All Our Children

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In this documentary, Bill Moyers examines the challenges facing America’s youth and investigates how to help millions of young people emerging from school unprepared for life and work.



BILL MOYERS: [voice-over] You can meet them anywhere in America: Young people in crisis. Millions are failing in school or dropping out altogether. The good news is that some are finding help. Young lives are at stake. So is the nation’s future. Join me for an evening with “All Our Children.” Dessa, Jeremy And Jake. Columbus, Indiana

BILL BARTON (Director, Joye Howe Program): Columbus is a town like any other small town in America: 32,000 people approximately. It’s a real positive place to raise a family. In 1967, when I came as a high school Social Studies teacher, students could leave the high school and go directly into the major industries here with excellent-paying jobs and that’s where everyone planned to go. However, in recent years, we’ve seen the local economy redirect itself. The prospects of new jobs making the same money aren’t there and we see students in crisis. And the students bring those issues to school. We’ve had kids who’ve been abandoned and expelled coming to us off the street. We have students who’ve been in treatment centers for drugs and for psychiatric reasons. And if a student does not get any worse, that’s really progress.

BILL MOYERS: Stopping a kind of downhill slide?

BILL BARTON: Right. You know, if you go to the hospital and then you have a temperature of 102, the first goal is to keep it at 102 or lower it, not to go to 103.

1st STUDENT: My mom told me not to worry about it, ’cause she’s going to have to pay the money anyway or the court will pay if she has to go to jail.

BILL BARTON: [in class] Cigarettes out. Anthony, put them out.

BILL MOYERS: [voice-over] The Joye Howe School. It’s a public high school that gets a lot of support from the community. Serving about 60 students, it’s designed to foster self-worth in teenagers who’ve experienced too little of it.

BILL BARTON: We encourage Probation to come every week, also Parole, also the Welfare Department — in fact, they do that — to talk with students who are on probation or on parole or involved in the welfare systems. We’re meeting with Jeremy’s Probation Officer today to discuss Jeremy’s problems and what’s happening here at school. Now, every day, there’s something and today, his excuse for being late is that the alternator on his mother’s car malfunctioned and therefore, he had to be 45 minutes late to school.

RANDY ALLMAN (Probation Officer): Let’s start with coming to school. You know, what happens if you come to school on time? Is that a plus or a minus?


RANDY ALLMAN: Why is it a plus?

JEREMY: I guess ’cause I’m doing good. I don’t think it’s right.

RANDY ALLMAN: OK, so when you’re late all the time, what happens when you’re late? What happens?

JEREMY: It’s a minus.

RANDY ALLMAN: How do you know it’s a minus?

JEREMY: ‘Cause it ain’t good.

RANDY ALLMAN: Well, what happens, though?

SHARON TOWER (Assistant Director): What happens when you get here late? What do people say to you?

JEREMY: I don’t know.

RANDY ALLMAN: Sure you know.

JEREMY: That I need to get here on time.

RANDY ALLMAN: OK, so what’s one thing we could do that would be real easy to start turning things around? OK, the getting to school on time, you’re learning you can do, right? So what could you do to get here on time?

JEREMY: Get the alternator fixed.

RANDY ALLMAN: Or else do what?

SHARON TOWER: Or what’s another alternative?

JEREMY: Ride the bus.

RANDY ALLMAN: Ride the bus.

SHARON TOWER: That’s right.

RANDY ALLMAN: If he doesn’t get serious about his life-I think Jeremy plays a lot of games and I think he likes to talk out of both sides of his mouth and I think he likes to keep us guessing, just like this tattoo on his arm, you know, “F–k the World.” That’s kind of his attitude.

SHARON TOWER: I would like to see Jeremy placed in a residential program.

RANDY ALLMAN: You know, before they’ll accept him, he’s going to have to do something about the drug problem.

SHARON TOWER: Absolutely.

RANDY ALLMAN: And a lot of places will eliminate him because of this dealing charge.

SHARON TOWER: Oh, is that right?


BILL BARTON: Jeremy, have you had a drug screening lately? What would happen if you had a drug screening right now?

JEREMY: Probably positive.

SHARON TOWER: When’s the last time you smoked?

JEREMY: About three or four days ago.

SHARON TOWER: So you aren’t smoking every day?

JEREMY: Not anymore.

SHARON TOWER: Well, I’ve laughingly said I grew up with my grandmother’s foot following quickly along behind me and there were lots of times when I didn’t like that, but it helped make me what I am and I thank her for that a lot. And our kids don’t have anybody following along, saying, “Stand tall, straighten your shoulders, do your work, if you get in trouble at school, you’re in more trouble at home,” any of those things that all of us remember so well.

Jeremy came to us from one of the local junior highs as a special education student who was not being successful there. And he’s had a hard life. His parents have been divorced for several years. He’s been bounced back and forth between Mom and Dad and has been responsible for taking care of himself much of the time.

JEREMY: Whenever they make up rules and stuff and they don’t-they say, you know, it’s because they just don’t want you thinking to the public that, you know, that you’re a punk or something just ’cause you wear a concert shirt or something, it ain’t right. I mean, people probably don’t look at what kind of shirt you wear, I don’t think. Or your hair. Earrings, I can understand that, but not your hair.

SHARON TOWER: There’s a good Dessa and a bad Dessa. The good Dessa is a fairly happy-go-lucky, normal teenager who gets in the same fuss about who’s going to wear what or who said what to whom or who’s going out with whoever. The bad Dessa wants to be extremely rebellious, sneaks out of her bedroom window at three o’clock in the morning and sometimes sneaks back in at five, sometimes does not; will not get up and come to school and will not cooperate when she gets here.

DESSA (Student, Joye Howe School): I was brought here because I was kicked out of school and I was-

BILL MOYERS: Why were you kicked out?

DESSA: Fighting, but-because I don’t like a bunch of people around. I cannot stand a crowd of people. And I got in fights and then, I was kicked out a semester. I was real happy when my mom and dad were married. I was making good grades. And when they got a divorce, I mean, it tore a piece of me away. I was in and out of different schools, moving all that time. You know, as soon as I started making friends, I’d go to another school. I went to Jackson, Redding, Brown, Emerson and Seymour Middle School. I was in IOP, which is called QUINCO and-

BILL MOYERS: What’s that?

DESSA: It’s for drugs, drinking and stuff like that — my mom was an alcoholic — and I heard about, you know, this girl, you know, having it done to her and that’s when I finally realized, you know, it happened to me.

BILL MOYERS: That what had happened to you?

DESSA: I was molested.

BILL MOYERS: You hadn’t known it at the time.

DESSA: No, I really didn’t know, because I was young and I didn’t know, you know, why they was doing it. And you know, there was three people doing it, you know. I didn’t know if it was how you grow up, or what.

SURGEON: [examining Dessa’s tattoo] OK. When did you get that?

DESSA: In about June.

SURGEON: June? OK. And was it a professional tattoo?

DESSA: No, it was homemade.

BILL BARTON: Three years ago, we started a tattoo-removal program. Our kids’ tattoos are put on by using a large sewing needle, thread and India ink. We’ve noticed here that when students start changing their self-concepts -when they begin to look at themselves as, “I do have a future,” or “I am worth something,” -all of a sudden, this tattoo reminds them of a past that they’re trying to overcome. [to Dessa] We were talking a while ago about some careers that you might want to do-

DESSA: I wanted to be a model, but with that tattoo on there, I couldn’t because, you know, a bathing suit, short-sleeved dresses and stuff like that, you know, if I turn around a certain way, they’re going to see that on there. And they don’t want a model with a tattoo on it because, you know, they want somebody who’s pretty, has a nice body and they don’t have ugly things on them. So, I mean, if I get that removed, I’ll have a scar and that’s it. I got it when I was going out with Ron and I was pretty well serious with him and he took a straight needle pin and wrapped it around with yarn, thread and he stuck it in the ink and started sticking it on me. It hurt the first, you know, couple of minutes of it and then after that, you know, it didn’t hurt.

SURGEON: Did he have one, too?

DESSA: Yeah. He had his put on first. It was the only way I agreed to do it.

BILL BARTON: A local surgeon cooperates with us and his contribution to Joye Howe are the surgeries. It’s an example of how the community is involved with us in a real positive way.

SURGEON: Now, the first thing we’ll do, Dessa, is put the numbing medicine on. You won’t even feel it. You’ll never know and-

DESSA: Yeah. That’s what Ron said what I had the tattoo, “You won’t feel it.” Yeah.

SURGEON: It’ll be over quickly. This is the hard part, is the medicine going in. This hurts. This is the only part that hurts. The rest of it isn’t going to hurt. OK. You’re being awfully brave.

DESSA: I had to be awful brave to have that put in.

SURGEON: Yeah. OK. This is off here real good. You haven’t turned green yet.

DESSA: When I was seven years old, my mom and dad got a divorce. And my dad came and got me when I was 13. He got custody of me. And he’s been great to me ever since that. He’s took care of me. He’s been there for me. [weeping] And with him being there and this school being there, I’m happy. Because when I feel like I can’t make it, Bill Barton helps me. And it’s really great to have someone like Bill and Sherry and Judy and all of them.

GRIMM (STAFF MEMBER): OK, Dessa, you have your team ready here? Your question -are you ready? -Rocky Mountain state.

DESSA: I’m not the best student there. I have problems and I’m slow at reading and stuff like that, but you know, I’m catching up. I’ve caught up a lot. [answering question] Nevada.

BETH GRIMM: All right. [Looks at card] Oh! Dessa, good for you.

TOM CASCIATO (Producer): What did you think when your parents got divorced? What went through your mind?

JEREMY: I don’t know. I was kind of glad.


JEREMY: ‘Cause they fought a lot.

TOM CASCIATO: You remember them fighting a lot?


TOM CASCIATO: Tell me about your dad when you were growing up. Tell me about how you got along with him.

JEREMY: I don’t know. It was OK sometimes. Sometimes, it wasn’t. He whipped me a lot.

TOM CASCIATO: Why did he whip you?

JEREMY: I don’t know. ‘Cause I would get- ’cause I’d always get in trouble.

TOM CASCIATO: What kind of trouble was that?

JEREMY: I don’t know. We’d-like we was only supposed to go so far, but we’d go farther.

TOM CASCIATO: Do you miss your dad now?

JEREMY: No, not really. I’m sort of used to it now.

SHARON TOWER: Do you remember what Randy asked us to do? He asked if you would write down five heroes.

JEREMY: Do they have to be famous?



SHARON TOWER: They just have to be your heroes.


SHARON TOWER: So who would they be?

JEREMY: Craig Spencer.

SHARON TOWER: Who’s Craig Spencer?

JEREMY: Timmy Childers.

SHARON TOWER: Tim Childers?


SHARON TOWER: The Tim Childers I know?



JEREMY: And Adam Frazier, Jason Campbell.

SHARON TOWER: And who else?

JEREMY: That’s it.

SHARON TOWER: Are these all kids who go to school and stay out of trouble?


SHARON TOWER: Is that what you want to be? Are you telling me that you want to be a kid who runs the streets and gets in trouble?

JEREMY: No, it ain’t that I want to be like them. It’s just that they’re my friends.

SHARON TOWER: Do you think that when I tell Mr. Allman that, that he’s going to be concerned?

JEREMY: I don’t care if he is or not.

SHARON TOWER: Do you have any idea why I might be concerned about this list of people?

JEREMY: Well, you guys told me to name my heroes, so I did.

BILL MOYERS: [voice-over] The Joye Howe staff wants students to feel part of community institutions, so once a week, social studies classes are held at City Hall, science at the county hospital and math at a local bank.

2nd STUDENT: Slow down, please.

KAY LONG (Staff Member): OK. Sorry. To find out the least common multiple, you have to multiply these out and whatever it equals is the least common multiple of those two numbers.

2nd STUDENT: I got to go through all that?

KAY LONG: Yes, you do. That’s how you get there. OK, multiply that and see. It’s going to come out something-300 and something, I think.

BETH GRIMM: Everybody in this group except one student is into some sort of level of algebra. We do as much direct instruction as we can and what we find with our students is they’re not very patient. Sometimes, when they want help, they want it right now and so that-you know and if they don’t get help right now, sometimes, their behavior slips. But with two staff people in the room, we can pretty much keep it going.

LOIS STEELE (STAFF MEMBER): We do it one at a time. Everybody learns in different speeds, but they all come to us at different levels. Some of the kids have been in high school, some have not. Some have been in junior high and some have not. Some have been successful in math class and some have not and we just work very slowly and tell the kids they’re doing OK and let them know they’re OK and that even though, you know, they may be older than some kids -you know, Rachel’s 17 and learning her fractions -there’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe the classroom wasn’t a good place for her or a safe place and Joy Howe has been.

3rd STUDENT: No. I don’t know. I don’t know. Eight. Thirty.

BETH GRIMM: : Thirty. Thirty, right. See, you do know. All right. How about this one?

BILL MOYERS: What do you want to do five years from now, 10 years from now?

JEREMY: Ten years from now?


JEREMY: I don’t know. Have a car.

BILL MOYERS: Have a car?

JEREMY: Ride dirt bikes.

BILL MOYERS: Ride dirt bikes?

JEREMY: Yeah. That’s it.

BILL MOYERS: Most people who work at jobs buy cars, buy dirt bikes. What about planning to get a job?

JEREMY: You mean, what do I want to be?

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, what do you want to be?

JEREMY: I’m going to own a real estate business.


JEREMY: ‘Cause you make a lot of money doing that.

BILL MOYERS: Have you told anybody that?



JEREMY: My mom.

BILL MOYERS: What’d she say?

JEREMY: Nothing.

