METROFOCUS: DECEMBER 4, 2019

We’ll tell you about the drama at the center of New Jersey’s political feud between Governor Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney.  Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian Jon Meacham makes sense of the country’s current political climate by taking a look at our past. New York City high school students recently staged a walk out “strike for integration” and say they’ll continue to do until they get it. “Teens Take Charge” alumnus and Program Director, Dulce Marquez and the program’s adviser, Taylor McGraw joins us.

Aired on December 4, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

NEW JERSEY'S HIGH OCTANE POLITICAL FEUD.

WHY CAN'T GOVERNOR PHIL MURPHY AND SENATE PRESIDENT, STEVE SWEENEY JUST GET ALONE.

WHAT IT COULD IT BOIL DOWN TO.

> THEN THE SOUL FOR AMERICA AND BATTLE OF OUR ANGELS AND THE POLITICAL CLIMATE BY TAKING A LOOK AT OUR PAST.

> TEENS TAKE CHARGE.

NEW YORK CITY HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS ARE GOING ON STRIKE FOR INTEGRATION, AND THEY SAY THEY WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO UNTIL THEY GET IT.

THE MAN WHO INSPIRED THIS MUSIC WILL JOIN US.

THOSE STORIES AND MORE AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL P. ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY, JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SU AND EDGAR AND FIGHTING ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ AND BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY -- ♪

GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M RAFAEL PI ROMAN.

THE TWO MOST POWERFUL DEMOCRATS IN NEW JERSEY JUST CAN'T SEEM TO GET ALONG, GOVERNOR MURPHY AND SENATE PRESIDENT STEVE SWEENEY HAVE BEEN AT ODDS SINCE LAST YEAR AND IT HAS BEEN BOTH NASTY AND PERSONAL.

THE TWO MEN STEAM GENUINELY LIKE EACH OTHER AND ACCORDING TO CRITICS, THEIR CLASH THAT TIED UP MILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF STATE MONEY AND TIED UP SEVERAL DOLLARS OF KEY INITIATIVES.

TO BREAK IT DOWN FOR US, OUR AFFAIRS EDITOR, STEVE ADUBATO.

WELCOME.

THIS SITUATION IS NOT UNPRECEDENTED IN NEW JERSEY.

IN FACT, STEVE SWEENEY DIDN'T GET ALONG ALL THAT WELL WITH THE LAST DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR.

YES.

THE LAST DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR, JON CORZINE.

WHAT'S THE REASON FOR THIS PARTICULAR FEUD?

THEY DON'T LIKE EACH OTHER FOLLOWLY.

YOU HAVE THE GOVERNOR THE MORE LIBERAL AND STEVE SWEENEY A MODERATE LEANING CONSERVATIVE.

BOTTOM LINE IS THERE IS AN IDEOLOGICAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO AND PERSONAL DIFFERENCE.

ANOTHER THING, STEVE SWEENEY WANTED TO BE GOVERNOR.

LET'S NOT KID OURSELVES.

I DON'T WANT TO GET INSIDE NEW JERSEY BASEBALL IN TERMS OF POLITICS.

A COUPLE YEARS AGO WHEN PHIL MURPHY WASN'T IN THIS PICTURE, STEVE SWEENEY WAS THE LEADING CANDIDATE TO RUN FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.

SO COMING IN WITH, I HAVE THE MONEY AND STEVE BACKS UP, AND THERE'S JEALOUSY AND ENVY AND PERSONAL STUFF.

THEY DISAGREE ON A RANGE OF IMPORTANT POLICY ISSUES.

THEY SEE THE WORLD VERY DIFFERENTLY EVEN THOUGH THERE'S A D AFTER EACH OTHER'S NAMES.

THAT DOESN'T MEAN THEY'RE LIKING EACH OTHER.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE ISSUES.

BEFORE, WHAT ABOUT SECTIONAL DIFFERENCE.

SWEENEY COMES FROM THE SOUTH AND MURPHY FROM THE NORTH.

THEY'RE DIFFERENT PLACE OPINIONS.

PEOPLE SOMETIMES THINK NEW JERSEY IS A PROVINCIAL STATE IN SOME WAYS.

