From national security to the global economy to the future of the middle class, how high are the stakes and where are the solutions when it comes to educating America’s children? Why hasn’t more progress been made after decades of reform? Why are changes at the school-district level—and even the state—necessary to create environments where teachers and students can succeed? How will digital learning transform personalized education? What lessons can be learned from other nations? What would a high-functioning city public school system look like? How do we get there?
Lessons in Education
Aspen Ideas Festival transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for the Aspen Institute, and the accuracy may vary. This text may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Aspen Institute programming is the video or audio.
THE ASPEN INSTITUTE
ASPEN IDEAS FESTIVAL 2012
AMERICA LESSONS IN EDUCATION
McNulty Room, Doerr-Hosier Center Aspen Meadows Campus, Colorado 81612
Sunday, July 1, 2012
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN Author, Reporter, Columnist; Recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes; Author of From Beirut to Jerusalem, The World Is Flat; Foreign Affairs Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times
ELI BROAD Founder, SunAmerica Inc., KB Home Cofounder, The Broad Foundations
MR. FRIEDMAN: I'm Tom Friedman. I'm the foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times. I'm thrilled to be here with my friend, Eli Broad, one of the premiere philanthropists in the world of education. He and his wife, Edye, are doing amazing stuff around the country. You know, Eli, although I'm the foreign affairs columnist, I always say if I could go back and do it over again, I wouldn't have studied Arabic as an undergrad.
I would have gotten a degree in education because traveling around the world I've really discovered that the biggest foreign policy issue in the world today is actually education. And it's been very interesting that every country I go to, actually the number one issue is education. And what's really interesting -- everyone thinks they're behind.
You know, wherever you go, you go to Singapore, and they think their kids are doing wonderful, they're killing it in math and science, but they couldn't invent a Hula-Hoop, you know. And then you go to America, and you know, we've got all these problems with dropouts. It's clear this is the biggest issue in the world today.
So how did someone who first made his mark in building homes and then in insurance business, decide to really devote yourself to improving K-12 education -- where did that come from?
MR. BROAD: By the way, if Singapore thinks they're behind, we're way, way behind Singapore.
MR. FRIEDMAN: We're really in trouble then.
MR. BROAD: When I left the world of commerce 12 years ago and created an additional foundation, I started thinking about what is the biggest problem facing America and I concluded it was K through 12 education. I had read A Nation at Risk which is now 29 years old. We traveled to China, India, Korea, Japan, certain European nations, and it became very clear that we were not doing the job, educating our young people.
I saw dropout rates in urban areas at about 50 percent, in some cases like Detroit, 25 percent. I think Washington, D.C., 35 percent.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Detroit's graduation rate is 25
MR. BROAD: Yeah, what did I say? MR. FRIEDMAN: You said dropout rate, yeah. MR. BROAD: I'm sorry. Yeah, graduation rate. MR. FRIEDMAN: Yeah. MR. BROAD: And Washington, 35 percent. Now, I the number of people incarcerated and I learned
looked at that 80 percent of those incarcerated did not graduate high school. So I thought this is an area that I hope we can do some good in.
MR. FRIEDMAN: How much does it cost to incarcerate someone for a year and how much does it cost to give them a third grade, you know, education for a year?
MR. BROAD: Incarceration costs -- I don't know exact figures. I've heard figures of -- as low as $40,000
and as high as $80,000 or $90,000. And obviously, a third grade education is like one-tenth or less than that.
MR. FRIEDMAN: So what have you learned -- you know, you've been doing this now 12 years -- what is the biggest takeaway you have from your work in public education?
MR. BROAD: What I've learned it's the only industry and its $600-billion industry that really hasn't changed. Every other industry or segment of our society uses technology. Education has not been doing that. I learned it's dominated by people that want to defend the status quo. They don't want change. I learned that we need better governance and better leadership -- governance from the superintendent or chancellor down to the principal.
I've learned that we need more mayoral, gubernatorial control as opposed to having 14,000 school boards. I've learned that all children can really learn regardless of what others think. I think we can close the achievement gap. And I've also seen that certain interests, such as the National Education Association, spends $1.9 billion a year and has 7,300 employees --
MR. FRIEDMAN: That's the teachers' union? MR. BROAD: The teachers' union. MR. FRIEDMAN: Biggest teachers' union. MR. BROAD: And they do a tremendous amount of
lobbying to prevent any change from taking place, opposing candidates that want to reform education. And they campaign against lots of other things that need to be done. That's what I've learned.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Has the President -- has this administration, which obviously is a Democratic administration, close to the teachers' union -- have they taken on the teachers' union in any way?
MR. BROAD: Yes, they have. I think the President and Secretary Duncan have done that. They've done a number of things. I think Race to the Top has been very successful. It cost some 30 states to change their laws with regard to charter schools, with regard to measurement and performance of teachers and a number of other things.
So the teachers' unions still have influence but not the kind of influence they had a decade ago. We now have Democrats for education reform, a number of other organizations. And you've got a number of mayors out there, whether it's Rahm Emanuel and before that, Rich Daley in Chicago, Mike Bloomberg in New York. You've got a number of chancellors such as Michelle Rhee was in Washington, Joel Klein in New York that are taking on the teachers' unions and forcing change.
