tv PBS News Hour PBS October 24, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: >> we must never regard as normal, the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. >> woodruff: a republican party in turmoil. senator jeff flake calls president trump "dangerous to a democracy," as a public feud between mr. trump and senator bob corker overshadows efforts on tax reform. then, after fake test scores sent some atlanta educators to prison, a look at those caught up in the cheating scandal, and how schools are recovering. >> as a community, i think we owe it to these kids to give them what they lost. >> woodruff: plus, a world series for a storm-weary city. houston hopes to win it all
real-life conversations in a new language, like spanish, french, german, italian, and more. babbel's 10-15 minute lessons are available as an app, or online. more information on babbel.com. >> bnsf railway. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: a president at war with members of his own party. washington watched today as the republican rift became ever more public. one u.s. senator announced he will retire, in a blistering broadside aimed at president trump. another traded insults with the chief executive. lisa desjardins begins our coverage. >> reporter: the focus was
supposed to be president trump's trip to the capitol to talk tax reform. instead, it was a day of individual republican senators publicly challenging the president and the way he conducts his office. it began with a twitter battle between tennessee senator bob corker and the president. corker, a member of the president's own party, at one point writing, "an utterly untruthful president." >> it's obvious his political model and governing model is to divide, and he has not risen to the occasion, it's very evident to me. >> reporter: republican senate leader mitch mcconnell tried to stress unity. >> if there's anything that unifies republicans, it's tax reforms. we've been working towards this for years, and not any of these other distractions that you all all may be interested in. >> reporter: the president left
the lunch without speaking to reporters. minutes later: >> i rise to address a matter that has been very much on my mind... >> reporter: arizona republican jeff flake took to the senate podium to drop a bombshell. >> i am announcing today that my service in the senate will conclude at the end of my term, in early january 2019. >> reporter: flake said he doesn't feel there is space for civil and productive politics now. >> it is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, and who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the republican party, the party that for so long has defined itself by belief in those things. it is also clear to me, for the moment, we have given in or given up on those core principles, in favor of the more viscerally satisfying anger and resentment. to be clear, the anger and resentment that the people feel
at the royal mess we have created are justified. but anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy. >> reporter: the senator did not name president trump, but his words were clearly focused on him. >> we must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. they are not normal. reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as "telling it like it is," when it is actually just reckless and undignified. and when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else. it is dangerous to a democracy. >> reporter: flake was even more blunt with reporters, later. >> if i could run the kind of race i'd like to run, and believe i could win a republican primary, then i'd go forward. but it's a very narrow path.
>> reporter: flake was the first sitting republican senator to openly break with president trump, and in his recent book, he called for others to join him. that made him a target for trump allies, including steve bannon, whose breitbart news declared a kind of victory today with the flashing headline, "winning: flake out." white house press secretary sarah sanders said that when attacked, president trump hits back, as she demonstrated. >> i think the people in tennessee and arizona supported this president and i don't think that the numbers are in the favor of either of those 2002 senators in their states so i think this is probably the right decision. >> reporter: ultimately, given the closely divided senate, mr. trump can ill afford to lose any republicans if he wants to pass any tax reform legislation. for the pbs newshour, i'm lisa desjardins on capitol hill. >> woodruff: and, for the latest on this whirlwind of developments on capitol hill, we turn to erica werner. she's a congressional
correspondent for the associated press. erica, welcome back to the program. >> thank you. >> woodruff: how is all this being received? it's -- >> it's just been an amazing day. the corker trump feud escalating to vicious new heights before lunch and then flake's bombshell, it all begs the question as to whether the republican party will end up, and no one knows the answer to that and that's the question really that's been begged since the beginning of the trump administration. >> woodruff: erica, are there any republicans identifying with either senator corker or senator flake? we heard senator corker tell reporters earlier that, yes, he was getting some support from some of his colleagues but we don't know who they are. >> if that's the case, it's quiet support that's not public. as senator flake delivered his floor speech today, there were about nine fellow republicans on the floor with him including the senate majority leader.
also, there very notably were senators mccain, corker and sasse. those are the three republican senators in addition to flake who have spoken out against trump and challenged him consistently. but i don't know that there is going to be a dam that breaks that others aside from them are going to follow senator flake's call. they really don't have the political motivation to do so. >> woodruff: erica, what about on the other side of the ledger? are there senators who openly disagree with what these two senators are doing? >> well, they're being a little bit more diplomatic. we've heard senators say, you know, public divisions are not good. senator cruz said that, for example, shortly after senator frabbing's speech that republicans should not b be divided, that we need to focus on the work at hand. so that's the rhetoric and tone we've heard this afternoon. this is all very recent.