WHILE WE'RE BLUE, WE'RE NOT BLUE ACROSS THE BOARD, YES, IN THE NORTH CENTRAL PART OF THE STATE MORE DEMOCRATIC.

YOU GO TO THE SOUTH, YOU HAVE OLD BLUE DOG DEMOCRATS IN THE SOUTH THEY USED TO TALK ABOUT, SWEENEY AND A LOT OF THOSE DEMOCRATS, THEY'RE NOT DEMOCRATS IN THE WAY THOSE IN THE NORTH AND JERSEY CITY ARE.

THEY LEAN TO THE RIGHT A LITTLE BIT AND PHIL MURPHY DOESN'T REALLY RELATE TO THEM IN THIS SAME WAY BECAUSE THEY'RE IN A DIFFERENT PLACE IDEOLOGICALLY.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ISSUES THEY FOUGHT OVER THE LAST YEAR AND A HALF AND NOW?

ONE, MEDICAL MARIJUANA -- EXCUSE ME, LEGALIZING MARIJUANA.

WHILE THEY BOTH SAY THEY'RE ON THE SAME PLACE ON THIS ISSUE, IT HASN'T GONE ANYWHERE.

WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?

YES, IT'S TOUGH TO GET THE VOTES IN THE SENATE FOR IT.

IF THE SENATE AND THE GOVERNOR WERE FOR IT, IT WOULD HAPPEN.

AND THE SECOND, MILLIONAIRE'S TAXES.

WE NEED TO RAISE TAXES ON MILLIONAIRES.

STEVE SWEENEY AT ONE TIME HAD THE POSITION, SAID, I USED TO THINK THAT UNTIL DONALD TRUMP AND THE REPUBLICANS CHANGED THE LAW WHERE YOU CAN ONLY WRITE OFF YOUR STATE AND PROPERTY TAX IN NEW JERSEY.

I CAN'T SUPPORT A MILLIONAIRE'S TAX.

GOVERNOR MURPHY WILL CALL FOR IT AGAIN.

SWEENEY WILL FIGHT HIM.

THEY FIGHT ON TAXES AND THE PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNIONS.

SWEENEY WAS RECENTLY ON YOUR SHOW TO TALK ABOUT WHAT?

WE HAD STEVE SWEENEY ON FOR A LOT OF THINGS.

THE CLIPPER ABOUT THE SHOW GOES TO THIS.

THERE'S ABOUT $350 MILLION OF STATE MONEY IN THE BUDGET THAT IS FOR CANCER TREATMENT, FOR HIGHER EDUCATION, A WHOLE RANGE OF THINGS.

THAT MONEY IS HELD UP BECAUSE GOVERNOR MURPHY SAYS, I WILL NOT FUND IT, EVEN THOUGH STEVE SWEENEY SAYS HE'S IN FAVOR OF IT BUT DOING THIS FOR PERSONAL REASONS.

THIS CLIP WE'RE ABOUT TO SEE IS STEVE SWEENEY, THE SENATE PRESIDENT SAYING WHY HE BELIEVES IT IS PERSONAL.

THIS GETS PERSONAL TO ME AND I LOST MY MOTHER AND BROTHER TO CANCER.

WHY WOULD YOU DENY PEOPLE IN SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY TO DEAL WITH CANCER TREATMENT.

IT'S UNFAIR.

I WENT AFTER CHRIS CHRISTIE WHEN HE CUT A BUDGET AND CALLED HIM A WHOLE BUNCH OF NAMES.

I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY WHEN PHIL MURPHY SAYS I SUPPORT THESE THINGS, THEN FUND THEM.

YOU MENTIONED CHRIS CHRISTIE.

HE HAS GOTTEN INTO THIS BATTLE.

WHAT'S HE SAYING?

I THOUGHT HE WAS RUNNING INTO A NEW CIVILITY IN POLITICS.

YOU AND I CAN ATTEST TO THAT HAVING DONE MANY INTERVIEWS WITH HIM, WASN'T UNCIVIL.

HOWEVER, CHRIS CHRISTIE LIKES SWEENEY AND LIKE EACH OTHER AND REALLY LIKE GIVING PHIL MURPHY A HARD TIME.