MR. FRIEDMAN: So Eli, what -- that's the bad news in a sense. What's the good news? What have you seen out there that is really exciting you right now?
MR. BROAD: What's exciting right now is watching charter schools. You know, 20 years ago there was one charter school in Minnesota. We now have 2 million children in charter schools. Some of these charter schools are using what I call blended learning, technology together with teachers, and it's making a vast difference. It's in the early innings.
But a place like Rocketship in Northern California, New York City's School of One, the Alliance schools in Los Angeles -- I've watched those schools. I've been to their classrooms. And they have 36, sometimes 48 teachers, and they rotate between 16 with the teacher -- 16 online, 16 working in groups. And that's really working.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Terrific, terrific. Where are you investing in that regard?
MR. BROAD: Well, we're investing in charter school management organizations, especially the quality ones. In fact, we just created a charter school management organization prize that was awarded in Minneapolis about 10 days ago. And I didn't realize until our people did a research how many successful charter school management organizations there were.
Those are organizations that have four or more charter schools and have at least 3 or 4 years of history. Now, not all charter schools are great. A lot of what I call the mom and pop charter schools frankly ought to be closed when they're not performing. And then we're involved in supporting blended learning technology.
MR. FRIEDMAN: And -- be more specific.
MR. BROAD: Well, we're giving -- we're supporting things like Khan Academy, we're supporting Rocketship schools, the Alliance, other schools that are doing these new things. And then other things we're doing -- we started the Superintendents' Academy some 11 years ago. And we trained 40 superintendents including superintendents of Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, state superintendents in Louisiana, Delaware, Rhode Island, people at Department of Education, people that would not have gone into education without our program.
And then about 7 years ago I said, you know what, we do not see any bright MBA people, people that
might be at places like the Aspen Institute in education, management and administration. So we created something called Residency and we've got 200 of those people who had a minimum of 5 years of experience in the world in school districts now.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Why is that so important -- why are superintendents and principals as we -- they tend to not be part of the discussion. Talk a little bit about why that is so important.
MR. BROAD: I think it all starts from leadership, especially if you want to change your broken system. What you had before was you had people became superintendents -- they started as a coach or a teacher. And 30 years later if they had political skills and personality, they became CEO of a large urban school district without any training in management, labor relations, systems, et cetera, and they did not hire people from outside of education to fulfill those functions.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Do you want (off mic)? MR. BROAD: No. MR. FRIEDMAN: Okay. If you were secretary of
education, what would you be doing right now? MR. BROAD: Well, one, I won't be secretary of
education. But wait, I've thought about that question. The first thing I would do is I would make sure that what I'm going to do the first day in office is something that the President approves of. And then I would get everyone in the department in the department auditorium.
And I'd review the past and talk about where we've been, why we have a broken system, why spending the last 20 years has more than doubled with minimal, if any, improvement in student achievement.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Let's stop on that one. What is the answer to that question?
MR. BROAD: The answer to the question is we spend more and more for administration, more and more for pensions and less going to the classroom. Those are some
of the answers. There's a lot of waste in public education. We've got to make it more efficient. Then I'd say the system is broken and we have a crisis.
And we have to have a 21st century agenda that would include a longer school day, a longer school year, better teaching, use of blended learning, pay teachers more, reward them for success, have public school choice and change the system from a tired monopoly to a high- performing public enterprise. I'd say tenure should be earned the way it is in higher education, not simply given after 1 or 2 years to 95 percent of those that are there.
I think we got to get rid of the seniority system, life-fall (phonetic), where we let go our youngest best teachers and keep our older teachers that are not performing.
MR. BROAD: I think we've got to have pensions become portable because after 10 or 15 years if someone wants to leave teaching, they're locked in. They'll lose -
- leave their pensions behind. So pensions should become portable, and also we can't afford to find contribution anymore. I know school districts across the country, cities --
MR. FRIEDMAN: Can't afford to find benefit anymore is --
MR. BROAD: -- to find -- you're right -- to find benefit -- thank you. We've got to go to find contribution like most all of -- the rest of American society. We've got to improve governance -- we need more mayoral and gubernatorial control. We need 90 percent of the money going into the classroom.
We need to look at kids -- in their eighth or ninth grade they're dropping out and they're dropping out because they don't believe they're going to college. And we don't show them a route to a good-paying job. So we need 21st century career education which we don't have. And we've got to hold education schools accountable for the products they produce.
And lastly, I think the President and the secretary of Education, everyone in the department has to get out and talk about the message and say it's no longer going to be business as usual.
(Applause) MR. BROAD: Now, Tom, I have a question for you. MR. FRIEDMAN: Oh. MR. BROAD: What would you do if you were of Education on your first day? (Laughter) MR. FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, in our last book
we did a chapter on -- to begin, Eli, about -- I would never dare give political advice to Hillary Clinton, but had she asked, and she came to me and said, the President's offered to me to be secretary of State, I would have said, turn it down, tell the President you want the most important national security job, you want to be secretary of Education.
MR. FRIEDMAN: This is actually a terrible time to be secretary of State, because you're basically dealing with failing states around the world who you have to actually rebuild in order to negotiate with first. And anyone who sat through some of the seminar in the Tent yesterday could see examples of that.
