Morning Joe | September 30, 2011
>>> songwriter gloria estefan is out with a newalbum and the president of the new york city performing center for the arts. good to see you both.
>> thank you.
>> i don't think a lot of people know this about you. your mother was a school teacher for most of her life.
>> yes, she was.
>> she had a ph.d in education and her own kindergarten in cuba and when she came to miami she had to get her teaching credentials done again because they ripped up the papers at the airport and said you're not even taking your education out of this country and she was a public school teacher for many years. i did many a career day and helped her out a lot there.
>> what did she impress upon you about education that you've used throughout your life?
>> i have to tell you it was very important for her to start very early on. i think by the time kids are 5 there's a lot of already established things in their psyche and in their minds that it's important to get a head start and i saw her plenty of times take money out of her own wallet to bring in arts and crafts and school supplies and things that, unfortunately, she didn't have.
>> and that's something teachers are still doing today.
>> no doubt about it. we're from the same state, florida.
>> yes, indeed.
>> florida is my home state, your home state as well. a very high hispanic population in our state and the bad news is, unfortunately, that hispanics right now have the highest dropout rate from 16 to 24 years old. that is -- what do we need to do? what are we not doing do you think that we need to do better that teachers like your mom were able to do to inspire students to stick it out to the end?
>> i think, first of all, we need to give the teachers the tools they need to make education the number one priority. i think they're underpaid. i mean, quite honestly very much so. and when you don't pay people well a lot of really good people are not going to gravitate to that job. and teachers are suffering out there. they're trying to make ends meet, trying to give students the best that they can. and we have to be there for them. the government, the people. for example i had a fundraiser last -- about a year and a half ago where we gave a lot of funds to three different counties so that the teachers could stock this big warehouse full of materials that they needed and could just come and get them free whenever they needed it.
>> that is amazing. now, willie and i are your neighbors on the upper west side . in fact, so much so that -- did you hear this? so reverend al gets caught on the upper west side and they ask, what are you doing here? what do you say?
>> visiting joe scarborough .
>> exactly. who ever thought i'd be -- one of the thrills of the people there it's the lincoln center .
>> you guys being a neighbor of the lincoln center i found out with my own children, you all have created this remarkable partnership with young people where you educate through art. you educate through music .
>> it's magic.
>> we have a total -- we reach a total of a million students who come to lincoln center or lincoln center comes to them in their schools. and lincoln center , itself, builds the arts into the curriculum across the curriculum and over 80 schools. our most recent initiative has been to get engaged in new charter schools and partnership with new visions. in fact, there are two new charter schools that are within three miles from here in the bronx where i live. so thanks for coming to my burough.
>> you're welcome.
>> we are actively engaged.
>> specifically what do you do in these three charter schools ?
>> so we use the active arts as a way to engage kids. we'll go to the school and build the curriculum in preparation for what it's about to do and have the students analyze the performance after. students actually look to four different performances that occur during the course of the year and build their thinking about the arts and their imagination about the arts in anticipation of seeing professional artists come to their auditorium in their space.
>> you know, gloria, speaking of imagination and that is the key word , mika and i were doing an interview yesterday and somebody asked the question, well, you all have so many things going. what's been the key for you, for your success? and i said, nobody knows this, but, you know, i was active, i was quarterback, and very active athlete. but in the summer, when everybody else went to the beach i went in my room. i closed the door. i wrote songs. i recorded music , created -- created this great universe for me that even today helps me solve problems in the work place. can you talk about --
>> -- how arts which have been yanked out of school, what the lincoln center is doing, talk about how important the arts are for our young students even if they never end up being musicians.
>> it is mind boggling the first programs that get cut are art and music as if they had nothing to do. math is music . when you teach a student music , you're teaching them counting. you know, everything is either four beats, eight beats. they really, it broad ens their mind and art as well. you can't get people coming up with new ideas if you just lock them down to learning facts or things like that. these are the kinds of things that really expand the mind in kids.
>> and they're fundamentals. they're not extras.
>> yes they are.
>> it's frustrating to see the cuts happening in ways that they are when you cut something so fundamental that it was clearly fundamental to your growth intellectually.
>> yet, reverend sharpton, you hear in washington almost every day when they talk about education , well we can trim around the edges -- gym class , art, things like that. that's why it is so critical that these programs can supplement what's happening in the schools.
>> i think it is very effective. i think what gloria is saying is so important because music , itself, does teach math, the count, that students would get in music that they may not get otherwise as well. the memorizing of lyrics. i'm always amazed when i meet a lot of the kids that can tell you verbatim every lyric in a hip hop song right.
>> but don't know history. you transfer that over, so really cutting these programs is really hand capping a lot of the educational development. i think she is absolutely right about that.
>> also the physical. when i was a kid we had the presidential fitness test . when you cut physical education from a student, not only is that a great time to blow off steam but it keeps their bodies fit. and we're heading down hill big time by cutting these programs.
>> you know, the thing is, when you -- we always talk on this show about being competitive globally. this is the one thing that you the united states of america does so well. in fact, the lincoln center has been asked by china to go over and basically help them develop arts because they understand we are -- have been a creative culture because of the arts.
>> joe, this is absolutely amazing. when we go to china and we see what their scores are in math and english, which are astonishing, when we compliment them on their scores, they say, but we have to do more of what americans do because our students are learning by rote and they don't bring the imagination and creativity that will lead to software development , that will lead to new industries.
>> we've got to change and become more like you. so isn't it ironic that at the very time the chinese are saying, we have to become more like americans, and introduce creativity and imagination into our curriculum, we are losing it by virtue of having the arts diminished in our schools.
>> no doubt about it. mika , we talked about it all the time.
>> the chinese are investing infrastructure. we're cutting infrastructure. while they're investing in education we're cutting education . while they're investing in the arts, we're now cutting the arts.
>> we're missing our nose in front of our face on so many levels with this. and that's the most important point especially given what's happening at the lincoln center . you know, i was watching way too early this morning.
>> very popular.
>> every morning.
>> new show.
>> mika didn't even know it was on until a week ago.
>> willie showed this video of michelle obama . what was she doing?
>> she was at target shopping.
>> michelle obama .
>> what was she doing there?
>> only one thing could drive her to target. i know what she was buying.
>> i wish. i hope so.
>> i can't say what is in the bag but i think it might be 32 dozen cds.
>> her blouse matches my cover.
>> there you go. exactly. ms. little havana . you cut a deal with target to make this happen.
>> yes we did. what way to deliver music to anybody? all the retailers are out. the new technologies have changed the business completely. you have to learn to think out of the box and that is what education helps do you, adapt and adjust to the changing times . and i figure if people are going to be at target getting other stuff, other things, let me deliver the music there and also on i-tunes for downloading though they don't need to buy it to download it. that's the way things are. but they've come through with a lot of promo. i've been with them when i put out my children's books and they've been there every step of the way.
>> a cool partnership on the album working with farell.
>> oh, yes. amazing and so creative. we really clicked. he is so musical. he came to me with this idea. he wrote miss little havana and said this is you. i want to do this project. we just -- everything just unfolded so naturally it was fantastic.
>> and the first album in eight years.
>> so great to hear you again.
>> thank you so much.
>> what is next at the lincoln center ? we've got an exciting season ahead. the new york philharmonic and metropolitan opera , chamber music society, film society , jazz at lincoln center are all opening their full seasons so we couldn't be more excited.
>> all right. the album miss little havana , gloria estefan , thank