CHRIS CHRISTIE AFTER THE INAUGURAL EVENT AT THE LAW SCHOOL, WHO DO YOU THINK HE TRASHED FOR HALF AN HOUR?

PHIL MURPHY.

HE SAID SOMETHING LIKE THIS.

HE'S AN ACTOR AND HE LIKES TO DANCE -- I DON'T KNOW WHAT HE SAID -- HE THINKS THIS IS THEATER AND THIS IS REAL LIFE.

HE TRASHED HIM.

BECAUSE HE WANTED TO BE AN ACTOR IN REAL LIFE.

NOT CHRISTIE, MURPHY.

I'M JOKING.

I THINK SWEENEY AND GOVERNOR CHRISTIE AND THE HEAD OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN A LOT OF WAYS, NORCROSS, GEORGE NORCROSS, NOT AN ELECTED OFFICIAL, THEY'RE TOGETHER, AND TRUTHFULLY, THEY WANT TO MAKE PHIL MURPHY'S LIFE MISERABLE.

I BELIEVE ULTIMATELY THEY'RE HEADED FOR A DEMOCRATIC CIVIL WAR IN A COUPLE YEARS OVER THAT GOVERNORSHIP.

DO YOU THINK SWEENEY WILL ENTER A PRIMARY AGAINST MURPHY?

YOU AND I TALKED A COUPLE YEARS BACK, I WASN'T SO SURE.

I'M CONVINCED STEVE SWEENEY TALKING ABOUT GOVERNOR MURPHY NOT FUNDING TRANSIT ENOUGH, DOESN'T HAVE THE RIGHT POSITION ON TAXES.

NOT TOUGH ENOUGH ON PUBLIC UNIONS, AND THEY HAVE TO GIVE BACK ON THE RETIREMENT.

I THINK IT WILL BE A BATTLE BETWEEN SWEENEY AND MURPHY FOR THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION.

I'M CONVINCED OF THAT ANY TIME NOW.

YOU DON'T THINK OF A DAYTANT ANY TIME?

PEOPLE TALK ABOUT WASHINGTON AND IT IS, DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS.

HERE, THESE DEMOCRATS, THEY'RE NOT REALLY IN THE SAME PARTY.

THEY MAY AGAIN HAVE A D AFTER THEIR NAME AND DON'T BELIEVE IN THE SAME THINGS, I'M REPEATING MYSELF, THEY DON'T LIKE EACH OTHER.

I THINK THEY'D RATHER FIGHT IN MY OPINION, THAN FIND A WAY TO COMPROMISE AND WORK TOGETHER ON BEHALF OF THE PEOPLE IN THIS STATE.

THEY'RE JUST IN FIGHT MODE.

THIS FEUD, HOW IS IT COSTING THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY?

THINK ABOUT THIS.

YOU HAVE GOVERNOR, THE MOST POWERFUL GOVERNOR IN THE NATION BASED ON THE 1947 CONSTITUTION, HE OR SHE HAS LINE-ITEM VETO POWER.

A SENATE PRESIDENT GOING ON ALMOST A DECADE BEING THE SENATE PRESIDENT.

TOGETHER, THEY CAN MOVE LEGALIZING MARIJUANA AND CHANGING FISCAL POLICIES IN THE STATE AND AGREE ON FUNDING FOR BUSES AND TRANSIT.

THE PENSION FUND.

SOMETHING WAS DONE ABOUT THE PENSION FUND BETWEEN SWEENEY AND MURPHY.

SWEENEY ARGUES NOT ENOUGH, UNIONS ARE FIGHTING HIM ON THAT AND MURPHY SAYING THEY HAVE GIVEN ENOUGH.

PART BECAUSE THE PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNIONS ARE SO SUPPORTIVE OF MURPHY AND DESPISE SWEENEY.

IT'S A DAYTHANTE, IS THAT THE WORD.

THAT'S NOT THE WAORD I'M THINKIG OF.

> KU KLUX KLAN MARCHING THROUGH COLLEGE CAMPUSES WITH TORCHES IN HAND WAS ONE OF THE MOST DISTURBING IMAGES WE HAVE SEEN IN MANY TIMES.