I think what I would do if I were secretary of education on the -- on day one, Eli, is that I'm a big believer that if you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there. If you don't start your day by asking the most fundamental question, which is, what world are we living in, what are the biggest trends in this world and how do we align ourselves in both jobs and education around those trends, you're going to get in trouble as a company or as a country.
And I think that's where our problem starts. You know, the U.S. Air Force has a concept -- I think I talked about this a little last year. It's called the OODA loop -- O-O-D-A. And it stands for observe, orient,
decide, act. And the basic theme of it is that if you're in a dogfight as a fighter pilot with another fighter pilot, and your OODA loop, your ability to observe, orient, decide and act is faster than the other pilot, you'll shoot them out of the sky.
If their ability to observe, orient, decide and act is faster than you, they will shoot you out of the sky. Right now, our national OODA loop, our ability to observe, orient, decide and act on the biggest trends in the world is really out of whack. And so what if it were in whack -- because this is really, I think, the question you're asking, Eli, and it's, I think, the foundation of so much of what you do.
What would we be observing, orienting and deciding and acting about? Well, I think what we'd be observing, orienting, deciding and acting about is the biggest trend in the world today. And I did talk about this a little last year and I've said in the last 6 years - - 7 years, 8 years -- the world has gone from connected to hyper-connected. It's been completely disguised by the subprime
crisis, the great recession and 9/11. But something really fundamental has changed. I would argue on it Gutenberg scale. In my own lingo we've gone from flat world 1.0 to flat world 2.0. And the reason I'm alive to this myself, or so sensitive to it is that in 2004 I sat down, wrote a book called The World Is Flat. It came out 2005.
And when I sat down to do this new book, That Used To Be Us with my friend and colleague, Michael Mandelbaum, the first thing I did is -- I think talked about last year -- was get out the first edition of The
World Is Flat, opened it up to the index, B, C, D, E, F, Fa -- Facebook wasn't in. out there saying the world is flat, we're
looked under A, So -- and I was all connected.
Facebook didn't exist, Twitter was still a sound, the Cloud was still in the sky, 4G was a parking place, LinkedIn was a prison, Application is what you sent to college and Skype was a typo. (Laughter)
MR. FRIEDMAN: Okay. All of that happened, in just the last 6 years. And that has actually world from connected to hyper-connected. And means for education, Eli, is very simple. If world were a single global classroom, the curve
remember, taken the what this the whole just rose. Because every employer -- if you were still back running Sun or every employer here in the room now has access to more cheap, easy, above-average software, automation, robotics, cheap labor and cheap genius than ever before.
The whole global curve has risen. And hence what I think is the single-most important socioeconomic fact of our time which I think is driving so much what you do, which is at average, is over. Average is officially over and therefore we all have to find our extra -- we all got to find our way to become above average. And that now is so much part of our education challenge.
We've got to bring our bottom to our average so much faster which is about reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic, the three R's. And we've got to bring our average to the global heights, Eli, so much farther, which is about the three C's -- communication, creativity and collaboration. My question back to you is, what's stopping that? It is hiding in plain sight.
MR. BROAD: I think those that want to maintain the status quo, that are uncomfortable with change, with the system of governance that is trying to compete with national education ministries and don't have the talent that other governments have --
MR. FRIEDMAN: Talk about that. What do you mean by that that we have a system of education and governance that is radically different from the other high- performing systems around the world?
MR. BROAD: It is. We've got 14,000 or more school boards in America made up of political wannabes. They see the stepping stone to the state assembly or city council made up of well-meaning parents or in too many cases, members of labor organizations or ethnic groups, none of whom have had experience governing anything before.
And if you go to these -- you sit through a school board meeting, it is rare that they will ever talk about student achievement, although the meetings go on for 6, 7, 8 hours.
MR. FRIEDMAN: So we've had the high school -- the high school coach -- the football coach became superintendent and the school board is made up of wannabe state assembly, you know, men and women, no way to run a railroad. What's it like in Germany? What's it like in Finland?
MR. BROAD: Well, they've got national education ministries with very bright people setting the agenda, setting the curriculum and demanding results and measuring results and using data.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Eli, do you think this will be a issue in this campaign? And if not, how do we make it an issue? I don't really hear either candidate talking about it.
MR. BROAD: Well, the -- one of the big problems we have is the American people don't seem to think we have a huge problem. In surveys it doesn't -- in polls it doesn't show up as the number one, two or three issue. And they remember what America was, not what -- where we are today.
They remember how great we were after World War II, they remember the people that went through a GI Bill, created intellectual capital, all the people that came here from Asia and Europe that stayed that they're no longer staying and so on. So there's not a public will to change education.
MR. FRIEDMAN: So --
MR. BROAD: That has to change. We've got to do a better job letting people know what the real problem is in education and how it's going to affect our entire society or standard of living. There's no way without educating our people that we're going to reduce our unemployment rate, that we're going to be able to pay for health care, for $800 billion -- $900-billion defense budget and other things.
MR. FRIEDMAN: So in some way are we misleading ourselves here? We're up here in Aspen and every summer seems to me we have great education reformers. If you're only learned about American education by coming to the Aspen Ideas Festival every summer, you think the world is full of these great education innovators -- and it is. And there are certainly more now than there were 20 years ago, 15 years ago and you're an example of that.
