The Problem With Jon Stewart - Our Education System Is Broken. We Asked the Secretary of Education How to Fix It.

Episode Date: December 14, 2022

This week we’re joined by Miguel Cardona, the U.S. Secretary of Education. We cover why schools aren’t evolving fast enough to keep up with current challenges, how the shifting roles of s...chools and teachers are leaving many educators without the resources they need, and remaking the system so that it’s more about students and less about test scores and resume-building. Plus, staff writer Kasaun Wilson reveals that he lost a bet when Jon actually showed up at our holiday party, and Deniz Çam from our research team discusses the horrible legal limbo documented Dreamers are caught in — and how we can help. Season 2 is now streaming on Apple TV+.Afghan Allies Episode: by: Jon Stewart Featuring, in order of appearance: Kasaun Wilson, Deniz Çam, Miguel Cardona Executive Produced by Jon Stewart, Brinda Adhikari, James Dixon, Chris McShane, and Richard Plepler.Lead Producer: Sophie EricksonProducers: Zach Goldbaum, Caity GrayAssoc. Producer: Andrea Betanzos Sound Engineer & Editor: Miguel CarrascalSenior Digital Producer: Freddie MorganDigital Producer: Cassie MurdochDigital Coordinator: Norma HernandezSupervising Producer: Lorrie BaranekHead Writer: Kris Acimovic Elements: Kenneth Hull, Daniella PhilipsonTalent: Brittany Mehmedovic, Marjorie McCurry, Lukas Thimm Research: Susan Helvenston, Andy CrystalTheme Music by: Gary Clark Jr. The Problem with Jon Stewart podcast is an Apple TV+ podcast, produced by Busboy Productions.

Discussion (0)
Starting point is 00:00:00 I also wanna say this is the first year that I started having grays. I have like three grays right here. Is that true? Yeah, yeah, yeah. I turned 30 this year, three grays here. This is what happens to people that care. Look, look what this has done.
Starting point is 00:00:11 You two yet, the world hasn't, the erosion, the constant wind and rain of disappointment and failure from our government. Look what it hasn't done. Look, I don't know, people can't, this is on the rate, I don't know what podcasts are. They're not on the radio, but they're on wherever they are. I don't know.
Starting point is 00:00:49 Hello everybody, welcome to the podcast. It's the problem with me, John Stewart. This is almost, it's not quite, it's almost I think the last episode of the year. I think we're gonna have one more that's like kind of a wrap up episode of the year. And then we also got them, them damn Apple TV plus television programs,
Starting point is 00:01:04 which you can watch or you can relisten to the podcast. You can watch the YouTube channel. You can see us on TikTok. Actually, the show now, I think should only be on Instagram. And we should just do it with a filter. Today's show is gonna be, we're talking to the US Secretary of Education,
Starting point is 00:01:19 Miguel Cardona. We're gonna be talking to him about finance. We decided to switch it up on him and just see if we can fuck around a little bit. No, we're gonna talk about education. But first of course, writer, Kayson Wilson is joining us and research producer, Dennis Chum.
Starting point is 00:01:33 Hey, John, what's going on? Hi, John. Is it, how do you pronounce your last name? Yes, so it's Chum, like a good old Chum. A good old Chum, like a chum. Like a Chum. But can you tell me about that signifier because it's generally,
Starting point is 00:01:45 I've seen the ones that are superscripts, but not subscripts, it's underneath the C. I believe it's called a Sedilla. Okay. And it's a Ch. So it's like a C-H. Okay, so the Sedilla always in Turkish, it denotes not Ch, but Ch.
Starting point is 00:02:02 Yeah, it's a Ch. And then if you get it with an S, then it's a Ch. Okay. And then if you get it with a Jew, it's a Ch. Guys, it's December. Everybody is sick with everything. We had a Christmas, we had our holiday party. We did.
Starting point is 00:02:19 I should say to be inclusive. And I just wonder what have you guys seen as far as the uptick in viral load since the holiday party? Everybody who danced to the Beyonce Renaissance album caught it. I don't know what that means, but everyone who stood still
Starting point is 00:02:40 when Cuffin came on is fine in our office. That's why, in case I knew and I have talked about this, I only danced to formation. You are surprising me today, John. Did you dance, K-Son, at the party? I danced, John. Dennis, did you dance at the party? You know, I did not.
Starting point is 00:02:58 Dennis was lovely. It looked like a lovely festive disco ball. Disco ball, that's what I was gonna say. It was, and K-Son looked lovely as well. And I stood in a corner in my normal clothes like a fucking idiot. Do you want something to drink, John? No, I'm good.
Starting point is 00:03:19 I lost 20 bucks because you came, John. I bet 20 bucks that you were gonna call us on Zoom and be like, I love you guys, thank you so much. Thank you so much for getting to pack that sign. I am notorious. I can tell you this from many years of holiday parties from over at The Daily Show. It was always, what they would do is,
Starting point is 00:03:41 generally I would go then, because I was younger and there was no pandemic, but there was always an over-under on minutes. Sometimes seconds of how long old Johnny would show up and do this and then be like, hey man, my car, double parked, I gotta go. We did time you at three-minute laps. You did two of them and you were back out the door.