JON MEACHAM, THE VIOLENCE THAT UNFOLDED IN CHARLOTTESVILLE SERVED AS A REMINDER OF TIMES GONE BY WHEN PRESIDENTS REFUSED TO CATER TO SUCH MOBS AND CONQUERED THEM WITH A BREATH OF VISION THAT SPEAKS TO THE BEST PARTS OF OUR SOUL.

IT SERVES AS A CATALYST FOR HIS BOOK, 'THE SOUL OF AMERICA, THE BATTLE FOR OUR BETTER ANGELS' WHEN HOPE OVERCAME DIVISION AND FEAR.

JON MEACHAM JOINS US NOW.

WELCOME BACK HOME.

THANK YOU.

THIS IS STUDIO YOU INAUGURATED A FEW YEARS BACK, MARIANNA HOSSA.

SO GOOD TO SEE YOU.

THANK YOU.

LET ME START WITH THE OBVIOUS QUESTION.

WHAT WAS IT ABOUT CHARLOTTESVILLE AND THE PRESIDENT'S RESPONSE TO IT THAT LED TO THIS BOOK?

THE IDEA THAT THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES WOULD SAY THERE WAS BLAME ON MANY SIDES WHEN A YOUNG COUNTER PROTESTER STANDING UP AGAINST KLANSMEN AND WHITE NATIONALISTS WAS KILLED, HEATHER HEYER, AND TWO STATE TROOPERS, WERE CASUALTIES OF A VIOLENT WAR.

THERE'S ALWAYS FEAR AND VIOLENCE, PART OF A FALLEN WORLD.

AT OUR BEST, PRESIDENTS HAVE REMINDED US OF OUR BETTER ANGELS AND NOT CATERED TO OUR WORST INSTINCTS.

IT WAS VERY CLASSIFIED INFORMATION TO ME IN CHARLOTTESVILLE, DONALD TRUMP WAS USING A TRAGIC HOUR TO PANDER TO PARTS OF HIS OWN BASE.

WE'LL GET TO THAT IN ONE SECOND.

THE TITLE OF THE BOOK, 'THE SOUL OF AMERICA.'

DO COUNTRIES HAVE SOULS?

I THINK SO.

FOR A PAGAN PHILOSOPHICAL IDEA AND RELIGIOUS ONE.

SOUL IN HEBREW AND GREEK CAN BE TRANSLATED AS LIFE.

SOCRATES ASKED, WHAT MAKES A PERSON A PERSON AND HIS ANSWER WAS, A SOUL.

IT'S NOT HOWEVER, A LOT OF FOURTH OF JULY ITERATIONS AND QUICK THINGS SAID, WELL, OUR SOUL IS ALWAYS GOOD, WHAT I AGREE WITH IT IS.

MY SENSE IS THE AMERICAN SOUL HAS ROOM FOR DR. KING AND THE KKK, AND EVERY ERA IS DEFINED BY WHICH OF THOSE TWO WINS OUT FOR A GIVEN PERIOD OF TIME.

IT'S A PERENNIAL STRUGGLE.

IT'S NOT A MISTAKE, NOT AN ACCIDENT THE FOUNDERS SAID WE ARE SEARCHING FOR A MORE PERFECT UNION, NOT A PERFECT ONE.

PRESIDENTS HAVE, AT THEIR BEST, MANAGED TO MARSHAL THE VOICES OF THE POWERLESS, PROTESTERS, RESISTERS, SUFFER RAJJISTS, PEOPLE WHO FOUGHT AGAINST JIM CROW AND MARRIAGE EQUALITY, ALL THOSE MOVEMENTS BEGAN FAR FROM THE PINNACLE OF POWER.

IT HAS REQUIRED A PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS AND COURT AND PRESS, TO RECOGNIZE THOSE VOICES AND PUT THEM INTO POLITICAL ACTION.

THE BATTLE FOR OUR BETTER ANGELS, THAT PERENNIAL STRUGGLE YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT CAN BE BOILED DOWN TO A BATTLE BETWEEN FEAR AND HOPE, RIGHT?

