brains and poverty is terrible for your brain. there's a long history of these findings. the point is exactly right. six out of ten, you can predict six out of ten. but four out of ten you get wrong in a way. in a way, there's a real risk of this finding being overstated. >> i do worry that people don't have the skills to read science critically. one of the things we do in our college classrooms is you get the freshman who comes in and sees the statistical chart for the first time and say that's got to be true because i don't quite understand it. it's not clear if i'm reading in a paper, had person had a brain
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scan, they're clearly going to have recidivism. 60% is not that much more than a coin flip, which is 50/50. >> you're perhaps even educating the public. but the public education is a very important part of it as we get these more complex measures that people be made to understand the statistics. >> a lot of what's going to happen now is understanding the effects of poverty in terms of brain mechanisms. we can start thinking about stress hormones, thinking about that kind of thing. rather than being afraid of a science fictional outcome, exactly what drives brains off track and can we think of interventions, cheap ones like preschool that could help children. >> so if on the back end, we're seeing treadmills to address alzheimer's and on the front end we need preschool to address issues of our brain development at the most basic levels, giving lead out of our ecosystem so the
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kids are not exposed to it. i guess what i'm saying is i don't want to be afraid of scien science. that is the prong wrong position. i want science to be connected to it the historical and cultural realities. >> it's disturbing in the discussion of cuts and sequester happening at the same time in the announcement of this great new initiative. it's inevitably going to leave people thinking these are two divorced realities and how do they connect. >> as you were referencing before, we have a long history of science being used and this exact kind of science in 1969 i show how black panthers were put into mental hospitals because of brain science because of this finding of schizophrenia in a way. that's not to say we shouldn't invest in science. but we need the humility to know it's an ongoing process, a negotiation between society and culture, particularly with issues about race and social class. >> can you find the humility, gene, in there? >> we took it out. >> i want us to put your brains
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into nice environments at the same time. thank you to sam wang and partha mitra and jonathan will be staying. the latest on the atlanta testing scandal. the mums we found in the gun control debate that have us wondering why there's any debate at all. acceler-rental. at a hertz expressrent kiosk, you can rent a car without a reservation... and without a line. now that's a fast car. it's just another way you'll be traveling at the speed of hertz.
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my doctor recommends citracal maximum. if we don't double the number of kids graduating from high school in the next 8 years, our country won't be able to compete globally. what uncle sam needs now are more good teachers. are you up for it? you can help kids graduate. the more you know. how old is the oldest person you've known? we gave people a sticker and had them show us.
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we learned a lot of us have known someone who's lived well into their 90s. and that's a great thing. but even though we're living longer, one thing that hasn't changed: the official retirement age. ♪ the question is how do you make sure you have the money you need to enjoy all of these years. ♪ it's hard to believe but it has been 115 days since a heavily armed killer entered sandy hook elementary school in newtown, connecticut, murdering children and teachers and focusing america's attention squarely on the national crisis of gun violence. 59% responded to the quinnipiac poll support a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons up five points from the previous poll in early march.
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tea spite the idea of the ban being evermore popular, senator dianne feinstein's proposal of banning certain kinds of guns won't be part of any gun legislation offered by senate majority leader harry reid. universal background checks may be the most the democrats can hope for. 1994 is when the current background check system -- mandated under the brady handgun violence prevention act. in the bureau of justice statistics reports. since that time more than 108 million prospective gun buyers have been screened before the purchases were completed and at least 1.9 million attempted purchases were are blocked due to issues like felony convictions. 40% of all gun purchases require absolutely no background checks at all. including those made online or
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at gun shows. clearly, people want that to change. they overwhelmingly want that to change. 91% of respondents in the same quinnipiac poll from this week approval of universal background checks, 88% of those in gun owning households. 53% of those gun owners in the same poll think that those universal background checks could lead to confiscation of legal guns. one of the claims that the national rifle association bears -- but it's a lie and lies like that have been a powerful weapon for those seeking any gun ledge lakes. despite an estimated 3,300 gun deaths since the newtown shooting, the president of the united states still needs to go on the road months later to rally the american public and put pressure on lawmakers to
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if the debate over guns faded from national since newtown shooting, it's not for lack of trying on the president's part. he traveled not far from the aurora, colorado, shooting site. that a lot of folks agree with him. >> so these enhanced background checks won't stop all gun crimes but they will certainly help prevent some. it's common sense and by the way, most gun owners, more than 80% agree this makes sense. more than 70% of n. a members agree. 90% of the american people agree. so there's no reason we can't do
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this unless pol ix is getting in the way. >> you catch that last little bit. the politics getting in the way. that's why the president is as subtle as a sledgehammer about guns. heading to connecticut tomorrow. going to colorado. we know that senator dianne feinstein's assault weapons ban likely won't even be part of a proposed bill thanks to senate majority leader harry reid. even if the ladies and gentlemen lay ti legislative battle is about to be lost. joining us is tara and the senior fellow at the center for american progress and back with us laura flanders and jonathan metzl. is there any way to still win this as a matter of a legislative fight? can we get something like reasonable, common sense gun legislation passed in. >> i think we will get something done. i think it's going to be a piecemeal process, though. i think what we see is an
