Melissa Harris-Perry | September 29, 2012
>>> it's hard to imagine what the president of the united states does after being the president of the united states . president obama gave us an idea on tuesday.
>>> in a post presidency, the thing that i this i i would enjoy most is spending time working with kids. i love teaching. i miss teaching and i'm not sure i will necessarily be in a classroom but the idea of being able to go around in various cities and helping to create mentorships and apprenticeships and giving young people the sense of possibility.
>> that sense of opportunity and possibility unfortunately is not equally available to all of our nation's students. 58 years since separate but equal was struck down, our classrooms are still distressingly separate. 2 out of every 5 african-american or hispanic students attend intensely segregated schools. schools more segregated today than they were 40 years ago. they are not just segregated by race but by class. poor students face very different school days than their middle class and wealthy peers. the result, persistent achievement gap . here with me to discuss that is professor pay tedro. he is backed up by congresswoman gwynn more and ari melber. when you look at this gap, what do you see as the primary factors contributing to it?
>> i am glad to be here. i appreciate your willingness to take on this topic. it is complicated. you spoke to it already in your comments. that is in many ways, the gaps in achievement and s.a.t. scores are really about social inequality . we need to unpack that. we have known for a long time that the strongest predictor of how a student will do on the s.a.t. is the education of the mother. why is that? children from more affluent, well-educated families are exposed to a wide variety of learning experiences outside of school, at the dinner table. they have a larger vocabulary when they enter school and those benefits are compounded over time . they have access to private tutors and get enrichment summer camps and travel. all those things help a student. in addition, it is compounded by the fact that they are more likely to go to affluent schools where we spend more money and where there are higher expectations and more resources. there is inequality outside of school compounded by inequality within schools.
>> what i have appreciated about your work is this issue of complexity. you can say you have these predeterminative factors, poverty, social dislocation, neighborhoods that have crime. it doesn't mean kids can't learn or aren't capable. quite the opposite. it is an indication we ought to be putting more resources for those kids even than those that already come from circumstances where they have a great deal of resources.
>> right. this debate about school reform has been framed in very simplistic ways. we have the so-called reformers. i think right now mayor rahm emanuel kind of exemplifies that. there on a drive. we are going to hold teachers accountable by test scores , shut down failing schools and replace them with charter schools which is a strategy we have seen used everywhere. what we haven't answered is how is that going to address the needs of the most disadvantaged children. we have researched from chicago and carried out while arne duncan was the superintendent which shows that many strategies didn't work. why didn't they work? because they didn't engage parents. they didn't really address the social needs of children and because they didn't provide the kinds of resources, social workers , psychologists that those schools need not to solve poverty but to mitigate the effects of poverty.
>> there is one other question i have been dying to ask you before i open up for our panel. i want you to deacon struck on television at this point the ogbu thesis. the other piece of this story is not only should we clothse these failing schools and walk away from public education that somehow black children and brown children and urban children are holding each other back. it is not poverty or dislocation. it is a culture of opposition. please pull that apart for me.
>> you are giving me big questions . i am ready to take it on.
>> you have got it, 90 sessions. john ogbu did very important work and showed the fact that your historical status has impact on the way you look at school. the immigrant kids come with a greater sense of hope and optimism and outperform american kids, all american kids. it is particularly true for what he called the nonvoluntary minorities, the descendants of slaves and african-americans and latino-americans. he didn't look at what was happening in schools and why it is that in certain schools, african-american children are performing at very high levels and not because their culture has changed but because the environment has changed. that is, these are schools that have gone about creating an environment where there are high expectations and children are challenged and stimulated. those schools exist right now. they are living proof that there is nothing wrong with the children. the problem is the way we treat the children, the conditions we place those children under. i can add, because i'm an admirer of president obama and a fan. if more schools were like the school his children went to, sidwell friends , which does not do high-tech testing but focuses on stimulating and challenging kids, we would see a lot more kids performing. the real question the president and arne duncan is will they give all kids a chance for that kind of education and not the kind that too many american kids are subject to right now?
>> i am about to say amen on my own show. we are going to bring in the panel as soon as we get back. this is the conversation we want to have. we can not test our way out of