BILL BARTON: Most of our kids, when they first get in trouble, it’s because of shoplifting or stealing. It could be a shoe, sometimes, it might be bubble gum. You know, little-10, 11, 12 years old, that’s their first introduction to crime. And usually, the first arrest centers around shoplifting or stealing. So I was in the office last year, thinking, “Well, what can we do to legitimately-or to enable our kids to legitimately access the system?” Not to steal, but to become part of the system. So I thought, “Well, why not a credit union.”

4TH STUDENT (Credit Union Committee): What do you want your loan for?

5TH STUDENT: I want the loan so I can go to the Tanning Bed. I want to borrow $25.

BILL BARTON: The loans that we make to these kids are made on conventional terms just like we’d make to any other borrowers.

4TH STUDENT: Well, how soon do you need this?

4TH STUDENT: As soon as possible.

BILL BARTON: There’s an interest rate that’s normally between 7 and 10 percent. They have to pay them back on the same kind of terms that other people would. We want this to be an authentic introduction to the economic system. The principal difference is that there’s a fair amount of peer pressure from their Credit Committee to pay them back so that the pool from which the loans are made will remain intact and available to the other kids.

4TH STUDENT: You don’t have any collateral. ‘Cause usually, when you borrow money, we ask for you to pay in 20 percent of it, just to insure we get the $25. You have a savings account or a banking account, a check-cashing card? [she shakes her head] You’re not lying?

5TH STUDENT: I’m not lying.


MIKE RYAN (Bank President): We recognize that these kids are the ones who are going to be here for the rest of their lives. They’re going to be our customers five years from now, 10 years from now and we have a real stake in how they do.

STAFF MEMBER: Do you want to tell him what we have him here for?

6th STUDENT (Credit Union Committee): All right. Well, you’re late on your loan.

JEREMY: ‘Cause I haven’t gotten the money yet.

6TH STUDENT: Well, how do you plan on getting it?

JEREMY: Selling my bike.

4TH STUDENT: What bike? Your bike-

JEREMY: No, my mom’s paying it this month.


JEREMY: Whenever she gets paid.

6TH STUDENT: When’s that?

JEREMY: Thursday, Friday

6TH STUDENT: This Thursday? This Friday?

JEREMY: Yes, this Friday.

4TH STUDENT: Have you talked to Bill about working around the school?

JEREMY: No. Well, yes, I have. I’m making payments. I’m just a little late on this one.

BILL BARTON: [helping students dress up] I know this is not real pleasant for some of you, but we are going to look nice and put our best foot forward. [tying a student’s tie] Get your head up. You want to pick one out? Pick out a tie.

7TH STUDENT: I’ll just go home, Bill.

BILL BARTON: No, you cannot go home. [to Moyers] When we first started our program, we tried to find excuses to have people in the building where the kids could-were going to meet people from different walks of life in a positive way. A lot of our kids look at society as somehow being after them, that they’re not making it, people don’t like them, they’re scared of them, they’re misfits. So I wanted a situation where we could have people in who may feel the same way about these kids. And so we started having Dress Up Day.

7TH STUDENT: I want to wear this one.

BILL BARTON: You want to wear this one with that?



8TH STUDENT: It don’t match-

BILL BARTON: [tying student’s tie] Hold your head up. Hold your head up. Looks neat.

8TH STUDENT: It don’t match.

BILL BARTON: It does match. [to Moyers] The first Dress-Up Day was really scary. We had 50 kids, mostly boys. I went down to the Salvation Army and I bought every tie there was to get, plus all these dress shirts. The staff took the shirts home and washed them and fixed them up and I school the kids on how to shake hands, you know, to grip my hand and-

BILL MOYERS: They didn’t know such things?

BILL BARTON: They didn’t know that. And comb their hair. And we had this tie procedure. Many of the kids had never had a tie in their life.

9TH STUDENT: [introducing visitor] This Dave Forhonneck [sp?] from the State Police. He’s the governor’s bodyguard.

10TH STUDENT: This is Susan Bayh, the First Lady of Indiana.

11TH STUDENT: This is Susie Stropman [sp?]. She’s a circuit judge-court judge.

BILL BARTON: We invited people to Dress-Up Day because of their interest in our program and also their positions. We invited Mr. Miller, who is a community leader and has been for many, many, many years. We invited Susan Bayh, who has connections with the Department of Education and other potential sources of funds. The cost of educating a student in our school district is approximately $3,200. A student here at Joye Howe costs approximately $5,200 per year. With state aid plus the local school system, we can come up with around $4,500 a year. The other $700 we have to raise from local foundations, service organizations, private donations, philanthropic groups and that enables us to cut across political lines and truly become a community program.

BETH GRIMM: Twenty-five years ago, the kids who were from families that might have been having trouble didn’t feel hopeless. They didn’t feel hopeless because they knew that they could go to Cummins and they could put in an application and they could get a good job. And that job, then, would free them up and they could begin on their own and they had hope. And what’s happening now is that there is no place to go. We’re trying to create places for them in this community. We’re trying to create feelings in them. We’re trying to help them with their self-esteem so they can feel good enough -with haircuts, with whatever they need -to be able to go out into the community, feel good enough about themselves that they’re going to try to make it. Because otherwise, they’re not going to try to make it.

JEREMY: The good things about me? I don’t know, really. I can ride a dirt bike good. About the only thing. Oh, I’m good at school work. At least, I’m, I don’t know, pretty smart, I guess. So people say. That’s about it.

BILL BARTON: We never put a student on the street, never. If we can’t find a placement for them, we may put them on a half-day schedule or a partial schedule, but once you cut that cord -once I expel them or anyone expels them or suspends them -when you cut that cord, trying to reconnect that is impossible.

BILL MOYERS: What constitutes failure?

BILL BARTON: No one fails.

BILL MOYERS: But that’s not life.

BILL BARTON: For a 15-year-old who’s failed all his life, he knows what failure is. Success, he doesn’t know it is. So I’m banking on the fact they have put a lot of-they’ve banked a lot of failures my God, they have thousands and they can bring those up at any time -but don’t have many successes. So we try to balance that, at least. [to Jake] You want to show him your tattoo?


BILL BARTON: Jake did this this fall at a period when he was not in very good shape and we stopped him before she got this done. And you can see here, we did try to remove this -started -and this was done-the day after he had it down, we tried to take this out and we couldn’t. So now, we have to go to laser surgery. And this is a decision. We don’t force anybody to get tattoos removed.

BILL MOYERS: Why do you want it removed?

JAKE: It’s not a healthy image.

BILL MOYERS: When did you have that put on?

JAKE: Last fall.

BILL MOYERS: Why? What does it represent?

JAKE: Rebellion. Ma.

SHARON TOWER: Jake was born in 1974. He is 16. Jake is a 10th grader and has been with us for about a year. Jake has had so many gaps in his education and he has been to so many schools that I would have to do considerable sorting through here, probably, to tell you how many schools he’s actually been in.

JAKE: [reading in class] “They stood in the doorway of the underground house until it was raining hard. They closed the door and heard the sound of falling rain in tons and avalanches everywhere. “It will be seven more years,” one of them said, “yes, seven.” They unlocked the door even more slowly and let Margo out.

SHARON TOWER: There are several people at Joye Howe who believe that Jake has the capacity and the ability to go on to some sort of higher education. Like many of our other students, we are buying some time till he can become old enough to be willing to put the necessary effort into a different kind of life than he is at this point. Jake has reached the age of 16 the hard way. He has lived in cars, he has lived under bridges, he’s had to do whatever is necessary to help keep his family going. And for those things, I feel sorry for Jake. He is living in a foster home. Even though his father has kicked him out of his house several times, they still see each other.

JAKE: My parents were divorced when I was 2-1/2 years old. The times I was living with my mom, I wasn’t really living with her. She was dumping me off with my family and foster homes. And my dad would fight through the court systems to get me out of them [sic] foster homes. And then he would get me and I would live with my grandpa, not him. I’d live with my grandpa or my aunts and uncles and that’s happened all the way up until now. And now, I mean, it’s just a never-ending story, back and forth, back and forth.

JAKE’S FATHER: I’m sure we did everything that we thought was right for Jake. And who knows, we all make mistakes.

JAKE: [skeet shooting] Ready, Joe?

JOE: Yeah.

JAKE: Pull. [fires] My mom has a disease. It’s called glossopharyngeal neuralgia. Pull. [fires.] It’s were a blood vessel right behind her ear-a blood vessel’s wrapped around this nerve and the blood vessel contracts. When it contracts, it pinches the nerve and it sends pain to the equilibrium, knocks her off balance and gives her pain. Pull. [fires] And ever since I was probably 11 or 12 years old, we lived in Brown County and I would drive her to the hospital and sometimes, she’d give me pain medicine for a reward if I would take her to the hospital. Pull. [fires] I was doing drugs, still, by my own, but her giving these to me helped me out. I didn’t have to go out and spend my money on them. Pull. [fires]

JAKE’S FATHER: Yes, he’s used alcohol. He’s used drugs. No different from myself, though. Unknowingly, my being a product of my environment of the 60’s and 70’s, I didn’t know that it would have any long-term effect on myself, let alone, you know, reaching into my children, affecting their lives. I would say that Jake is as streetwise as I was for my environment, but I believe his environment today is probably a little more full-blown. He’s susceptible to a lot more than I was.

BILL MOYERS: Were you at one time in a cult?

JAKE: Yeah.

BILL MOYERS: What kind?

JAKE: Well, it was an occult [sic] in Bloomington. We had a high priest and just~ it was an occult.

BILL MOYERS: A satanic cult?

JAKE: A satanic occult.

BILL MOYERS: What attracted you to that?

JAKE: A lot of the different powers and I felt like that if there was people that was going to accept me, these were the people that were going to I first moved in with my dad. He knew about all this satanic business I was into. He made me go to a Pentecostal church and be baptized before I could come live with him. We did that and he told me that the rules for me to live at his house was that I had to go to church every time church was in session. So I did that and it was totally crazy. I mean, I went from one extreme to the other and I just feel better about myself in the middle. I mean, I don’t have to be doing bad all the time, I don’t have to be doing good all the time. I mean, I can be myself and that’s what I’m happy with now. I don’t have to follow something I don’t believe in, which is either one of them, the bad or good. Pull. [fires]

BILL MOYERS: What intrigues me is that Jake’s got all these troubles, all these problems, coping with anger, obviously. And yet, you recommended that he tutor young kids.

BILL BARTON: Oh, yeah. And he’s does wonderful-the principal has told Jake that he should-well, tell him what he said.

JAKE: He told me that I have a special gift, I guess you could say, with working with kids. And he told me that if I had my choice of professions, that he recommends I should go into teaching. [tutoring] Can you do six? Are you sure? [to Moyers] I like for people to look up to me, I guess you could say, and they need someone to look up to. I mean, when you’re somewhere else, you have to do different things to make different people look up to you and when I’m down there, I have to act a certain way for them little kids to look up to me and to respect me.

1st CHILD: Thank you, Mr. DeWitt.

JAKE: You’re welcome, Joe.

BILL MOYERS: Is it working? Are you satisfied?

JIM LAHR, (Assistant Principal): We’ve had some difficulty, but I think, overall, I’m satisfied with what we’ve seen. We all have developed a real concern for Jake. The kids are very attached to him and everyone is concerned when he’s not here. He would call and say, “I’m not coming in today. I’m sick.” He felt what he was doing was not that beneficial.

TEACHER: I hope you have a good day today.

JAKE: You, too.

2nd CHILD: Mr. DeWitt, I want an airplane that looks like that.

TEACHER: He wants an airplane. Do you have time for one more airplane? One more airplane.

Mr. LAHR: I think we’ll continue to have some setbacks, most likely. Even though we only have six weeks left, I would be surprised if it goes completely smoothly from this point on.

JAKE’S FATHER: I just didn’t give him the right chance, I don’t think. He seen an example and he followed it very well. And I think that’s pretty much what’s happening here at Joye Howe. He’s being given another example and I think, in his ability, he’s following it very well.

JAKE: My life’s changed for the better since I quit doing drugs and got out of the occult. It’s been a lot better. I still have trouble. I still-I’m still not a perfect kid, but there’s a lot of things that have changed for the better. That’s about all I can say about that.

JAMES R. VASQUEZ School Superintendent: San Antonio is a city in transition. Tourism, next to the military, is the biggest industry in San Antonio. I think San Antonio is a lovely city, it’s a very charming city. It has a lot of wonderful things going for it, but beneath the surface of that, you find a lot of workers working in very menial jobs. And until those workers can have the prerequisite skills or the education to move up into middle management or upper management, what you have tourism doing is providing service kind of jobs of people working at minimum wages, which is really not the way to survive in this world today, ’cause minimum wages hardly pays for the rent, much less provide a person with enough money to have a family and to provide for that family.

RECEPTIONIST (70,001 Program): Good morning, 70,001. May I help you?

JAMES R. VASQUEZ: Education in South Texas is in disarray. It’s almost a catastrophe. Basically, the people dropping out of school are Hispanic children. They happen to be the poorest. They happen to be the children of dropouts or the children of parents who never had the opportunity to go to school.

BILL MOYERS: [voice-over] This is the San Antonio chapter of a national program serving about 8,000 young people each year. It’s called 70,001. Here, kids who’ve dropped out of school learn how to get back on track. They study with tutors for the equivalent of a high school diploma, the GED.

MICHELLE CASTILLO, Student, 70,001 Program: When you come here, it’s not like school where they tell you, you know, “You have to learn, you have to learn or you flunk.” If you want to learn and you want to get somewhere, you have to have a willpower that you want to do it.

BILL MOYERS: Well, what brought you here? Why did you wind up in this program?

MICHELLE CASTILLO: Oh, a hundred reasons. A lot of reasons.

BILL MOYERS: And have you found it helpful? Have you been able to master the materials?