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unwillingness to pass big legislation on the part of the republican party quite frankly. one of the points getting lost in this debate is that why is it that republicans are so willing to block things that had such popular american support. i have one word. gerrymanderi gerrymandering. when the republicans took control of the state legislatures across the country, they redrew the districts so they were made safe. democrats won more votes overall. >> 500,000 more votes. >> but have no control of the house of representatives. this is important point. people need to vote in their local elections. people need to vote in the 2014 election that they want to see real change. >> i mean, i'd like to wave the gerrymandering flag. but on the other hand, they aren't gerrymandering, they're the whole state. senator harry reid who is a democrat, who is -- but a
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democrat from mef nef. >> that's a huge part of this. the democratic majority rests on a whole bunch of red state democrats who have had a tiptoe job to get where they are around gun messaging. i think that's another part of this picture. i hate to say it, it's not going to happen. we haven't seen any gun measures passed when democrats didn't control congress in 20 years. it took five years for the brady bill even to pass after ronald reagan was shot. i mean, this stuff doesn't happen quickly. but i do think it's a cultural shift but what you're seeing is fascinating. you talked about the president going to colorado, frontier culture state. big gun owning. but a lot of young implants from the coasts, young people emigrated to colorado and a lot of latino voters shifting the culture and frankly the more that women get a say in all of this, every piece of data shows
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women are way more for common sense gun control and gun violence prevention measures. >> even in so-called gun culture states, people who are reasonable, lawful gun owners, nonetheless are supportive for example of universal background checks. they think, well i pass it. >> i do think that we've had a cultural step. particularly after newtown. we're having gun debate on the show since trayvon martin. newtown for a bunch of complicated reasons that did seem to awaken things. i agree this shift is something relatively new. i do think as many times as you can say, if you register your car -- if you write a prescription for somebody, they have to go through a bunch of -- mott like they're taking somebody's prescription or car. same level of control of guns,
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something starting to make sense. >> it's a difference that republicans at the state and local level are willing to make it much more difficult to vote than to own a gun. in terms of the kinds of checks. i was also peeking of the state to state. cody i was looking at the report about the notion that the sort of multiple state laws leave us in a really tough situation. illinois has great laws but they abut states that don't have the good laws. across state lines, the problem of weak gun laws is not just a problem up here in the northeast where guns are coming in from other states, but it's a problem all over the country. we actually see that the states with the weakest gun laws have the highest levels of gun violence. we did a report that was put out last week and found that the ten states with the weakest gun laws in the country have a level of
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gun violence twice as high than the states with the strongest gun laws. what we need to do is you can try to fix this state by state and think what's happened in colorado is an enormous step forward, if you can do it in a purple state like colorado, you should be able to do it anywhere. the answer is let's do something federally and universal background checks where the support is so overwhelming. >> even before the 2014 elections, is there a strategy today that if you're writing it, you say okay, here's how we take this public opinion and turn it into legislation. i keep thinking, part of the reason we continue our war on terror is because no president wants to be in a position of a terrorist attack occurring on his or her watch even if the measures that we're taking wouldn't have impacted it. why are republicans so willing to allow it to happen again on their watch? another aurora, another newtown. >> the irony is aurora is more
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likely than a terrorist attack. that's the sad situation. again, there's a myth of the nra. the nra does not have the power and the clout that if approximate you look at the data and the results, it doesn't have that power and clout. but there's a myth of the power and clout. there's another dynamic. i've been in politics a long time. the squeaky wheel gets the oil. the nra is about the squeakest wheel that there is. they put enormous pressure, nonstop pressure on the elected officials. those folks who want to see change have got to move with the same level of pressure because that is what -- as a former staffer, that's what people respond to and people have to push back and push back hard. >> there's a fascinating study in "the new york times" about a pollster talking about what people know about the guns that exist. it talks about what's actually on the books is the most valuable work we can be doing. even 90%, including 90% of gun
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owners who support enforcement, stricter enforcement, but not necessarily new laws, most of them, six out of ten, have no idea that universal background checks do not exist. assume that your stuff is on the books. for enforcement rather than new laws. i have mo idea how weak or nonexistent -- >> loopholes they're called. when 40% of the guns are -- that's not a loophole. that is established policy. eer going to talk more on this when we come back. there's another new report released about james holmes. it was about what his psychiatrist warned about. it leads us to asking this question about the link between mental illness and gun violence. it's more complicated than you might think when we come back. the carful? how the bowlful? campbell's soups give you nutrition, energy, and can help you keep a healthy weight. campbell's. it's amazing what soup can do. so i can't afford to have germy surfaces.
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we learned this week that james holmes, the man accused of killing 12 and injuring 70 in a mass shooting in aurora, colorado, back in august made what a psychiatrist who treated him termed homicidal statements
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one month before the ram page at a movie theater. it was reported to the university of colorado police in june that holmes posed a threat to the public through violent comments he made to her. that holmes had stopped seeing her. that had gun threatening hervey a text message. all right, my psychiatrist friend jonathan. what are we to make of that sort of report? >> there are two main issues. let me say first of all, absolutely, it's the case that it was tragic in this case that authorities did not pay more attention. if you look at the history of mass shootings in the united states according to for example a great study by mother -- an article. there have been 62 mass shootings in the united states since the mid-1970 ez. about 40 of the cases the shooters have had serious mental symptoms like psychosis or depression x things like that. the two problems with this kind of -- the way that this kind of story is reported, one is that psychiatrists if they had to lock up every single time they got a report like this.
