ARE YOUR KIDS FAILING IN SCHOOL?

December 06, 2018 at 4:45 am

If so, who is to blame? You may not want to hear the answer. We have the breakdown.

Aired on December 5, 2018. 

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>>> SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP.
THAT'S THE TITLE OF A NEW BOOK
ADDRESSING THE PROBLEMS IN OUR
EDUCATION SYSTEM.
WRITTEN BY A FORMER SUBSTITUTE
TEACHER, YOU'RE MORE LIKELY TO
KNOW THE AUTHOR AS A WRITER OF
THE HIT TV SHOW "THE NEWSROOM."
WHY IS HE TAKING ON THE
EDUCATION SYSTEM?
HIS PARENTS ARE BOTH TEACHERS SO
HE TOOK ON WORK AS A SUBSTITUTE
HIMSELF AND WHAT HE LEARNED
ABOUT THE SCHOOL SYSTEM AND THE
FAILURES MAY SURPRISE YOU.
WHO'S TO BLAME, THE UNITED
NATIONS PERHAPS, THE CRACK
EPIDEMIC, DISINTERESTED TEACHERS
OR PARENTS?
OR IS IT THE CHILDREN THEMSELVES
OR IS IT ALL OF THE ABOVE?
HERE WITH THE ANSWERS TO THOSE
QUESTIONS WE'RE DELIGHTED TO
HAVE THE AUTHOR JOINING US.
>> GREAT TO BE HERE.
>> SO YOU AND I WERE TALKING
ABOUT THE BOOKS, FOCUSED ON THE
QUESTION OF WHY.
LET ME START FIRST WITH A WHY
QUESTION FOR YOU AND THAT IS --
AGAIN, YOU HAD THIS MARVELOUS IN
THE MIDST OF THE MARVELOUS
CAREER AS A TELEVISION WRITER,
BUT EARLIER ON YOU DECIDED YOU
WERE GOING TO SPEND SOME TIME AS
A SUBSTITUTE TEACHER.
WHY?
>> GREAT QUESTION.
AS A WRITER, THE ANSWER IS I CAN
BE A LITTLE BIT OF A BUM TO BE
HONEST.
IF IT'S UP TO ME, I'D BE UP
UNTIL 4:00 IN THE MORNING.
AND I FOUND --
>> AND SLEEP TILL NOON.
>> SLEEP TILL NOON.
IT ENDED UP THROWING OFF MY
RHYTHM -- I WAS WORKING ON A
PROJECT BY MYSELF.
A FRIEND OF MINE, YOU ALWAYS
TUTORED, INTERESTED IN
EDUCATION.
YOU SHOULD SUBSTITUTE A COUPLE
OF DAYS A WEEK, ORGANIZE YOUR
DAY.
GIVE YOU SOME STRUCTURE, SO I
DECIDED TO TAKE ON THAT JOB.
I DID IT A COUPLE OF TIMES A
WEEK.
MY FIRST DAY OF MY FIRST PERIOD
OF MY FIRST DAY WHICH IS THE
OPENING --
>> THE OPENING WORDS AND THIS.
>> YEAH.
>> TELL ME ABOUT THAT.
>> SO I'M STANDING IN A CLASS
AND IT'S NOT GOING WELL.
NOT QUITE SURE, IT'S A TOUGH
SCHOOL IN THE INNER CITY, LOS
ANGELES.
LONG STORY SHORT IS I AM -- AS
THEY SAY IN THE SOUTH CALLED
EVERYTHING BUT A CHILD OF GOD BY
THIS 16, 17-YEAR-OLD FOOTBALL
PLAYER.
>> BIG GUY.
IMMEDIATELY GETS IN YOUR FACE.
YOU'RE THE SUB.
YOU'RE AN EASY TARGET.
>> ABSOLUTELY.
ABSOLUTELY.
YOU KNOW?
YOU'RE A SUBSTITUTE.
I KNOW NO ONE THERE.
I DON'T KNOW ANY OF THE STUDENTS
OR THE ADULTS, I'M LIKE WHAT THE
HECK IS GOING ON HERE?
I KICK THE KID OFF.
TEN MINUTES LATER, THE CAMPUS
AID IS THERE WITH THE KID.