Starting point is 00:04:00 You stood in the corner like you were on Zoom, like you were not live. That's right, but you know what? Six minutes means you're my best friends in the whole world. But you came and that's what matters most, John. That's exactly right. We had a lovely time. How are you guys, is there anything as the year winds down
Starting point is 00:04:19 that you find particularly on your minds? What's been Dennis, what's been happening for you? What's on your mind as we wind down? So John, there's actually this story that I really wanna talk about and I feel like it didn't get a lot of airtime in the news. I feel like there's so much talk about immigration and the so-called border crisis
Starting point is 00:04:39 and there's so many important stories that kind of like really get lost in kind of all of the fear mongering that's going on. And it is about these kids called documented dreamers. I don't know if you've heard of them. Yeah, isn't that DACA? So it's not actually DACA. So DACA dreamers come to the US
Starting point is 00:05:01 with their parents who are undocumented and there are these documented dreamers. And they move to the US. Wait, you said documented dreamers. Documented dreamers. No, I am not familiar with that. Right, so I'm an immigrant, I grew up in Turkey and you know, in order to survive in America,
Starting point is 00:05:18 you kind of like need to learn a lot about immigration. So I hadn't- And sodas, different sodas. It's important that you understand the various brands you're doing. Yes. So I recently found out about this group of kids, they're called documented dreamers
Starting point is 00:05:34 and they basically moved to the US with their parents who are on visas. So they come here on visas, they're here legally. So they're here legally. Yeah, they're here legally. But they're kids. But they're kids and they usually come here around like the age five.
Starting point is 00:05:51 And basically what happens is that they're on this thing called a dependent visa until they turn 21. And the idea is that, you know, the parents are here for decades, during some time their visa is going to turn into a green card, they will have permanent residency and they'll be allowed to stay in America.
Starting point is 00:06:08 But because of our archaic immigration system. How dare you. I went there, I went there. Dennis, how dare you. And so close to Christmas. I know, I know. And look, Love America, archaic immigration system. But basically this country hasn't updated
Starting point is 00:06:27 its quotas for green cards since before the internet. So the last time we did that was like early nineties. And- Is this a yearly allotment of green cards? Right, yes. And basically what happens is because of the backlog, and also there's certain visas. For example, if you're an immigrant here
Starting point is 00:06:46 on a small business visa, you can be on it forever, but there's no path to a green card and to a citizenship. So because of the way immigration is structured, once these kids turn 21, they cannot be dependent of their parents. So they- I know where we're going here. I know.
Starting point is 00:07:07 Can I guess the ending, spoiler alert? Yes. When these kids turn 21, their parents have yet to get their green card. They're on a dependent visa. So they are at that moment, no longer legally living within the United States. Yes.
Starting point is 00:07:24 Fuck. At 21, they've been here since they were, let's say five. What happens, Dennis? Please. They have to self-deport. Dang. Jeez. Dang.
Starting point is 00:07:36 Yes. Basically, there are more than 200,000 kids right now facing deportation in the United States, and 10,000 deport every year. All who have been on dependent visas, 200,000. Yes. And 10,000 deport every year. And you would think the government doesn't know,
Starting point is 00:07:56 but they know. So Chuck Grassley met up with these kids in May. He took a photo with them, talked to them about this. So they have this nonprofit called Improve the Dream. It's a bunch of documented dreamers, lobbying for legislation. He took a photo with them and then tweeted it out. And guess what?
Starting point is 00:08:16 One of the kids in the photo is already deported. Dang. Dennis, are you suggesting that Chuck Grassley may be somewhat hypocritical in his stance here? Are you suggesting in any way, shape, or form that Chuck Grassley, who is now, I mean, he has killed more immigration bill. Like Chuck Grassley, the single worst senator of anybody.
Starting point is 00:08:39 I mean, and it's so crazy because he's the one senator who's probably, I mean, look, I'm not talking at his school, just talking actuarial tables, leaving this earth and this country sooner than almost any of the other ones. Like, but he stops it. Why was he meeting with them to just disappoint them? What, do you have any idea what the meeting was about? You know, the funniest thing is,
Starting point is 00:09:02 there is bipartisan support. There has to be. This is nuts. It's nuts. Exactly. And they all agree. And there are actually two bills introduced. There's one in-house and one in-senate. It's called America's Children Act.
Starting point is 00:09:16 Wait, it's called, it's the ACA? I guess so, yes. Oh my God. Maybe that's why. Yeah. Everything is the ACA in this country. All right, so it's the American Children's Act. Yeah. And, you know, it has bipartisan support.
Starting point is 00:09:33 Like in the Senate, Rand Paul is behind it. What? I know. All the Avengers are coming together. And the idea was, you know, outside of the act, that this would be included in the defense bill. And it was not. Which just passed, the NDA. Exactly. And it did not pass.
Starting point is 00:09:53 It was not involved. Wait, wait, wait, so it was not included or it got taken out? So there was a hope that it would be included. There was like- It was not included, yes. And now it might be in the omnibus. Knowing how the NDA works,
Starting point is 00:10:08 what happened means is somebody used that as a bargaining chip to get something else. Somebody said, well, if you want that, then I'm taking out the American, the ACA for documented immigrants because everything down there is, well, then those 200,000 people have to suffer if you want that.