But what I hear you saying is that the roadblocks are still enormous. What we really maybe should have up here is a traditional school board and a representative of the teachers' union over here hammering you in the middle. That would be a much better picture of --
MR. BROAD: Oh, that would be more fun.
MR. FRIEDMAN: -- of what's going on out there. I mean do we have a -- because the reformers are getting a lot of attention. But how much change have they actually made in the last 10 years?
MR. BROAD: We've made some changes, not enough. I think we're only at the beginning. What we've done the last 10 years sets the agenda, sets the foundation for a lot of change in the next 5 to 10 years; and blended learning and having better management, better governance, getting more governors and mayors involved in education, those that are willing to take on the defenders of status quo.
MR. FRIEDMAN: What should these people do? What should be their takeaway?
MR. BROAD: Their takeaway should be to talk to anyone that's involved in public policy and let them know how unhappy they are with the state of American public education and how and why it has to change and change rapidly.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Should they all also put their kids in public school?
MR. BROAD: Oh yes -- you know, yes. I really believe that.
(Applause) MR. FRIEDMAN: Why do you say that? MR. BROAD: Well, Warren Buffett once said, if
you want to change education, close all the private schools and then middle-income and upper-income families will demand change. So I think the more people from middle-income families and upper-income families that have their kids in public schools will get those parents involved and demand change rather than escaping the public school systems and getting them into private schools.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Should the President have sent his daughters to the Washington, D.C. public school system?
MR. BROAD: We talked about that at dinner. I know you think so. And I can't second guess how any parent should -- where they should send their kid to. But I think it would have been a great sign of confidence in the ability to improve public education had he done so.
MR. FRIEDMAN: We've got a lot of people here, a lot of good minds. Let's open up the floor a little bit. And we've got microphones. So we're going to ask people to identify yourself. And we got a question right here. And let them bring the microphone to you -- if you -- okay. And we can -- happy to talk about any of these issues. Right over here. You stand up. I'll repeat the question.
SPEAKER: (Off mic) -- I was on the founding staff of two charter schools in New Orleans. I'm currently a law student studying school law at the University of Washington.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Great.
SPEAKER: I heard Randi Weingarten speak 2 days ago, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the second largest school you have -- teachers' union organization -- which supports a lot of the wonderful innovative ideas that you're discussing, which I heartily agree with including charter schools, longer school days, technology in the classroom and teacher evaluations that are there, trying to innovate within that union. So I (off mic) of teachers' unions.
I wonder if the AFT -- if you support any of the work they're doing. You know, the NEA -- a lot of us have issues with the NEA but what about AFT or any (off mic) to collaborate with teachers' unions --that back book will
MR. BROAD: Let me answer -- MR. FRIEDMAN: Hold on one sec, did you all hear there? SPEAKERS: No. MR. FRIEDMAN: Okay. She wants to know when my be out in paperback, you know, since --
MR. FRIEDMAN: In September. Thank you so much for asking, really. Really -- I really appreciate it. The question was, should we distinguish between the teachers' unions and teachers' unions, the AFT headed by Randi Weingarten has taken a more open and progressive view toward some of these reform ideas that Eli has been working on and others. I think it's a good question, Eli. Are there teachers' unions and teach -- and do we too much give this blanket --
MR. BROAD: Let me give you a -- when we started, there was an organization called TURN -- Teachers' Union Reform Network and we thought that was great. We worked with them for a few years and we didn't see any change whatsoever. I've known Randi Weingarten from the day she was general counsel to in New York City teachers' union. And I like Randi.
She's very smart and she's become a little more progressive. We funded two charter schools run by the union in New York. They both have not done well, unfortunately. We also gave this --
MR. FRIEDMAN: Can I just -- why didn't they do well do you think?
MR. BROAD: Well, they -- they've gone through three or four school leaders or principals. It just didn't work.
SPEAKER: The Green Dot Schools in the Bronx. MR. BROAD: Pardon? SPEAKER: The Green Dot Schools that AFT
supported in the Bronx (off mic) more successful. MR. BROAD: I think they're more successful
because it was a different model. You know, it's run by Steve Barr who we know well because he created Green Dot in Los Angeles. But look, I talk to Randi often. The last time I met with her I talked to her about some of the things I mentioned -- tenure being earned -- she didn't like that idea; seniority -- doesn't want to change that system even if we have to let young teachers go; a number of other things -- portable pension -- she said she'll think about that and a lot of things.
Randi speaks very well. But if you look at her actions, I don't see much action. Yes, in Washington, D.C., it was quite a fight and we ended up with the great teachers' contract because Michelle Rhee and others did that and philanthropy put in a lot of money. She's got a little better contract in New haven, Connecticut and a few other places.
But still, you look at collective bargain agreements and what you see are 200 pages of work rules that stifle innovation, stifle teachers from doing their best job. So AFT is better than NEA but it's not the answer.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Let me just pick up with that a little bit because there's something I have written about. And I'm married to a public school teacher and my daughter was a public school teacher in Washington, D.C., so -- Teach For America and then stayed on. And I bristle a --
I agree with everything Eli said. But I also bristle a little bit when people who know nothing about education -- Eli does -- but start taking off on teachers and the teachers' union. So let me just say two things.