HE HAS A NOTE SAYING OKAY TO
RETURN TO CLASS.
NO DETENTION.
NO SUSPENSION.
NO CALL HOME.
NOTHING.
I'M THINKING TO MYSELF WHAT THE
HECK IS THIS?
>> HOW IS THIS OKAY?
>> HOW IS THIS OKAY?
AND THAT WAS THE FIRST THING
THAT HAPPENED.
THEN -- BUT I WILL SAY THE REST
OF MY PERIODS ACTUALLY WENT
OKAY.
SO BY THE END OF THE DAY I WAS
LIKE AS CRAZY AS THAT EXPERIENCE
WAS, I HAD A FEW MORE, BUT I HAD
A FEW GOOD CLASSES BUT I ENJOYED
IT.
SO IT WAS A MIXTURE OF
INTIMIDATION AND LIKE WHAT THE
HECK, BUT ALSO FELT LIKE THERE'S
SOMETHING REALLY SPECIAL ABOUT
THIS EXPERIENCE AND BEING A
TEACHER AND SO MY PARENTS ARE
TEACHERS.
>> YOUR PARENTS ARE TEACHERS.
YOU WENT TO SOME 50 SCHOOLS
DURING THE COURSE OF THE SCHOOL
YEAR.
LITERALLY THOUSANDS OF STUDENTS.
>> THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF
STUDENTS.
I'LL TELL YOU WHAT HAPPENED AND
WHY I CAME UP -- WHAT SPARKED
THE BOOK REALLY.
AT THAT SAME SCHOOL, A COUPLE OF
WEEKS LATER ONE OF THE TEACHERS
THERE SAID TO ME, HE HAD GONE
THERE AS A STUDENT HIMSELF.
HE WAS AN ADULT TEACHING THERE.
YOU KNOW THIS SCHOOL WAS ALWAYS
TOUGH.
BUT THE STUDENTS USED TO FIGHT
EACH OTHER.
NOW THEY FIGHT THE TEACHER.
AND BEING A WRITER --
>> THAT WAS SORT OF A MOMENT.
>> THAT WAS A MOMENT --
ABSOLUTELY.
AND IN OTHER WORDS, I DID NOT
TAKE THIS JOB TO WRITE A BOOK.
BUT I'M CLEVER ENOUGH ABOUT THE
WORLD THAT WHEN I'M HAVING AN
EXPERIENCE I'M LIKE THERE'S
SOMETHING GOING ON HERE.
LET ME GO FURTHER, DIG DEEPER.
AND SO THAT COMMENT BY THAT
TEACHER IT SAID -- THAT WAS A
WHY FOR ME.
WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?
WHY WAS THIS SHIFT -- WHEN I'M
YOUNG, WE WOULD NEVER --
>> NEVER SAY ANYTHING TO THE
TEACHER.
>> NEVER --
>> YOU MIGHT BE SAYING -- BUT
NOT TO THE TEACHER.
>> NOT EVEN AROUND THE TEACHER
WOULD YOU CURSE.
I'M FROM A SMALL TOWN IN THE
SOUTH.
I HAVE COUSINS WHO ARE GANG
BANGERS IN THE SOUTHSIDE OF
CHICAGO AND THEY'RE NOT
AGGRESSIVE AGAINST THE TEACHER.
IT TOOK ME A REASON TO FIGURE IT
OUT AND, YOU KNOW, I'LL JUST
TELL YOU WHAT HAPPENED.
I WAS DRIVING HOME AFTER A TOUGH
DAY.
AND JAY Z CAME ON THE RADIO.
AND I THINK IT WAS AN NPR
INTERVIEW.
SOMEONE SAID TO HIM, WHAT WAS
THE EFFECT OF CRACK COCAINE
COMING INTO YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?
AND HE SAID THE MOST FASCINATING
THING, SOMETHING I NEVER HEARD
BEFORE.
HE DIDN'T SAY MORE GANGS, MORE
POLICE PRESENCE, NONE OF THAT.
HE SAID IT DESTROYED THE
AUTHORITY FIGURE.
AND THAT BLEW ME AWAY.
AND I KNEW IF I HADN'T -- IF I
WASN'T CLEAR THAT I HAD A BOOK
TO WRITE, THAT MOMENT, I KNEW IT
THEN.