MICHELLE CASTILLO: Most of it. The only trouble I have is in math.

BILL MOYERS: What’s hard about it?

MICHELLE CASTILLO: Math. I’m good in basic stuff, but when it comes to geometry and algebra-

JOSEPH NAZAROFF Program Coordinator: [on telephone] Are you accepting applications? Not at all. When do you foresee any job openings coming up? None?

BILL MOYERS: [voice-over] 70,001 has a second purpose: job placement. Counselors teach students who may never have had a job how to apply for one.

JOSEPH NAZAROFF: Non-GED students have a hard time competing with GED students. GED students have a hard time competing with high school students. High school students have a hard time competing with college students. And in San Antonio, we have a large amount of all. [on telephone] Can I schedule one of my students for an interview with you? My student’s name is Michelle Castillo. Castillo. She’s 17 years old and she has some work history. She’s very sharp and she wants to do this type of work.

STAFF MEMBER: [rehearsal job interview] Tell me a little bit about your application and about your school.

MICHELLE CASTILLO: Oh, God. Can we cut? No, ’cause I told you I was going for my GED.

STAFF MEMBER: Great. That’s easy. “I’m working on my GED.”

MICHELLE CASTILLO: I’m working on-

STAFF MEMBER: “And I have plans for continuing my-”

MICHELLE CASTILLO: Because when I go for this interview, I’m going to have my GED, so I can just pretend-

STAFF MEMBER: OK, tell me that.

MICHELLE CASTILLO: I’ll just pretend. “I have my GED.”

STAFF MEMBER: OK What about your hobbies? What do you like to do in your time off?

MICHELLE CASTILLO: Well, I like to talk with people and I like to help children.

STAFF MEMBER: Very good. Well, it’s been a pleasure meeting you, and we’ll possibly be giving you a call.

MICHELLE CASTILLO: OK. Thank you for your time.

STAFF MEMBER: Thank you very much. Bye bye. [in class] OK, now we’ve seen the two tapes that Michelle Castillo did on the interviewing. Does someone have comments on how she did well?

12th STUDENT: Yeah. She was real confident about herself getting the job.

MICHELLE CASTILLO: My parents got divorced when I was 14. I moved out when I was 14, got married when I was 15 and you know, just a lot of things happening. I couldn’t go to school.

BILL MOYERS: Why did you move out?

MICHELLE CASTILLO: I didn’t move out at first. My parents were having a difficult time, so they told me-you know, I didn’t want to listen to them and they told me to go ahead and move out. So I moved out with a boyfriend and he turned out to be a husband. And my dad told me if I wanted to continue living with him, I’d have to get married. And he just, you know, was even stricter than my dad. It turned into–he was real jealous and he didn’t want me to continue going to school. I decided that I wanted to get my GED, you know, and get some kind of something, either go back to school or get a GED and he told me I couldn’t go and get a GED.

BILL MOYERS: Why? What did he say?

MICHELLE CASTILLO: He said if I’d be going to school, I’d be going for guys.

JAMES R. VASQUEZ: If we’re talking about the pressure of getting married, please keep in mind that you’ve got large families and one less person to feed or one less person to care for is a way to “get rid of the problem.” Therefore, some young ladies are encouraged to marry very young and-which also means that some of them will be divorced very young.

BILL MOYERS: It was a mistake to get married?

MICHELLE CASTILLO: Yes. Well, I wouldn’t say it was a mistake. It was an experience I’ll never forget.

BILL MOYERS: What do you want to do when you leave here?

MICHELLE CASTILLO: I hope to get a job after I get my GED and go sign up for the Air Force. I’m going to go for a couple of years.

BILL MOYERS: How come?

MICHELLE CASTILLO: Well, you have to do something anyway.

JOSEPH NAZAROFF: [counseling] Here’s the job that you want and here’s you, right? You want this job. For every job opening right now in San Antonio, there’s about 200 people to 300 people applying for it, so what we do is that we use your resume and that’ll take care of half these people because most people don’t use resumes, especially for the entry-level positions that you’re applying for. So that’s 150 people that you got to compete with. Out of those 150, a lot of people won’t have their LD. cards or stuff like that that’s required by INS, the Immigration people, so we’ll knock of 75 more. Now, the stuff that we taught you included pre-employee training -how to dress right, how to act right for an interview, how to conduct a proper interview -it’s going to take care of more than this. It’s going to take about half of this. Now, we’re talking about 35 people. Today, when I go back to the office, I’m going to call these places that you’re requesting to work at and I’m going to set up an interview between you and an employer.

BILL MOYERS: The job market is very fragile, kind of risky.

MICHELLE CASTILLO: Yes, it is. I know people who are unemployed. Ai; a matter of fact, my father, that’s why he left San Antonio. There’s no jobs here. He was what you call overqualified. He was with the union and they didn’t want to hire him. He told them he’ll take, you know, the lower pay, but they told him no. He’s overqualified.

JOSEPH NAZAROFF: Michelle Castillo’s uniqueness is that she’s flexible enough to realize that there are options to her. She’s also flexible enough that she knows what type of education she needs to excel and she knows some of the basic steps to do this. Now, our job is to make it more crystallized and more formal and show them, maybe on paper, ”Well, you have to do this to get to here.” A little like road maps or counseling. Now, if you do retail sales, do you have enough clothes to last you for a week?

MICHELLE CASTILLO: Uh huh. Of course.

JOSEPH NAZAROFF: OK, so that’s not going to be a problem?


JOSEPH NAZAROFF: OK. And you also have to dress a little bit more conservative, where you look-you’re very pretty and you dress to go on a date or something like that, you know the difference between a date and work.

MICHELLE CASTILLO: I know. I have some grandma dress.

JOSEPH NAZAROFF: I’ve been doing this for three years and recently, it’s gotten bad here where one of my students had to go for three interviews just to become a bus boy. And that’s incredible to me. A bus boy. I mean, how difficult could that be? [counseling] So you think the next job that you’re going to have is going to have benefits? Is that important to you?



MICHELLE CASTILLO: I don’t have any insurance right now.

JOSEPH NAZAROFF: OK. Based upon the job market now-and the reason why employers say it’s 20 hours or 25 hours is to avoid paying hospitalization and benefits because an employer would much rather have two part-time employees than one fulltime employee just to avoid paying the benefits. Please don’t expect to be getting hospitalization or a medical or vacation or any of that sort of stuff right now.

BILL MOYERS: [voice-over] The 70,001 Program in San Antonio serves over 500 students a year at a cost of about a million dollars, most of it federal funds.

ARTURO B. SUAREZ, STAFF MEMBER: They come in with a lack of basic skills: reading, writing, math computation, things of this nature. Our major focus is, first of all, to give them that, to give them the ability to read, to compute so they can compete in today’s society. That’s what they can take with them and nobody else can take it away.

MICHELLE CASTILLO: I was first living with my grandfather and grandmother, but now, I’m staying with my aunt and she’s not strict, but she just wants, you know, sensible things, not to be coming in at four to five in the morning. If somebody was staying where I was, if I had a house, I wouldn’t let them come in at five, either. I sleep with my cousin. We take turns on the bed until we get another one. When I’m not on the bed, you sleep on the floors. It’s good for your back. Well, my mother, she’s in Austin and she’ll call once in a while, like every couple of months ’cause, you know, she’s already got her own life and she’s used to being without children now. And I don’t know, she’s just-she’s more like a friend than a mother now, ’cause she’s been gone for so long, you’re used to, you know, just seeing her once in a while.

PERSONNEL OFFICER: And you’re interested in our sales associate position?



BILL MOYERS: [voice-over] After Michelle Castillo’s counselor arranged two job interviews for her, she learned that her old job at a men’s clothing store was open again.

MICHELLE CASTILLO: I was working there before I had my GED and we just make like minimum wage. And now, recently, I went back, I had my GED and they gave me like a raise. I was making $3.75 and now I’m making $4.75, a dollar above minimum. I plan to go to college, hopefully. I applied for financial aid and hopefully I, you know, qualify, so I can go to college and get a grant. If not, then I’m going to have to get two jobs. I’m OK. I’m not, you know, living in the street or I’m not doing drugs. I’m not-you know. I don’t feel sorry for myself. I know I can do something for myself. People shouldn’t feel sorry.

BILL MOYERS: [voice-over] There are many young people like Michelle Castillo in San Antonio. In some school districts, the dropout rate is as high as 50 percent, so new strategies are being devised. In one program, teenage mothers spend half their day in traditional classes, then travel to a different kind of classroom. [interviewing] Why did you get pregnant?

ANNETTE, Student, Teenage Parental Program: I don’t know: Well, I didn’t use birth control ’cause I thought-you know, to me it didn’t feel comfortable, personally. Well, I don’t know. I just-I don’t know.

BILL MOYERS: You knew you should have, but you


BILL MOYERS: It wasn’t that you were ignorant of


BILL MOYERS: -of the way babies are made.

ANNETTE: Right. But, I got pregnant.

BILL MOYERS: Were you surprised?

ANNETTE: Yes, ’cause I was one of those kind of people that always said, “No, it won’t happen to me,” and “It won’t happen to me” and it happened to me. I mean, ’cause well, you know, usually it didn’t and then it happened.

BILL MOYERS: Are there a lot of your friends who have children?

ANNETTE: Oh, yes.

BILL MOYERS: See, that’s the irony to me, is that every one of you I’ve talked to want to stay in school and yet, you have these children. That makes it hard.

ANNETTE: Oh, yeah.

BILL MOYERS: Do all of you talk about using birth control or

ANNETTE: Well, now we do.

BILL MOYERS: Or, you know, of not having sex?

KATHY BRICK (Administrator, Teenage Parent Program): Society is still kind of uncomfortable with the idea of working on prevention with kids. We’re finding that people want us to talk about abstinence and that is important. It is important to think before you act, but we’re also dealing with the reality that in our society, it’s common practice.

BILL MOYERS: [voice-over] Each year, almost 500,000 American teenagers become mothers. San Antonio leads the nation in births to girls under 15. In response, the Texas State Legislature has funded 52 centers aimed at teaching parenting skills while keeping the parents in school.

KATHY BRICK: For a majority of these girls, without a program like this, 80 percent of them will drop out of the school. And by dropping out of school, 75 percent will tend to remain on welfare the rest of their lives; and then, the possibility for their own child to end up with learning problems, with a poor start in life because of the fact that they’ve got moms who are struggling just to cope with getting food on the table and providing some kind of family life for them.

MAE KELLY (Home Economics): We have some young people who come to us that really do not know how to love their child. They do not know how to care for them. They may know some of the physical things that need to be done, but as far as emotional support and security, they don’t know how to provide it to their child. One of the best ways that they learn is through their peers, watching the girls who do have a good sense of how to love.

ANNETTE: [with her child and other teen mothers] He likes for you to talk to him.

KATHY BRICK: One of the major problems we face is community attitude, problems with people who feel that “They asked for it, they chose to get pregnant, it’s their problem,” and “Why should we be responsible for it? Why should we be concerned?” And I think it depends on what price you put on a human life. What’s the price tag for saving a young girl or a young man? What price do you put on a baby being successful and getting a good foot forward into life? The babies that are born have a much higher risk of mental retardation, of birth defects and so then, we can pay the price for special education services when they reach school. We can either choose to do that or we can put out some dollars right up front and possibly save some lives. We have counseling for them. We have parenting classes and homemaking classes, tutoring sessions with computer. We have a social worker who sets up their appointments for any kind of help they need. We not only make sure that they get the prenatal care, we take them down to the doctors’ appointments. We keep up with what they’re eating. We talk about the need to take care of themselves, to get the medical treatment that they need. And we go with them if they’re confused or if they’re upset. We make sure that they get there and that they get the care that they need. And we can’t prevent, necessarily, every problem that’s going to come along, but we can certainly minimize it.

BILL MOYERS: After the baby was born, did you think about dropping out of school?

1st TEEN MOTHER: I thought about it at first, but then, that’s when I asked the school if there was any program that I could get into because since it’s my last year, I don’t want to drop out.

BILL MOYERS: What are you going to do after you graduate?

1st TEEN MOTHER: Hopefully, I’ll be attending Palo Alto College in August.

BILL MOYERS: The two of you are going to college, is that right?

2nd TEEN MOTHER: I’m going to San Fernando College.

BILL MOYERS: You really want to get that education.

2nd TEEN MOTHER: Oh, yes. I want to get all the way so I can start working and making some money and getting a car. I don’t have a car now.

1st TEEN MOTHER: And I’m happy ’cause I’ll be doing something that my mom wasn’t able to do. She had to drop out like three months before graduation ’cause at that time, it was a shame to go to school pregnant, so she had to drop out. And she’s real happy ’cause now, I’m graduating.

BILL MOYERS: Where do you see yourself five years from now or do you think that far ahead?

ANNETTE: Oh, yeah, I do and I want to be going to school, working for computers or stuff like that, you know, something in computers. That’s where I see the future and like computers are in.

1st TEEN MOTHER: If you don’t go to school, you don’t get anywhere.

ANNETTE: That’s right.

1st TEEN MOTHER: At least-even a high school diploma doesn’t even help on some jobs now. You have to have at least some college.

BILL MOYERS: The programs which are helping you stay in school do cost money.

ANNETTE: Oh, yes.

BILL MOYERS: They cost money to the taxpayer. What about that? Do you have any idea how much this program costs?

ANNETTE: I would imagine quite a lot of money.

BILL MOYERS: [voice-over] It costs $100,000 a year to run this program for over 40 young mothers. The program is also open to fathers. In the first year, one signed up.