senator flake is respected among his colleagues, so we haven't heard anyone in the senate kind of openly attacking or distancing themselves from him today. >> woodruff: and any early speculation, erica, on how this is going to affect the republican agenda especially tax reform? >> that's what's so interesting is it's very counterproductive really for president trump to be tangling with these incumbents who are so critical to his agenda. i don't see how it could possibly help his agenda. if nothing else it's certainly a huge distraction. as your runup package was saying, today was supposed to be about taxes. it ended up being about more g.o.p. infighting and that does not help the cause of tax reform. >> woodruff: erica werner reporting from the capitol, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: and in the day's
other news, president trump touted the benefits of the tax reform that he is pushing congress to adopt. he said it is going to bring $4 trillion back into the country. but republicans and democrats disagreed sharply over what the real effects would be. >> what the tax plan we are putting forward does is, it lowers rates on middle income families, it doubles the standard deduction, it removes a number of americans from even having tax liability law by doubling the standard deduction, and also expands the child tax credit to make it easier for families to afford the cost of raising children in this country. >> the chasm between what they say the bill does-- just the people talking right here-- and what the bill actually looks like it's going to be from the outline, are just light years apart. it's appalling. it's not what you see in a democracy, such deviation from the truth. >> woodruff: the house of representatives is set to give final congressional approval tomorrow to a budget plan that sets the stage for the tax overhaul. the senate today approved and sent the president a disaster aid bill worth $36.5 billion.
it includes money for puerto rico and other areas ravaged by hurricanes and wildfires. there's also funding for flood insurance claims, and the federal emergency management agency. a u.s. watchdog agency says that climate change has forced billions of dollars in federal spending to deal with major storms. the government accountability office reports that disaster aid and insurance cost more than $350 billion over the last decade. that does not include this year's hurricanes and the california wildfires. in china, the ruling communist party enshrined xi jinping today as the nation's most powerful ruler in decades. the party congress in beijing elevated xi to the same rank as mao zedong, founder of the chinese communist state. xi called for total devotion to creating a modern, powerful china by mid-century.
>> ( translated ): the whole party should closely unite around the party central committee, uphold the banner of socialism with chinese characteristics, persist in reform and innovation, work hard and lead the chinese people of all ethnic groups to strive for the goals set by the 19th national congress. >> woodruff: xi has crusaded against official corruption during his first five years in power. more than one million officials have been investigated. u.s. secretary of state rex tillerson is urging pakistan to drive out taliban militants and other extremists. he carried that appeal to a meeting today with pakistan's prime minister and army chief in islamabad. a day earlier, he had made surprise stops in afghanistan and iraq. russia today blocked the united nations from continuing a chemical weapons investigation in syria. the russians used their security council veto, and criticized how the probe is being conducted. the u.s. charged moscow is covering for its syrian allies.
>> these attacks are not intended to get us closer to the truth, they are intended to hide the truth. they are not designed to get us closer to accountability for chemical weapons use in syria. they are designed to shield the perpetrators for some of the worst war crimes of our century. >> woodruff: a chemical attack in syria last april killed more than 90 people. the u.s. blamed damascus and struck a syrian air base with cruise missiles in retaliation. the leader of the european union is calling for measures to curb the flow of migrants. e.u. council president donald tusk addressed the european parliament today. he said, "we are a cultural community. our openness and tolerance cannot mean walking away from protecting our heritage." recent elections across europe have shown rising support for anti-migrant policy. back in this country, president trump's ban on admitting all
refugees ended today, four months after he imposed it. this evening, the administration announced tougher screening rules. the ban's expiration prompted the u.s. supreme court to dismiss a court challenge to the policy. a 17-year-old immigrant who entered the country illegally has now won an important round in her fight for an abortion. the full federal appeals court in washington, d.c. found in her favor today. it ordered an expedited timeline set for the procedure. the girl is in federal custody in texas, but the trump administration contends, that it is not obliged to facilitate an abortion. and on wall street today, an industrial rally, from caterpillar to 3m, fueled a broader market surge. the dow jones industrial average gained nearly 168 points, more than half a percent, to close at a record 23,441. the nasdaq rose 11, and the s&p 500 added four. still to come on the newshour:
