tv NBC Bay Area News Special NBC March 9, 2013 6:30pm-7:00pm PST
california got an f. coming in at the bottom of the pack. i asked her why. >> with all due respect to some of these states, we got lumped in with alabama, montana, nebraska, north dakota. i mean, these are hardly -- you could hardly compare these on other levels to california when people consider us to be an innovation hub. >> yeah. >> in the country and yet we're lumped in with these other states. >> yeah. we are lumped in with some of the lowest-performing states in the country because if you look at the public education in california, we are not -- we used to have the best public education system in the country and we've gone from first to worst and it's astonishing, actually, to see how little progress the state has made compared to where other states across the country are that have prioritized this issue. >> so nobody got an a? >> i'm a tough grader. nobody got an a. we had a couple states that had
b minuses. a few cs but quite frankly, lots of ds and fs. lots of people came up to me and said, you were so harsh. i said, well, let's look at the situation. this country is 14th, 17th, and 25th internationally on reading, science, and math. 25th in math. i mean, if you look at the countries that are ahead of us in math, hungary, slow vain yeah, liechtstein, and can you imagine if we fell behind in the olympic medal count to a country like hungary, people would be going nuts. but why is it that we can be 25th in math in the globe and nobody really cares. >> florida has a third of the kids that california has in school, 100,000 teachers less
but they have a significant latino population. >> that's correct. >> what are they doing in florida better than what we're doing in california? >> florida is a great example because florida has the diversity that in many ways california does and the other interesting thing is that florida, you know, 10 to 15 years ago was in the bottom third. >> it was not doing well. >> it was not doing well at all. and the changes there started with governor bush, put in place some very aggressive education reforms, like letter grading of all of the schools, saying we're going to tell the public, is your school an "a," a "d" or an "f"? and something came out yesterday that talked about a.p. scores of kids nationwide and florida was in the top five. so they've moved from being in the bottom third to the top five on these measures. i mean, that is really significant. >> what would it take for
california to do a transformation like that? 15 years is not a long time to overhaul the school system. >> that's right. that's why i feel so much hope and confidence of what we can do in california. because if we have some leadership that says, okay, we're going to make this a priority in the state, we know that we can't be a healthy, vibrant, successful state in the long run unless we have great schools, then, you know, we can get started and these policies that we lay out in our report card, there are 37 policies. and if this state and the legislature started to move forward in terms of implementing these policies, it would move the state in the right direction. but here's the problem. so over the last year to two, the obama administration through secretary arnie duncan has been trying to push states. >> right. >> to adopt new teacher evaluation systems that are more rigorous, that really differentiate who are your best
performers, who are your not so good performers and to make staffing decisions based on those evaluations. >> and california hasn't bought in? >> not only has california not bought in, 38 states across the nation have promised the federal government we're going to move in this direction. >> uh-huh. >> last year, california introduce legislation in its legislature that said that we are going to make it illegal to count student achievement growth in a teacher's evaluation. >> which is powered by the unions, you think? >> exactly. it's exactly the opposite of what the obama administration was pushing and exactly the opposite of what 38 other states are doing. it's not just staying still and maintaining the status quo, it's trying to move the state backwards and that's something that should frustrate every taxpayer, every mother, every
gra grandparent to say, why can't we aspire to having a highly effective teacher in front of every school every day? i don't think that's too much for people to ask for. >> she does not hold back and neither does our next guest. when we come back, the teacher association's president's take on what rhee has to say. that's coming up next. you can't move the tv there. yuh-huh. we have a wireless receiver. listen. back in my day, there was no u-verse wireless receiver that let you move the tv away from the tv outlet. we can move it to the kitchen, the patio, the closet and almost anywhere. why would you want a tv in the closet? [ both laugh ] ♪ [ fancy voice ] brilliant idea, darling. ♪ [ female announcer ] the wireless receiver. get u-verse tv for just $19 a month for 1 year when you bundle tv and internet. rethink possible.