One is Eli is an amazing education philanthropist -- he and Edye. They've done amazing work. But the biggest education philanthropist in this country are public school teachers.
(Applause) MR. BROAD: Sure. MR. FRIEDMAN: The amount of money they -- from
their own pockets that they put in, whether it's for crayons or cupcakes, okay, every day of the year, the amount of work they put in, after-hours, that they are not paid for in any union contract, is something, number one, we should never forget.
Again, I totally agree with Eli says -- we need to recruit our teachers from the top third of graduating classes, we need to evaluate them like anyone else where none of us have life tenure in our jobs, you know. But at the same time, it's very -- this debate has shrunken, has gotten so teacher-centric that we are in danger of outsourcing the education problem to one half of 1 percent of our population, public school teachers, just the way we did the Iraq and Afghan wars.
And so we're going to -- these are the problem -- we're going to outsource it all to them. We just fix the teachers, it's all going to be fine. My view is that we need better teachers for all the reasons Eli said but we --
MR. BROAD: Teachers are not the problem. The problem is they're working in a broken system that has to be changed dramatically.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Yeah, I agree with that. But we also need -- to change that system, we need -- first of all we need better parents, okay? You need parents, all right, who wherever possible -- you study the OECD statistics on the PISA exam, okay? And what they will -- they show you is that the kids who do well in PISA
sometimes it's because their parents who do as little as asking, what did you do in school today, okay?
So number one, you -- there's a parental issue here. Number two, we need better neighbors. We need neighbors who care about the quality of their public school, where they -- whether they've got kids in them or not because as Eli said, if you're not building the public school, you'll be building the prison, okay?
Third, you need better political leaders for the reasons again Eli said. You need leaders who are ready to raise the standard, to say I've been to Shanghai. We're not going to dumb down the standards we're going to raise the standards. Fourth, we need better business leaders. Business leaders to say, I care about the quality of public schools in my town. I'm not going to just outsource the jobs or get the labor somewhere else.
And lastly, you need better students. You need students ready to come to school to learn not to text. I mean we profiled -- wrote about one girl (inaudible) from
The New York Times article who sent 40,000 text messages a month and wonders why she's getting C's and B's, all right? You're not going to do much learning, you know, if you're writing and receiving 40,000 text messages a month, okay, or hanging out at the mall.
You better know what world you're living in. You are going to be roadkill, okay, in a hyper-connected world if you also aren't a student who -- so you give me better parents, better business leaders, better neighbors, better students and I'll make every weak teacher better and I'll make every great teacher absolutely outstanding. It isn't just on them.
(Applause) MR. FRIEDMAN: Had to get that off my chest. SPEAKER: (Off mic.) MR. FRIEDMAN: Please. Please stand up. Wait,
there's the microphone coming. SPEAKER: I taught third grade in a suburb
outside of Boston. And what sticks in my mind is this one story. A mother comes in and I'm talking to her about her son and what she should do. She said I can't do any more. I have four other children. So I start from the premise just what you said about parents. And parents have to be involved.
They have to know they're responsible. And when Oprah was ending her shows I listened to the last day and this is what stuck with me. She said, you are responsible for yourself and anybody you bring into this world. And I think that's so applicable to education.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Thank you very much. Appreciate it. Over here. Right there.
MR. WILSON: Hi. I'm Steve Wilson. I work in the education content group at Apple. I was hoping you could speak a little bit further about teacher preparation and teacher training. In my work with university school, departments of educations, one of the biggest challenges that they talk about is preparing teachers to teach in the 21st century world and a hyper-connected world.
And I wonder what challenges you think up or what solutions may be available to further train teachers to teach in this new world.
MR. BROAD: Well, first of all, as Tom mentioned, other countries get the top third of their college students going into teaching. We get the bottom third. We've -- if it was up to me, I'd get rid of all the ed schools not the graduate schools of education and I'd have everyone start as a math major, English major, science major --
MR. FRIEDMAN: Can't major in education. MR. BROAD: Can't start there. MR. FRIEDMAN: Right. MR. BROAD: And convince them to go into
teaching and then give them the pedagogy needed, including how to use technology to become a better teacher.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Is the Broad Institute -- you know, are you working with the graduate ed institutions?
MR. BROAD: We're doing some things with the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Go over here. Please.
MS. RUBELL: Hi. My name is Mira Rubell (phonetic). And the thing I'm most proud of probably in my whole life is that I was in the first Head Start program in 1964. Kennedy said what can you do for your country, I decided I wanted to be in that program. So my question is the whole D.C. -- D.C. went through a real education -- an attempt at a major revolution.
And I'm curious, Eli, what role did you play in that and -- did you play a role and what role could you have played --
MR. FRIEDMAN: With Michelle Rhee's reforms did you play any role in that and what role -- what was -- was there --
MS. RUBELL: And obviously my question is -- MR. BROAD: Yeah, we --
MS. RUBELL: -- did you play a role and if you didn't, what could you have done. Because I think we threw out the baby with the bathwater, as they say. So I'm just wondering.