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anyway, as a group, psychiatrists can't predict who will had commit mass things. a lot of times, they'll get 25 times a day -- do we lock up everybody, what's the role? it turns out that psychiatric diagnosis is not a predictive, a predictive tool. in other words, we can prevent things by taking away people's guns. but it's not a predictive tool. the second problem, jeff swanson at duke has terrific research. mass shootings. what he shows is that we generalize from these very, very rare events, again, we've only had 30, 40, 50 of these. build policy based on that. we shoot each other. we shoot ourselves. there are 19,000 suicides. >> there are other questions to be asked beyond which piece of equipment was the person holding. i mean, killing is contextual. there's a lot going on. you talked about the war on
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terror. i can't help think that some of our gun legislation is like tsa strategy. take off your shoes to stop terrorism. no, we have to actually do more -- we have to ask more questions about why is killing happening. this crazy story out of georgia, young kids shoot a baby in the stroller. the gun is part of the problem but that's not the full picture. >> preventing the -- always fighting the last war. we go back and prevent the crime. now you take your shoes off because there was one -- sort of like what are you missing? yet, it feels to me that this is one of the places where people start to agree as well. they'll agree around universal background checks, crazy people don't deserve it. this is a slippery slope on this notion of mental diagnosis. >> i've been lecturing about guns and mental illness. i've been at the national public library. people were interested. i showed them the data on
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shootings. 85% of shootings are done within social network. the gun -- the crazy thing is like this fear that some stranger is going to shoot you, that is a line perpetuated by the nra. i try to show people when i lecture is actually let's work on limiting violence within social network. >> women -- polling shows women overwhelming that it's connected to other issues. >> it's the policy that's not just the most popular, it's going to have the biggest impact on the likelihood of mass shootings and the everyday shootings. for example, gun background checks were implicated in virginia tech where the records should have been in for the shooter but they weren't. gun background checks and universal checks were implicated at columbine where the shooters got their guns and no background check purchases at a gun show. so it is something that's going to implicate some of these mass shootings, but we know from prisoners, surveys of people in prison, that 80% of criminals
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who use guns got their guns from a no background check transfer. so it is the everyday massacres that we can help prevent that are taking place across kr the entire country and it will give us a shot at preventing some of these mass shootings. >> i've been asking you about the legislative. on the commercial break we were talking about culture and how deeply embedded gun culture is. i'm thinking yeah, but tobacco used to be. i said this a million times. guns remind me of cigarettes in that there was a time that i would have sat here onset as a tv news person smoking. even though there are still a lot of people who smoke. we have -- is it possible to do that even if we lose the legislative battle to chain the culture around guns? >> i do think it's possible to change culture around guns. i think it's necessary. i told the story earlier about my grandfather growing up, he had lots of guns. i went to georgia two weeks out of every summer and it was nothing to see him riding around with a gun in the back of a
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pickup truck and having guns around the house. it was part of the culture and part of what made him feel secure. he was a world war ii veteran and had gone through a lot of racial discrimination. that's how he sought to protect himself. as time is going by and seeing these incidents occur, i think there's a cultural shift taking place, but i do think, though, that it's so important that, again, i don't want to go back to this point. we have to push and get information out, the right information out, like you talked about this earlier, we have to get to the root of the problem. the research from the cdc, letting them do research on what's driving this. so there's legislation around solutions. >> research and information and culture and legislation and all working hand in hand. thank you to jonathan, tara and arkadi. laura is going to stay with us. the coming up, the real reason some teachers cheat. the comeback of a beloved art institution. the dance theater of harlem.
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there is more nerdland at the top of the hour. [ male announcer ] this is george.
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one and drive it right down the middle of pure michigan. your trip begins at welcome back. i'm -- the atlanta school system was rocked to its core. a former school superintendent were indicted in the largest school cheating scandal. indictments that came in part because of the investigative series cheating our children by the atlanta journal constitution. good journalism. on tuesday, the teachers, principals and administrators implicated in the scandal began turning themselves in. former atlanta public school superintendent beverly hall also turned herself in. she was able to negotiate her $7.5 million bond down to $200,000. the bond for hall and others was initially so high because they
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are part of a 65-count indictment. that indictment include charges of racketeering, making false statements and writings, perjury and theft by taking and influences. so yes. as a teacher, my response first is, whoa, this is bad. but i would like to broaden the conversation a bit. what i know as a teacher is when you give tests, some kids cheat. that's because tests yield grades. it's how well a student does in life. it incentivizes school systems. that can lead to cheating leading from an individual in the system as to alleged in atlanta, the entire system cheating within the system. the intensity of the states -- teachers no longer responsible to students but educators beholden of teaching to the test where the grades that students get become more important than what the students learn. at the table, laura flanders, host and founder of her show.
