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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 21, 2009 12:00pm-12:30pm EDT

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he has delegated work to lots of people like myself and let us continue his vision in our own way. so at this point we hope to see him, he comes into the office may be a couple times a way to check mail and what not. but he is busy painting, he is still writing, he is kind of pursuing his own staff. whenever started he would come into the office every day so i'm glad to have had the privilege to see him and work with him. >> stacy louis, thinks, marketing director of city lights bookstore in san francisco. >> thank you. >> host: that was the condition in which i agreed to take this on camera coming up next, booktv presents after words, an hourlong program where we invite guest hosts to interview all others. this week that an elementary school teacher tierney cahill discusses her book, "ms. cahill
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for congress", the story of her improbable campaign for u.s. representative on a tear from her sixth grade students. with only $7,000 and a campaign staff of 12 year-old, she won the 2000 democratic primary in nevada's second district. she discusses her book with district of columbia delegates eleanor holmes norton. >> host: welcome to c-span and welcome to washington. >> guest: thank you so much. >> host: this is the book, "ms. cahill for congress", and the subtitle: one fear was teacher, her sixth grade class, and the election that changed their lives forever. let me just ask the obvious question, how does a divorced mother of three children and no
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house, a two-bedroom one bath, apartment coming to three jobs, one cocktail waitress and it shall we call it where you sometimes get home or got home and two or maybe 4:00 o'clock in the morning, extracurricular activity for her students -- have such a woman decides to run for of all things congress, not the school boards or city council or the congress? >> guest: well, actually the students asked me to run for president first, but i wasn't for that so that we had to look as something else. >> host: un down to senator. >> guest: they want to know if we could run for the supreme court and i could really run for that and then they wanted senate
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to protect and speaker of the house and the march right on down. >> host: those of us in the house of representatives on the bottom. >> guest: they felt it needed to be something important and it was a federal race, they wanted to be in washington d.c. ended to matter so i'm sure they didn't think it was the bottom of the barrel. they thought that was pretty big staff. >> host: now, do understand that we are talking about a real campaign, this is not a school project although you were constantly ask whether it was a real campaign. >> guest: we had to defend that quite a lot yes. >> host: tell me for real, yes your students and their view, yes, you took them up and felt guilty when they told you you could do everything and not doing what they asked you if you would do, but it really awakened something in new that may have been dormant all the time? >> guest: maybe. my parents were fairly
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politically active and very outspoken about their politics and our home and taught us to have a conscience and to be involved in surly to vote and be participatory sissons. i thought what a great opportunity to really be a public servant, i already felt like i was a public servant as a teacher. >> host: end you were. >> guest: i thought of taking it to the next level of serving my community and i felt as i was out campaigning in leading my constituents and the people in the communities that i visited that i really felt for him and wanted to help. >> host: well, it turns out that you did not start out to be a teacher. i was surprised to read about your early life, the daughter of an engineer and a father who didn't try to keep you from professions like his baton to how to do years, work on cars, be an athlete and you were
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working, the kinds of things that guys do. does seem to me that you're father and perhaps it's time to read had done the feminist work on you. describe how you came to be a teacher rather than something you had also toyed with mean, a civil rights lawyer? >> guest: yes, i was dead set on being a civil rights lawyer actually. i had taken a class of the university of new mexico african-american history and it was african-american history one and now so addicted to it because i had always loved history, loved political science. i remember challenging my professor, dr. cortes' williams, and sing either every history book i read it in my life lied to me or you are not telling the truth and i can't believe i've never heard any of this before. he giggled and said you poor thing, or did you brought that you never heard this? >> host: where did you grow up? >> guest: reno, nevada the sacramento, california and allyson predominantly caucasian
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upper-middle-class schools and black history was born luther king and rosa parks. >> host: that was the end of its. >> guest: and that was it so i found a new frontier in african-american history and i was very excited about an answer to every class i took, got a minor in african-american history. >> host: that leads to civil rights law? >> guest: yes, i was very interested in pursuing a degree in civil rights law. i went back to that the mentor, dr. williams, and told him i was graduating getting ready to take the tests and choose a school. he said it why are you doing this, why do you want to be a civil rights lawyer? i told him about discrimination and intolerance and how it bothered me deeply and i wanted to go out and make that my life's work. he said, obviously you don't care about money because you are never going to make money coming in of this. i said that is not my motivation, i want my life to have meaning in the deuce of the
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important for my country. he was the one who said what to think about teaching? nothing wrong with being in the air but there are a lot of them and in goodness knows there are plenty of hungry lawyers out there that are making its. noaa you will end up taking on loss of pro bono cases and appealed and really you are being reacted to the situation is set up pro-active. if you want to be pro-active in dealing with intolerance and prejudice why don't you think about teen -- being a teacher and think of how many kids you can impact. >> host: you are going to impact people's lives. don't thank you know ms. cahill just because of what she said so he said think about being a teacher, you were raised postfeminist limit collets. i am a feminist generation so you could have been anything you wanted to be and civil-rights law occurs to you and instead he says be a teacher. now, you decide to be a teacher.