MR. BROAD: Well, we were the first funder for what Michelle Rhee did in Washington, D.C. and got other philanthropists engaged, a number of others. And I think we raised 70-some-odd million dollars so we could do the thing she wanted to do. And that money allowed her to have leverage in getting a new collective bargain agreement, paying teachers more for performance and a lot of other things.
Michelle now had something called StudentsFirst that has a million members. She's raising a lot of money. She raised several hundred million dollars and wants to do in other cities what happened in Washington, D.C. And we're supportive of that.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Thank you. All the way back. She's got the microphone. Wait for the microphone because no one will be able to hear you back there. She's coming around. One second.
MS. ZIRKIN: Thank you very much. I am Nancy Zirkin (phonetic). And I work for a very large coalition in Washington which helps underserved populations, Hispanics, African-Americans --
MR. FRIEDMAN: Helps them in education or in --
MS. ZIRKIN: I've done education policy for a very long time. And Mr. Broad, we are very -- just overwhelmed with what you're doing in K through 12 education. I think you are about the only one in that space. With that in mind, we are looking at a catastrophe down the road. We are looking at these underserved schools producing people who then can't get jobs.
Many of them, as you said, are in prison. And in several years they will be in the majority, at least Hispanics and African-Americans, whites will not be. So I guess my question is -- and this is something that we struggle with -- if you could institute public policy at the state level and at the national level, what would your model piece of legislation be? Thank you.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Thank you.
MR. BROAD: There'd be a number of things in there. But one of the things to deal with the problem you just described is making certain that all students, including those not going to college, get an education that will get them to a good paying job. And even whether you drive a Federal Express truck today or you're in the building trades and auto mechanical, lots of other things, you got to be computer literate and so on.
So we've got to have 21st century vocational education called career. And the sooner we do that, the better --
MR. BROAD: -- and the sooner we do that, our dropout rates in urban areas will go down.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Back -- go all the way back there -- the young man holding his -- with the blond hair.
SPEAKER: So something I often wonder about is how in a country that was founded as an experiment by men who valued intellect perhaps above all else and subsequently invented the telephone and the airplane and the Internet and prospered so much from it, how have we come to a point where a presidential candidate can say -- college -- that's for snobs and be defended by large parts of the country. And I would make the argument that at least in part --
SPEAKER: -- at least in part it's because of the diversions we've seen amongst the classes as far as interaction based on educational levels. And so my question is really not just to you but to the whole room, which is, as people who are lucky enough to be in this room and to have the brain power that we have, what can we do in our individual life day-to-day to change that?
MR. BROAD: Well, we could try to get policymakers at all levels, whether it's the city, state, national level, aware of our concern from where we are. Let's talk about the history of public education. America was one of the first nations to have universal public education.
But it started in 1800s when we had an agrarian society and it started with the belief that local control was the answer. And then we went into a manufacturing era. And we didn't change from there. And we really did the same thing, same classroom, 30 children. The biggest change has been from a blackboard we went to whiteboard with marker pens.
And we taught all the children the same way. Children have to be taught differently and individually and technology will get that done. It's sad what's happening. And the sooner we change, the better off this country is going to be.
MR. FRIEDMAN: You know, I would just say one thing to your question. I think it's -- this is the reporter in me. You know, whenever I hear someone like
Rick Santorum who made that comment say that -- I mean I think you have to take it seriously as a reporter. But you have to say, well, he -- he's actually thought it -- he -- there's something behind that, you know.
It's easy to dismiss in a kind of obvious way why everyone should have an education. I think what is behind it is something cultural. A sense that East and West Coast, you know, Progressive, Liberals, kind of look down on people. That was really code for that. He was -- I don't think really talking about college. And I think it's what a lot of people -- Sarah Palin plays off of.
And I do think it's something education reformers -- we should all think about. Those -- that kind of statement doesn't just come out of nowhere. And I think it was a proxy for a sense of people feeling looked down upon. And I don't think it's -- has a political answer -- sorry, a policy answer as much as add it to about how you communicate your ideas.
SPEAKER: (Off mic.)
MR. FRIEDMAN: Right. SPEAKER: (Off mic.) MR. FRIEDMAN: Yeah. Thank you. SPEAKER: (Off mic.) MR. FRIEDMAN: Question was -- is -- was the
vote result in Wisconsin a trend in the country. MR. BROAD: I hope not it's a trend. I think we've got to have reform whether it's pensions -- we've
got to reform collective bargaining so it deals primarily with benefits, with compensation and a few other things. But not have 300 pages of work rules. And by the way, all that happened because we did not have good leadership and management in public schools.
So the void was filled with all these work rules and so on. So what happened in Wisconsin I hope doesn't happen throughout America. But we do have to deal with the pension bubble we've created and a number of other things.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Eli, we know what President Obama's education policy is and Arne Duncan and he's the secretary of education. You've worked a lot with them. Does Romney have an education policy?
MR. BROAD: We've seen bits of it. He had one education speech is all I've heard and it was somewhat vague. He said all the right things, but not --
MR. FRIEDMAN: Didn't really give you an edge, a sense of here's where he's going to go --
MR. BROAD: -- not great specifics. And unfortunately, there are too many members of his party that don't even believe we should have a federal role of -- in education at all and believe in local control.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Back there, all the way back. The young man back there.