ABSOLUTELY.

FEAR, AS EDINBURGH SAID, THERE'S NOTHING MORE IRRATIONAL THAN FEAR.

ST. AUGUSTINE DESCRIBED FEAR AS ANXIETY WE WON'T HAVE WHAT WE LOVE.

WE'RE IN AN HOUR TODAY BECAUSE OF GLOBALIZATIONS AND STAGNANT WAGES AND INCOMES, THERE ARE AN ENORMOUS NUMBER OF PEOPLE FEAR THE WAY OF LIFE THEY KNOW WILL GO AWAY.

THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME THIS HAPPENED.

IT HAPPENED IN THE EARLY 1920s WITH 50,000 KLANSMEN MARCHING DOWN PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE AND IN THE '50s, AGAINST COMMUNISTS.

FEAR IS A PERENNIAL FORCE.

WE PUSHED AHEAD AND TO ME, IT IS DEFINED TO WHAT EXTENT WE ARE WILLING TO WIDEN THE DEFINITION BY THE FOUNDING IDEA WE ARE ALL CREATED EQUAL.

YOU CLEARLY BELIEVE THE ROLE OF THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT IS A MORAL LEADER?

ABSOLUTELY.

EQUALLY IF NOT MORE IMPORTANT THAN HIS ROLE AS CEO OF THE COUNTRY, RIGHT?

ABSOLUTELY.

THE BULK OF THE BOOK IS REFERENCING BACK TO DARK MOMENTS IN AMERICAN HISTORY, WHERE USUALLY FROM THE PRODUCING OF PEOPLE, REFORMERS OUTSIDE OF GOVERNMENTS THE PRESIDENTS RISE UP TO THE MOMENTS AND WIN FOR THE ANGELS.

GIVE US SOME EXAMPLES.

FIRST IS LYNDON JOHNSON.

TERRIFIC.

A WHITE SOUTHERN SENATOR AND NOT A CHAMPION OF CIVIL RIGHTS, HIS ELECTION AS VICE PRESIDENT HAD A REAL IMPACT ON HIM.

HE GAVE A SPEECH AT GETTYSBURG, 5 OR 6 MONTHS AFTER HE BECAME PRESIDENT AFTER THE TRAGEDY IN DALLAS HE LAID OUT THE UNFINISHED WORK OF LINCOLN, AND HE DECIDED THE NIGHT OF KENNEDY'S ASSASSINATION HE WOULD NOT COMPROMISE ON THE CIVIL RIGHTS BILL AND PUSHED IT TO VOTING RIGHTS.

THE MARVELOUS SCENE, THIS CAPTURES ALL OF IT.

WHERE WE ARE NOW IS LIKE GEORGE WALLACE BECAME PRESIDENT, ROUGHLY WHERE WE ARE, A RIGHT WING POP YOU LIST WHO DID REPRESENT GENUINE CONCERNS, AS YOU SAY, THAT ECONOMIC MESSAGE WAS FRAIDED WITH A RACIALLY AND CULTURALLY DIVISIVE ONE THAT ULTIMATELY ERODED HOPE.

WALLACE WON'T LET THE MARCHERS GO FROM SELMA TO MONTGOMERY, THE BLAZE SUNDAY STANDOFF WITH JOHN LEWIS AND JOSEA WILLIAMS ARE NEARLY BEATEN TO DEATH AND JOHNSON SUMMONS GEORGE WALLACE TO THE OVAL OFFICE.

WALLACE IS A LITTLE GUY ANYWAY AND PUTS HIM ON A DEEP CUSHION COUCH AND JOHNSON SAYS, WHEN YOU'RE GONE, DO YOU WANT YOUR TOMBSTONE TO SAY, GEORGE WALLACE, HE HATED, OR GEORGE WALLACE, HE BUILT?

AND PART OF MY MESSAGE HERE IS THINK ABOUT, IF YOU'RE IN PUBLIC LIFE AS AN OFFICE HOLDER, THINK ABOUT WHAT WE WILL THINK ABOUT YOU WHEN WE LOOK AT YOUR OIL PORTRAIT.