consequences of the president's feud with members of his own party. the fallout from a massive school cheating scandal, two years later. and, much more. >> woodruff: we return to our lead story, the very public rift between president trump and members of his own party. it's a feud that raises questions about the g.o.p. legislative agenda. we explore the road ahead now with senator john thune of south dakota. he is part of the republican leadership team. senator, welcome back to the "newshour". bear with me. i want to read a little bit of what senator jeff flake said in his statement on the senate floor this afternoon. he said we must stop pretending the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior has become
excused and when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is dangerous to a democracy. how do you respond to this? >> well, first off, i'm disappointed that jeff's going to be leaving. i've enjoyed serving are him as a member of the house and now the senate. he's a very principled guy and he made a very strong speech today that i think certainly expressed the convictions he has about where we are in our political process in this country, and he made a decision, which i respect, to move on and do other things but, you know, those of us who are still here have a lot of work to do and an agenda to focus on and, obviously, in order to accomplish that agenda, we've got to be able to work with the president. he was here today. we had a good and constructive meeting with him, so that's what we're trying to do is to stay on those things that unify us rather than focusing on the things that divide us. >> woodruff: i hear you, senator, but when you look at the words spoken by senator flake today, again, reckless, outrageous, undignified
behavior, add that to what senator corker is saying about the president not being stable, can you just turn away from that and ignore it? >> well, this president, i think, as we know, generates strong feelings. i think, in a lot of ways, what you're seeing her reflects the politics in the country and the country is very divided and certainly the president is a figure who generates a lot of discussion and, frankly, many of us have encouraged and to think that we would be bet for he would spend less time on twitter, but, look, i mean, people of this country elected him as the president and, obviously, we have members who disagree with him from time to time and, in this case, with senators corker and flake, people who disagree with him very vigorously. but, again, in terms of things we need to accomplish for the american people, that does gotten away. the agenda is still the agenda and we still have work to do here and that means that we've got to be able to to figure out where we can partner with the president and disagree with him
where necessary but he'll at least try to identify the areas and zones of agreement and try to work together to get results for the american people. >> woodruff: doesn't this spell, though, senator, a serious break inside the republican party? you spoke of the country being divided, but this is a divide within the g.o.p. >> i think right now -- it seems to me, at least, judy, politics in the country on both side of the aisle are pretty divided. democrats have a similar thing. you see ut more in living color, obviously, because we have the presidency, so those things become more amplified or magnified, but i think that the politics on both sides among republicans andtimes right now reflect some divisions and, you know, in terms of our party, yes, we have our intra-family fights from time to time. i would like to confine it to inside the family and have the discussions privately rather than having it spill out into the public arena like it has here in the last few days and weeks, but that is what it is, but it doesn't remove the challenge that we have to try
and get tax reform done, to do something about healthcare, to do something about america's place in the world, to make sure that we're putting policies in place that will help grow the economy, create better-paying jobs, a better stand of living for people in this country, so those are the things we're trying to stay focused on notwithstanding distractions that happen pretty much on a daily basis in some of the family feuds that certainly exist. >> woodruff: i do want to ask you about that, but it sounds to us, everybody listening, as if what senator flake was saying, he was not making so much a political as a moral statement when he said "our children are watching. when the next generation asks why didn't you do something, why didn't you speak up ," i mean, it's clear he's looking to others in his own party you and your colleagues, to ask why aren't you calling the president out? at least that's what sounds that's what he's asking.
>> yes, as i said, jeff is a very principled individual. he spoke with a great deal of conviction and passion and i do think he sees these things, in many cases, in moral terms, and certainly everything we do around here has a certain moral element about it, but, again, i think in terms of the things that we have to accomplish for the american people, there are issues on which we are yiewnd, and we talked about some of those today at the lunch with the president, and those are the things we're going to try to continue to focus on and see if we can't get some results, get some accomplishments and obviously try and be a better example to the young people around this country who are following very carefully, i think, these days what's happening in washington and, frankly, there are many things that happen here that shouldn't make us rude proud and remind us we can do better. >> woodruff: we know the president himself has been critical of these two senators, the white house was critical of them today saying it's good they're not running for reelection.