MR. DUNNE: My name is Shelly Dunne (phonetic). I'm just wondering if you could comment on the cost and financing problems we have in higher education today.
MR. BROAD: The cost of higher education has gone up a lot faster than inflation.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Even than health care.
MR. BROAD: And in health care. What we have to do is they've got to go more into online learning. In fact, Harvard and MIT have joined forces in going to online learning. And they believe that they could deliver learning effectively online as they do in the classroom at far lower cost. I think we ought to look at ways to create a degree in 3 years rather than 4 years, right?
I went to school in a 4-year college, need 120 credits. What did I do? I took extra courses. I went to summer school every year, got out in 3 years. That's helpful, reduces the amount of loans students would have, et cetera. So there's no answer other than they've got to become more efficient.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Right down here, yeah. SPEAKER: (Off mic.)
would you progress.
MR. FRIEDMAN: I'll repeat the question. Go ahead. SPEAKER: (Off mic.) MR. FRIEDMAN: What measurement -- framework support to really see if we're actually making
MR. BROAD: Well, internationally there's
called PISA which ranks all countries in
something science, math and some other things.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Reading comprehension, yeah.
MR. BROAD: Reading comprehension. We want to see our rankings go up. I'd like to say if our athletes were 25th or 27th such as our children are, the American people would be outraged. They would demand change. It doesn't bother them that that's where our students are. In individual schools and school districts, it's all about student achievement, measuring how much you're learning in various ways. Testing is not the only answer, testing is part of an answer.
MR. FRIEDMAN: Please -- right there. I'll repeat your question, don't worry -- the microphone is roaming around.
SPEAKER: (Off mic.)
MR. FRIEDMAN: Can you hold on one sec, please? She's going to bring the microphone.
SPEAKER: I'm the founder of a community music school that involves parents with the children. And we teach reading in the public schools through music. And I'm wondering how public policy can affect parent participation because everyone in this room probably came to school ready to learn. And that's because of their parents.
And in low-income families parents don't know how to help their children. And I'm wondering how we can start looking at that because we all talk about it, but we don't have strategies.
MR. BROAD: In all too many schools I've seen parents really aren't welcome. They're viewed asn intruders and they're not welcome. So we've got to welcome parents to be involved in their schools, to do things after school, et cetera, to talk more to their teachers, to have a partnership with a certain teacher, or whatever. We've got to do much more of that.
MR. FRIEDMAN: There are some charter experiments, you know, in that regard and in fact can put a plug in for the SEED School in Washington, D.C., in Baltimore, which is a charter boarding school, which literally takes kids out of the neighborhood and boards them. And then they go home on weekends and really provides a lot of surrogate parenting and modeling.
It's a very expensive model. But people are trying to do that for communities where you have one or no parents who are able to do that kind of mentoring at home.
Right here. SPEAKER: (Off mic.) MR. FRIEDMAN: One second -- MS. BECK: Hi. Jony Lee Beck (phonetic).
MR. FRIEDMAN: It's on.
MS. BECK: Helped start a clinic for Mass General in the Getof (phonetic), worked there 26 years. So we know we don't have to really always invent the wheel. We know that when our kids go to kindergarten they read, they play the piano, they're in gym, the other kids don't read, they don't know the lullaby, they're already lost by the time they get to kindergarten.
So we know head start and all that early education works. I don't know if the money is going up or down for that. But when the kids then fail, they used to be able to go into the Army or there was a vocational school.
And given the numbers of those that are failing, that are the throwaway kids, how -- we also know that if we could reach them with programs where NGOs have helped them to start painting businesses and moving/storage businesses, they then want to read, they want to learn the math, they become entrepreneurs. So how can we spend more time with schools that we set up for those kids? Thank you.
MR. BROAD: Well, you do have some specialized public schools and specialized public charter schools, whether it's in health care or other industries, are
You have to start a business. It can be something as simple as making cupcakes, or you know, a lawn-mowing service. You have to write up a business plan. There's a national competition and the winner wins a scholarship to college. The NFTE winners last year were received at the White House. If you have an -- it's NFTY
do that. MR. FRIEDMAN: You know, I would -- you know, couple things going on that I think are really
there's a exciting. That's an underprivileged neighborhoods. That's a program for entrepreneurship starts in 10th grade. You have to take a course in economics. You have to write a business plan.
One is NFTE -- if you're familiar with that. amazing national program working in
(sic). Amy Rosen ran it. A couple years ago we had a movie showing here
of their program. And it's precisely what you're talking about, getting kids interested in math through another vehicle by also tying it to, you know, to entrepreneurial skills. But I think the core point you're making is really what is scary to me now and I wish I told you I had the answer which I don't.
Because in a world where average is over, there is nothing for you down there that will sustain an average lifestyle. And the example I always like to give is Baltimore. I live in Bethesda, so Baltimore is down the road. So 50 years ago, the biggest employer in Baltimore was Bethlehem Steel.
You could actually drop out of high school, get a job in the steel union, join work at Bethlehem Steel for 30 years, make a decent wage, buy an average house, have an average yard with 2.2 average kids, have an average dog, have a really average, nice, average American
lifestyle and have a very average retirement. The biggest employer in Baltimore -- Bethlehem
Steel is long gone. The biggest employer in Baltimore today is Johns Hopkins University medical center. They don't let you cut the grass there without a B.A., okay?