THAT'S ULTIMATELY GOING TO LAST A LOT LONGER THAN ANY GIVEN CYCLE OR ANY OTHER TWEET STORM.

TALK ABOUT FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT.

HE HAS A PARTICULAR ROLE IN THE BOOK.

HE DOES.

LIFE OF THE COUNTRY OBVIOUSLY.

THE IDEA ROOSEVELT WITHOUT HAVE DISMISSED HIM IS IMPROBABLE, WITH NO PARTICULAR SKILL WOULD LIKE TO BECOME PRESIDENT IN THE ANNALS OF COLLEGE PREDICTION IS PRETTY HIGH.

HE COULD HAVE, BECAUSE OF THE CRISIS OF 1933, AMERICANS OUT OF WORK, DEEP CRISIS OF INSTITUTIONS, GLOBAL ANXIETY AND UNEASE.

ANY OF THIS SOUND FAMILIAR, HE COULD HAVE ASSUMED MORE DICTATORIAL POWERS.

THE LINE IN HIS INAUGURAL ADDRESS THAT GOT MORE REACTION THAN THE ONLY THING WE HAVE TO FEAR IS FEAR ITSELF, THE PRESENT CRISIS MAY REQUIRE ME TO TAKE ON WAR-TIME POWERS, AND THE CROWD ROARED AND ELEANOR ROOSEVELT SAID IT CHILLED ME BECAUSE THEY WANTED A DICTATOR.

THAT NIGHT, MARCH 4th, 1933, ROOSEVELT SITTING IN THE WHITE HOUSE THE FIRST NIGHT IN 12 YEARS AND A BRAIN TRUSTER COMES TO HIM, ADVISOR, RATHER PRETENTIOUSLY, MR. PRESIDENT, IF YOU SUCCEED, YOU WILL GO DOWN AS ONE OF OUR GREATEST PRESIDENTS, IF YOU FAIL YOU WILL GO DOWN AS THE WORST.

HE LOOKS AT HIM AND SAYS, IF I FAIL I MAY GO DOWN AS THE LAST.

MY VIEW, I BELIEVE THE CHARACTER IS DESTINY, AS THE GREEKS TAUGHT US, ROOSEVELT WAS ABLE TO LIFT US UP BECAUSE HE LIFTED HIMSELF UP.

39 YEARS OLD, ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR POLITICIAN IS IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.

1941, THE YEAR BEFORE NOMINATED FOR VICE PRESIDENT THE AGE OF 38.

HAD EVERYTHING GOING FOR HIM AND WAKES UP WITH INFANTILE PARALYSIS AND WILLS HIMSELF BACK INTO THE POLITICAL ARENA.

THESE PRESIDENTS WERE HIGHLY FLAWED MEN.

YES.

HAD SUBSTANCE OF CHARACTER THAT ALLOWED THEM TO TRANSFORM THEMSELVES, YOU TALKED ABOUT LYNDON JOHNSON.

YOU DON'T HAVE THAT HOPE OR DO YOU HAVE THAT HOPE STILL OF THE CURRENT PRESIDENT?

I LIVE IN HOPE.

WHAT I WOULD LIKE, DO YOU WANT US, WHEN WE LOOK AT YOUR PORTRAIT, ON THE STATE FLOOR, DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO SAY, OH, THAT'S THE GUY THAT SCREWED EVERYTHING UP.

OR YOU KNOW WHAT, HE HAS UNCONVENTIONAL AND HAD HIS MOMENTS, DAMMIT, HE DID THIS ON GUNS AND JOBS.

THAT, TO MY MIND, MIGHT APPEAL TO TRUMP, BECAUSE IT IS ABOUT HIM.

JOHN, THE BOOK IS 'THE SOUL OF AMERICA, THE BATTLE FOR OUR BETTER ANGELS,' YOU READ IT AND YOU WILL HAVE HOPE.

> ECONOMIC AND RACIAL SEGREGATION.

ACCORDING TO THE NEW SCHOOL, 40% OF NEW YORK CITY KINDERGARTNERS ENROLLED IN SCHOOLS OUTSIDE THEIR SCHOOL ZONE WITH THE HOPE OF GETTING AN EQUAL CHANCE AT SUCCESS, ALL PART OF THE SCHOOL SUCCESS PROGRAM THAT ALLOWS PARENTS AND CHILDREN TO CHOOSE WHICH SCHOOLS TO ATTEND.