Starting point is 00:10:29 Right. Because we can't fix everything because we're, that's just who we are. The NDA is actually, it's really bad. So a lot of people know we did an Afghan episode. So Quezon is talking about the Afghan translators who helped the troops when they were over in Afghanistan. We've left like 100,000 of them behind
Starting point is 00:10:49 and we were supposed to have the Afghan Adjustment Act, which makes them eligible to come here. Now they are all on the run from the Taliban because we left behind all the biometric analysis. Sorry guys, we forgot the biometric analysis and they know who you are. And I don't know why, but it seemed like every time we put out a clip
Starting point is 00:11:12 from the show, within that hour, Herschel Walker would come out and say something dumber and dumber. And so we had to be like, it's literally, we would put out a clip being like, we made a promise to these people, our translators have got to take care of them. And as soon as we put out a clip saying
Starting point is 00:11:28 that Herschel Walker would be like, I saw vampires in my sleep last night. You're saying he's there specifically to draw attention away from. 100% The SIV program. 100% So when you, so you look at,
Starting point is 00:11:42 no one left behind, which is a great organization that tries to help our translators get out. And we talked about the SIV program and you look at the NDAA and they tweeted out all of the ways that Congress failed our Afghan allies. The SIV program struck. Again, supposed to be in the NDAA, along with I guess this other program as well.
Starting point is 00:12:02 Obviously Chuck Grassley's in the middle of that. They struck out on a provision that would extend the Afghan interpreter's eligibility, wounded in combat, took that out. Which has to be renewed, I think, I don't know if it's every year or every two years, but it has to be renewed. And this is the year that they just decided not to renew it.
Starting point is 00:12:21 They took out a provision that would reimburse the troops who were actually using their own money to help their interpreters get out. What the fuck do you think they get for that? Like, what is the horse trade there? Like, was it something that Chuck Grassley said, hey man, you know, we're gonna legalize POT or we're gonna make it so that we decriminalize it.
Starting point is 00:12:42 But then if I give you that, all those Afghans who helped our troops, fuck them. Is that like, what trade could they possibly be doing? Here's the best part. In the statement about the provision I've been added, it obviously says the agreement does not include this provision. And then right after it says, in the statement,
Starting point is 00:13:03 we acknowledge the incredible heroism and professionalism of these members of the armed forces who participated in the United States transition out of Afghanistan and are grateful for the Afghan nationals who supported the United States military in Afghanistan. Wow, that's so much worse than just saying nothing. Thanks though. It really is one of those like, hey man,
Starting point is 00:13:24 so it's like, if somebody is like trapped in the bottom of a well and what they do is, so here's what we've decided to do, pull up the rope without you. But in lieu of the rope to pull you out of the well, we are going to say to you, we do appreciate you being at the bottom of it. Here's a Home Depot gift card
Starting point is 00:13:45 where you can buy your own rope. Guys, you know, this was the end of the year episode. I thought we were gonna be having some uplifting anecdotes and instead I got, we're failing a good 400,000 vulnerable people that we could easily fucking help, easily. With almost, it's the lightest lift a country could do. It's nothing.
Starting point is 00:14:12 You know, can I just say something very quick? I said, I really thought when I said you have anything, I thought it was gonna be white lotus finale. I did not know, I didn't know we were going deep. You care too much about the world for us to have a truly uplifting. Like if you didn't care about the world, we could just talk about romcoms all day.
Starting point is 00:14:28 This is crazy. Dennis, is there anything we can do about this? Who do you, I mean, all roads lead to Chuck Grassley, obviously on all of these things. So I guess going after Grassley is probably, he's the lynchpin. Absolutely. The cowardice on the SIV and the Afghan programs,
Starting point is 00:14:47 that's expected because the, I think, underlying prejudice for people from that part of the world is overwhelming to this day. And it's the easiest thing to excise because terror. But Dennis, the situation that you're discussing seems incomprehensible. Yeah, and the thing that I think about is like, you know, Republicans love to say,
Starting point is 00:15:12 do it the right way, get in line, get in line. And this was the right way. This is the right way right now for an Indian immigrant with an MBA. The wait for a green card is 150 years. Get the fuck out of here. 150 years. Yeah, that is not a line.
Starting point is 00:15:29 And I think they love to make it about like the border crisis and like, you know, all of that stuff, everything is about legal immigration. You know, refugees are about legal immigration. This situation is about legal immigration. It's a big system. They don't wanna address it. And they're just saying, to be quite honest, like,
Starting point is 00:15:48 racist stuff. It's pathetic. Yeah, it is pathetic. It's pathetic. And when you say to somebody, how long do I have to wait for a green card? 150 years. You have to do it in quotes.
Starting point is 00:15:58 You just have to go like, oh, how long do I have to wait for my green card? Oh, you'll get it. 150 years. Yeah. Come to this country the right way and get in here in 2175. Come to this country on one of those specialist visas
Starting point is 00:16:11 because we need your expertise. And chances are your kids are also gonna do quite well, but we're gonna ask them to leave at 21. Self deportation as a concept is crazy. Yeah. I always say, like, I pay taxes and I'm like, I don't even get my own ice agent. I have to self deport.