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and also linda darling hammond and co-direction toer of the school redesign network and raymond williams, principal of north babylon high school in long island, new york. so the atlanta story is horrifying but i also think, you know, you're a teacher. if you give tests, some kids writing on their armor getting it texted or on the bottom of their shoe. this is the whole system going this way. but is it because we've created an incentivized system to cheat because of the tests themselves? >> you know, in 2000 -- 2002 we passed a law called no child left behind. that law tied high stakes that is sanctions for schools to test score gains. every school has a certain amount of gain it's supposed to make every year. if it doesn't make the gain, the school goes into sanctions, can lose money, can be closed down. teachers can be fired. principals can be fired.
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that's been exacerbated with more recent policies that wear on. you can see how there are huge incentives in the system for people -- if the scores don't go up. currently, almost 90% of the schools in the country have failed to make what the law calls adequate yearly progress and are in danger of one kind of sanction or another. >> we disagree on the testing and the value of it. whatever else we do agree on, teachers should be accountable to their students, right? and schools should be. does this testing make them more or less accountable to the kids themselves. >> it makes them more accountable to the parents because very often it's the case that a parent wants to know where their child is. where is my child with respect to other children. how far are they on the trajectory to being able to read by third grade. we've allowed people to make excuses for the behavior of some individual, not just teachers. this couldn't have occurred if teachers were leading the
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charge. this is 100% principals leading the charge and the administration as a whole having these parties or had these parties allegedly in which they went through and changed the answers of children. we have to think about the profound impact of telling the parent that a child can do something they can't do. it's no different than a physician telling you you're healthy >> i want to ask. what does the test tell us our kids do? >> good point. one thing it tells us, they can tell us if they can add and auburn tract. child with right a persuasive essay. if everyone is teaching to the test, how come so many are failing. >> we're not using the test scores to evaluate progress and teaching. we are using them to determine entire futures of school systems, of schools, of kids. >> isn't that why they're there? >> this is the -- >> not in other countries. >> i don't think there's a dispute to -- it's bad to have
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teachers correcting the answers of kids in windowless rooms. to have teachers terrified that the school is going to lose funding. kids saying their lives are determined by one test. there's no test fair on all populations. it's already leading to not just this atlanta scandal but cheating in i think 37 states around the country. >> that's not the point. >> i think it's important to note that this is really atlanta issue in my opinion an ethics u issue. it's about professionals, educators, making the wrong decisionsment. >> sure. you can't treat that in isolation. you have, for instance, students now that are reporting to classes. i'm speaking from -- we're on the ground. they're reporting to classes. when they're reporting to classes, you have in my opinion, a narrowing of the curriculum that is slowly happening. in my opinion, again, a
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narrowing of the curriculum. when it narrows, what's happening? here's what the assessment is going to reflect. and this is what i am going to teach again to the test. >> let me suggest this. when a school has a choice, right? one of my concerns when we think particularly about low performing schools or poor schools, we start thinking of things that poor kids need. it's dramatically different than what well-resourced kids need. private schools have lots of resources. given an option of high stakes testing or not, schools don't -- they opt out and so at the top, this would make life bad for my teachers and students, i wonder why do impose on poor kids and communities things that we would not -- we know that the kind of cheating ha happens at the top and you know this, steve, if you're in the private school system and you have a kid not testing well, you get them a diagnosis so that they get time
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and a half on their testing. then you end up with -- i'm not saying that no kid deserves that. i'm saying the tools we use are still cheating tools. they're very different than -- >> the conversation around the narrowing of the curriculum is one that, again, allows us to absolve teachers from the responsibility of effectively teaching. if it was so narrow, if it's so narrow, how come we're not doing better. it's not just poor black and latino kids. that's not what it is. in as a country, the reason we're in the bottom of the world, it's not because of a couple kids failing an examination. it's because we're doing a bad job of conveying skills to children. teaching to the test. the test itself measures basic skills and when kids can't do basic skills because we as educators are not doing a good job of teaching them. >> there's a lot of misconceptions about what goes on approximate our tests in this country versus those in other countries in the world.
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we're in the top half of the world in reading and science. the bottom tier in math. the tests that we use are different than the tests in high achieving countries. they have open ended essay examinations and oral examinations. kids are doing scientific examinations and research papers. teachers score those. they're part of the examination. an accountability, system. you've got kids all across the country spending most of their time bubbling in. finding one answer out of five. rather than as we've learned in the research, they're not doing science anymore in a lot of schools, not doing social studies, not doing writing. they're not doing debates or disgregss or investigations. they're not going to be competitive with others in the world because we're driving all of our effort around these high stakes tests. which are poor measures of the range of things that kids are learning elsewhere. >> i sew appreciate you setting it in a multinational context.