SO THAT WAS THE SOLUTION TO THE
FIRST MYSTERY WHICH I HAD TO GO
DEEPER INTO.
THAT'S WHERE THIS CAME FROM.
>> IF YOU ASK PEOPLE OUT ON THE
STREET ABOUT, YOU KNOW, WHY IS
THE EDUCATION SYSTEM FLOUNDERING
AND THAT'S THE BEST SENSE -- THE
BEST SCENARIO.
I'M SURE YOU GET A BUNCH OF
ANSWERS.
PEOPLE WILL SAY TEACHERS.
>> THAT'S THE FIRST THING.
>> UNINTERESTED, UNINVOLVED,
JUST INTERESTED IN PICKING UP A
PAYCHECK.
MY MOTHER WAS A TEACHER.
MY WIFE WAS A TEACHER.
YOU KNOW, SO YOU AND I COME FROM
A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON IT.
BUT GOING THROUGH THIS BOOK, YOU
SAY OKAY, ALL THAT'S OUT THERE,
BUT THAT'S NOT IT.
THE PROBLEM IS NOT THE TEACHERS.
IT'S THE STUDENTS.
>> LOOK, I'M A LIBERAL, I'M A
DEMOCRAT.
I VOTED DEMOCRAT ALL MY LIFE AND
I DIDN'T HAVE A DOG IN THIS
FIGHT AS THEY SAY.
I JUST CAME IN LIKE A STRANGER,
HEARING ALL THE THINGS THAT YOU
HEARD.
THAT THE TEACHERS ARE AWFUL.
I BELIEVED THE SAME THING AND
THERE ARE TERRIBLE TEACHERS.
JUST LIKE --
>> ANY PROFESSION.
>> ANY PROFESSION.
>> NO QUESTION ABOUT THAT.
BUT THIS -- IN THE REALLY TOUGH
SCHOOLS THERE HAS BEEN A
FUNDAMENTAL STRIPPING AWAY OF
THE TRADITIONAL LINES OF RESPECT
AND AUTHORITY AND SO JUST BACK
TO THE CRACK COCAINE STORY.
THIS IS WHERE IT CAME FROM.
SO WHAT -- AS I RESEARCHED WHAT
JAY Z SAID, WHAT I DISCOVERED
WAS THAT CRACK COCAINE WAS A
CHILD'S ECONOMY.
SO BECAUSE OF THE MANDATORY DRUG
SENTENCES THAT WERE LAID DOWN IN
THE REAGAN ADMINISTRATION, IF
YOU WERE AN ADULT AND YOU WERE
SELLING CRACK COCAINE YOU GO TO
JAIL FOR TEN YEARS OR MORE, SO
THEY GAVE IT TO THE KIDS TO
SELL.
THE MANUFACTURING JOBS HAD BEEN
SO CRACK COCAINE WAS THE ONLY
ECONOMY IN TOWN.
>> IT WAS THE ECONOMIC MODEL
THAT WORKED.
>> ABSOLUTELY.
AND THE KIDS WERE RUNNING IT.
AND THERE ARE ECONOMISTS WHO SAY
YOU CANNOT UNDERESTIMATE THE
IMPACT OF CRACK COCAINE ON THE
POOR COMMUNITIES, IT SWEPT
THROUGH THE COMMUNITIES LIKE THE
FOUR APOCALYPSE.
AND THE INFANT MORTALITY, THE
GRADUATION, THE INCOME, THE ONLY
THING THAT RETARDED THE GROWTH
OF BLACK NEIGHBORHOOD IS THE
CRACK COCAINE.
BUT THE ADULTS WERE THE ONES --
BECAUSE THE DRUG WAS SO POWERFUL
DEBASING THEMSELVES BEFORE THESE
KIDS WHO CONTROLLED THE ECONOMY
AND SO IT PERMANENTLY UPENDED
THE WAY KIDS SEE ADULTS.
I REALIZED THAT I WASN'T DEALING
WITH THOSE KIDS.
THOSE KIDS GREW UP.
I WAS DEALING WITH THEIR KIDS.
>> RIGHT.
THE LEGACY.
>> THE LEGACY OF THOSE KIDS WHO
DIDN'T HAVE FATHERS.
WE CAN GO INTO THE FATHERHOOD
ISSUE AS WELL.