welcome back to the nbc bay area special. a major union here in the bay area, just last month jennifer was honored in washington, d.c., by the association's foundation as one of the top educators in the country. thank you so much for being here. >> thank you for having me back. >> we wanted to get your take on what you heard from michelle rhee and the policies that she has. but i think i want to start off by just asking you about your reaction to her. it's almost a visceral one,
because i know you're going to be against some of her policies, that this whole concept that is a school saviour? >> i think the biggest problem is she doesn't have enough experience in public education in order to be the saviour of anything. so the intro described of michelle rhee has a lightning rod, she sure is as far as controversy. she's a critic. not a reformer. a reformer offers suggestions on how to change a system. michelle rhee has little experience inside a classroom. >> so you don't buy her credentials of being a teacher or chancellor of d.c. >> she was a teacher in a classroom for three years and i think i was at the end of my fourth year before i really realized that i had some ability to do this job, that i understood what it took to be a public school teacher and she talks today about some of the issues she had in the classroom. listening to her and her experience, i would observe her as a teacher who struggled in
the classroom and that goes to that issue of trust. teachers in the state of california often approach people with assuming they have the best intentions but when you can't walk the walk, nobody wants to listen to you talk the talk. >> okay. let's start with this report card that she gave california about some of its policies. do you think that we deserve the f or are you happy we got the "f" because you don't like the policies? >> i wouldn't say that the "f" is a badge of honor but i looked at her grading system and her priorities do not conform with people that do education reform. >> like what? >> a portable retirement system. not sure how that achieves students in the classroom. tieing scores to teacher evaluation, very popular among the education reform but i can't find a single study that says tieing standardized testing to teacher evaluation improves
student outcomes. >> the obama administration is pushing that, a lot of states have been able to get that kind of money from the system but california hasn't. are you not in favor of any -- most people get evaluated at a job. should teachers be the only people who don't get evaluated? >> of course not. michelle rhee says things like teacher who is are not performing need to be fired and i don't think there is anybody in the state who would disagree with that but she recites the same platitude over and over again. linking standardized testing to teacher evaluation is nothing new. but nothing has been done about it. all we can see are the tremendous failures and tremendous problems that a system like that brings, which she hasn't even begun to acknowledge. >> how would you do teacher evaluations? >> i think the fair concept is one that's being done in states like maryland.
montgomery county is a system of over 11,000 teachers. by the way, they got a d plus in michelle's report card. identification of problems and ensuring that the evaluation system is fair and just. when you have a colleague in your room 10, 15 times sit down with you and say, hey, jen, you've got problem with classroom management, i'm going to help you work it out, you improve the profession. you can't just go in and fire 246 teachers and expect students to perform better. in fact, they haven't. >> i saw you roll your eyes when she talked about kids in slovania and hungary are doing better. >> the one thing that we never talked about is the influence of poverty on students on these international tests. when you control for poverty, students in the united states do just as well or better than 75%
of the countries who takes these international exams. poverty is the number one indicator of success in the united states and we don't talk about it at all. instead, we talk about how we're going to evaluate teachers differently as if that's the only thing that matters in this conversation. >> it seems like right now we're at a point where you have two separate camps. you have the michelle rhee camp and the reformers and then over here. is there a way to find a middle ground to be able to advance -- i think everybody has the same goal. we want education to be better for our kids. why can't we find a middle ground? is it even possible at this point? >> i think locally we are finding that middle ground. our opportunity 2k3wgaps are no closing, achievement gaps between people in the system and instead of sitting down and saying you need to work harder, we say, what are the real issues? we don't issue report cards for
a to f for each school in our district to humiliate our teachers and embarrass our students and families. we say, we need to solve these problems. here are the problems. what can we do instead? >> you have the last 20 seconds. as people continue to watch and hear her, what would you like them to keep in mind? >> she keeps pointing out problems and never puts forth a solution. we are just tired of people coming in and pointing out things obvious to us. every child deserves the best education we can give them. every child deserves to fulfill his or her potential and we need help, reliable, practical, research solutions. >> we'll be right back after the break.
watching our water shed helps you see how it moves through the community. >> they use the model in the refuge to show kids storm water pollution prevention and their connection to the fact that they all live within the watershed. watching our watershed teaches us where our water goes and how we collect through the storm drains. through the program you can see where the water goes down your
storm drain and into a creek or river and how they are connected to the bay. it also teaches you historically where you're located and how you could have wetlands that used to be in your area or creeks and rivers that are now engineer channels. as an educator, i think this will be really helpful to use in my programs because you can visually see where the water goes. it's teaching about the fact of storm drains and you can show them and they can work with the schools themselves to really see and make the connection to the role that they play in storm water pollution prevention. >> the easiest way to get the module is to go to mywatershedwatch.org. 's. welcome back. i'm jessica aguirre. more now with michelle rhee.