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in part, because we think of this as a national race in terms of education. even within the u.s. context, i'm thinking you're at stanford. previously princeton. kids that end up in our chas rooms weren't doing bubbling scan trons. they were in schools where they had science labs and recreation programs and music programs and the fact is, i just feel like there's this constant sense on the one hand of this i get you, we got to know that kids can just read. yes, of course we do. >> we actually should be giving them tests that allow them to read rather than bubbling in. >> let's take a break. there's a lot of heat. take a break. we're coming right back on exact hi this topic. t cough. they don't? [ male announcer ] nope, but alka seltzer plus severe sinus does it treats your worst sinus symptoms, plus that annoying cough. [ breathes deeply ] ♪ oh, what a relief it is [ angry gibberish ]
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atlanta public school system may be embroiled in a cheating
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scandal, but it's not the only one bitten by the cheating bug. one or more cases of cheating were were documented in 37 different states as well as the district of columbia. mord to meet the demands of high stakes testing, teachers and administrators have been moan to -- moan to resort to tactics. shouting out correct answers, leaving the classroom unattended during tests. giving students notes with correct answers. school system may be driven to these lengths because of greed and political gain. it has had some consequences. there's a criticism of tactics saying standardized testing is unfair to students denying them a fair opportunity to learn. dropping out and retention and -- limiting what students learn, drives out good teachers and informs the public about how well a school is performing. cheating is one thing. but creating a system that fails our students is another thing
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altogether. principal, i want to come to you. atlanta, they're erasing and putting allegedly in new answers. but if i'm in a school where i want my grades to do well in terms of testing or i want to be able to say my seniors get into college, i start kicking out the bad kids around behavioral issues in freshman, sophomore, junior year. that's still cheating even if it's not erasing and putting in new answers. >> you know, as far as kicking kids out of classes, i don't know so much if that's a reality. because the teacher dos not necessarily have that power to remove that student from the classroom. does not have that power. if the administration is active and is properly supervising that structure, then it's very difficult for one to say, i'm just going to remove you from my classroom. this is not in my opinion 20, 30 years ago when you remove a
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student there's not a procedure. now there's a process, there's a procedure. if i'm going to remove this student because i don't believe in their ability and so forth as an underlying reason to remove the student, there must be a report, there must be something filed, information leading -- coming to the administrator in their respective building. >> that's -- zero tolerance school. let me just say something about the research on this. we've now got many studies. one of which i did with some colleagues but there are many others which show that whole systems have created policies that eliminate low scoring kids where the texas miracle started where there's this miracle that everybody does -- on policies we have nationally now. we found that in one of the largest districts in that state, two third of the kids in high school were pushed out before graduation. they were withheld back in ninth
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grade and only 12% of the kids held back ever were able to take the test and graduate. they were kicked out with zero tolerance policies. large scales. >> my practitioners are going nuts. >> academics like this is -- >> they're going nuts. >> actually administer the examination. >> we did interview 100 administrators in that district and teachers who told us how they were excluding kids from school. >> we have a student who is not present on the day of exam, it counts against you. i don't know how you can remove a kid to up your scores. >> the school entirely not just the day of the exam. >> they are in the school system and everyone in the school system must take these tests if they're in school. and we're responsible, if these are students. the bottom line is this. >> if they're in school is the question. >> if the conversation is around student performance, pin pal williams runs a larger school than i, 1500. i run 700.
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his is more suburban than mine. yet our performance is commensurate with one another. we have about 60% poor areas, about 10, 11% poor. yet our performance is commensurate in some cases we may outperform their scores. this is not hyperbole. this is the truth. teaching to the test and performance is relevant because our students need to be in places where we can measure their performance and we need to be able to determine the value as experience -- there do need to be adjustments made in the way we administer examinations like we shouldn't do it all in one month. it should be broken down over the course of the year. there should be smaller exams over in the day-to-day operations of the school. at the end of the day, we need a standard measure, not loved by everyone in which to determine two o third graders are reading at a third grade level. >> talking cross-purposes i think. you're talking about assessment and testing and tools and
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standardized tests. we can have our discussions about standardized tests and the history of bias in those tests. what we're really talking about is a high stakes mechanism, this no excuse motto over success of administrations. no excuses when you've got a standard that you want 100% success or the school failed, you have n agenda for no explanation, no inquiry, no explanation, no discussion of how is a kid faring. what might make it more successful for the student. not just one moment of testing. >> i'm wondering how it makes us do odd things. as much as i want to absolutely honor what you're saying about the numbers that you're looking at, i think we have to honor the professors on some of this. some of the this ings we know for example is library budgets get cut from buying books in order to instead buy test prep materials. i just want to say, i'm there's
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no involved parent orchid who thinks it makes more sense not to read not through books and learning of great literature and exploration of stories and ideas. that is when we just look at the budget and you can see that in places that have high stakes testing, they spend the library budget on test prep. that says to me, yes, i hear your story. on the other hand, if that's the measure, then you haven't measured something about an engagement. >> would be the first to say that overwhelmingly more and more students are coming in incapable of -- not because they -- they haven't been taught. because the tests are actually working. >> is there some reason to -- let me ask this. is there some reason to believe that at some point in our development as a nation, teachers just started hating students and being bad at their jobs. >> i didn't say it was about hate. >> or started being bad -- but if you're telling me that there was a point at which as a college professor i would have had students who did a good job
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on writing their essays and now i don't. in 1990 did teachers say you know what, screw it, i'm down. >> but that's a false argument, though. >> the multiple choice tests became the basis of high stakes, that's when very little writing, when writing decreased in schools. because if you're held accountable, in most states, the states are exclusively multiple choice. therest no time in the curriculum for writing when you're teaching to those tests. i do want to say something about the fact that connecticut is a very different state with respect to the stakes that it's had on its tests than texas or georgia. georgia, texas, other places started tie-in test source, multiple choice test scores to student promotions, graduation, teacher, merit pay, bonuses for principals, school continuation long before many other states did. that range of stakes, the reason
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we see the large scale push-out of kids into the school to prison pipeline is because high stakes were higher and greater there and longer term than in other states where they're just beginning to come online. so kek connect and new york are just beginning to experience what some other states experiencing for some time. >> stay right there. we'll come back on these issues. there's a lot to say about testing. [ male announcer ] this is betsy. her long day of pick ups and drop offs begins with arthritis pain... and a choice. take up to 6 tylenol in a day or just 2 aleve for all day relief. all aboard. ♪
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we're talking and fussing a little bit about what's wrong with our testing system within education. let me suggest this. everybody knows we've got to evaluate. testing cannot be the only measure of a student, teacher or school's success. let's broaden our lens and ask how can we assess that's more experiential, hands-on and holistic as a process for everybody involved? what would that look like? >> i always say this.