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now looks like the students are going to propel you closer to lott in the first place and by the way i like this good in baez's a professor as i continue to be a law professor at georgetown university law school where i taught full time. i have never been in the habit of speaking to people, you really ought to go into law just as i am in law, indeed, my favorite joke as we have been over lawyer since thomas jefferson, really do need teachers like the kind you turn out to be and we are going to get into the kind of teacher you turned out to be carried a perversely export a little more about this campaign. i was intrigued by the judge. i have always felt that judges can hardly perjure themselves entirely of their political instincts and politics in their souls. i wish to talk about this advice on this mystery judge who found
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new and apparently was the only real advisor for your statins as you ever had. >> guest: i don't know that i should use his name's. >> host: i'm not asking for his name. >> guest: the judges are largely elected and in many seats and there are political animals and he has been involved deeply with the democratic party. of course, had to step away from that once he became a judge but i know he kept his eye on an. his wife was a middle school teacher and so of course, he had heard about me. now he wanted to me with me to see how serious i was. he said he needed to look me in the eye to see if i really was willing to take on what it was going to muster at myself and if i was prepared for that. so he was really trying to shore me up and see what i was made and i suppose, but he was really a great guy. wimax and sort of in con me
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know. i remember thinking this is really on the body had a hat and a raincoat and sat next to me in the diner that is known jim kelly's --, the back of a casino with our five the barstools when they sell these creasy horrible hamburgers -- and i really mean a waterfall. he sat there and how they would look at me and i felt like i was meeting with the cia or someone. he said i need to know what you have done, what kind of things you have done to prepare for this, and, of course, i was a huge meal fight. i really had very little knowledge about how the workings of the parties worked or the process itself and was learning on the go. so he finally, i think he was a little discouraged that i didn't know as much as i hope i had new, but he sent me out in the direction to go and meet people that could tell me which was very beneficial to me.
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he told me to meet with our attorney general who was a great female role model in our state and another connected people in the party that could possibly help me and. >> me with fund-raising and other events. >> host: we will get to the party in the moment, an interesting point about the party. now, let's get to these kids to go. these kids are really running this campaign. >> guest: yes, ma'am. i have no desire to do it and i was the condition in which i agreed to take this on is i will agree and you can live vicariously through may but you guys will run this campaign and i felt like this is the perfect opportunity for real world learning which is what we talk about all the talk in making things matter. have them be the stakeholders in its. it worked. they were 12 year-old genuses as far as to taking this off and running with its. >> host: we will get in a
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moment in how you are able to make this work and keep to their education as well. in that means that the parents had agreed. >> guest: yes. >> host: they went to you -- they went with you to events and you have no other staff? >> guest: know, myself and 286 graders. >> host: 286 graders. there were actually to participating. >> guest: it went over a 14 month span as the one group went on to middle school and pick up the next group and we went on a. >> host: we're going to save this for the royal and, went into use see just how many votes this kids campaign garnered to their teacher. it is a real campaign we are talking about. and whenever you are thinking it may not turn to be the case, but i would like to know how much difference that having
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kids manage a campaign make and i'm going to ask you a question about what the drawbacks may have been. now, i recall reading who is going to resist taking in the campaign from kids. what about your kids and how you were able to approach people? you were an unknown, did they say what are these kids with teefour? did you have to spend time convincing them that your campaign was here are these two things helping you out? >> guest: not really. i guess in a way that we certainly did not anticipate it was a huge benefit because the press was enamored with these children in. they were in love with them, they've left coming to our classroom and shooting in interviewing and filming. and interviewing kids out in the hallways to talk about the process and that was really our goal is to stick to the process and not get into party politics. i wasn't trying to brainwash
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children into becoming die-hard democrats, from a very conservative part of nevada so i had to really be careful in a very diligent way about focusing on how you run for office and how that process works. the kids were so good and charming with the press and so articulate that they just became the darlings and so in many way people live with it in we were because they said we have seen you guys on tv or heard you on the radio and that is so wonderful, we wish more normal people would run. so we didn't have to do a lot of explaining it. a lot of people already has seen us and heard about us and were at very enthused. >> host: describes his district, politically describe the district and what area encompasses. >> guest: nevada district two, the congressional seat to there, when iran in 2000 we had to congress people, we were getting
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a third. >> host: this is because nevada is one of the fastest-growing states in the country. >> guest: that's correct but district to was very large, all the way from the oregon idaho border about us all the way down to north las vegas. >> host: how many people in the district? >> guest: goodness knows my probably more now. >> guest: at the time the district one which is metropolitan shelley berkeley, a great woman, metropolitan clark county las vegas, was the largest population center so very much mining, ranching. >> host: the district iran? >> guest: yes,, the largest metropolitan area if you didn't count the largest area would have been reno and then carson city. >> host: did you have all every now? >> guest: yes. >> host: so this is fair to call this a very concerted district? >> guest: fairly conservative, of the 17 counties in a state