Starting point is 00:16:31 Like, that's just kind of crazy. My taxes, they don't even pay for me to get driven to the airport to get the fuck out of here. Unacceptable. You know what I can tell during this conversation, you know, when you guys first started, you looked young and vibrant. And I can tell it's, even in these 15 minutes,
Starting point is 00:16:49 it's wearing on you. I can. This process has already started. I can feel the gout coming on to me. All right, we're gonna talk to Secretary Miguel Cardona and he's gonna talk about all the things we can't fix in education, which I think it's just,
Starting point is 00:17:03 it's a wonderful follow up to our end of the year, sad best that we're having. All right, thanks guys. We'll talk to you in a second. We're delighted to be joined We're delighted to be joined today by the Secretary of Education. That's right, you've heard me,
Starting point is 00:17:23 the Secretary of Education. Miguel Cardona is joining us today. Sir, first of all, welcome to the problem. Thank you. And we have, I don't know how much time we have, but we are going to fix, would you like to fix elementary education today? Would you like to fix high school education?
Starting point is 00:17:39 Do you wanna fix, let's say, college? Where do you wanna go here? Listen, all of the above, we signed up to do all of the above today. I know higher education is an issue of importance to many, many listeners, everything that's going on. So we can focus there,
Starting point is 00:17:57 but listen, elementary, high school, higher education, whatever you choose. Pre-K, post-K, detention. Let me ask you this, Secretary, we have desperately tried to fix an education system that basically was designed for literacy, for the masses, and has been incredibly successful on that goal. But it seems as though it's a bit stagnant
Starting point is 00:18:28 and hasn't been able to be as agile as maybe society now would need it to be. What would your diagnosis be for what you would change about it? Where do you see it working and where do you see it wanting? Love this topic, right? I think in general, education has to evolve
Starting point is 00:18:52 or become irrelevant in our country. And we're not evolving at the pace that we need to evolve to compete internationally, to make sure that our students have access and opportunity, all students, not just some. So it does work in many ways. I mean, we have some of the best higher education institutions in the world.
Starting point is 00:19:15 The challenge is it's not really open and they're not pathways for all students. So what we need to do is make sure that we're providing better pathways. And I'm gonna expand that a little bit, not only higher education, because I think there's a mentality in this country of four years or bust, four-year colleges are bust.
Starting point is 00:19:31 There are so many opportunities now in our two-year schools and even in our K-12 system or pre-K-12 system, getting credentials or micro-credentials and joining the workforce in high-skill, high-paying jobs. So when I say we need to evolve, I think our pre-K-12 system needs to evolve, our higher education system needs to evolve, to be more connected to the opportunities
Starting point is 00:19:53 that exist in this country and beyond for all of our students. I like the idea of micro-credentials. I think mini-credentials, micro-credentials, whatever tiny credentials you could have, and you could even make tiny diplomas for everybody that gets them like little stamps. That's the plan that you put on.
Starting point is 00:20:10 So let me tell you, so my kids are a senior in high school and a junior in high school, and they're very fortunate to go to a really nice school and a really nice place and all those different things. And my mother was a teacher for, I think, 186 years. And she reminds me of that on a daily basis. What's interesting to me about education is the teachers, I think, feel disassociated from it
Starting point is 00:20:37 in that the ideas they're teaching to kind of standardize testing, that so much of what they have to do is based on a testing regimen that's attempting to assess students on certain standardizations. But I think, as you know, that doesn't work for all students in all communities.
Starting point is 00:20:58 What I've noticed about their enthusiasm for learning is the more relevance subjects have to the actual world that they live in, but it's a really difficult thing for teachers to pull that off because so much of their time has to be spent on boiling things down to this standardized box that everybody is placed in. We've had a fascination in this country
Starting point is 00:21:35 with standardized assessments and unfortunately, in many places, we lost our way and we lost students in the process. We're overly enamored with misusing those data and labeling schools and putting scarlet letters on districts that are working twice as hard to meet the needs of students. John, when I was a school principal,
Starting point is 00:21:57 I had this young girl from Dominican Republic come into the school where I was serving. She was about nine years old. She was learning English, very little English. She had exceptionalities, so she had an IEP and I understand your mother was a special education teacher. So it might have been a student that your mom might have supported.
Starting point is 00:22:22 So the day of the assessment, I remember this young girl sobbing. I had to go visit her because I was one of the few in the school that spoke Spanish. She was sobbing in fear that this test in a foreign language was being put in front of her and those data were gonna be used
Starting point is 00:22:37 to determine in many ways what she's capable of. We've done that. And what the school is capable of. I mean, probably the funding of the school was reliant on this. I'll take it a step further. When those data came out, John, we had many students who were in bilingual education program
Starting point is 00:22:55 who didn't dominate English yet. So the school was classified as a school in need of improvement or as some would call it a failing school. So now I had to defend to the community. No, these students are learning the language. It doesn't mean that they're not capable. But it became, I had one person ask me,
Starting point is 00:23:14 is it because of those kids? Think about what it did for the school community. Think about what it did for the little girl. So we've become overly enamored with using the test for things that it's not intended to use. So my alternative, my thought is, how about we have a quality curriculum and have performance-based tasks in the curriculum.
Starting point is 00:23:34 Have formative assessments that actually inform instruction on a day-to-day basis. I look at the standardized test as an autopsy, right? Right, but can you do that from a national level? Isn't it, isn't the battle here, you've got local control, which is sort of the tradition of American education. And then you've got federal standards imposed on that,
Starting point is 00:23:55 which are gonna naturally group people in in wildly divergent circumstance. So how does the federal government then, because you've seen it from both sides, how do they then assess those tests for local communities while also empowering the local communities to understand best what their population is all about? Absolutely, so it's worth repeating
Starting point is 00:24:23 because a lot of times people don't realize that we have a decentralized system in the United States and I think that's a good thing. States are responsible for education. And I came from Connecticut, small Connecticut. There were 169 municipalities there with 169 different boards of education determining the curriculum and standards.