we look up senator flake's lifetime conservative rating, 93%. it's even a few points high than yours. >> right. >> woodruff: so if it's not conservatism, what is it that is making -- that determines what is the right republican message right now? because steve bannon is out there saying a number of your colleagues are just not good enough and they need to be unseated. >> right, and i don't -- i can't explain the efforts that are being made by these outside groups to attack some of our senators, many of whom are very conservative and as you pointed out have very conservative voting records. i always think the republican party is at its sees sense a party of limited government, of more personal freedom coupled with individual responsibility, we're a party that believes in peace through strength, we're a party that believes in economic freedom, free markets, free
enterprise, those sorts of things. so we have to try to see how we can stay focused on things that unit us. there are folks who make a living these days kind of attacking, i guess you could say, the "establishment," but it's the folks who get elected and are here who can make policy. we want to elect more right of center conservatives so we can have a majority that get right of center results for the american people. i can't explain why outside groups do what we do but it's a reality in the modern political marketplace. >> woodruff: i want to ask you this, are you confident tax reform can pass now with this going on in your party? >> i feel, at least right now, judy, and -- i mean, i spend more time in meetings every week now on tax reform as a member of the finance committee and the leadership than any other subject. i think there is a coming together that i see happening among republicans and, clearly, it's going to be very challenging to try to get 50 votes for this. i hope if we can get 50
republican votes, we'll also attracted democrats. but at the end of the day, it's something that needs to be done. if we're going to make america competitive in the global marketplace and get the economy growing at a faster rate and creating better paying jobs and raising wages in this country, reforming the tax code is absolutely essential. i hope the members get that, i think they do. my sense in the last few tas and weeks, there is a rallying around this issue realizing how important it is not only for the country but for us to deliver for the majority of the american people. >> woodruff: are you saying sending any messages to the white house about what the president should be saying in the days to come? >> well, i think that many of us try as west beck to sort of influence what happens at the white house. he's gotten people around him, obviously, who he listens to who are his advisors, but in terms of getting things done on capitol hill, there is a way that works and a way that doesn't work so well. i think the way that works is to
try to find the things you agree on and don't start attacking members of your own party who ultimately will need to vote for your agenda. >> woodruff: senator john thune, thank you very much. >> thanks, judy. >> woodruff: two more perspectives now, coming from both sides of the republican divide. brian mcguire, until recently, served as chief of staff to senate majority leader mitch mcconnell. he is now a lobbyist. and, chris buskirk is editor and publisher of the conservative journal, "american greatness." he lives in senator flake's home state of arizona. welcome to both of you. good to have you back on the program. chris buskirk, to you, first, the white house said today it's a good thing that senator flake isn't running for reelection. obviously they feel that way about senator corker. john thune said he hates to see jeff flake go. which is it? >> it's a good thing senator flake came to the realization he wasn't going to win his primary next year. i think it clears the way for
kelly ward who has been running for that seed, for the primary nomination, it clears the way for her to concentrate on the general election. jeff flake was always the most endangered republican coming up in 2018. i think he realized he was out of step with the republican base here in arizona and it was really a recognition of reality. he wasn't going to win and it's probably a smart thing to step aside and let another republican take the lead. >> woodruff: brian, what does it mean if kelly ward is elected to the senate to take jeff flake's place? >> it's too early to make statements about ms. ward. >> woodruff: she's a self described very far right pop list. >> i worked on senator flake's campaign in 2012, i have a lot of respect and admiration for him. i think he made a smart, thoughtful decision today. everything he does, he does thoughtfully. but i think the bigger story here is the fact that republicans are united in a way behind this president that they haven't been since potentially
the beginning of the year. if we weren't talking about the spats between senator flake and the president and other senators, we would be talking about the fact that the president and republicans in the senate are as united and as close to a significant dramatic legislative victory as they have been since the beginning of the year. >> woodruff: and you can say that even today with these very public divides, angry language going back and forth? >> yeah, i think it's noteworthy this is happening, but i think the larger story is that republicans are extremely close to an historic victory on tax reform. the passage of the budget last week in the senate was a huge victory and we're extremely close to a big win here on the republican side and i think these spats are interesting and notable but they kind of obscure the larger issue here which is the party is very united around this agenda. >> woodruff: chris buskirk, you agree the party is united? >> if you're talking about actual voters, i think the party is united around this agenda.