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the only one that traditionally goes a blue is clark county which is las vegas and the rest typically go read. it depends on the candidate, and in this last election as did our state that has made us a swing state for a number of election cycles. >> host: is now represented by the district in which iran now represented by a republican. >> guest: and has been for a long time with his team heller. >> host: one of my colleagues is the rep. i do what our audience to know if you have any sense of reading for fun or if you are a teacher or you have any interest in education or in children or politics and government, you won't want to miss this book. now you have just heard how q2 was two have people who were your campaigners and the people cannot resist, but ms. cahill, i
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was impressed by the honesty of this book and this is what you also said it later on in the book when your opponent, jim gibbons, at the time who is not a governor of the state. >> guest: yes he is a governor. >> host: was crafty enough not to attack ms. cahill and her cute little volunteers and here is ms. cahill in frustration if i can read from you, ms. cahill. his gentle response was surely politically motivated, but while a campaign spearheaded by students made it very hard for people to attack me, it became a double edged sword because it was also hard to get anyone to discuss the issues. i am a serious candidate and wanted to say. but it was hard to get the press to focus on a much more than how cute our campaign was an acuteness was not going to win
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this race. why don't you describe that description of the race? >> guest: well, there was a little frustration as related to the primary which i have to say was a surprise. i never anticipated making to the primary here and there is a gentleman we ran against i did not know but he was in vegas and i'm figuring that as the democratic mecca of the state and he will win this. >> host: just a moment. was he supported by the party at all or was a primary you don't support anybody? >> guest: abstract. >> host: he beat him by how much? this is in the primary everybody. >> guest: honestly that morning when i read the paper i was in such shock that i had one and i later heard that this was based on technology that he was a falun and was not allowed to go forward so that was news to me. i certainly have not been told that an hour's time to be the best candidate by campy and let the chips fall where they may. we will deal with whatever happens after august, but i was
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really shocked to win the primary and then head off into the general i realized that i and the democratic candidate. and it was something i really wasn't prepared for i had numerous organizations asking me to come speak and you are a candidate, we want you at this event and that was the expectation of. i really had to shift gears from focusing on the process alone to being the candidate for the general collection and it was hard to get much attention beyond the fact that a sixth grade class had started this campaign and was running it because certainly that was the qc factor that will live in it media and was of benefit but didn't make -- it did make it hard to talk about issues like education and a nuclear waste in nevada because they were taking me seriously so it was difficult. >> host: watch ms. cahill which you wish for because you sure got it.
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the i think people would be interested in your view of teaching, this is a serious teacher viewed para someone who thinks about teaching, not just i will do this until i can do something else. and i want to question you about your view of teaching. you say in the book instead of helping build strong and active citizens by figuring out all the have learned, you are trying to figure out what they haven't and instead of measuring mastery, comprehension and grove, all too often these tests include tricky questions that require students to select the best interest from several partially correct options. i got to, that his word to me. i would much rather find out what and they know and teetwo to their strengths rather than trying to ferret out their weaknesses. ms. cahill, i have to ask in the era of no child left behind were
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there is a certain modicum of knowledge every child is supposed to learn. how to make sure that these children in a. of the use gotcha questions and yet teach so that they do have comprehension and how you do that in a campaign and make the campaign a part of what is already a difficult learning process we gather for teachers and students in our country in any state? >> guest: well, the campaign we lamented the class time that a soaked up. we certainly had a summer -- number of other areas of our curriculum we had to get through and so it was math hour was half-hour in we did not do campaign stop. >> host: you did have to teach so the kids to these exams test absolutely and i was responsible in making sure they have been exposed to and could master the sixth grade curriculum so that they could move on to seventh grade and be where they need to be hearing so that is completely
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appropriate. you know, we use our social studies block science to have our campaign meetings and then after school in those kind of things so i was a very clear with the school district about how i would manage time and make sure that the children were getting when they needed. you brought up no child left behind and i certainly don't own this race but never talked about quite a bit -- i wish it were called every child moves forward because i don't think testing of the end of the. saying, they are reading at a fifth grade level and there a seventh grader, shame on you school, because the problem there is you don't know where they came in that. you don't know how much growth and have had that year. maybe they came in at a second grade level and they moved up to a fifth grade reading level they got the job will she will know that unless you'd just test them at the end of the year's other news to be -- there needs to be specific measurable testing at