Starting point is 00:24:42 As a commission of education, we had oversight of student success around some standardized assessment. And I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing because right now I'm using those data to determine where the American Rescue Plan dollars shouldn't be going, but we shouldn't be putting all of our eggs in that basket.
Starting point is 00:25:02 And I think, unfortunately, in parts of our country, we do that. So what we're trying to do is not only look at the standardized assessments that states are doing, but talking about good pedagogy and how to get kids engaged naturally and how do you assess them, right?
Starting point is 00:25:16 Sometimes I think the car is before the horse. We shouldn't be leading with assessment. We should be leading with good instruction and having authentic assessment follow that. Does it make it difficult because, you know, every four years we switch administrations and the education department and all those kinds of things change over and they go into different directions.
Starting point is 00:25:35 And so all the things that you're talking about take time. And by the time you maybe have done your assessment and you're ready to maybe implement some changes on there, you're gone. And the new administration comes in and they check over. Is there a broader construct that the Department of Education could take where they're looking at things
Starting point is 00:25:57 maybe with less specifics and more purpose? Absolutely. Just like everything else, there's a pendulum swinging, right? In education. That's right. We're seeing it now with the reading wars, right? But for me, our approach at the Department of Education
Starting point is 00:26:13 is not to do something and hope it sticks. What we're trying to do is bring in different stakeholders, right? Different perspectives. So that the ideas that come out of this has shared ownership. Red and blue, rural, urban, it's really important that, you know, in education we should be unified around helping children.
Starting point is 00:26:34 And by and large, that's what we have. So the development of the policies and the practices should outlast me as secretary. And the impact, the positive impact should outlast me as secretary. So we've been very intentional to try to bring in different perspectives, talk to both sides of the aisle
Starting point is 00:26:53 and really come together around what we believe is the best way to move forward. So what are the complaints? Like when they come to you, is it just, hey, secretary, we could use more money. You know, I can assume everybody needs more money, but we do have a lot of money within the system. But let's say they come up to you with their,
Starting point is 00:27:10 what are they asking you for? Are they asking you to back off? Are they just asking you for money? The different districts and superintendents and state heads of education, what do they want from you? First of all, I can't get into this response without saying how inspired I've been by our educators.
Starting point is 00:27:31 And I'm talking bus drivers, cafeteria staff, custodians who have had to deal with cleaner air and updating systems, school leaders who have really worked to try to navigate some of the division in their communities, board members. So, you know, I tip my hat to these folks, but what they're saying to me is, look, we know what our kids need.
Starting point is 00:27:52 We need some autonomy. We need clarity around what practices are the best. And we need funding to support that. Let me give you an example if I could, right? All you hear about in September and October is teacher shortages, right? Sure. Everywhere.
Starting point is 00:28:08 There's teacher shortages everywhere. Yet, when we get back into the routine of things, that kind of goes by the wayside, but we haven't addressed the issue. Our educators are overworked. They're expected to fix every issue. And they get paid much less than people with degrees into their fields.
Starting point is 00:28:27 And we've normalized this, John. For decades, we've normalized this. So now COVID hits, and sadly, over 200,000 children are returning to school without a parent or caregiver because they've lost them due to COVID. And now we expect our teachers to be trauma-informed. Right.
Starting point is 00:28:44 Right? No additional training, you know, and whatever training they get, they get during their workday and they're expected to become experts. So, what I'm hearing from the field is, just acknowledge how hard we're working, how difficult it is to be at the crosshairs
Starting point is 00:29:02 of so much divide. And, you know, there's a lot of anxiety and frustration out there. And just acknowledge us, support us, and make sure we have the tools. But they're not fighting for themselves. They're fighting for their kids. They're fighting for their students.
Starting point is 00:29:15 If we support teachers, we support students. No, it's all, listen, everything that you're saying is correct. I mean, it's teachers and schools are, in every community that they're in, are meant to fill in all the different gaps of that community. For instance, if you're in a school
Starting point is 00:29:31 where poverty and insecurity is a big issue, well, that school is then called upon to be not just a place of education, but a place of nourishment. If you're in a school district where there's high crime or chaos, the school is meant to be a place of calm and the teachers there have to be Swiss army knives
Starting point is 00:29:53 when it comes to whatever ill is facing that community. So that goes without saying. It's the same idea in the pandemic. We learned who the real essential workers were in our economy. The issue I have, and it's the thing that I think bedevils so much of education is, what then is the purpose of these schools?
Starting point is 00:30:14 Is it straight literacy? Is it to be the backstop of every social ill that affects that community in that time? And if so, how can the teachers possibly have the skill sets to be the panacea to all those ills? No, that's a great question. And look, we have an antiquated mindset of schools. And that's why I say we need to evolve.
Starting point is 00:30:42 So yes, literacy, numeracy, STEM, that's critically important for our teachers. They are the ones that the buck stops with them, right? However, if a child's tooth hurts when they go to school, that's gonna affect their ability to learn. If a child's stomach is grumbling, that's gonna affect their ability to learn. If they're concerned about where they're gonna sleep
Starting point is 00:31:06 at night, that's gonna affect their bandwidth for learning, right? Now, it's unfair to expect a classroom teacher to solve all that. We need to have schools with the right tools. But we do. And not only that, now we're gonna arm them and make them our kids' bodyguards.