MR. FRIEDMAN: Metaphorically speaking. So that is the challenge we face today. And you know when we're going to realize that that's a challenge? When the economic recession we're in right now is over and we still have 8 percent unemployment. And that's when people are going to say, well, maybe something else is going on here, maybe there's been a great inflection at the same time there's been a great recession.
And we just think it's a matter of more stimulus or more demand, and it isn't. There's been a huge structural shift. And we don't know all the answers, we don't know what's sufficient, but we know what's necessary. And that is more and better education. That
we know for sure, so. (Applause)
MR. FRIEDMAN: Over here. Hold on, we got a mic. Great.
SPEAKER: I want to sing a song. MR. FRIEDMAN: Please. SPEAKER: The question is, do we have the right
metric. So we're 27th in math or this in science. But does that really matter? Are we studying the right thing? I see kids all the time coming to university who do fantastic on tests. But they're going to contribute very little to the world. So are we not creating new creative metrics to look at whether this NFTE program actually worked in the long run rather than how well they did or what school they got into?
MR. BROAD: Well, of course, metrics are not the only answer. We've got to measure what we're doing in different ways today versus how we've measured in the past. But you still need data regardless of what you do.
And the question is how you -- how do you interpret that data.
MR. FRIEDMAN: You know, one of the hard things about metrics is that what's so different about this world -- because I've worked at The New York Times since 1981, you know, 31 years. There's no chance my daughters will work in the same job for the same employee for 31 years. So the real life -- the real skill we're trying to teach people is the ability to learn how to learn. Because what you learned in your class at college will, you know, be so overtaken, unless you were Shakespeare, you know, by changes and technology and education. And it's really teaching people the ability to learn how to learn and then to be a -- constantly keep themselves in what Reid Hoffman calls "in beta," you know, always learning and relearning, very hard to measure that, you know. But that's actually the thing. Right behind you, since you -- mic's over there.
MR. MADOFF: Michael Madoff (phonetic). How can you take this sense of urgency and convey that to our state legislators and the governors that we understand this is an emergency and we're not as -- won't be as competitive. But it doesn't seem to get through to our leaders, many of them.
MR. BROAD: Well, we've got to have more organizations like Democrats for Education Reform. We've got to have more citizens speaking out. And remember in California, for example, the California Teachers Association spends a huge amount of money per year walking the halls of the Assembly, the state Senate every day, every hour, maintaining status quo.
They don't want to see any change. So we've got to counter that. We created an organization called EdVoice with a number of people that want to see change in reform. And we've done a decent job, but it's tough.
MR. FRIEDMAN: You know, I think it's really going to have to start, though, as citizens and voters and
parents, you know, demanding. That's really how the best public schools change. And sometimes some really shocking statistics. One I use about how hyper-connected the world -- you see, I'm from Minnesota, my wife's from Iowa.
Iowa is home to a wonderful liberal arts college -- Grinnell College -- 21,600 students, central Iowa, great school. My mother-in-law went to Grinnell, was later chairman of the board -- God bless her -- just got an honorary degree from there. Last year Grinnell College, 9 percent of all applications came from China 43 percent of those 9 percent had perfect 800s on their math SATs, okay? That's Grinnell College.
I'm not talking about USC, not talking about Stanford. You know, when I was at Brandeis in 1975 we probably had a Chinese exchange student, you know, talks all about Chinese food -- get that out of your head, okay. You want to go to Grinnell College now. You all have competed last year against 255 applications from China, 43 percent of which had perfect 800s on their math SATs. If that doesn't get your attention as a public official, then nothing will.
MR. BROAD: There's a movement across America called the Parent Trigger which started in California in two schools. And what that does is allows 50 percent or more of the parents if they're unhappy with the school, to force it to change, reconstituted school with new principal, new teachers, or make it a charter school.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors about 2 weeks ago met and they voted that -- supporting charter -- supporting trigger -- Parent Trigger laws across America. I think there are about 20 states now they have Parent Trigger laws. That'll create pressure on change, you know --
MR. FRIEDMAN: Eli, give us the last word -- we've got to close. There is going to be a new President come November. There's going to -- either President Obama is going to be reelected or it's going to be Romney. You've talked around this but you said it in different ways. But on day one, you know, what does that President have to do?
MR. BROAD: I think the President has to do is talk about the real issues which I haven't heard discussion of in this campaign by either candidates. I think he's got to talk about the great future we could have. And we can have a great future. I'm optimistic about the future in spite of everything you've heard because in education we've set the stage, we've set the agenda for change in various ways.
If you couple that with what Tom wrote about this morning and when we have the natural gas and huge forms of energy, et cetera, if we do the job in education, we could have manufacturing come back, but not with the type of employees we had in the past.
And lastly, he pointed out with Cloud computing anyone could become an entrepreneur with very few dollars without having to buy all this technology. So all those things are going to converge and America could really come back in a big way in the next decade. MR. FRIEDMAN: Eli, from your lips to their
ears, thank you very much. MR. BROAD: Thank you.
(Applause) MR. FRIEDMAN: Great job. Thanks of much. (Applause)