we asked her about jerry brown's plan to overhaul funding. all districts would get a base amount per student but struggling schools would get more. does she see that as smart or fair? >> part is to give local control to the districts and the others to do that weighted formula where you get a base for all kids. >> correct. >> and then latino kids and poor kids would get money on top of that. >> correct. so the weighted student funding formula idea is a good one in that there are some children, because of the challenges that they face, it's going to cost more. it's going to take more resources to get them to where we need them to be. so that makes sense. more flexibility from all of these categorical spending requirements makes sense as well. the concern that i have is that when you move towards local control, then you have local school boards making lots of
decisions. there's got to be accountability in that. so in other words, let's take d.c. as an example. that's where i was the superintendent. we had lots of money. we were spending more money per kid than any other city in the entire nation. >> and that was one of your criticisms of the system? >> yeah, because the money wasn't actually going to the right places. we had a billion dollar budget for the city schools and only 403 million of that billion dollars was going into the schools and the classrooms. >> uh-huh. >> so if you allow a bureaucracy to spend money where they want, what happens if they spend it more on the blow to bureaucracy than the kids in the classroom, right? >> so your basic premise, you want to see that money go directly to the kids? >> number one. we want there to be full transparency about where all of the dollars are going and there has to be an analysis of what the return on investment is. >> what did us that mean? >> we are spending a lot of money on education, on things
that make no difference for kids. >> like what? >> let me give you an example. master's degrees for teachers. >> uh-huh. >> we spend in this country billions and billions of dollars paying teachers for having their master's degree. sometimes we pay their tuition but the research is clear that teachers with master's degrees don't have better outcomes for their kids. you should keep that money into teacher's salaries. just use it to pay the best teachers more. right? because i believe that if you paid the best teachers more money, that would incent them to stay in the system. >> and attract better teachers. >> absolutely. it makes great teachers feel valued. if i'm a great teacher in a classroom and the teacher down the hallway, i and everyone else knows not so good. she gets paid a lot more money than me because she's been here
longer, it's very demoralizing. it makes that teacher feel like, it doesn't matter what i do, it's not being taken into consideration. don't get me wrong, teachers don't get into this for the money but it sends a message about whether or not they are important. >> let's talk about students. you've been in operation for two years? >> yeah. >> so when you first started out, you had a list of 17 states that you wanted to really enact reform in. >> yes. >> and some of them you've been very successful. >> yeah. >> but it doesn't seem like california has seen that much done by your organization. why is that? >> well, when i first started the organization, we were not involved in california at all. and -- but we were headquartered in sacramento because my husband is a mayor there. he says you need to come to the belly of the beast, baby. if you can make it happen in california, then it changes the landscape of the entire country and i think he was right. but for the first year and a half we weren't active in california. over the last few months we've been mobilizing our members, kind of getting them organized
and now we're at the point where we're going to be ready to sort of get active and it's going to be harder in california, frankly, than it has been in florida or michigan or tennessee. it's going to be a slower road because we're further behind, because there's less openness and the legislature is taking on these issues but you've got to start somewhere. >> what are your priorities for california now that you're mobilizing? >> for us it's really around the teacher quality pieces, first and foremost. so focusing in on teacher quality, making sure that we have rigorous evaluation systems, making sure that we can get rid of laws that last and layoff policies. those are the things that we think need to happen first in california into when we come back, rhee on why she says she's been unfairly labeled as anti-teacher.
welcome back. the label of anti-rhee is the heart of a new book. it's rhee's attempt to set the record straight on herself. >> my convictions are so strong, my belief in children and teachers is unshakeable and i wanted people to understand where that came from. it's because i come from teachers. my grandfather was a teacher, my maternal grandmother was a teacher, four of my aunts, my sister, my best friend. i have always all my life been around teachers. >> you're a teacher. >> i am a teacher. it was because of that that my respect for teachers and my understanding and belief in what they could do with children grew. and so now it's crazy to me. people say she's anti-teacher. how can i be the anti-teacher? i believe so much in teachers that i hold a high expectation for them. if i didn't believe in teachers, if i didn't think that what they did mattered, then i wouldn't hold a high expectation for them. >> why do you think you're
dogged by that perception that you're anti-teacher. do you think that's a label someone has put on you and it's a convenient label for someone to ding you? >> i will tell you why it's happened. because i've been willing to say what i think is the truth which is that the vast majority of teachers in this country are effective and doing great but there are people in this country who don't belong in the classroom. >> right. >> and those people should be terminated from the system. we cannot be in a situation where we are putting our children's lives and futures in the hands of people that we know are ineffective. >> certainly not one to mince words. i think most of us agree elevating california to its prior golden gate status is something that we all want. but is it possible? well, even rhee thinks so. >> we have to educate the public on why this is the most critical
issue facing our economy. some people think it's jobs and the economy. to a certain extent that's right but the bailouts and stimulus packages, those are band-aid solutions. we're never going to regain our place in the global marketplace until we fix our public education system and our kids have the math and science programs, engineering to bring to fruition, innovation. there's going to be no stopping our country. but first there has to be an acknowledgement that there's a significant problem. >> and there you have michelle rhee's master plan. end us an e-mail. we want to hear from you. thanks for watching. have a good night.
women movement in 1970's with the betrayal of mary best friend rhoda and now valerie shows the same honest fearlessness that she faces no now. amazing and stay as listening as you can. point an words from 73-year-old valerie who is struggling with moments of hope, grieve and realism with grim prognosis. she has terminal brain cancer and preparing to take the final bow. >> cancer cell have invaded the fluid around her brain and it is incurable. so she's been given about three months to live. >> telling her story in the pages of people valerie only learned of her deadly condition seven weeks ago on january 15. back in august when she first felt the symptoms. >> valerie felt a strange
tingling in the stomach area last summer and then it was during holiday time around december where she had vomitin vomiting. >> that's when she became violently ill while running errand in the car saying quote my windshield was obliterated with vomit and i hadn't felt sick. later found out it's a bench mark for a seizure. next month she became numb in the jaw and after more hospital test they detected cancer cell in the final fluid ultimately leading to the terminal diagnosis. despite being given only months to live valerie maintenance hope for a miracle and has decided to undergo chemotherapy with a drug that has limited success in killing cancer cells because quote i have a fighting chance until i'm gone. i'm well past my expiration date already. >> do you want anything. >> i'm still on my diet. do you have any wax fruit? >> the tv icon with 4em