with the trouble we've had over the past nine months sing stins inauguration is getting the elected representatives particularly the senators to unite around the agenda. i hope brian is right that we'll see the republicans get a tax package done. i think it's a heavy lift. i think they can do it. i hope they can do it. but that's the frustratio voters have had is republicans have made a lot of promises about what they're going to do if they get majorities in both houses and the white house and so far haven't passed any significant legislation. if they're able to do this, i think that starts to change. >> woodruff: again, i want to come back to what you said, brian, about the party being united. you had a republican senator with a 93% conservative rating saying the kind of language coming from this president is dangerous for our democracy and for the sake of our children and grandchildren, people need to speak up about it. is this the kind of thing that's good for the g.o.p.? >> i think senator flake views
it as his duty to talk about the president's style and i think most other republicans view it as their duty to follow through on the legislative promises they've made to the public. and the lion's share of senators in that conference are focused entirely on that. another story i read about today is there was a huge round of applause at the lunch today when the president spoke and i think the reason for that is they do feel good about where they are on the agenda going forward and they're uniting the way they haven't previously. so i think there is optimism in addition to the other interesting spats taking place on a too frequent basis. >> woodruff: speaking of spats, the president tweeted today, he talked about -- chris buskirk, he talked about senator corker being -- he called him liddle bob corker, he said he couldn't win an election for dog catcher. is this the kind of thing that a president should be doing in relating to members of congress,
especially members of his own party? >> well, you know, maybe -- i know i probably am a minority when i say that, but number one, look at the practical results, donald trump did win the presidency, even though everybody said stay off twitter, don't do it, and he didn't and kept winning. so there's the practical aspect. the other thing, it strikes me ironic someone like senator corker would take to twitter to criticize the president for his intemperate use of twitter. the irony doesn't strike senator corker. if he starts a twitter battle with the president, he knows he'll get a response so this seems contrived and provoked to me. >> woodruff: brian, who should be restrained here? should the president feel free to write whatever he wants, which is what's been happening, or would restraint make sense? i mean, how do you see that as somebody who's worked with the senate leadership? >> i think everybody is sort of
resolved to the -- resigned to the fact that the president is going to use twitter in the way that he has up until now and, so, i'm not sure that anybody has any degree of confidence that they will be able to change that part of the president's daily activity, but i think that, again, republicans are working through these fights on a daily basis and, to me, the second story of the day, the most -- second-most significant one or most significant is the party is united despite the arguments that flare when the president gets into twitter battles with folks. >> woodruff: the controversy i have been hearing, chris buskirk, is the tone of discourse in the country and how it's gotten pretty course and rough, and i guess, you know, my question to you is should we just expect to see more of this and is this the new normal? >> yeah, this has been the new normal for a long time. i don't say that with any
relish, but i think that's just the way it is. and when people look at donald trump and say, you know, this is coarse and we don't like it. but i say donald trump is a symptom of a problem that's been going on and growing for a long time. he's not the cause of it. he's just the first president to engage in this direct confrontational style that's very common in the culture. do i wish it was other wisewise? yeah, i do. but i think the people who wish it was otherwise should practice what they preach instead of getting into the mud and engaging it. if you want to change it, change it by doing it and being different rather than simply complaining somebody is behaving badly. >> woodruff: gentlemen, we'll leave it there. brian mcguire, thank you very much. chris buskirk, we appreciate it. >> thank you. >> woodruff: it was one of the
biggest scandals to rock american schools. nearly 200 educators in atlanta were accused of systematic cheating, including changing answers on the state's standardized tests in order to boost students' scores. atlanta is one of many districts to confront cheating, but this case was unique: educators faced criminal charges. ultimately, nine people were sentenced to prison. their appeals are just now beginning. special correspondent lisa stark, of our partner "education week," takes a look at what's happened, part of our weekly series, "making the grade." >> it's been horrible. it's been lonely. >> reporter: dana evans was one of the atlanta educators convicted in the cheating scandal. >> reporter: the story has faded
from the headlines, but not from the lives of those, like evans, still trying to clear their names. court appeals are just beginning. >> i'm not who they said i was in court. not a person who would hurt children in any way. >> reporter: the investigation uncovered cheating at 44 schools, most of them elementary; 178 educators implicated, accused of inflating scores on standardized tests by erasing students' answers and changing them from wrong to right. so why did they do it? at the time, testing was paramount, both under federal mandates and a hard-charging superintendent who set targets even higher than the feds.
>> they had very high targets to meet. the target were essentially made up out of whole cloth. >> the questions were why -- y were not things teachers could meet by legitimate means. >> reporter: also in atlanta raising scores could raise educators accolades and bonus us and not doing so cowl cost them their jobs. evans found as principal at dobbs elementary she did not cheat or encourage it but should have known it was going on. she is still dumbfounded at her conviction and the contention that educators cheated for money. >> i got bonus >> i got bonuses one year out of the four years that i was principal, and it was $1,000, and i gave more than $1,000 to dobbs. i paid for kids uniforms, and i paid for people's rent and their gas bills and it's offensive that i would cheat for $1,000.