Starting point is 00:31:23 But you know my point, my point is basically that these teachers have to go in there, solve all these social ills, and also are expected to give up their lives if necessary, whether it be through the pandemic or through gun violence. So I guess I'm referring back to when you said there's a teacher shortage.
Starting point is 00:31:43 I don't know how a system could create individuals, forget about even at that pay scale, who can handle all the things that we ask of teachers and educators. It doesn't make sense. Absolutely, absolutely. But that's why, you know, what we're doing is not saying teachers, we're gonna give you more.
Starting point is 00:32:03 And it's about giving the right tools, right? More school social workers. The Safer Communities Act provided over a billion dollars for more social workers. So that teacher whose child is dealing with some issues has a social worker right down the hallway. We're putting in our proposal for our budget, $400 million for community schools
Starting point is 00:32:23 so that we could have more clinics so that when students are not well, they can get the support that they need, the health support that they need, so they could be in the classroom ready to learn and the classroom teacher could focus on literacy and numeracy. So what we're trying to do is build out
Starting point is 00:32:38 a new definition of what effective schools are. And there are schools that are meeting the whole needs of the child, but not placing it squarely on the shoulders of the classroom teachers, which is how the model was set up. And the Biden Harris administration is really pushing for that.
Starting point is 00:32:52 That's right. And it's also not just what's effective schools, but what are effective communities and what's the school's role within that. And certain schools are gonna play a larger role in communities of need because there's so much more that needs to be done there. And yet so much of what we do in terms of funding
Starting point is 00:33:09 is just based on the numbers. What is your standardized testing scores? What are your different things? It doesn't take into account the various headwinds that so many schools have to face that also affect their testing. And we penalize them if they don't do that. So the second part of the question is,
Starting point is 00:33:30 once we determine what an effective community is versus an effective school, then you get to the real core issue here, which is what is the purpose of the curriculum in a school? What are they trying to do? Because as it's been standardized over these years, society is evolving at a much more agile pace than curriculum.
Starting point is 00:33:56 I think if you look at schools today, they probably closer hue to Horace Mann than they do to Steve Jobs and what this new economy is. Absolutely. How do you evolve the purpose of schools and make them more relevant? And again, this is where I think at the federal role, while we don't dictate, we don't mandate,
Starting point is 00:34:22 we don't promote a specific curriculum, we recognize state's role is to do that. What we're saying is you need to modernize, you need to evolve, you need to understand the fact that students are sitting in our high schools in the same way that they did a hundred years ago. When we have internship opportunities,
Starting point is 00:34:41 we have career pathways that could be explored in ninth grade, my own children, they were in high school during the height of the pandemic. They, the first three or four months, everything was shut down. The following year, they went in in a hybrid fashion, which I would imagine many kids across the country did. So my children went to school Monday, Wednesday, Friday,
Starting point is 00:35:03 on A week, Tuesday, Thursday on B week. And guess what? They were able to function that year that way. When we got through the worst part of the pandemic, they went back to school and now they're in the same model. I'm encouraging leaders to say use that hybrid model, but instead of the students being home, let's have them out in the field doing externships,
Starting point is 00:35:24 doing internships for credits. Let's let them see how the math skills that they're learning on Monday, Wednesday, Friday can be applied in these careers. But doesn't that have to be modeled? Who's providing the model for that? I almost look at, this is gonna sound like a strange example,
Starting point is 00:35:40 but I look at these IMG Academy sort of schools that look at kids that have exceptional abilities in athletics and so they'll take the kids and from nine to 12, they'll do some more academic stuff. But in the mornings, they'll do some training and then later in the afternoon, they'll really work on the sport that they're really in. Who's creating those models for not athletic prowess,
Starting point is 00:36:09 but civic prowess or internships or community prowess, or those things, those models have to be developed, whether it's through pilot programs or through other things so that these schools, which are already so strapped for resources, have something to look towards that they can implement. And how do we do that? So we're announcing in January,
Starting point is 00:36:37 unlocking career success. It's like a GPS system for students to promote pathways. I was in Chicago recently with Marty Walsh, Department of Labor Secretary at Rolling Metals School where they had really deep tentacles into the community, into the businesses. As a matter of fact, the business leaders were a part of the school planning process.
Starting point is 00:37:00 They were planning the curriculum. It was like backwards mapping, right? Who do they need to hire? And what skills do they need and how are the schools working with them to make sure students have real life experiences in the school and then out into the field? Models exist, John, but we have pockets
Starting point is 00:37:17 of excellence in our country. We need to systematize this. And I'm really excited because this is a purple issue, John. Both sides of the aisle believe in this. What we're trying to do now is elevate those best practices, put some funding toward it and make sure that it's aligned to the Chips and Science Act. Make sure it's aligned to the climate provisions
Starting point is 00:37:38 under the Inflation Reduction Act, to the infrastructure plan, where there's high-skilled, high-paying jobs available. Aligned in the sense of where the money, oh, I see. Yeah, the jobs. All that stuff is gonna shift. What I would imagine is so important is for us to redefine what going through that system
Starting point is 00:37:58 is right now because there's an awful lot of redundancy in it. There's an awful lot of busy work in it. There's an awful lot of things that don't make sense to the students or the teachers alike because they're geared towards this idea of standardized testing. And then they move into a higher education system
Starting point is 00:38:15 where the opening bid to just get into it can be $100,000, $150,000, $200,000. And the return on investment for an engineering degree is very different than the return on investment on maybe an art history degree, but they cost the same. And they last four years where you could probably do it and, you know, in two. So our whole system feels like it is rife with
Starting point is 00:38:44 not fraud, but waste and a lack of direction. Yeah, yeah. It's really protecting the status quo. And it's not centered around students. No, it's centered around the industry that's come up around education. Yeah, yeah. So what we're trying to do is fix a broken system
Starting point is 00:39:03 in the pre-K12 space, making it more relevant, making it more connected to life outside of those four walls. And in higher education, let me tell you, John, like some of the proudest work we have going on here is breaking up a system that I was told you can't touch higher ed. That you're not going to be able to touch that.