ANNETTE: I see a lot of teenagers saying, “God, I wish I was like you,” you know, “I wish I had a baby,” and stuff like that. And you’re like, “No, you really don’t, because think of it this way. You like to go out, you’re in the Pep Squad and all that’s going to stop. I’m telling you one thing. All that is going to stop because no more Pep Squad, no more football games, no more going to the prom and stuff like that. It’s just-it stops.” Money. I mean, it’s so hard-I mean, I don’t have it. I have to be on like Welfare and it’s real hard. Like he needs a lot of stuff and sometimes, all that money that I receive, it’s still not enough ’cause I didn’t know it was going to cost this much to have a baby. You know, I mean, we had big dreams that we were going to live together in our junior year and then get married in our senior year. And then, you know-and I asked him, “Well, what if I got pregnant?” He said, ”Well, you know,” he said, “I’ll take care of you.” And I said, “Are you sure?” I mean, we never talked about abortions and stuff like that and-I mean, he still has the future goal of taking care of us, but you know, as I see it, I don’t really believe it. You know, it doesn’t happen that way. I mean, unless you get married first or something like that, maybe your dreams can come true, but like in boyfriend and girlfriend situation, it doesn’t. Believe me, trust me. I thought we were going to make it. I said, “Yes,” you know, “Everything’s going to go out great,” and it didn’t. And it really hurted because he said he’ll marry me right there and then and he didn’t. And everybody says that they’re going to marry and they don’t. And it hurts, it really hurts. I just-and you know, you don’t even know what to do because you’re there by yourself every day and then you want your boyfriend there and he doesn’t want to be there and that’s something else and that hurts. And you just cry and cry until you’re all cried out and then, you say, “OK, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to stand on my own two feet and finish school and try to make something out of myself to provide for my child.”

HELEN FORD Safety Specialist, Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School: Oh, it’s going to be a hot one. I can tell.

STUDENT DEEJAY: [on intercom] In case you’ve just joined us, we are Good Morning, Cambridge. We’re here live from the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. We get to start it off right now with. little bit of Bell Bev Devoe and this is Poison.

HELEN FORD: [greeting students] Good morning, Jerriane [sp?]. You’re looking great. How are you?

STUDENT DEEJAY: K.D. Club. There will be a very important member for all K.D. members on Wednesday during staff SSE. Seniors with overdue library books must return them first period this morning to clear your name.

HELEN FORD: Where are you going ladies?

13th STUDENT: The library.

HELEN FORD: Over where? The library’s over here. Looking good, looking good. Good morning, how are you doing? Good morning, good morning, good morning. Good morning. There’s Dawn and Barbie. Maurice, hey, bread man.

14TH STUDENT: Where it’s at?

HELEN FORD: I haven’t seen you in a while, man. [to Moyers] Knowing their names, that was one of the things that I thought was very important. I find when you can call a kid by their name, they really appreciate that. And the same way, I’d like to be called Helen. That’s the name my mother gave me. So it works real well. [greeting students] Good morning, Dice. How are you doing? Everybody looks so wide awake.

BILL MOYERS: [voice-over] This is the only public high school in Cambridge, Rindge and Latin. In the last 10 years, the school’s dropout rate has fallen from 25 to under five percent. Though there are 2,200 students, administration, faculty and staff try to serve individual needs. The aim is not only keeping kids in school, but helping them succeed there.

EDWARD SARASIN, Principal: You came here 10 years ago, 12 years ago, this was a high school in trouble and that’s why I have to smile when people say, you know, “This is Cambridge.” It was Cambridge, but last year, 10 years ago, you had kids roaming the corridors with their big radios blaring up, very loud. There were students that were sitting in the hallway. Interestingly enough, when I was first appointed, within the first week, a local TV station came and actually filmed the high school for a serial in terms of “What’s Wrong with American Education?” And I can remember going home and my wife saying to me, “Oh, my God. I just realized it was that bad.”

DIANE TABOR (Assistant Principal): This is the Enterprise Co-op. It’s a dropout prevention program for students who already have dropped out of school and are too young, legally, to stay out. It’s also for students who teachers on the main campus fear are in danger of dropping out and that this would be a good setting for them to try for a while. And the program is run as a cooperative, really as a little entrepreneurial business. The students are responsible for providing all the lunches to the Head Start students every day. And they also run the teachers’ cafeteria, which they cater from this side right here. And then the third business is a custom woodworking and refinishing business, so the reason a lot of the woodwork in the school, in the library -tables and things like that -look nice is because the kids do that work.

BILL MOYERS: What does this have to do with education?

DIANE TABOR: Well, everything. I mean, for one thing, it’s a real orientation to the world of work and responsibility because people are depending on their labor. A second thing is that many students who come into the large high school flounder and get lost. Those who perhaps don’t have enough support at home to really enable them to cope with the turmoil and the challenge of a huge, urban, diverse high school can make it over here in a smaller setting.

BILL MOYERS: Are they here all day?

TEACHER (*Enterprise Co-op): It’s a full school day, right, ’cause we have our academic classes right here.

DIANE TABOR: But many of the kids transition back and forth between this site and the main campus as well.

BILL MOYERS: Would you be in school if it weren’t for this program?


ANDREA (Student): I’m sorry, but I was on the verge of leaving totally because-


ANDREA: Because I don’t like the high school. It’s like-there’s so much peer pressure, like, and you have all these people, like a whole crowd. And I’m here with like a smaller group of people. It’s like they take you in when you come in here. It’s like everybody’s your friend.

5TH STUDENT: The teachers and everyone. Over there, the teachers, they have so many other problems to deal with.

ANDREA: I know. It’s like they can’t really have time for one student ’cause they have so many other students to worry about. Over here, when you have a problem, people talk to you. They actually take time. They sit there and talk to you because they know it’s affecting you and your life and your school work.

PHYLLIS BRETHOLTZ (Teacher): [in class] Look for a minute now at the story on the next page. What did you think when you read it? First Marsha and then Teresa. What do you think happened to him?

MARSHA (Student): I’m not sure because one minute it looks like he died and the next minute, it looks like he was just having fun.

PHYLLIS BRETHOLTZ: I know Marsha came from Jamaica, she was born in Jamaica. Her parents, as far as I know, are both still there. She’s basically been renting a room from some older brothers who give her virtually no support. And so, she’s really just doing this all of this on her own.

BILL MOYERS: So your parents left you here?



MARSHA: I never really asked her. I just figured that she needed to go back for some reason, but I never really sat down and said, “Mom, why did you go do this?” But there’s-I really don’t think she’d understand if I said, “I’m having problems with you away and I’m on my own,” because I think she really think-I don’t know. I just think she think I’m fine on my own, which I’m not. I really do need her, sometimes.

RUBY PIERCE (Administrator): Here’s a packet on how to write a resume. [to Moyers] I met Marsha three years ago when I had her as a student in an advanced typing course. I became concerned because she was out a great deal and would come back and wouldn’t want to talk about it. Marsha was suspended for continuously cutting class, coming to school late, hooking school, leaving school early and being very flippant with staff members, including myself. The only thing I thought that I could do, after several counseling sessions with myself and her guidance counselor, was to suspend her.

MARSHA: I was mad at Miss Pierce. I was like, “That’s not fair,” because the other kids didn’t get suspended. I was like, “Why does she choose to punish us?” I mean, only me and my friend Andrea got punished and no one else did. [to Andrea, who is dressing her hair] Right here. Put this up and this is going to come down. Right? You know what I mean? You know what you’re doing?

ANDREA: Yes, I know what I’m doing.

MARSHA: All right.

ANDREA: All right, hold it.

MARSHA: Andrea is-I don’t know. She’s my best friend. She’s like my sister. I can come over here whenever I want and I can leave whenever I want and I can spend a night or three days or whenever I want. And I can talk to Andrea about anything. We stuck together, even though we were having problems, like getting suspended and stuff like that and people hating us. Everybody up at the high school hated us, but-aiee, you’re burning me!

BILL MOYERS: Do they help you financially, your parents?

MARSHA: No. I work and I pay my share of the rent. It’s divided equally.

BILL MOYERS: From what you make at the shop?

MARSHA: Yes. I pay gas bill and light bill and if I have any phone calls, I pay for that. I’d like to make a lot of money, oh, say, $50,000 a year. I really would. I’d like to be happy. I’m not saying rich, wild rich, just happy, just so I could get myself what I want and what I need.

BILL MOYERS: And that is?

MARSHA: Just things to make-just anything that makes me happy.

BILL MOYERS: A place to live

MARSHA: Yeah and

BILL MOYERS: -a car-

MARSHA: Yes, of course. And food every day, make sure I could afford food every day.

RUBY PIERCE: I was on my way to my cafeteria duty and I saw Marsha crying. And her concern was that she has been suffering with toothaches and she does not know the last time that she has seen a dentist. And she was unable to sleep, unable to eat, unable to think because that’s how bad the teeth had decayed.

MARSHA: [with school physician] Aah.

SCHOOL PHYSICIAN: Looks good. One more time.


SCHOOL PHYSICIAN: When you’re a teenager, you really don’t get general, ongoing primary care. And if we have a Teen Health Center right here, it means it’s not up to your mom and dad to get you here, it’s up to you, that if you have a problem, if you have a question, if you have a need, you get yourself here. And once I meet you, then I can help you identify what some of the ongoing rights are. [to Marsha] Did your family get regular health care?

MARSHA: Only when I get real hurt, like hurt. Once, I had a nail run through my foot.

SCHOOL PHYSICIAN: You got care for that.

MARSHA: Yeah, something like that.

SCHOOL PHYSICIAN: So it had to be something serious to get care for?


SCHOOL PHYSICIAN: What about just regular checkups? Did you have regular checkups?

MARSHA: Oh, no.

BILL MOYERS: [voice-over] Rindge and Latin’s Teen Health Clinic provided Marsha with the care she needed to continue her senior year and to make plans for her future. [interviewing] I’m impressed that you really wanted to stay in school. You knew that school was important to you.

MARSHA: Yes. I really needed to stay and I needed to prove to myself and other people, I guess, that I can do it. And I’m going to do it. I’m going to go through college and I will manage a hotel. I’ll be the general manager of a hotel pretty soon.

RUBY PIERCE: When you went to Howard Johnson’s, did they ask you fill out an application?

MARSHA: Yes. That was frustrating, so I didn’t bring back any one of the applications.

RUBY PIERCE: And did you expect them to remember who you were?


RUBY PIERCE: You were that dynamic when you went in?

MARSHA: No, it’s not that. It’s just that-

RUBY PIERCE: It’s frustrating, but a lot of things we do are frustrating. A lot of things I do every day are frustrating.

MARSHA: It’s true, but-

RUBY PIERCE: But if I want something, I go for it.

EDWARD SARASIN: There are 80 many problems out there that have to be addressed and we have resources, but we really don’t have enough resources. I mean, if you walk around this high school, you’ll say, “My God, this high school seems to have everything.” And yet, we’re always looking for another thing that we can add to the puzzle, whereby the kids will be just a little bit more successful.

DIANE TABOR: The bilingual program has approximately 250 students. This is a particular portion of the bilingual program that serves older students, many of them, in the case, from Haiti. These students are coming from situations where the school system in their country is decimated or they have not had access to it.

MARLY MITCHELL (Teacher, Bilingual Program): The woman-so, if the egg is fertilized, the woman is? Is?

16TH STUDENT: Pregnant?


16TH STUDENT: Preg-?


16TH STUDENT: Pregnant.

DIANE TABOR: They’ve put the kids together in a class and they are team-teaching, which means two teachers do the preparation with the lesson. And the advantage for the faculty is extraordinary.

BILL MOYERS: I notice a sort of ballet between you and your other teacher here. The young man back here was sort of fading out and she moved around and engaged him.

MARLY MITCHELL: That’s what we do, team-teaching. ‘Cause it’s only eight kids in here and you say, “Wait a minute, you don’t need two teachers in a classroom like that.” No, ’cause these kids, a lot of times, they really need individual attention. They really need individual attention because that’s how it works for them.

BILL MOYERS: Now, they’re reading at what level when they come in here?

ISABEL PRIME (Teacher): I would say probably the first or second grade level, for the most part.

BILL MOYERS: First or second grade?

ISABEL PRIME: Yes. In their native language as well as in English.

BILL MOYERS: And this is high school.

ISABEL PRIME: This is high school, right.

BILL MOYERS: You have so many-

ISABEL PRIME: But they’re 17, 18 years old. If they were in their own countries, they would be in an elementary school, but because this is the United States, they are too old to be in an elementary school, so we put them in the high school family’s home. Dennis has managed the family’s affairs since he was 14. As his responsibilities grew at home, his grades dropped from thing with them in the few months that you have them? high B’s to low C’s.

BILL MOYERS: Isn’t that an impossible task? Can you really do

ISABEL PRIME: Well, we try. I mean, you can’t–it’s not realistic to think that you’re going to take from the first grade to the 11th grade, but it’s realistic, maybe, to take them from the first grade to the third grade, from the first grade to the second grade. And I think of this as an elementary school within the high school, ’cause that’s just being realistic.

DENNIS: I live in a three-family home and I collect the rents, I send out the payments. If, say, a pipe busted, I would fix it myself. If the apartment ill not up to standards, then I would paint it or fix whatever needed to be fixed. Also, I keep after my younger brother, work with him and try to do well in school and just kind of be aware of what goes on in society. One of the most important things about being a father is that, you know, you kind of, you know, have a good relationship that you can talk to him. I don’t feel like I can really talk to him a lot. You know, he never really, you know, gives me a pat on the back and there’s nothing better than your dad giving you a pat on the back. I mean, a lot of other people may say to you, you know, “You did well,” but you know, when you hear, “Hey, son, you’re doing a great job,” you know, there’s nothing better than that. That can be keep you going for a good amount of years. And it’s been a long time since I’ve heard something like that. You know, other people tell me, “You’re doing well,” you know, that’s kind of what gives me my motivation to continue.