...i would cheat for $1,000. atlanta was one of the only places where prosecutors brought criminal charges. conspiracy under georgia's racketeering law, a law often used against the mafia and drug dealers, not educators. some pled guilty, others were let off the hook. a dozen, including evans, took their chance in court. >> reporter: fulton county superior court judge jerry baxter presided over the
criminal case-- then angry, now retired. >> i brought a bad chapter to a close. not me personally, but the whole judicial system. this is my dad. >> reporter: baxter, who comes from a family of teachers-- both parents taught in atlanta public schools-- says he is comfortable with the verdict. in my mind, it's not a victimless thing. they should have been held back or they should have been given special resources to help them learn to read. i'm getting a little worked up
>> researchers admitted it was difficult to know how much the cheating played a role in falling behind in reading and writing. the district started a program to help these students, 2,200 of them still enrolled in atlanta public schools. those who had multiple answers changed on tests they took way back in 2009. >> do you even remember taking the tests in third grade? >> i really don't. t was a long time ago. right. >> reporter: seniors nykira ross and sheldon garmin iii are now entitled to extra tutoring, test prep and one-on-one support >> based on my grades, i don't really need it. >> reporter: some, like garmin, are at the top of the class, others struggle, but all are eligible for extra help simply >> there are people who come in and help you with your math or english or science. and they are very helpful.
>> reporter: celeste boykin is one of 18 support coaches who works with the students in the program, about 2,200 this year. is your coach checking in with you every day? >> i see her, yes, every day. >> reporter: every day? >> almost every day. >> even when you don't see here, she knows where you are." sheldon, why you in the gym, and, you're supposed to be in math," stuff like that. >> reporter: shawnna hayes- tavares' is the mother of two children whose test answers were changed. she says the program, which will cost $3.5 million this year, is still a work in progress, and took too long to set up. >> we wait six years even to start a program. it's hard to be optimistic. but of course i have to be, because we're talking about the lives of children. >> reporter: do you think the district owes these kids this program? >> i don't know if "owed" would be the word. i think the district is to be commended for putting together this program, to offer to students. >> reporter: tiffany franklin oversees the effort.
>> success for us is that they graduate and that we help make sure that when they graduate they have an option. and that's what we do. >> reporter: there's no way of knowing if some of these students might have left school anyway. district attorney howard pledged to set up an academy to help these drop-outs, but has not raised the money. >> there's no money set aside to help those students. it's kind of a tough job because it's not a real popular cause. but as a community, i think we owe it to these kids to give them what they lost. >> reporter: those who now oversee testing in atlanta say exams are still critical to see how students and schools are performing. >> we take accountability very seriously, we take our test results very seriously. >> reporter: but district administrator bill caritj says tests are now just one measure of achievement, no bonuses are tied to scores, and nearly all students take exams on computers, making widespread cheating more difficult. >> no one sees the test. we don't see it, test coordinators don't see it. the only ones who know what the tests look like are the people
who built it. >> reporter: georgia has also cut back on and revamped its required tests and reduced their frequency. a new federal law allows states to lessen the emphasis on cheating, that follows a nationwide backlash against high-stakes testing. >> right now, tests dominate life in school, day after day after day. i think that will become a little less so under the new legislation. >> reporter: dana evans insists she never judged her teachers on exam results alone. >> because i knew in order to be a good teacher, there's a lot that goes into that and it's not just about what the end result of a score is. it's just one day of one child's life. >> reporter: evans would love to work in education again, but figures that's unlikely, even if she wins her appeal. meantime, at her old elementary school, there is a banner still hanging by the front door, touting test scores during a year when cheating went on.
an odd reminder of a time that most in atlanta would like to forget. for the pbs news hour and "education week," i'm lisa stark, in atlanta, georgia. >> woodruff: stay with us. coming up on the newshour: the houston astros championship bid brings good news to a city still recovering from hurricane harvey. but first, today is world polio >> woodruff: a master artist, scientist and inventor: leonardo da vinci defined a renasaince man. he is now the subject of a new biography by walter isaacson, who i recently caught up with for the latest edition of the "newshour bookshelf." there's an expression there, she's pensive, i guess you would say. >> and you feel the inner emotion like in the mona lisa. leonardo was always trying to