Starting point is 00:39:23 You know, and we're working on, we're $48 billion and approved debt relief, 2 million borrowers. We're talking about return on investment in colleges. And I'm not just talking about your Corinthians or your ITTs. I'm talking about your public schools too. If you're having students pay $150,000 for an education that's going to get them a job making $40,000 a year, we're going to call you out.
Starting point is 00:39:46 I don't care if you're a prestigious university. I don't care if you're public or private. We need to do better. And we're working on creating that culture. We're working on elevating those institutions that provide upward mobility for students, as opposed to Xeroxing privilege in some of the universities where exclusivity gets them higher rankings.
Starting point is 00:40:07 Like, we're done with that. We need a change. We need a culture shift. Is the first step here, and you hate to go back to these kind of bills of rights things, but a student bill of rights are those types of things. Is there a document that you work off of that basically states the purpose of what you believe education should be
Starting point is 00:40:28 right now? Because everything that you're talking about, it makes sense. But I worry, two years from now, you're not going to be here. And without anything concrete, these are all just aspirational and really general. One thing I learned when I got here, because I'm a practitioner, man. I know kids, and that's where I love being in schools.
Starting point is 00:40:50 I love being around students. But what I learned here is that there are policy revision processes that often take a year, two years, because we go through the public here, and then they become new policies. And that will outlast me. We work on legislative proposals that will outlast me. And yes, I mean, we take every opportunity
Starting point is 00:41:11 to stand up and talk about the values that should be driving education. We choose where the money goes with some of these discretionary grants. And we're focusing on supporting college completion programs, career pathway programs in our K-12 system, and working with our leaders across the country, our state education chiefs, our governors, state legislators,
Starting point is 00:41:33 to help build capacity around where we need to go in education. And as I said before, I'm proud of the work that they're doing. We have to keep our foot on the gas, and we have to maintain John a level of urgency around this world, like we had when we were trying to open schools two years ago.
Starting point is 00:41:48 I'm going to ask you one last question. You've seen it from the retail level of being inside schools, and you've seen it from the federal level. And I guess my question is, do you see this as a top down or as a bottom up thing? And is there a question of, what does the federal government do well for schools, and what does it not do well at all, and really should take a backseat to helping
Starting point is 00:42:15 from the grassroots and the bottom up? Top down, bottom up. We need bottom up approaches to fuel the innovation, but we need top down support, right? My policies have to allow for those bottom up strategies that may not be conventional. And you need people in DC fighting because they're listening to the voices of our students
Starting point is 00:42:35 and our educators and our parents across the country. So I think top down, bottom up, they have to meet in the middle. What we're doing well is, number one, we're calling out the discrimination against certain marginalized students in a way that needs to be called out. Two years ago, schools were safely reopened, right? We went from 47% of them open full time
Starting point is 00:42:56 when the president took office to about 90% seven, eight months later. So we're fighting for the things that are right, and we're protecting students who are being marginalized or are pushed aside. What we need to do better is empower the voices of our students, empower the voices of our parents to make sure that their voice is at the table
Starting point is 00:43:15 when decisions are being made at the local and state level. And we're going to continue to do that. Well, I very much appreciate you taking the time, Secretary Cardona, good luck, good luck with your kids in school, as I know they're probably heading off to their higher education, all those things. So thank you very much. I appreciate you putting a spotlight on education
Starting point is 00:43:33 and shout out to your mom. Someday I want to talk to your mom. She'll talk your ear off for God's sake. Oh, good, man. No idea what you're stepping into. Thank you very much. Woo, we are back. Kason and Dennis, I'm glad you're here.
Starting point is 00:43:52 Here's the problem. OK. Lovely man. Yes. Very bright, I don't doubt his sincerity. They were all fine statements of intent. But at some point, we got to fucking get to brass tax and get a week.
Starting point is 00:44:08 They're very smart people on both sides. You know, my favorite thing to hear is when people say things are purple issues. This is a purple issue. You're talking about education, purple. What about health care? Purple. You know what I love about this podcast, John?
Starting point is 00:44:26 What's that? I feel like two weeks ago, you made sure your dog was OK. And then this week, you make sure your kids are OK. I feel like you're just making. You're just using this podcast to ensure. It's too late for them. They've gone through this system already. You're just here to make sure your house is fine.
Starting point is 00:44:43 It's going to be a carpenter on next week. It's not going to get fixed. How would you guys, were you frustrated by your education? I am frustrated for my children, watching how little what they learn has to do with the world they're about to enter. Right. I'm frustrated for them.