WHO HAD -- WHO GREW UP IN THE
DESTROYED COMMUNITY.
NOW WE LOOK AT THE OPIOID
CRISIS, IN WHITE COMMUNITIES THE
SAME THING IS HAPPENING AGAIN
AND AS A BLACK AMERICAN I DON'T
WANT ANYBODY TO THINK THAT I'M
JUST BEATING UP ON THE BLACK
KIDS OR THE LATIN KIDS.
THIS IS THE SAME THING THAT'S
HAPPENING -- IT'S HAPPENING
EVERYWHERE IN THE POOR, RURAL
COMMUNITIES.
POOR, WHITE COMMUNITIES AS WELL.
IT IS TRULY AN EPIDEMIC.
>> I WANT PEOPLE TO READ THIS.
I SAT DOWN, I WAS GOING TO SORT
OF THUMB THROUGH A LITTLE BIT
AND TWO HOURS LATER I'M STILL
GOING THROUGH THIS.
>> YEAH.
I HAVE HEARD THAT, IT'S A BIT OF
A PAGE TURNER.
>> IT GETS YOU.
I WANT PEOPLE TO READ YOU.
I DON'T WANT TO GO THROUGH
EVERYTHING.
BUT LET ME FINISH OUR
CONVERSATION WITH SOME
SUGGESTIONS.
BECAUSE YOU HAVE SOME
SUGGESTIONS.
BECAUSE IT'S ONE THING TO SAY,
THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN.
>> YEAH.
>> AND MAYBE SOME PEOPLE SAY
IRRETRIEVABLY.
BUT YOUR VIEWPOINT IS I SAW THE
WORST OF IT HERE.
BUT I HAVE SOME IDEAS.
>> YEP.
YEP.
>> GIVE ME A SENSE OF SOME OF
THE THINGS YOU THINK COULD
SALVAGE THIS.
>> COUPLE OF THINGS.
ONE IS I SAW THE WORST AND I SAW
THE BEST IN THE SAME SCHOOLS.
JUST OFF THE TOP I WOULD SAY
MORE MALE TEACHERS, MORE BLACK
MALE TEACHERS BUT I THINK THE
TEACHING FORCE RIGHT NOW IS 80%
FEMALE.
THAT'S NO GOOD.
WE HAVE GOT TO WORK HARD --
>> NO MALE ROLE MODELS.
I GO -- I THINK ALMOST ALL OF MY
TEACHERS WERE MALE.
THEY BECAME MENTORS AND GUIDES.
>> THERE WAS A WHOLE SECTION ON
FATHERHOOD.
I LAY OUT THE THEORY ABOUT WHAT
THE IMPORTANCE OF FATHERS ARE.
PART OF IT IS ROLE MODELS,
ANOTHER PSYCHOLOGICAL
DEVELOPMENT OF THE BOYS AND
PEOPLE WILL FIND SURPRISING IF
THEY LOOK AT THE BOOK, BUT
SURROGATES FOR DADS ARE CRUCIAL
TO TAMPING DOWN A BOY'S EARLY
SENSE OF I'M AN ADULT, I KNOW A
FATHER OR A FATHER FIGURE TAMPS
DOWN THAT UNLEASHED -- THAT
AGGRESSION AND THAT SORT OF
THING.
THAT'S CRUCIALLY IMPORTANT TO
BOYS AS THEY HIT PUBERTY.
BUT ALSO GIRLS.
>> YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT MIDDLE
SCHOOLS.
>> EXACTLY.
>> YEP.
ESPECIALLY MIDDLE SCHOOLS.
SO MORE MALE TEACHERS.
>> WELL, IT IS AGAIN, SIT DOWN
AND SHUT UP, HOW DISCIPLINE CAN
SET STUDENTS FREE WHICH IS A
GREAT -- A PART OF THE TITLE
HERE.
IT IS -- NOT SURPRISINGLY FOR A
WRITER, IT'S GREAT STORYTELLING
AND IT HAS FABULOUS MEANING.
VERY THOUGHTFUL AND THOUGHT
PROVOKING.
>> THANKS SO MUCH.
>> WAIT FOR THE NEXT BOOK TO
COME OUT.
>> AWESOME.

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Funders

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