say there's a mysterious inner emotion, think of what it is. >> woodruff: as with his art, there's still mystery around leonardo da vinci, the man. i met up with walter isaacson at the national gallery of art in washington with where the only leonardo painting in the americas hangs, it's a painting of a 15th century florentine aristocrat. >> if you contrast this with the mona lisa you can see what an entire career of studying math, science and art deepens what he does. >> woodruff: isaacson profiled genius us from albert einstein to mat mathematicians lovelace d steve jobs. leonardo lived half a millennium ago. why him? >> i've always been interested in people who connect art to science. leonardo loved both art and
science an by standing at that intersection, i said, oh, this is how imagination works. uh was totally blown away by certain things of leonardo. first of all the role of theatrics and package pt. secondly, the depth of his curiosity about science. it's the notion that we can embrace the beauty of every pattern in nature. that's what we need to relearn today. >> woodruff: how did he stand at that intersection? because as you say, there are a lot of people who are really good at science, people really good at the arts. what was it about the way he connected the two? >> he wanted to know everything there was to know about everything that could be known including how we fit into the world, and he didn't make much of a distinction between art and science. he's somebody who did, you know, the flight of birds, he did engineering, he did anatomy, but he also did wonderful drawings and art, so to me that's the exciting part. >> woodruff: you've got some fascinating material in here
about the fact that not just was he a vegetarian, he was born out of wedlock. what made him who he was? >> he was very lucky to be born out of wedlock so he had to be self-taught. so instead of taking received wisdom, he questioned received wisdom. i've written about smart people like einstein. leonardo da vinci wasn't smart in the conventional processing power of the mind way doing math you and i will never figure out. he was a genius and brilliant because he was so curious. he made a list every day of things he wanted to learn so we can relate to him in ways it was hard to relate to other genius us. >> woodruff: the book is filled with amazing pictures, photographs of paintings and of his work, the back cover is vitruvian man which you write about at length. what was he trying to do here? >> this is the ultimate expression of the connection of
how we fit into the world. there is this guy spread eagle in the square of the world, in the circle of the cosmos, and it's a self-portrait of leonardo. it is a picture of unnecessary beauty, with the curly hair he had in his 30s when he was doing it, and what he was trying to do with two other friends was sort of show how this ancient roman named vitruvius talked about the proporgs of the human should be reflected in the proportionings of the church. but then larger, it's a work of great science on the proportions of man, but a work of great art because of its beauty and it's spiritual because it's man and how man fits into the cosmos. >> woodruff: the most famous leonardo creation, the mona lisa. he didn't people when people thought he would finish it. what was he thinking? what was he seeing as he worked on that? >> he worked on it for about the last 14 years of his life, and
you see everything come together, from his belief in the curve of rivers into the blood of humans and how we fit into the world, but also just take that smile, the most famous smile ever, he just finished dissecting the human face showing every muscle and every nerve and on those pages of anatomy drawings, he starts drawing smiles and you see the mona lisa's smile start to form. he also knows when light hits the center of your retina you see the detail, but when it hits the ellens of your retina you syesha dose and color because he dissected the human eye. when you look directly at the mona lisa's lips, it's toning down a bit, it's not really smiling. but if you look at the cheek bone and the smile wanders, it's elusive. it combines the spirit, science and anatomy and it's the greatest piece of art ever
painted. >> woodruff: way ahead of his time. >> absolutely, because renaissance art had not yet done that, sort of shown narrative emotion. you know, having been somebody who produced plays and pageants, he loved fantasy, and one of the great things about his art is that he blurs the line sometimes so that things leave a little to our imagination. look at the last supper. us the a beautiful piece of perspective and observation, but it's also theatrical. >> woodruff: he had a really interesting ability to, on the one hand, dig deep, ask questions, not be satisfied with the answer, the obvious answer, but also the human frailty of mott finishing -- not finishing projects. >> you know, i thought at first that was one of his failings, that he would start add regulation of the magi or st. jerome and not finish it, but then i realize he spent his whole life perfecting things.