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when you look at science classes, particularly in high schools, you have the lab component. there's an exploration of learning. there's a reinforcement of the initial instruction that took place either the day before or the period before that. i think when you look at that type of evaluation system where the educator is evaluating that child about that hands-on experience, they're fully evaluating that whole child in that moment. it's not just this touching on the filling in the bubble, limited thinking, that skill and drill, that may have occurred the day before that they're responding to, to prepare them for that assessment. >> can i also suggest this, this we learn from science. failure is the only way to learn, right? in a lab, i mean, this is part of one of the things that makes me -- made it tough for me to do science. i'm a perfectionist. you got to fail, fail, fail before your experiment works. what concerns me about about the high stakes testing and the way
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that we test is we take away children's willingness do the hard thing. if i have to only do the things i succeed at, i won't try the hard stuff because i'll fail. that's what the creative energy of education. >> that's not being taken away from them. we're talking about a couple tests in a couple days of the year. there are multiple opportunities with effective educators that -- when i say educators, i'm talking about principals and everyone else in the building, social workers. for them to provide multiple types of assessments. it's not just the examination. we need some form of measurement that says this school, aggregate, these individuals and their teaching are either doing their job, which is to teach basic skills or not. >> but there are other ways to do it. we're alone in the world in requiring multiple choice tests for our kids. the high-achieving countries don't do that. their assessments are open ended, essay examinations. you can't cheat on them in the
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same way. they're oral. they're plan and experiment. conduct your experiment. write up your results, these are bigger projects that actually test the skills that we need in the 21st century. that's what they do in their assessment and examination. they don't use the tools we do. we've got to move beyond the kind of bubble and scan tron approach that we've been attached to. >> we had the npr folks who did the harper high school in-depth reporting on the show a couple of weeks ago. what i kept thinking as i was listening to the harper story, i heard fairly little about what was happening in the classroom. in part, because what the teachers and administrators were doing is keeping the kids alive, keeping them fed, and i kept thinking how does any of this measure that? i hear you. i want to figure out, is a school a good school or not? but part of how i know if a school is performing isn't just what happens on the test. it's the thing that that school is in a community.
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the extent to which it creates a safe place to go, the extent to which people feel connected to it. the place where my kids first went to elementary school, everybody knows the principal, he's been there for 20, 30 years. those are things that i want to figure out how do we measure that? >> it's not just the bubbles on the tests that are the problem. it's the bubbles we put around the school as if what happens in that school is -- again, it goes back to in a way what we were talking about in the earlier hour on the gun discussion, this is contextual. there's a context for how kids are performing. there has to do more than with the teacher, it has to do the economics of the school, the environment, the community. >> we're not -- it doesn't. >> just to reinforce, we spend three times as much in the high -- we spend more on the education of affluent kids owe in more states. >> that's not true at all. in new jersey, there's no other
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city in the state that spends that much. >> new jersey has districts that spend as high as $35,000. >> one of the things you'll piend is that the reason why the children are not performing is not because they are poor, it is because they are in a poorly run school and poorly run classroom. >> let me suggest there is invisible spending. let me suggest this. if you are in wealthy school districts, parents are also paying for tutors after school, enrichment activities and very expensive summer cams. it's april, right. we don't count any of that when we talk about per pupil spending, right? some of it is that there are huge disparities in some states, some of it is we miss a lot of the invisible spending that goes on. i guess, what i want to be clear about, i'm not saying poor kids can't learn. that is crazy. poor kids are absolutely capable of learning. >> two of them are here right now. >> yeah. >> i mean, we're so --
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>> i live in new orleans. i watch our poor kids learn all kinds of -- in fact, i see them stand on the street corner in my neighborhood and play brass instruments at 8 and 9 years old. they're amazing and exceptional. i tell you what, i bet they don't test well. i bet the 9-year-old standing on my corner playing the trumpet. >> because of where they go to school. >> right. how do i somehow provide a way of measuring the extraordinary capacity of that 9-year-old playing the trumpet? >> may i say something quick on the assessment piece. with this heavy focus on the assessment, which is absolutely critical and important, you also have young people that, when they're -- when they're in the classrooms, it's such a difficult transition for them if they're coming from a disenfranchised household, community where they're in great need of early intervention. it's very, very difficult for
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that educatorment again, i know i'm looping back. it's very, very difficult for that educator who wants to do well. who wants to appear or see that there are indeed effective. who sometimes does not understand the plight of that young person. it's very difficult for them to reach those individuals. it's very difficult to have someone that's never been exposed to those elements. i know it's in part our jobs to bring it to their consciousness. they're utilizing professional development and also making every single effort that we can during the regular school day to reach every single student and passing it on to them that we believe that you are able, that you are capable. it's just a very difficult dynamic. >> it is. you know. more than anything, i want to end there because i think that is what i absolutely value. it is difficult, right? i'm getting beat up in the press these days for talking about the
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notion that kids are not just our own individual kids, they're our kids. we have collective responsibility, our schools, our communities and whether you and i agree or not x one thing i know for certain the people at this table care about our kids. not just the ones we birth, but the ones we're all responsible for. thank you for that, and thank you to my panel, laura, steve, linda and raymond. one of the things kids should have more of is the arts. the dance theater of harlem, then and now. when we come back. this is a love institution, it's back home. with the spark cash card
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like many art forms, dance is an expression that reflects a society in which it exists. especially for author mitchell the co-founder of the dance theater of harlem.