MARLY MITCHELL: We have kids coming here in September and to look at them in May, in April, the way they’re going places, they’re talking, they’re participating, it’s worth all the money.

DIANE TABOR: The school is probably 49 to 50 percent white, traditional white right now, and maybe about 38 percent black, about 13 percent Spanish. do I have too many percents in there? There’s an extraordinary range of kids and there’s an extraordinary socioeconomic diversity as well.

WILLIAM McLAURIN (Teacher): [in class] And then into REM. This is one of the characteristics that one sees when one is in this Stage IV. [to Moyers] If you’re going to seek to have minority students active in upper level classes, then you have to put before them minority teachers. [in class] The only stage where you don’t really do a lot of dreaming is here. [to Moyers] And I took it upon myself to teach an advanced placement class because I wanted to be a role model. I wanted to get minority students interested in taking these classes. And when I started, there were less than five percent students in the class, about one out of every 12 or so were minorities. Now, I’ve reached the point that this year, for the first year, 50 percent of the class is minorities. Now, the reason for that is quite clear. It’s because there is a minority teacher, because there is a minority role model, because they see that there is someone like them. Dennis is a very, very interesting student because when I look at him, he reminds me of so many other students that we have here. He’s rather a typical minority student in many ways and he has a lot of outside pressures on him. He has family problems at home. He is the major male in that home. I’ve seen the relationship that he has with his younger brother who really idolizes him and follows him around just about everywhere.

BILL MOYERS: Are your parents at home and they cover there?

DENNIS (Student): Yeah. Well, I basically have my mother home, not my dad, so I basically come from a one-parent household.

BILL MOYERS: Where is he?

DENNIS: He tends his business and kind of has a separate marriage. So currently at home, I kind of take the responsibility which he has.

BILL MOYERS: So you’re the man of the house, huh?

DENNIS: Right.

BILL MOYERS: [voice-over] Dennis’s mother runs a day care center in the out the payments.

LES KIMBROUGH (Teacher): Look at the two stories we had over the weekend, the two stories. One is the story by John Drew Clark [?], “The Bullet Claiming Christ’s Life.” [?] How does he describe Aaron Crawford? He talks about Aaron. How does he describe him?

7TH STUDENT: He said that his nose and his face didn’t really-his nose and his lips didn’t belong to his face, that they were too big.


8TH STUDENT: I don’t remember.


8TH STUDENT: I read it, but I

LES KIMBROUGH: OK, then Dennis, what? Quick, talk to me.

DENNIS: I think he describes him as like the traditional African, you know, who like was not-didn’t look like everybody else, but yet, he was proud of his culture. You know, now, people say that like blacks from Africa have big lips?


DENNIS: Well, you know, he knew that he was like-he looked like that, but yet he was proud of himself, you know, and he expressed himself.

LES KIMBROUGH: He was a typical black teenager. He’s a reminder of some past generations. [to Moyers] In my curriculum, I try to be as demanding as possible, but also, I try to be as caring as possible, to give kids all I can to make them really understand there’s a need for them to study and to study hard because, especially for kids of color, they’re going to go into a world that is going to demand a lot of them. And without those skills, without that self-image and that motivation that they really need, they’re going to be sort of lost. And if they don’t get it here where folks care about them, they won’t get it in the real world. [in class] Go ahead, Den.

DENNIS: You all said that the Christ reflected the black people, ’cause black people tended to be more kinder [sic] than white people.

LES KIMBROUGH: Yeah. [to Moyers] He was a candidate for the King Scholarship, which I sit on the board of. And when we asked him about his future plans, he said he wanted to be a national leader. And those are the things that, I think, push him. Sometimes, though, it pushes him so that he doesn’t do his work in school, unfortunately.

9TH STUDENT: [at rally] In the last five months, there have ‘been 53 homicides and an overall 69 violent deaths in the Boston-Cambridge area or didn’t you know that?

BILL MOYERS: [voice-over] In response to the murder of two Cambridge teenagers, Dennis helped found a group called SAVE, Students Against Violence and for Equality. [interviewing] Who are your heroes?

DENNIS: My heroes are Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, people who have struggled for others.

BILL MOYERS: They’re all dead.

DENNIS: They’re martyrs.

LES KIMBROUGH: It is a pressure. He is on stage 24 hours a day. And whatever he says, whatever he does, whatever motions that he makes, it is assumed that he is representing every other minority. He has to be the role model for his brother. He has to be the role model for students. He has to be role model for staff. Everyone looks to him to be it. And the thing about it is when he isn’t it, you know who’s the first person hears about it? I hear about it. It seems as if we in education can do something to alleviate some of the pressures. Now, I take them on, personally. No one else is going to do them. I don’t think I can rely on the social worker. I don’t think I can rely on the politicians. I don’t think I can rely on anybody but myself in this educational system. So it’s up to me to try to do everything possible to try to make this educational system sympathetic to the Dennises.

DENNIS: [at SAVE meeting] Let’s talk a little, quickly, talk about the marching route tomorrow. It’s going for anti-apartheid and anti-racism. We’re going to start in Horace Square at 2:30.

BILL MOYERS: [voice-over] Two weeks before the end of spring term, it wasn’t certain Dennis would graduate.

WILLIAM McLAURIN: Well, he was so wrapped up in all of his problems. On the one hand, he had my class, which he was behind in. He wanted to be involved in the march and participate and be active. But there were just so many things that came upon him all at once. And he came up to me with tears in his eyes and he said, “Doc, I just don’t know what I’m going to do.”

BILL MOYERS: Did you ever think about chucking it all and quitting school?

DENNIS: Yeah, I thought about it, but then again, you know, what do I get out of that? And if I chuck it, why doesn’t everybody who’. going through the same problems as I am chuck it also? You know, where would we be today? You know, sometimes, it takes a little bit of strength to say, you know, ”Let me overcome these obstacles and, you know, someday, there’s going to be something there waiting for you.” And you know, that’s the way I look at it. If I don’t make it, you know, I say to myself, “Well, what’s going to happen to the other people?” You know, ”What are people really going to begin to think now?”

BILL MOYERS: [voice-over] Rindge and Latin is able to offer so many programs to students because it spends $8,500 per pupil per year. That’s $2,000 more than the average American high school. Now, they’re facing budget cuts.

EDWARD SARASIN: I think people have a tendency to take the simplistic solution and simply say, ”We’ll cut a percentage here, a percentage here and a percentage here.” And I think when you deal with kids, you can’t deal with percentages. I think people have a tendency to develop a linear relationship between kids of 10 years ago and kids of today. So if we spent $2,000 a year ago, then we should spend an equal amount today. . But they don’t understand that when you have a bilingual population, you really have to address that bilingual population. When you have kids that are handicapped, you peed small classes, you need a special teacher and you need an aide. When you’re dealing with the 21st century, you can’t simply teach typing, you have to teach word processing. But I think the real variable—it’s when you have your staff that are committed to the degree that they are committed, that really makes a difference.

COUNSELOR: [with Marsha] Seven, four, five, oh, plus three, five, oh. OK, that’s $1,000. And of course, this is also a scholarship which is $2,000, OK? And here’s a Work Study. And they have you in a Work Study for $1,500. And I tell you, they did OK by you. It’s about the best one I’ve seen all year.

BILL MOYERS: [voice-over] Marsha applied to college in the spring. She needed financial aid, but her parents weren’t around to sign the forms, 80 her English teacher offered to guarantee the loan.

PHYLLIS BRETHOLTZ: Last Friday, when she came to my classroom and sort of asked me to step outside of class for a moment and there was-again, there was just something in the way-usually, I don’t step out of class in the middle of class, but there was something about the expression on her face that just sort of drew me out and I stepped out for a minute. And she just said, “I had to tell you because I just found out that I have a full scholarship to Newberry Junior College.” [in class] Do you have any immediate associations to this? I mean, here’s this young girl. She’s waiting for someone to change her life. Prince Charming is going to come along and rescue her.

BILL MOYERS: [voice-over] Marsha’s teacher also offered to help buy her a ticket to the Senior Prom.

MARSHA: Miss Bretholtz is helping me. She gave me some money to help for the prom. It’s like a 70 percent chance that I’ll go. I’ve already made some plans, so–

BILL MOYERS: Why wouldn’t you go?

MARSHA: My boyfriend doesn’t want to go and I wouldn’t want to go with anyone else who’s going to expect anything from me because-

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean, expect anything from you?

MARSHA: Expect like afterwards go to a hotel and whatnot. I asked a couple of people and they said, ”Well, what are we going to do afterwards?” I’m like, ”We’re not going to do anything. If there’s a party, I’ll go to a party, but ‘we’ are not going to do anything.” And they were like, ”Well-” [to Andrea, who is fixing her hair] I don’t trust you, ’cause I burned you a couple of times. You’ll probably try and get me back.

ANDREA: You burn me all the time.

RUBY PIERCE: There was one person that kept me in school and just told me how important it was to be here and supported me and took me in when I ran away from home when I was a junior in high school. And I want to be here for those kids. [crying] I’m sorry. And for Marsha, I just knew she was special and she had something to give, a gift to give this world and I was not going to let her throw it away because of a bad family situation. I just wanted to take care of her.

MARSHA: [to Andrea] Pass me that mirror so I can tell you what to do. Oh. Oh, I like it. [to Moyers] For a minute there, it looked like neither one of us was going to graduate, but I guess we pulled it off. I guess we realized what we had to do and we did it.

DENNIS: I’ll be attending Howard University in Washington. I’ll be taking political science. From there, I want to become a lawyer and go into public service.

MARSHA: It’s going to be a struggle always for me. Maybe when I’m 18, it will change because I’ll be considered an adult, but it’s always going to be a struggle for me ’cause it’s not me and my mother in my corner and my parents in my corner. It’s just me.

[Roundtable Discussion]

BILL MOYERS: You’ve just met a few young people chosen from three American cities after months of research by producers Tom Casciato and Kathy Hughes, but we could have landed in any city in any state in America and found enough Jeremys, Jakes and Marshas to produce a documentary every night for a year. So no matter where you live, there are children who need you. In the film, we’ve seen a few who are struggling, we’ve seen some caring adults and we’ve seen some things that work, but where do we go from here? Right now, I’m in Columbia, South Carolina at South Carolina Educational Television -which I think is the best educational television network in America -and I’ve assembled some people from around the country who have firsthand, front-line experience in dealing with kids like those we just saw. And my first question is going to the Public Health Commissioner from the State of Arkansas, Joycelyn Elders. Where do we go from here?

JOYCELYN ELDERS M.D., Public Health Commissioner, Arkansas: I think that the place to go from here is to begin to address the multiplicity of the problems that we see in these children. We can’t continue our one-shot bullet. We must begin to address all of the problems that these children have at one time.

BILL MOYERS: You mean under one roof, the way the Cambridge School was doing?

JOYCELYN ELDERS: Under one roof, yes. I think we’re going to have to make our schools, if you will, the centerpiece of what we’re about and what we’re doing.

BILL MOYERS: But you saw -Father Bill Cunningham from Detroit – you saw, so many of these kids come to school with problems that teachers are not really prepared to cope with. They all came from broken homes. Many have had experience with drugs. Some had been abused, some had been molested. They all came from poor homes. There wasn’t a child of an affluent family in there. Can you do what Joycelyn Elders is saying, taking them in and correcting all the deficiencies that had been met by the time they get there?

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM (Executive Director of Focus: HOPE): Absolutely. No question.

BILL MOYERS: Have you done it in Detroit?

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM: Yes. We can do it if we start early enough. We know that we can analyze youngsters, pull strange traits out of them at the age of two and three if we’re willing to invest in these young people. .

BILL MOYERS: How do you do it at Focus:HOPE in Detroit?

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM: Well, we have a center for children. We start with our employees’ youngsters. We have a center for children on the Industrial Mall and we take youngsters in at the age of six months and begin to work with them at that point. We haven’t had a child yet that’s moved out of those families that are considered single parent, in many cases, most cases, ADC families originally, where we’ve given the parents a job and training and beginning to develop them-a lot of teenage mothers that we’re putting through our fast-track program. We take these youngsters; get them early enough, do diagnostics on them. Not a kid has gone and matriculated from that to K through 5 school under superior ready on national standards. So we know we can do it. The question is will we set that as our target. If we’re going to tinker with the system, like I saw so much of this doing, tinkering here a little, tinkering there-

BILL MOYERS: These are very small victories, very modest efforts.

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM: Well, sure they are. I don’t mean to put them down, but we need radical change. We need people that are willing to say, “My God, it’s not just these kids that are failing, the entire American system is failing. We’re way behind our competition across the world.” So where is any youngster going to get a job in this country except at Wendy’s?

BILL MOYERS: Brenda Wentworth is nodding her head, agreeing with you. She’s with the Family Violence Project in Maine.

BRENDA WENTWORTH (Family Violence Project): Right. I used to-

BILL MOYERS: Why are you nodding your head?

BRENDA WENTWORTH: Well, I was just thinking. You know, one of the issues that we all have been thinking about, I’m sure, and I’ve been thinking about it as we were going through this, is that we have to identify these issues clearer, you know, and bring them together and focus really clearly on what’s going on here from a nationwide perspective.

BILL MOYERS: What is going on from your standpoint?

BRENDA WENTWORTH: Well, one of the things that we tend to look at is we say, “Well, these are poor kids,” and that’s not the total picture. It’s not just poverty that’s affecting these children. Violence, which is one of the issues that wasn’t really clearly-in the end of the documentary was beginning to be addressed, is affecting our children at a magnitude none of us can even imagine.

BILL MOYERS: Violence from?

BRENDA WENTWORTH: Violence from within the family, violence on TV, violence internationally and nationally. The way our country has chosen and the way we choose our values to deal with conflict is through violence, through power and control and it’s one of the issues that we really need to address ’cause these kids are addressing it very fully in their lives.