he would do st. jerome in the wilderness, a great piece of art he wouldn't finish because then he would be doing anatomy 20 years later and change the neck muscles based on his dissection. >> woodruff: at the end of the book you have a list of lessons leonardo would pass to all of us. i was struck, let the perfect be the enemy of the good. >> there were paintings leonardo didn't finish and part of it was he couldn't get it perfect. once in a while we should be like leonardo and say i'm going to make this perfect and not stop till it is perfect. i went through all the 7,000 pages of his notebooks and what struck me the most was the list of things he was curious about. he just was curious about everything. like why a duck's foot, you know, expands and contracts when it swims, why does a fish swim faster in water than a bird flies when water is heavier. then one of my favorites is describe the tongue of a woodpecker. now, who wakes up one morning
and says i want to know what the tongue of a woodpecker looks like? >> woodruff: could there be a leonardo today? is there a climate now fertile for a mind like his? >> i do think it's a great time to be another leonardo. anything you want to know, you can find a way to find out because to have the internet and the ways to search for it. the problem today is we sometimes silo information. we do that in our universities, we do that in ourselves, and the thing about leonardo is, whatever was beautiful, whatever was interesting, he wanted to know. >> woodruff: walter isaacson, the book is "leonardo da vinci," thank you very much. >> great. >> woodruff: the world series gets underway in nearly 100-degree heat tonight, with a battle between two teams who have been waiting a long time for a title. the los angeles dodgers, who
have won their share of titles over the years, have not won one since 1988. but the houston astros have never won a game in a world series-- let alone a championship. it's been a special season for the astros, especially after hurricane harvey hit. jeffrey brown has more. >> brown: the astros have played a special role in the city on and off the field since the storm hit. players met with evacuees at the height of the flooding, and delivered supplies and donated money. on the field, they've worn "houston strong" patches on their uniforms, on their way to winning more than 100 games, including delivering knockout blows to both the boston red sox and the new york yankees. i spoke earlier today to houston chronicle sports columnist brian smith. he joined me from dodger stadium via skype. i asked brian smith about a bad team not long ago that used to be mocked as the "lastros." >> number one, the "lastros" are now the houston astros are in the world series and have the best overall player in baseball,
joseé just put up unbelievable numbers in the division series, in the championship series and the astros in 2017 won 101 games, beat the red sox, beat the yankees, they could beat the dodgers in the world series. no team in baseball history has ever beat the red sox and the yankees in the same post-season, if they beat the 104 win dodgers you could make a movie about these houston astros. they may be the best when it's all said and done. >> brown: the larger context is, of course, hurricane harvey and the flooding and destruction. what role has the team and its success played since then? >> you know, i'm sometimes hesitant to blend sports with human tragedy in real life, but people will tell you the story, right, and when it comes to the astros, they've become one of the main things in houston that's helped people recover, that's helped people pull through. this isn't the n.f.l. and
they're playing once a week or college college football, this is a baseball team that plays every day in downtown houston. the astros couldn't play at minute maid park during harvey, they had to play in tampa in the rays stadium. minute made took water and they had to replace the outfield. when the astros returned on september 22, they had an old fashioned doubleheader and felt like the first official stage in houston's recovery, it's right after the city was on everybody's television, the worst natural disaster in houston's entire history and baseball returned and mayor sylvester turner deserves a lot of credit, he pushed that. a lot of people thought it was too soon. as houston recovered, the astros have risen. >> brown: where to things stand in the aftermath of harvey? work goes on around houston, right? >> without question. i think the thing is it's difficult to put in perspective
if you don't live in houston you. saw the floods, i mean, the scenes were unbelievable, but the water recedes and you go back to normal life and it's almost been two months and you can drive around houston, you can go downtown, you can go in all the main neighborhoods, you literally would have no idea that hurricane harvey happened. but then if you take a left, a right, if you go into one neighborhood, there is still debris. the contents of their lives are on their front lawns, still waiting to be picked up in some areas, major areas in houston. i mean, and that's the thing about harvey, it wasn't just "bad area" or a rough area. it hit the rich, the poor, the in between. when you look at the astros and the world series, it gives people whose livesser are ruined, destroyed, something to look forward to and distract them from the recovery of hurricane harvey. >> brown: finally, there will be another good team on the field tonight with even more wins.
so great players on both sides. >> they're very, very good. the dodgers are favored. this is los angeles. yesterday media day, it felt like a movie was being made. stages being pulled around, hundreds of tv cameras, it was very difficult to get to some players, if you wanted to ask them something during an interview, the doarntle are favored, won 104 -- the gorgeous are -- the dodgers are favored. i'm picking the astros, but no surprise if the dodgers win their first world series since 1988. >> brown: good luck, brian smith of the houston chronicle. thank you very much. >> thank you very much. >> woodruff: on the newshour online: nigeria is home to one of the most prolific film industries in the world. but it wasn't always that way. we talk to the author of a new history of "nollywood" about
what makes nigerian cinema so distinctive. that and more is on our website, www.pbs.org/newshour. and tune in later tonight. on "charlie rose," the future of u.s.-china relations under president xi. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. join us online, and again right here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and we'll see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> babbel. a language app that teaches real-life conversations in a new language. >> bnsf railway. >> collette. >> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide.
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>> rose: welcome to the program, tonight we begin with a remembrance of conde naste chairman si newhouse, his company owned vogue, "the new yorker" and "vanity fair." >> that kind of editorial independence which thankfully still exists now, thanks to the newhouse family, above all, and the ethos of the place, that existed very, very rarely anywhere. >> rose: we conclude this evening with sally quinn, her book is called finding magic, a spiritual memoir. >> it was the most painful thing i ever did in my life. i mean i just literally cried the whole time i was writing it. but it was cath artic. i mean i needed to do it and i needed to get it out. >> rose: the life of si newhouse and a conversation with sally quinn when we continue. >> funding for charlie rose is provided by the following: bank