SINCE 2004, THOUSANDS HAVE SWITCHED FROM LOW TO HIGHER PERFORMING SCHOOLS.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITIES THEY LEAVE BEHIND?

AS PART OF OUR 'CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE' ON POVERTY IN AMERICA, WE'RE LOOKING AT A BOOK CALLED 'TEENS TAKE CHARGE' DEDICATED TO ELEVATING THE STUDENTS' CHOICES.

JACK SAT DOWN WITH TAYLOR McGRAW AND MARQUEZ AND BEGAN ASKING HOW THE PROGRAM GOT ITS START.

I WAS ORIGINALLY A SCHOOLTEACHER IN NEW YORK CITY AND RECOGNIZED PRETTY EARLY ON THERE WAS A PROBLEM IN THAT THE STUDENTS I WAS TEACHING DIDN'T HAVE MUCH OF A VOICE IN THEIR EDUCATION AND POLICIES AFFECTING THEM.

AFTER I FINISHED TEACHING I DECIDED I WANTED TO CHANGE THAT.

I LINKED UP WITH MY COFOUNDER, ADRIAN AND DECIDED WE WANTED TO DO A PODCAST AND I STARTED GOING TO HIGH SCHOOLS IN NEW YORK CITY, INTERVIEWING THEM ABOUT THEIR EDUCATION.

AS I WAS DOING THIS WORK, THEY SAID, HEY, TAYLOR, THIS IS COOL.

WE WANT TO DO MORE THAN A PODCAST, WE WANT TO TELL PEOPLE IN PERSON.

ABOUT 6 OR 8 STUDENTS LINKED UP AND DECIDED TO PLAN AN EVENT.

ALONG THE WAY, THEY'RE LIKE, WE SHOULD HAVE A NAME.

ONE OF THEM SAID, WE COULD BE 'TEENS TAKE CHARGE.'

HOW HAS THE GROUP GROWN THEN?

YOU TALKED ABOUT HOW IT HAS EXPANDED, BUT THE NUMBER OF TEENS PARTICIPATING.

WE HAD 6 OR 8 IN THAT ORIGINAL GROUP.

NOW, WE HAVE MORE THAN 30 STUDENTS IN SOME FASHION INVOLVED IN TEENS TAKE CHARGE.

WE HAVE EVENTS, WE HAVE UPWARDS OF 300 PEOPLE IN THOSE EVENTS.

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THE TEENS TAKE CHARGE PROGRAM?

I'M PART OF THE SCHOLAR, THE ACADEMIC PROGRAMMING FOR STUDENTS LOW-INCOME OR DEFINE THEMSELVES AS LOW-INCOME AND TECHNICALLY, IT HELPS YOU GRADUATE COLLEGE, NOT ONLY HIGH SCHOOL BUT COLLEGE AND TAYLOR WAS AN INSTRUCTOR.

HE CAME IN ONE AUGUST AND INTRODUCED THE SENIOR CLASS, UPCOMING SENIOR CLASS ABOUT 'TEENS TAKE CHARGE.'

I BECAME INTERESTED WHEN HE FIRST SAID NEW YORK CITY HAS THE MOST SEGREGATED PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM IN THE WHOLE COUNTRY.

I THINK, I BELIEVE HE STARTED OFF, WHICH FATE HAS IT, HE ASKED THAT QUESTION.

DUST IT OUT.

WERE YOU SURPRISED WHEN HE SAID NEW YORK?

COMPLETELY SURPRISED.

YOU'RE KIND OF BORN INTO THE SYSTEM AND YOU DON'T REALLY TAKE A STEP BACK TO LOOK AT IT.

WHEN HE SAID THAT, IT WAS A BLINDERS OFF THING.

I KNEW I HAD A LOT OF COMMENTS DURING THAT TIME.

I THOUGHT, I HAVE TO GET INVOLVED.

I HAD A CAMERA AND I TOLD TAYLOR, I COULD BE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER, YOU KNOW.