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the first black classical ballet company. the stug struggles and triumphs of the civil rights era. a look back at some of his teachings. >> most of the people that come from here succeed. wherever they go, they do very, very well because of the discipline. and that is what i've tried to instill in all the young people here. they do not realize or comprehend the fact that they can't do anything. least of all because of their skin color. >> arthur mitchell's lesson is with dedication and pride in your work, you can do anything. he did when against all odds and contrary to some critics, he danced in the new york city ballet, the first black in a major classical dance company. it was an important lesson for the children of harlem in 1968. the year he founded his international recognized school in professional dance theater. it almost vanished this year,
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facing a $1.7 million loss, the dance theater of harlem laid off all its dancers for the summer. ha taught mitchell something more about his art. >> we really have to run it more like a business. we have to take a very, very big step and bigger pill to cancel the new york season, lay the dancers off, part of the technicians and part of the administrative staff and it was very hard step for me to take. but also a very big growth step for me. >> even after the layoffs and outside funding, budgetary constraints forced them to cease performing in 2004. we are thrilled to announce this year they're back and in full effect. we'll talk to the people behind the rebirth of the dance theater of harlem after the break. our fastest way to return your car. just note your mileage and zap ! you're outta there ! we'll e-mail your receipt in a flash, too. it's just another way you'll be traveling at the speed of hertz.
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that african-american arthur mitchell that created the dance theater of harlem. this happened shortly after the death of martin luther king, jr. the company broke barriers, presenting classically trained black ballet dancers to the world. 1988 dance theater of harlem was the first american ballet company to perform in the former soviet union receiving a rare standing ovation during the landmark five-week tour. the company continued to win accolades despite financial difficulties that put the profession professional troupe on high ate is. they will begin performing here in new york city. i'm pleased to o welcome virginia johnson and once the principal dancer and robert garland, the resident choreographer of the company. i've enjoyed you guys sitting here while we've been seeing some of the film. i see you in fact doing sort of ballerina sitting up straight as you're watching.
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>> absolutely. >> how are you feeling about it being back? >> this is an incredible moment for dance theater of harlem. as you said, we've been gone eight years. a brand new company continuing the legacy of ar they are mitchell, that means the world. >> part of that moment in the 1960ss was about demonstrating that african-americans could do this sort of dance, could be classically trained ballerinas. how important is that message still today or is dance theater of harlem going to be a more integrated company with a different kind of goal? >> truth be told, the company was always integrated and reflective of hits community, there were always dominicans and puerto ricans. there were people from african-american descent, paris, all over the world. this company will look more like that. we're used to it now.