Starting point is 00:45:03 So what's the difference between what you've noticed as an adult and then what you know now as a parent in terms of how you interact with the education system? You mean when I was going through it versus now? Yeah. Now that your kids are like school age and now you're thinking about college, like how is that changing?
Starting point is 00:45:20 That's a great question. It's the exact same fucking system. That's what's so frustrating. I'm an old man and it's the same system as it was when my parents were coming up through it. And that's the part that's so frustrating because the world is so different. And I see the difference in their enthusiasm
Starting point is 00:45:41 and when there's relevance when it's applied learning versus learning, it's a whole different game. And there's still those things where they go in and it's like, remember, you got to memorize the equation. You're like, I have Google. We live in a different world. And I think we have to find a way to make education and applied skill.
Starting point is 00:46:09 You know what I would do and this sounds so ridiculous coming from a so-called progressive leaning, whatever I am, I would make the early grades more rote. Like kids, you fucking go play at home. You probably have a fort somewhere. You'll play there. You're going to probably peek a boo, hide and seek. You've got an imaginary friend.
Starting point is 00:46:34 You're going to dress up like Elsa, blah, blah, blah. Fine. Little nativity schmoovity. While you're here, A, B, C, D, E. And then the switchover should be, and here's how shit works. And everything from there on in should be civics, practicality, and how shit works.
Starting point is 00:46:57 So that I want kids to understand the matrix. I don't want them to know the component parts. I want them to know the matrix. I have two things to say about that. One, my nephew, Caleb, is 10 years old. And since he was in the first grade, he's been having socio-emotional classes in his school. What is that?
Starting point is 00:47:19 OK. It is essentially therapy for children. But it's incredible. He is more mature emotionally than I am. But why is his school have that? And it's a really great school in Peechee County, Maryland. And he's developed. He gets straight A's.
Starting point is 00:47:35 He's a great kid. But he's to the point now where we'll be at home and he'll be like, Uncle K, I'm very disappointed in you. But I forgive you. I just want you to know I might need a second to reset. But I love you. Give me a hug. I'm still over at the corner still going to therapy
Starting point is 00:47:52 as a kid. They're giving them tools. See, that's a tool. That's what schools should be, tools. Yeah, 100%. School shouldn't just be time. It should be tools. And they don't give them enough tools.
Starting point is 00:48:05 And I'm talking about financial tools, emotional tools, comprehension tools. They should be teaching kids how to discern good information from bad. That's almost the whole game, tools. I'm hiring SBF to teach the finance class. How do you feel about that? He's got time.
Starting point is 00:48:27 Dennis, where were you educated? So in Turkey. And it's so funny to me because they teach you 600 years of Ottoman history. And you have to memorize every single war. And let me tell you, there are too many. And I don't even remember a single one. You know what?
Starting point is 00:48:49 Ever since Vietnam, we don't even count those wars. You don't even have to study those anymore. In America, it's basically there was only, I think, two wars, the Revolution and World War II. Other than that, it's just police actions, just different things that happen. Is the education in Turkey practical, or is it even more removed?
Starting point is 00:49:10 I mean, I don't have experience with the American system, but it sounds very similar. And I did go to an American high school. And even that one, it was largely memorizing and not really super practical. But what's also crazy to me is I went to private schools like my entire life, basically. I was able to afford it.
Starting point is 00:49:29 And for college here, some rich person decided to pay for it. So I was able to go to college here. Thank you, Oprah. Well, the more practical stuff is always packaged as like, when you buy something organic, it's $2 more expensive. And then with private schools, they call it IB, or all of those things. And it's still not really a good system,
Starting point is 00:49:55 but it sounds fancy and sounds more practical, but it really isn't. And it's just a scam for people to pay more, basically. Welcome to America. That's what we're doing. I'm putting out the call. So this is great, guys. But I'm putting out the call on the podcast about education.
Starting point is 00:50:10 I am inarticulate about solutions and what I want. But what I want is a more clearly defined system of relevance to the world that we live in, to the challenges that people are going to be facing. And I want anyone out there who is listening, who has an idea, a program they can point to. Some way, the only metrics that these kids are being judged on is standardized tests
Starting point is 00:50:39 that have been made by an education corporation that has been stuck in the mud for 50 fucking years, or academic rigor based on an industry of advanced placement that, again, has no connection to what's coming up. Let's design a system that is more relevant, reactive, and that the metrics of which are the life that these children could aspirationally lead, not a resume that they are, or a boiler plate
Starting point is 00:51:14 that they're filling out to just get through. Let's change this thing. Ow! If Secretary Cardona says there is a model, I'd love to see it. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Let me just say this. We need an effective purple solution.
Starting point is 00:51:32 Ha ha ha ha ha ha. I think that's more importantly, we need something purple. Politicians' favorite color. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Guys, thanks so much. Case on! Dennis, have yourselves a wonderful break. I hope you do something super fun,
Starting point is 00:51:47 and check out the problem. You can, what do you got there? We got our podcast, and then we got our shows are airing on Apple TV Plus. One more episode this year, a wrap up show. You know, because that's how you end years. You wrap them up, and they're done. Then you bury them in the backyard
Starting point is 00:52:08 with the fucking gerbils in the birds. Okay. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Oops, I said too much. All right, guys, good stuff. Good bye. Have a good one, y'all. The Prima John Stuart podcast is an Apple TV plus podcast and a joint busboy production.

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