ALL RIGHT.

YOU WENT ON TO BE THE PERSON IN MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS AND YOU TOLD ME ALL YOU DO IN SOCIAL MEDIA.

I WILL COME BACK TO YOU.

LET'S COME BACK TO THE ISSUE THAT WE INTRODUCED HERE IN TERMS OF THE IDEA OF MOVING OUT OF YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD ZONE TO GO SOME PLACE ELSE.

IN THEORY, SOUNDS LIKE A MARVELOUS OPPORTUNITY, FIND A BETTER SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT FOR YOUR CHILDREN AND CHILDREN FOR THEMSELVES.

WERE YOU SURPRISED WHEN YOU SAW THE RESULTS OF THE NEW SCHOOL STUDY AND WHAT IT'S SUGGESTING IN TERMS OF THE PERCENTAGE, HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE LEAVING THEIR SCHOOLS TO GO SOMEWHERE ELSE?

I WASN'T SURPRISED BUT I KNEW ABOUT THE ISSUE FOR A WHILE AND TAUGHT AT A CHARTER SCHOOL AND WHAT LOT OF FAMILIES ARE LEAVING FOR.

I THINK YOUR QUESTION AT THE BEGINNING WAS A GOOD ONE.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE SCHOOLS LEFT BEHIND?

WHAT HAPPENS TO STUDENTS IN SCHOOLS LOW PERFORMING KIDS ARE LEAVING OUT OF.

WHEN WE'RE TALKING ABOUT SCHOOL CHOICE, WE OFTEN TALK ABOUT IT IN THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, BUT IN FACT, REALLY, THE NATION'S LARGEST EXPERIMENT IN SCHOOL CHOICES HAPPENS IN NEW YORK CITY'S HIGH SCHOOLS.

THERE ARE NO SCHOOL ZONES IN HIGH SCHOOLS.

EVERY STUDENT IS EXERCISING CHOICE WHEN IT COMES TO HIGH SCHOOLS.

A NUMBER OF HIGH SCHOOLS, CORRECT ME IF I AM WRONG, A NUMBER OF HIGH SCHOOLS HAVE AN ACADEMIC COMPONENT TO GET IN TO TEST AND GET INTO CERTAIN PLACES.

HOW ABOUT YOUR SCHOOLS?

YOU'RE A SENIOR AND YOU WILL GRADUATE, WHAT DID YOU SEE IN TERMS OF THE RACIAL MIX OF YOUR SCHOOLS AS YOU WERE GROWING UP?

I BELONG TO WHAT YOU CALL A ZONE SCHOOL BECAUSE I ONLY LIVE 10 MINUTES AWAY, I WALK TO SCHOOL EVERYDAY.

MOST OF THE STUDENTS THAT GO TO MY SCHOOL, THEY LOOK LIKE ME, THEY'RE LATINOS AND AFRICAN-AMERICANS.

FOR ME, IT WOULDN'T BE A PROBLEM IF I DIDN'T FEEL LIKE THE RESOURCES OR THE OPPORTUNITIES ARE VERY LIMITED.

IT'S AN INTERESTING ISSUE.

ON SOME SURFACES IT SOUNDS LIKE A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY FOR SOME STUDENTS.

IT IS BUT WHAT HAPPENS TO THOSE LEFT BEHIND.

YOU ARE GRADUATING, HEADING OFF TO NYU.

CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU AND TEENS TAKE CHARGE AND TAYLOR, HOPEFULLY THAT WILL CONTINUE TO GROW BECAUSE WE NEED TO HEAR YOUR VOICES OF YOUNG REASON.

THANK YOU FOR BOTH OF US.

YOU BOTH BE WELL.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

THANK YOU.

HEY HEY HO-HO, HEY HEY HO-HO.

IMMIGRATE.

NOW!

IMMIGRATE!

NOW!

HEY HEY, HO-HO, HEY HEY, HO-HO HEY HEY, HO-HO, GOT TO GO ♪ ♪ HEY HEY, HO-HO.

SEGREGATION.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM THE THIRD, THE SIMON PROGRAMMING DEVELOPMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY -- ♪ ♪

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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