GEORGE AUTRY, President of MDC: Brenda, that’s a good point, the point that you can’t generalize about these kids. Maybe “at-risk youth” is a better word than just poor kids. Some needed just a measure of strong support and information and some of the rest we saw in this documentary tonight needed a heavy dose of remediation and basic education. And there were others that, frankly, needed, you know, intensive care and of a social and economic sort. But yeah, I think there’s one thing you can generalize. In every one of those segments, there was a caring adult who made a difference in the lives of kids who live on the margin. I think it’s a powerful lesson in the documentary itself. Another lesson was that we have people, especially, but also, we have programs out there and we have technologies out there that can, indeed, make a difference.

BILL MOYERS: But take just that issue. You’re right. Everyone of those children had a caring adult to intervene and what we found as we traveled the country in reporting the documentary is that no caring adult, no chance of a child to make it. That’s just the fact. So take Joycelyn Elder’s point -we got to go to do something radically different -how do we make sure that every child in an American school has a caring adult?

DELIA POMPA (Children’s Defense Fund): I think first we have to decide what part of the problem we each own. We saw some real heroes tonight. We saw some heroes in the kids and we saw some heroes in the adults. Not everybody in this nation is able to respond in that concentrated a way, but everybody in this nation has a role in saving these children and everybody owns a piece of the problem Where we go from here is we try to instill in people an ownership of the problem and an ownership of part of the solution. “What’s my part of the problem?” It may be a willingness to pay more taxes. It may be a willingness to hire one of these kids. It may be a willingness to give up one night to work with one of the children, but we need to figure out what our part is and each of us get out there and mobilize everybody to figure out what part they play in the multiplicity of solutions.

BILL MOYERS: But let me ask you a question that goes to the question of whether or not this is a Mission Impossible, what you just said. In New York, where I now live, we’ve just spent $120 million in the last four years, specifically targeting efforts to prevent school kids from dropping out. It failed. The pupils we were trying to target, to reach, either dropped out anyway or they wound up no better off academically. I mean, are we being honest with ourselves when we talk as hopefully as you do?

JOYCELYN ELDERS: Bill, we have to start early. We are waiting too late.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean, early?

JOYCELYN ELDERS: We’re not trying to prevent problems. We’re running around intervening all the time and I feel we know how to prevent many of these problems., but we don’t want to deal with it. We talk about how much it costs, that it costs too much. Nothing costs as much as what we’re doing.

BILL MOYERS: Well what do you mean when you say, “start early,” Joycelyn?

JOYCELYN ELDERS: Well, what I mean, “start early,” I think that we heard Father talk about six months. I’m talking about starting early childhood education programs. I’m talking about starting at conception or at birth with good prenatal care. If I send John a good, healthy, motivated child to school at four or five, he can do a good job, but if I wait until that child has been destroyed by the time they get there, well, all they’re doing is repeating and sitting in corners and getting them prepared to go to prison.


BILL MOYERS: But when you do this in Arkansas-excuse me.

BRENDA WENTWORTH: I was just going to say that’s an absolutely wonderful point and the fact is, you know, we always talk about money and one of the-I’m going to steal a quote from the Children’s Defense Fund. We talk about money, but during the eight years of the Reagan Administration, we spent $1.9 trillion on peacetime military build-up. At the same time, we cut $20 billion from programs for children. So I think it’s a priority issue and a value issue for the American society and each of us contribute to that.

BILL MOYERS: We will come back to the issue of money, but let me stay with the moment of starting early. Do you do it in Arkansas?

JOYCELYN ELDERS: Well, we’re trying. We’re really making a real effort, by


JOYCELYN ELDERS: Well, we aren’t starting enough, but you know, I think everybody-we all talk about prenatal care and all of that, but that’s not what I really wanted to address. I do think that’s critical and very important, but the other thing is we’re trying to do early childhood education with working not only with the child, but also working with the parents, you know, getting them involved.

BILL MOYERS: Now, who does this, the school?

JOYCELYN ELDERS: Well, this is being done-we have a program that is called HIPPY or Home Instructional Program for Pre-School Youngsters, that-

BILL MOYERS: I’m glad we changed the name of that.

JOYCELYN ELDERS: Well, our First Lady introduced that program to us and we have not funded it adequately, but thanks to our Governor and our legislators, this year we are going to markedly expand that program in Arkansas-

BILL MOYERS: Well, are these clinics in different districts? Are they attached to the schools?

JOYCELYN ELDERS: Well, they’re really now under the Governor’s Office. They’re not really clinics or schools. We are doing some clinics in schools, too. We are doing several things in Arkansas. In fact, I told our legislators -and they just went home -that I didn’t want them to give me one thing because one thing would not work, that I had to have several programs if we wanted to make a difference. Those programs included the early childhood education program phase, comprehensive health education programs in our schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. We had to educate our parents. We’ve just not done that. We have got to teach our young men-we’re losing four out of five young black men in our state to drugs, alcohol, prisons, homicides and suicide. We are markedly expanding our comprehensive school-based health services and then, they also funded what I call my “hope” package and the hope package was–is that they’re going to provide, as has been done in other states, college tuition and books for children who maintain a B grade point average and want to go to college. And I think you have to have all of those programs.

BILL MOYERS: But you raise a question-I mean, you bring me to a point that actually emerged in the documentary and I’d like to consider that point for a moment by looking back at some scenes in documentary. It was the point that to help a child, we have to intervene in several ways at several times. We have to go in all at once, more than once, providing a lot of service. [voice-over] For example, Jake needed the staff of Joye Howe to help him find housing and transportation. They saw to his dental and medical needs. They became his counselors in dealing with his anger and his drug abuse. They got him his job at the elementary school and they tried in a dozen ways to build his self-esteem. Jeremy got a variety of attention from the staff, too. They encouraged him to be on time every morning, to bathe and wear clean clothes, to cooperate with his peers, to deal with his probation. For Annette the Teenage Parity Program provided what she needs to attend school and care for her child-a full-time day care center, transportation to and from school, to the doctor’s office, to the grocery store. She looks to those counselors to explain everything, from the mysteries of motherhood to the miseries of the welfare state.

They’re her friends and her confidantes. Dennis found role models and mentors in his teachers. They gave assistance and practical advice about college and career and lot of other information his family simply couldn’t provide, just as Marsha’s teachers filled the shoes of absent parents by giving her practical advice, discipline, encouragement of small loans. They got her medical and dental service at school. They made sure she got to the problems. They helped her apply for admission, financial assistance at a local junior college. [on camera] This small sample suggests the expectation all of us have of schools today. They’re supposed to prepare kids for success in life, regardless of their readiness to learn, regardless of the degree of support from their families and regardless of the limits on human and fiscal resources. And the question is, can a school do this? And we have a school superintendent here from San Diego, Tom Payzant. Can a school do all of this?

THOMAS PAYZANT (Superintendent, San Diego City Schools): We can’t do it all, but we can’t deny the fact that we’re right in the middle and we’ve got to be the catalyst to bring others together. But you can’t just focus on programs, Bill. I’m really taken and hopeful by what we’ve seen tonight, but unless everybody who watched that documentary goes away with the view that it’s not somebody else’s problem, that it’s all of our responsibility, not just to expect somebody else to provide and deliver a program and I think we do it in two ways. We’ve got to do it in terms of developing a will in the American people to pay attention to issues that touch all of the people. And this may sound like it’s overly political and behavioristic, but I think we have to show that it’s in everybody’s self-interest, that what happens to each of those young people in that documentary tonight can affect you and me and every American and that will be the road to get action.

BILL MOYERS: But I think what people are asking, Tom-they know it’s in our self-interest, but they’re asking, “What can I do? What can I do?”

THOMAS PAYZANT: Well, I think that really comes to the crux of it because I don’t really agree with you. I don’t think everybody believes it’s in their self-interest. I think they-if they’re in good shape themselves, it’s too easy for them to ignore what’s going on in another part of the community, another part of the city, the state or the nation and I think the connections have to be made. The demographics in San Diego are changing dramatically.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

THOMAS PAYZANT: The school system now in San Diego is 28% Hispanic, 19% Asian, 16% African-American, 37% Anglo. Most of the community doesn’t realize that. In California now, more than 50% of the children are non-white and by the turn of the century, the total population will be more than 50% non-white.

BILL MOYERS: So what are the implications of that?

THOMAS PAYZANT: The implications of that are we’ve got to learn how to cherish and acknowledge our diversity, accept difference and really worry about the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. And until people hit that one head-on and make up their mind that they’re going to address it, we won’t get the job done, but I’m hopeful that we can.

BILL MOYERS: John Lincoln, what did you do out there with Project PRIME to deal with these Hispanic kids?

JOHN LINCOLN, CEO, Project PRIME: I think-well, to dovetail on something I heard over there, I’ll explain what we did, It’s the notion that things that are going to happen positive for kids or the community itself don’t happen in isolation under specific roofs, but that the roof is a broad one and-

BILL MOYERS: That school is not enough, then?

JOHN LINCOLN: -it overlays a whole community. And if you’re going to do programs, you have to understand that the program has to be done in such a way that everybody in that community involves themselves or at least has a realization that they have some responsibility in that.

BILL MOYERS: Like the bank in Columbus, Indiana.

JOHN LINCOLN: Absolutely or like any anybody around this table, perhaps anybody in this room. If I come in here and do a program and I’m looking at you, you are the parents. And that was the thing that ran through this documentary, that those were all parenting skills that were being delivered to those students, but they weren’t necessarily being delivered by the traditional parents, so that all of us have that capacity in this room -you, me, everybody here -to do the kinds of parenting things we need if we take responsibility as members of that broader community.

BILL MOYERS: So tell us some of the things you’ve done out there.

JOHN LINCOLN: Well, we go into the community. We go into the street. We go into –

BILL MOYERS: We, meaning?

JOHN LINCOLN: We, meaning me and my staff

BILL MOYERS: Social workers? Educators?

JOHN LINCOLN: Educators, young people from the universities, members of community-based organizations, church people, anybody, anybody we can get to say, “We’re going to go here and we’re going to try and exchange information about how we have to be as a community for success.”

BILL MOYERS: You go and talk to?

JOHN LINCOLN: Whoever’s going to listen to us, but primarily people who are closest to the kids, so that’s primarily the genetic parents. We’re going to where they’re at and we’re saying, “Lookit, what do we know” -this group of people coming to you -“What do we know that you need to know that we need to teach you or that you may need to get from us to make this kid’s–make your child’s future a little bit better?” And then, we trade that information.

BILL MOYERS: Now, are you talking to Hispanic parents, Native American parents, Anglo parents or do you target toward a particular minority group?

JOHN LINCOLN: We are talking to any parent. The program that I deal with is primarily interested in dealing with minority parents and minority education, but it’s not an exclusive province of ours because the solutions are basically the same and I think Father Cunningham touched on that. A solution for making a better parenting situation, for making a healthier family, for making a stronger community are solutions that cut across the board.

BILL MOYERS: I’m a father. Talk to me like [sic] you’d talk to me if I went-if you came to see me there in New Mexico.

JOHN LINCOLN: First thing, Bill. What do you want for your child? You have to be able to tell me that so that I can take some of my experience and some of the things that I know and then share that with you, but I can’t just do that by telling you what I think your kid ought to be. You have to tell me. What are your hopes? What are your dreams? What do you expect him to be able to live like? And then, I can help and if I can’t do it, Tom Payzant can help me with it. This lady right here can help me with it.

THOMAS PAYZANT: Bill, Monday night, I was at an inner-city school in San Diego at a graduation. It was a graduation of parents who had gone through a Parent Institute that was not run by the school. We opened the school, the principal and some of the teachers came, but a community-based organization that runs the Parent Institute, went out and recruited the parents, got them to come six weeks in a row, one night a week and then, we had a graduation ceremony. And this has happened at a number of schools in San Diego and guess who attends the graduation ceremony? And including the principal, I try to go, the President of San Diego State University goes and he gets up and he tells those parents that, “If you keep supporting your kids through school and they do a decent job all the way through high school and finish, they will be able to go to San Diego State University. The Deputy Mayor came. There were only about 80 or 90 people there at school after school, but it’s a community-based organization that hires

BILL MOYERS: They really brought the community to the kids.

THOMAS PAYZANT: Exactly. They wouldn’t come just if the principal and teachers did, but with the community-based people going out and recruiting, they came in-parenting skills, provide a support system for your child, make the connection between home and school and then, I say we’ve got to do our part and reach out and not put our hand out and say, “Don’t come bother us, we’ve got all the answers.” Come in and share.

JOHN LINCOLN: And that’s a real notion-it’s a real notion that has to be understood and I think everybody on this panel agrees with that, that there are no particular Messiahs. And we keep that one’s going to come popping over the hill again about how we do something about education in this country. Each parent, each person out there -and particularly that situation -is a Messiah themselves. You just have to recognize that they have the capacity and empower them to do that.

DELIA POMPA: John makes a wonderful point. Not one of us here can tell you, “Bill, if you would just institute this program, you’re going to fix all those problems.” Not one of us has the answer. The answer lies in each community and if you look at programs that are successful, what you find that runs through all of this is that a community has been empowered to decide what it wants and has been empowered with the tools it needs to make the changes. And one of us went in and said, “This is your answer. Just do this and you’ll be fixed.

TERRY DOZIER (1985 National Teacher of the Year): A common thread through all of these stories was the breakdown of the family and if I could make just one criticism of the program, it’s that it focused on poor children. This breakdown we see across the board -I teach in a very affluent suburban school and we have at risk children there -so when we talk about ownership of this problem, we all own the problem. And sometimes, I think the community at large is not aware of this, but we have children from the most affluent families who are neglected, who are left on their own and-

BILL MOYERS: So what do you do about that, Terry?