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it's going to be a good time for -- >> does a gentrified harlem mean a gentrified dance theater of harlem? i don't mean that in the negative notion of what gentrification means. i mean in the sense of a different kind as there was a decade ago or four decades ago. >> the thing is, we want to put the emphasis on ballet on what is this art form and what does this art form do in this century. it's not about one or another. to have a diverse group of dancers showing what the possibilities of the art form are. >> what are they? what is ballet? why should we care? >> it's an art form that helps you understand what it is to be alive. it is -- we do the classical ballets, neoclassical ballets. we do contemporary ballets that talk about african-american life in the 21st century. there is that classic question that's sometimes asked of
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philosophically in terms of self-help, what is the one thing you do if money was no object? the answer is i'd be a ballerina. i absolutely cannot be a ballerina. even having danced as a kid. it's in part because that language that you just used, that it is about showing what is possible every time i see the dancers, i just think, look at that human body doing that amazing thing. >> oh, absolutely. the human body is an incredible thing to work with all day. we have this great technology with our phones and computers, there's nothing like technology of the ear, the eye, our sense of smell. all these things go into being a dancer. because you have to lead with your instrument. you also have to take care of it very well which gets into eating healthy, having a healthy lifestyle, things like that. >> let me touch on that a little bit. what difference does it make for me as a viewer to go and see a performance live versus pulling it up on my iphone or ipad and
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watching the performance. >> that's a great question. because you can see wonderful things on this electronic device. you can see the outline of the performance. when you're in the theater, it's a 360-degree exchange. the dancers are giving the audience is giving to the dancers. there's a tremendous electricity that happens and you're in the theater, you're sitting with 2,000 people that you don't know and you're sharing an experience that's only happening that one time. you can't touch that with electronics. >> this is a smaller dance heeter of harlem, right? there are 18 dancers as opposed to 44 which is where it went out at the height. are young people today still having the opportunity to train as dancers very young? is there the pool that you need to -- both at the dance theater of harlem but anywhere to draw from, particularly here in the u.s.? >> at our school we have tons of scholarships that we give out
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because for african-american students particularly, the socioeconomic challenges can be such that might be prohibitive towards studying ballet. but in the end, we get them, we give them the scholarships they need. we train them and they go and do wonderful thing. it is a challenge. we're seeking money for scholarships. mr. mitchell initially wanted just a school and then people came that were already trained, adults. so we sort of had to make a company. that became our advertisement around the world when we were in the company together. >> what is it like to be in these positions of leadership within the company? >> it's a huge responsibility. i became a ballerina because arthur mitchell made it possible for me to fulfill that dream. now, that's my job to make it possible for another generation of dancers to have that chance to be challenged against this art form and make something more of themselves than even they can imagine. so yes, it's a responsibility, it's a great joy.
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there's nothing like dancing as you say. it is the most exquisite thing and it uplifts the spirit. being a part of that makes all the hard work much more bearable. >> talk to me about why something like the dance theater of harlem, we had misty copeland on fairly early on. i am both awed by her, my director who would never take the camera off of her the entire time she was sitting here is completely awed by her, my younger daughter. we need to african-american dancers, we need dancers of color to sort of integrate the places like the american ballet theater. why do we need the dance theater of harlem? why bring it back at this moment? >> you know, when i was a founder of the company, there was a tremendous -- we had works by other prominent african-american choreographers. it isn't just the dancers, but myself as a core ago rafr.
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i get to choreograph james brown, aretha. it's not an odd thing. because it's dancers of harlem. that's one of the benefits. >> in fact, i am thrilled that you all are back and i cannot wait to come and see a performance and bring my daughter to see one as well. >> thank you. >> thank you to virginia johnson and robert garland. before we go to break, i need to pay tribute to roger ebert, the beloved film critic for the chicago sun-times. he passed away after a long battle with thyroid cancer. more than 40 years this pulitzer prize winner shared his passion for the movies with us. i don't want to miss this part of the legacy. he helped to promote a more diverse hollywood. he was an early champion of african-american filmmakers and stars like spike lee and denzel washington. as president obama said, the movies will not be the same without roger. up next, the teens daring to dance across the racial divide.
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at tulane university, i direct the ana julia newton project. each year we sponsor an essay competition. this year the cooper project asked students to reflect upon this question, what do you think is valuable about having integrated classrooms and learning virlearn ing environments. in her essay, julia wrote, in an integrated classroom you get to see many points of view and you learn to appreciate how other people see things. if there aren't other people to learn from, then it's harder to appreciate someone else later. julia is not even yet a teenager but her essay echoes the sentiments of one of america's great jurists, chief justice
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earl warren. in 1954, warn wrote, we conclude that in the field of public education, the doctrine of separate but equal has no place, separate educational facilities -- and it is clear to a brilliant seventh grade student today, but many parents at wilcox county, georgia still don't get it today. which is why these adults continue to separate high school proms. these parents as a -- hold separate senior proms for white and black students. but this year, a group of students said that segregation had stood long enough. they decided to fundraise for a
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integrated senior prime minister. this week they announced having raised enough money to throw a prom, together, all of them regardless of race. they posted this message to their donors saying we believe with love you opened up your hearts so we they thank you again from the bottom of our hearts. honestly, i kind of can't believe that in 2013, i find myself of reporting on the victory of achieving an integrated school dance. i can't believe that students have to use social media and bake sales to be able to have an integrated prom. thank goodness there's people willing to teach it to us again and again and again, maybe we'll eventually be smart enough to learn it for good. that's our show for today.
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thank you for watching at home, now it's time for a preview with weekends with alex witt with alex. >> bravo on that one, melissa, this one. the military releases more training video, is the u.s. working to calm the situation? a new report that makes the already bad rutgers scandal, if that's even possible. stay with us, everyone. apit, bjorn earns unlimited rewards for his small business. take these bags to room 12 please. [ garth ] bjorn's small business earns double miles on every purchase every day. produce delivery. [ bjorn ] just put it on my spark card. [ garth ] why settle for less? ahh, oh! [ garth ] great businesses deserve unlimited rewards. here's your wake up call. [ male announcer ] get the spark business card from capital one and earn unlimited rewards. choose double miles or 2% cash back on every purchase every day. what's in your wallet? [ crows ] now where's the snooze button?
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