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the beginning of the year receiver kids are coming in and at the end of the year look for growth and that is what should matter is the growth. nevada is a very transient state with high turnover in our schools, i don't think i've had a school year rice started with the same group of kids. that has never happened so when we have all these children that move into our school district we pick them up for public school and take everybody, we pick you up wherever you come in and try and move forward as best we can. one of the most import ways to do that is to differentiate instruction and every town deserves to have their strengths and talk to, they have they're running style. >> host: how does that pick up on the weaknesses of the move with their witnesses? >> guest: serving out the weaknesses are adel focus on those so much to where they are not realizing what it is they are good at. >> host: etkin, for example is good at let's say math but terrible in spelling in english so had you teach to the math strengths and bring the english
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up? >> guest: that is the duty of a differentiated instruction and. differentiated instruction looks at all of those things and then helps to teach to the child. you're not teaching curriculums, you are teaching children. >> host: how many children were in your class? >> guest: 28. >> host: does that become difficult with children transit sometimes, you describe children of very different homes. how were you able to get time, require time to all these kids? >> guest: well, i think good teachers find a way. and if that means to stay in every sense in the lunch with kids that need attention or after school iran tutoring sessions to mention the rich getting the extra attention they needed and school districts are looking into that. they are looking at on verdes. making sure kids have a more instructional time so that they are getting the services than they needed and certainly when we are weak in an area in these to be addressed, you can't just
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focus on it are good math suggested there. absolutely and i know you are reading at a second grade reading level we have a moral obligation to make sure we get to up to speed in grade level because we know what happens when kids can't perform and aren't able to graduate from school and nevada has a high dropout rate in the nation. the way our prison system determines how many prison cells of the need is they look at third grade reading schools and they divide, this many children are reading at grade level, that is, a prison cells we need. >> host: how they plan ahead. >> guest: that's right and just nine that i get goose bumps, i talk about that the way they determine that interjection. a means we have a huge moral obligation to make sure children can read, write, do math and been critical thinkers. and that is the testing does not always allow for a, a dozen allowed to show a child's
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ability to critical link. >> host: ms. cahill, you seem to have students who pass the test and you were something of a workaholic which may tell something about what a gifted teacher is. a i think the next time i see the president i'm going to ask him what he like to read your book because a lot of what you are saying sounds a lot when president obama is saying. i will get to this also and a moment. i note that this is a union teacher. this is the national education association teacher. who is loyal to her union, i will talk about that, but to see where she is an education. her children come first without forsaking other institutions that have also been important in her life. it is interesting how lessons get talked and you seem to have a very keen to give the sense
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really of how to teach a lesson out of the clear blue sky, like for example there is a part of your book in which you talk about what children are doing in order to decide their logo and it is going to be congress -- i like that one -- house of representatives, a bit long and formal. the -- they had to decide in this was a republican district whether to use the democratic label and there was talk about how that might keep you from getting to people in the first place so that was a good argument on this side and not using the label in a nutshell spoke up -- what to tell us about that? >> guest: and on our logo and they wanted t-shirts and buttons, they had a picture of the capitol building, the had tierney cahill for congress and then the had democrat. and when we were sitting at the
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table in the representing their ideas for the slow to me, the debate was in the use of democrats there are some people who want to listen to what you have to say and it will immediately be turned off so there is nothing you will say that is of value to me, a republican. another child said it's important that we are honest. we are not trying to trick boater so we want them to know who you are and to put you out there and be honest. to me that was, we talk to our kids about that kind of behavior of the time about being honest and who you are. so i felt that child had great wisdom and needed to be honored. and this was really their campaign and as long as i could live with it and it was at the call, they could defend their reasoning i would go with that. so we put it on our science and our buttons and all of that. we were sort of advice by other campaigns that ran a process
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that you shouldn't have done that and i said i think we did the right thing. >> host: this was really moving part of this book because there was a good strategic reason and some people, it's not for me to say, and from a large democratic district, but there are people who would say it wasn't dishonest. she is not telling a lie it is not telling the whole truth, but you allow the children to reach an answer based on sheer honesty and a little of a campaign ms. cahill. my hat is off to you. i want to ask about, we are going to shortly be at break, but you have said in an earlier segment talking about some of the problems teaching to the test, but it was interesting to see how balanced this book is because you defend schools in another part of the book and i'm going to hav u


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