TERRY DOZIER: Well, I think the answer is, as everybody has alluded to, we have to start at the very beginning and the thing that’s jumped out at me, in watching this was, of course, parenting skills and parents today, in America, unfortunately have abdicated their responsibilities. For poor parents, the reasons may be practical because they cannot be there. They’re trying to make ends meet. For our affluent parents, it’s because they’re more concerned with their individual happiness and fulfillment. But I think parenting is one of the keys issues that we have to address.

BILL MOYERS: May I ask you a question? Because I know something of your background-a difficult background, a multinational background. You had some luck, but you had to make it on your own. You’ve become Teacher of the Year in South Carolina. What helped you the most? How did you make it?

TERRY DOZIER: My parents. My biological parents-I had a very rough beginning as an orphan -half-Vietnamese and half German -but I was adopted by American parents who supported me, who emphasized the importance of education, who encouraged me throughout my life to try, even if it meant that I might fail, but that the trying was the most important aspect of anything.

BILL MOYERS: Did anybody teach them parenting?

TERRY DOZIER: No, except they had good models, you know. In other words, their parents were good models. Parents are the first teachers.

BILL MOYERS: What happens when there are no parents around?

TERRY DOZIER: Then, I think, that’s where we are going to have to work with parents, as some programs have done and then, of course, the community has to try to assume that role as best we can. Obviously, teachers are having to deal with this on a day-in and day-out basis and teachers are overwhelmed. They have not received the training to deal with these things. When you have a student come to you, as I did a few years ago, and tell you, “I was raped,” I wasn’t trained for that. I didn’t know how to react. That’s certainly not part of my traditional-or anybody’s traditional training to become a teacher. I didn’t have to take a counseling course and yet, teachers are increasingly having to become counselors.

BILL MOYERS: What kind of resources do teachers need to do that sort of thing?

TERRY DOZIER: Well, to begin with, of course, I think we’re going to have to look at totally restructuring teacher preparation and then working with teachers already in the field, in the profession-

BILL MOYERS: Reading, writing, arithmetic, that’s not enough?

TERRY DOZIER: Oh, no. I’m not talking about the basic skills. I’m talking about these coping skills that teachers are having to deal with.

BRENDA WENTWORTH: Well, Bill, that’s a very good point that Terry makes because the basic skills we call “the three R’s” don’t work in this world anymore. There are too many children being raised by children, children who have been abused and violated in many ways and we don’t have even basic communications skills in our grammar schools. Where do we start? Let’s teach kids how to interact in non-violent ways. Let’s teach kids how to disagree with one another in a loving way. How can you be angry without punching somebody? You know, let’s teach teachers to teach about compassionate communication. Make that one of the “three R’s.” Make that a basic education.

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM: I’m going to punch here just for a second.

BRENDA WENTWORTH: Not me, please.

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM: No, no, not you, but the-it’s important to educate-it’s important to develop children and it’s important that we start early enough so we’re not dealing with these macabre afflictions we just saw. But isn’t it also important -and I’m really addressing the businessman on this panel, the one of you, and maybe the politician -isn’t it important that we look to see what the skill needs are going to be of a productive society coming down the road? And isn’t it sad to see that the best efforts there are 50,000 miles short of what we’re going to need? And we pat ourselves on the back that a youngster now has some self-assurance, had some idea of going on to college to be a lawyer, but we know that in 10 years, 15 years from now, 85% of the new jobs in America are going to minorities and females. We know that now, it’s the demography. You alluded to it Mr. Payzant. We also know that we’re dealing with a highly technical society where the American president of Siemens Corporation several weeks ago told me, “I’m not going to train any Americans. I’m going to train Japanese and Germans because the American system is so far beneath the skill levels -in science and math, communication skills, computer capabilities -where we have to be, that they’re going to be selling hot dogs.”

BILL MOYERS: What about that, John Clendenin? Chief Executive Officer of BellSouth, a member of a group of 250 leading businessmen who recently issued a report, The Unfinished Agenda, that’s about as radical in language -calling for change in education – I’ve ever read. What about what Father Bill asked?

JOHN CLENDENIN, Chair and CEO of BellSouth: Well, I think he raises a terribly critical question and I think that all of the comments that I’ve heard thus far and the comments on the film link together in a revelation. Let me take you back. Let me take you back a quarter of a century. And Father, a quarter of a century ago, when we first started to recognize a skill shortage that you describe coming in America and recognized that it was going to impact America’s competitiveness and in a world that is becoming more competitive and more technological by the moment, that-began to scare us. We looked at education in a very narrow sense. We thought we needed to solve education problems like math and science skill shortages by only dealing with curriculum and only dealing with subject matter and it was a very narrow view of the total scheme of educational problems. And what has happened over the years is we’ve gotten a lot smarter, Bill.

I think businessmen have gotten smarter as they have tried to work on this horrible problem, as they’ve tried to commit their resources to solving it, many times having to set up remedial courses after they hire somebody to solve it. They began to realize that you can’t solve this problem without looking at society in a larger context and The Unfinished Agenda that you referred to is the latest in a series of reports that the Committee for Economic Development has produced which starts to expand our point of view about what it really takes to solve this problem. And it says that setting the agenda is important and setting the goals -as the governors and the President have gotten together and done -is important, but only if we look at the problem in a total context of society. If a kid comes to school hungry, he’s not or she’s not going to study very well. If a kid is scared to come to school because crime in the streets is rampant, they [sic] aren’t really going to attune themselves to the curriculum. If a pregnant teenager is embarrassed to come to school and has no alternative school situation, that’s an instant drop-out. We’re already dropping out -you say 25%, I’ll bet you it’s 35% -and it’s getting worse.

BILL MOYERS: John, how do we deal with this, though, if, as Father Bill said, many American corporations are now more responsive to global competition than they are to national interests?

JOHN CLENDENIN: Well, I think many American corporations are responsive to global competition, but that has also made them feel a sense of urgency about this problem. We can’t compete effectively on a world-wide basis unless we solve America’s skill problems and they tie back to this entire situation.

BILL MOYERS: If Annette came to you and asked for a job at BellSouth, then you hired her-well, first, would you hire her right out of high school?

JOHN CLENDENIN: She probably couldn’t qualify for the jobs that we have today


JOHN CLENDENIN: -because her skills are not up to par. I’ll give you startling fact. We are in a situation where only about one out of 10 high school graduates qualify [sic] on the basis of the examinations that we give for entry-level jobs, one out of 10 and these are kids with high school diplomas.

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM: These are the successful kids.

JOHN CLENDENIN: These are the successful kids. These are kids who have a diploma that really, in many cases, doesn’t give them the qualifications necessary for the kind of jobs that we have.

BILL MOYERS: Would you train Annette?

JOHN CLENDENIN: We do a lot of remedial training and

BILL MOYERS: -at the high school level? I mean, could you take a Michelle Castillo for example. She was obviously a bright young woman trying to get that GED, getting a job at $4.75, having to support herself. Would you train her?

JOHN CLENDENIN: There are some jobs that we could train her for, yes.


JOHN CLENDENIN: Clerical positions, probably would be the place that she could-

BILL MOYERS: Pay? Could she support herself sufficiently?


VERNON SYKES (Ohio State Representative): We’ve got to go beyond training.

BILL MOYERS: The politician finally speaks up.

JOHN LINCOLN: [?] We’ve waited for this a long time.

VERNON SYKES: We spend a lot of money on education. As you know, it’s a function, basically, of state government. In every state in this nation, education is the largest portion, meaning the majority of the dollars that we spend in state government goes to education. In the State of Ohio alone, out of a $27-billion budget, $14 billion of it is in education.

BILL MOYERS: I think we spend more per capita than almost-than any other nation except Switzerland, if I remember correctly.

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM: And get a lousier product.

VERNON SYKES: And we’ve got to stop thinking in terms of special kinds of programs. After the school system fails, we have to commit ourselves to special kinds of programs. We’ve got to do something with the existing dollars and resources and time commitments that we already have in our school systems.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean? What do we do?

VERNON SYKES: Across this nation right now, there’s changes taking place in the educational arena. In the State of Kentucky, they just recently threw out the whole educational plan. The law itself was found to be unconstitutional. What we’ve got to do is work hard while we have this catalyst, while we see that there’s going to be a need for us to be more competitive around the world. We’ve got to start getting input from all segments of the community so that we can put together the proper type of policies to lead our children in the educational arena.

BILL MOYERS: Vernon, where do you feel the most pressure? From the community of citizens that says, “We’ve got to cut taxes,” -of which all of us, sooner or later, are one of those -or the community of citizens who say, “We’ve got to spend more money to turn our schools into perpetual institutions of training, education, amelioration, healing”? Where do you feel the pressure?

VERNON SYKES: From special interest groups that do more in promoting mediocrity than they do in promoting education opportunities; from teacher organizations, associations, unions that promote the interests of teachers and not the interests of students; from efforts from industry to say that we need to test and not teach. We need to start at early, early ages, using some of the models, some of the models like Head Start where we find that, in a Head Start Program, parent involvement is key.

BILL MOYERS: Well, we now know that stuff works. We just aren’t able to get it to-

JOHN CLENDENIN: But, Bill, you know-you know, it’s crazy. We do know Head Start works. We know Chapter One works.

BILL MOYERS: Chapter One is?

JOHN CLENDENIN: Another early childhood program. Ask yourself how much-after two decades, how much we fund Head Start. We fund it to the tune of serving less than a quarter of the kids that need it, after two decades and with everybody agreeing that it works. Now, you know, we’ve got to step up to, it seems to me, putting emphasis on programs that work and tearing down

BILL MOYERS: But tell the politician.

JOHN CLENDENIN: I am and he knows it. He knows that

BILL MOYERS: Tell him if you think there’s a political climate out there for that.

JOHN CLENDENIN: -putting emphasis on programs that work and maybe-and stopping programs that don’t have as good a success record. We recently submitted some testimony for WIC to provide the early-

JOYCELYN ELDERS: Women, infants and children.

JOHN CLENDENIN: -women’s and infants’ and children’s early care-prenatal care, early health care. It’s another program that works, but we haven’t really funded it to the tune of making it available to anywhere near the kids that need it. Now, we know some programs work. We know others don’t work. We’ve got to have the courage, as a nation, to back off of some of the programs that don’t work and put emphasis on’ those that do and I think that’s exactly what he’s saying.

JOHN LINCOLN: Can we be more specific?

VERNON SYKES: I mean, that’s what happened in minority intervention programs since the Civil Rights Act. Year after year after year, for the last 20 years, money has been thrown at programs that have flash, that look good and still, our kids -black, brown, Native American -are not achieving the kinds of things they ought to be in terms of their place in society.

BILL MOYERS: Why is that?

JOHN LINCOLN: Well, Vernon’s point is well taken. The most innovative, flashiest program -that cannot be replicated, that these people surrounding us cannot buy into and cannot do themselves _ isn’t worth it. You have to have a program that is going to hit systemically across the board. It doesn’t matter that North Side high school has a program that is wonderful. If that program isn’t going to happen for the entire school system and Tom Payzant knows this, it’s not a program-

BILL MOYERS: You mean, you have to make it available to middle class kids as well as-

JOHN LINCOLN: It has to be doable for everybody, doable for everybody. It has to be economically doable, too. You can’t just have a flashy program out here that works for five kids when we’ve got 50,000 kids that need to be served by a program.

BRENDA WENTWORTH: But, you know-

JOYCELYN ELDERS: The point is, if we look at early childhood education, we know the middle class -everybody that makes $25,000 and above -their children have early childhood education. It’s the ones who make less than that whose children, only 20% of them have early childhood education. So the poor children start to school three years behind, they stay behind and they keep getting further behind and then, we bring in some repeat classes and these other remedial programs, rather than investing in the beginning. The children that are in prison are the same ones we won’t spend $3,000 for early childhood education and we spend $20,000 to warehouse them in a prison system. And we know what to do, we know how to do it and why we don’t make the commitment

BILL MOYERS: Well, what’s the answer?

BRENDA WENTWORTH: And then, when we do sit down to address the issue, we talk about commodity. It’s interesting, you know. It’s like we’re talking dollars and cents here. “OK, what’s going to make this country competitive,” you know. And what is the message to the kids? “If you’re good enough, if you’re competitive enough, then we’ll put money into you.” What about human value? What about human dignity? What about teaching folks? We live in a capitalist society. There are going to be haves and have-nots. We need to lessen the gap. We need to change some of our values, so that’s one of the issues that we need to address as a people. We need to address that issue instead of just saying how we’re going to make ourselves competitive.

BILL MOYERS: Vernon, were you poor?


BILL MOYERS: I mean, poor or poor? What helped you? You are now a successful politician in Ohio. How did you do it?

VERNON SYKES: Well, basically, the anti-poverty program.

BILL MOYERS: Which one?

VERNON SYKES: The Great Society, the Community Action Program-

BILL MOYERS: What, did you get a job or-

VERNON SYKES: Through Upward Bound, the Upward Bound Program, where they assisted me in college in the summer, to be able to attend a college campus, mentoring and tutoring programs to assist me, to encourage me, to help give me some additional financial assistance, to help me fill out applications, to encourage me, to tell me I can make it, I can do it, to help me when I fell down, to assist me in every possible way.

BILL MOYERS: So you could have been one of these kids in this film?

VERNON SYKES: I was one of those kids.

BILL MOYERS: So what do you draw from that? What’s the lesson, personally, you apply politically?

VERNON SYKES: Well, that’s why I think it’s important for us here, in a forum like this, speaking to this nation, to say it’s time for us to stop reacting and just start doing something proactive about the problem. The problem is systemic. We have resources available to address it and we need to get about the business of doing what we think is right.

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM: I don’t think the will is there for that.

BILL MOYERS: Well, but I think that-

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM: I don’t think the good will is there and I don’t think there’s even a sense of the self-serving desire. I don’t think our economy realizes, in this country, that if we don’t do the right job, this country will be a third-rate economy and that’s number one.

BILL MOYERS: Now do you agree with him?

BRENDA WENTWORTH: No. I think the will is there and we’ve seen some of it, I mean, and it’s partially there. And Vernon, myself and fortunate, fortunate like the kids on the documentary. Too bad that’s a few kids. Vernon’s lucky, I’m lucky. I went through the Community School in Camden, Maine, similar program to some of the programs we saw in the documentary. I was from an abusive family. I grew up teenage alcoholic and ended up in college through Onward, different programs -I got lucky -but there are so few of us that get lucky, you know. And we’d be token and we say, “Well, I did it, you can do it.” Well, more people could do it if more of us said, “This is what’s important,” that people end up with human dignity, that people end up with self-respect.

BILL MOYERS: Tom Payzant?

THOMAS PAYZANT: The strategies are wrong. As long as San Diego City Schools is a collection of individual programs where there is no interconnection and each has its own turf, its own set of goals and they don’t connect or as [long as) Vernon sits in the state capital and the educators come and lobby and the health professions come and lobby and the Social Service people come and lobby and the Corrections people come and lobby-as long as that happens, we’re going to be still caught in the grips of special-interest politics that has controlled this nation for the last 25 years. So what we’ve got to start to do is to work at the grass roots to bring the various people that serve children, youth and families together with collaborative strategies to serve those kids. In San Diego, we’re starting an effort called New Beginnings. We’re taking one center-city elementary school, Hamilton -1,400 children, highest mobility in the city, heavily Hispanic, Indochinese -and five agencies. Believe it or not, it’s happening. The County of San Diego, the City of San Diego, the community college district, the Housing Commission and the city schools have come together and we’re going to open a center at that school where we will all provide the basic services that families and children need that our respective agencies provide.

BILL MOYERS: Tom, you take me back to the documentary where we talked about collaboration. [voice-over] We found, in our research -Tom and Kathy and Becca and I found in the research as we went around the country -that the people who work with these kids like this always protest that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Look at Jake In his short life, he’s spent time in three adolescent treatment centers and several detox centers with very little coordination. Shortly after we left Columbus, the school district decided that, well, legally Jake could no longer attend the Joye Howe School because his foster home was in a different school district, so he began the fall term in Bloomington, about an hour away. His behavior slipped, he got in trouble again and he ran away. [on camera] So the question is precisely on this point. How do we get better collaboration? Your report, John Clendenin, talks about a system that’s out of whack over tough, inflexible regulations, bureaucrats who say no. What do we do about this?

JOHN CLENDENIN: I think Tom hits a key point and there are some other examples of very similar situations. There’s an effort here in South Carolina that’s very aggressive, under the Cities and Schools Program. And what it is, is aimed primarily at the so-called “at-risk” kids, but it’s a coordination of the efforts of all the social service agencies in a particular community-

BILL MOYERS: Who inspired it? Who brought it together?

JOHN CLENDENIN: Oh, I can’t tell you the history of Cities and Schools, but it’s been around for about 20 years and it’s now starting to gain momentum and gain funding and has had some large foundation support to try to expand it to, I think, 25 or 30 cities in the southeast now that have this and it’s-but the key point is it’s not replicating all of these existing social service agencies, it’s trying to coordinate them so that they focus on the kids, so that the kids delivered in the schools get the benefits of all of these social service agencies. And it’s working.

BILL MOYERS: All, let me come back, George Autry, to you and let’s assume that this program, Cities and Schools, really turns out all of these kids who are now prepared for self-sufficient jobs. You deal a lot with the economy, you do a lot of training. Are they going to-you know, they’re poor because their parents don’t make enough money to live above the poverty wage. Why do we think that our economy is going to provide the kids of those parents with jobs that pay above the poverty wage? Are there going to be jobs for them?

GEORGE AUTRY: Historically, work has not been an antidote to poverty, but in the 1990’s and in the Year 2000, it will-can be the antidote to poverty-

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

GEORGE AUTRY: -but education is, increasingly, a precondition to work, which means that the jobs will be there if we educate them, but if we don’t-if we don’t, the jobs will be overseas and it’s not going to be low skills, low wages. It’s going to be “low skills, no wages,” and consigning people-

BILL MOYERS: I see. What does that mean for us?

GEORGE AUTRY: Well, it means, as-I think it was Tom who was saying earlier. What it, in effect, means is that we’re going to be depending on a labor force that is increasingly minority, immigrant, undereducated too often, for our social security benefits -yours and mine -to pay our national debt service and our national defense. Now, it doesn’t mean that we should be depressed about it. America’s human resources are not all that neglected. I mean, we’ve got the best thinkers in the world. We’ve got 20 times as many Nobel laureates as Japan does. We’ve got 18 of the 20 top universities in the world. Don’t have enough scientists and engineers, but we steal them from overseas.

JOHN CLENDENIN: But isn’t that ironic? Isn’t that ironic that we have a K through 12 system which is on the verge of collapse and yet, we still retain the reputation for having all of these marvelous universities and we still turn out a lot of the Nobel laureates and others.

GEORGE AUTRY: And we have more functionally illiterate people in the United States than does Germany, Scandinavia, Japan, Korea and Taiwan combined.


DELIA POMPA: The irony is not quite an irony. It’s a real situation. We’re creating two classes of people here, an elite class that goes to the university and wins the Nobel Prizes, and the great masses who are in the schools and don’t come out with proper education and the good job skills.

TERRY DOZIER: One of my concerns with this program is that too much is being focused on education being there to train students for jobs. That’s not the function of education. We are to train people to be literate individuals who can think for themselves and function. We talk about jobs being-

BILL MOYERS: Well, we’re not doing that, either, are we?

TERRY DOZIER: Well, no, we’re not, but if we continue to focus on these Band-Aid approaches where we are just trying to make sure we can train them on how to interview for a job and so forth, then we’re losing the big picture.

BILL MOYERS: All right. I don’t want a Band-Aid from you, Terry Dozier. I want a prescription. What is it? You’re a teacher.

DELIA POMPA: Our system needs major surgery.

BILL MOYERS: Not a prescription?

DELIA POMPA: Not a prescription. We need major surgery and we’re going to have to use–

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM: If we’re really serious about education, like we all claim around this table, this country is getting to be, can anybody on this panel tell us why we’re the only industrial country in the world that continues an agricultural calendar, with less than 2% of our country farmers, that we continue to run a calendar thatís agriculture? I disagree the country’s awake. I disagree that they care. I think we got a nine-month calendar for our kids because, with Japan having 240 days to educate youngsters and we with 180 days, less teacher days off, we can’t possibly catch up. We know what happens to the minority youngsters during the summer. We know that now. We know they lose twice as much as other kids and we haven’t done a thing about it because we don’t care.

GEORGE AUTRY: Father, I’ll tell you who is awake, though, who is waking up. The business community is waking up because the bottom line is in danger. Now, they will hold the gun and the politicians-

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM: They woke up the car factories, didn’t they? They woke up fast, didn’t they? –

GEORGE AUTRY: If they will hold the gun on the–

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM: I am telling you, George, they aren’t going to wake up. They aren’t going to wake up until we all come to the mat and insist that we have full-time education for our youngsters, that we start with goals that our kids can be the beet, not what we saw on these screens, not accommodations, not a job out there, but the finest engineer, the finest scientist, the finest technician that the world can create and that’s what our schools have to produce and that’s why we have to educate before we train.

GEORGE AUTRY: And the business community is going to have to hold the gun on the politicians, on the educators, on the bureaucrats and on the non-profit organizations to see that we do that.

THOMAS PAYZANT: Don’t put them under, George.

BILL MOYERS: But we are doing a documentary-we’re doing a documentary right now, showing how many major American corporations are shifting their jobs first from Milwaukee, then to St. Louis and now down across the border in Tijuana. So I ask George, what makes you think that we’re going to make the changes that Father Bill is-

DELIA POMPA: But let’s look at the big issues.

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM: No, I’ll tell you. I know what those industries are going to do. They’re going to hire foreign students and bring them over here to work in jobs and our black youngsters and our Hispanic youngsters and our poor white kids are going to be on welfare. That’s what going to happen.

BILL MOYERS: Delia, you’ve been trying to get a word in.

DELIA POMPA: I’ve been trying to get in because I’m hearing the sound bites that I’ve heard for a long time as an educator. It doesn’t matter that we have a nine-month school year if we’re not doing anything in those nine months. We’re looking at the artifacts of education. It doesn’t matter that we’re not running schools like a business. Schools aren’t a business. If I were asked, as an educator, what could business do? I’d say, “Put a corporate tax on yourself to fund programs for children.” There are all kinds of other changes.

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM: Are you sure that we’re that happen with educators that we want to do that?

DELIA POMPA: I’m very happy with what educators can do, given the-

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM: I’m very unhappy with it, so we’ve got a discussion here.

DELIA POMPA: -given the resources that they’ve had. I have to take issue with what’s been said earlier. We have not been throwing millions of dollars at education. We rank 12th behind other industrialized countries in what we spend, the proportion of our Gross National Product, on education. If we-

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM: I dispute that figure.

DELIA POMPA: Well, then, I think you need to visit some of the courts where several states have won suits against the state for underfunding public education.

Fr. CUNNINGHAM: I think it’s well known that the United States spends more money on education than any other country in the world.

DELIA POMPA: Well, I can get you figures from the Congressional Budget Office that will dispute that.

BILL MOYERS: Delia, what-

DELIA POMPA: What I’m saying is we need to look at some systemic changes. I think we’ve been talking about projects and programs, changing the school year, lengthening it. Well, that might do something, but that’s not the answer. We have to look at systemic change. We have to look at-


DELIA POMPA: -such as supporting families before they get to school. We talk-and I got very concerned earlier when we all started jumping on the bandwagon of parent education. Parent education is good, but we cannot blame it all on the parents. All of this is not because parents don’t know how to parent. Families do not have the support they need to be good parents and we start there. We start by providing families the support they need

BILL MOYERS: What kind of support?

DELIA POMPA: -support, proper jobs, good child care, housing, health care. Those are some of the basics. Children in our schools are part of a larger structure. They’re part of a family. We have not been supporting our families well, so how can we then ask education to step in and be the best in the world when we don’t have the best in the world health care system, we don’t have best in the world child care system, we don’t have the best in the world unemployment system? I think we need to look at this problem as the larger problem that it is, not as a black-and-white issue of “What’s wrong with our schools? What’s wrong with what we’re doing for kids?” What’s wrong is a number of different problems and we need to look at it, as was stated early on in the beginning, as a multiplicity of problems.

BRENDA WENTWORTH: That’s right. And what are our priorities? It comes back again to what are our priorities? Dollars and cents? OK, then you’re going to approach it [in] a real different way than if our priorities are our kids. What about the kids? What about the kids? That’s what we’re here to talking about.

JOYCELYN ELDERS: OK., we’ve talked about, you know, like our education system. Well, we can say the same thing for our health care system. We do spend more than anybody else on health care. We spend 12% of our Gross National Product, $660 billion. We have we can deliver-we can deliver the best tertiary care in the world, but we spend 90% of our health care dollars on the last month of life, so we aren’t paying for health. We’re paying for very expensive dying. We spend less than 1% –


JOYCELYN ELDERS: -on prevention.

BILL MOYERS: We’re going to be out of time very soon. I’d like to hear, given everything that’s been said, what some of you have to say you would say to your political and civic, business and community leaders, if you had their ear. “What can we do?”

GEORGE AUTRY: We got their ear tonight and I just want to add to what Delia said and by saying that, in addition to focusing on high schools and early childhood, which we’ve talked a lot about, we need to remember that figure of 25% nationally that are dropping out, that can’t be served in the high schools, 50% in some inner cities or more than that in the Appalachian coal fields and the Mississippi delta. Now, what about those kids? For those, we’re going to have to turn to community colleges. We’re going to have to turn to and make the Job Training Partnership Act work. We’re going to have to create the collaborates that will get to kids before they make the decisions to have babies and raise their horizons beyond having cars and babies -this is in early adolescence -programs that help them see that there is a world out there beyond what they know.

BILL MOYERS: It is true that the 25% dropout rate applies across the board. It is true, as you also said, that in the inner cities, 50% of the kids are likely to drop out or not make it. And we really are talking not only [about] race, but class. And what evidence do you see that prosperous America, the affluent and those in charge, those who run it are prepared to ask us or to persuade us to be as concerned about the children we don’t know -all our children, but not our own -who need money and help and support? What do any of you see that makes you think we’re going to respond to the poor, the black, the Hispanic, the Native American, those who are outside?

VERNON SYKES: Bill, you know, we are our brother’s keeper, but what we’ve got to realize is our brother is our keeper as well. We’re in a very competitive situation. I spent three weeks last year in Europe, looking at the European Community, those 12 countries over there that are uniting together. And once they get rid of some of the language barriers and communication barriers and trade barriers and one unitary monetary system, they are ready to compete. They see the United States as the key market that they’re going to compete in. And what they’re putting the emphasis on is a lot of human rights, a lot of ways that they can assist their worker [to] be a better worker in the work place, how they can better educate their children, how they can take care of day care and extend how a mother can spend more time with her child, as an employee. We’ve got to see how all of these things tie into the big picture, how we are our brother’s keeper, but by taking care of our brother, our brother’s going to be able to take care of us. And we’ve got to get out of this shallow, tunnel vision of just individualism.

THOMAS PAYZANT: And the way it’s going to happen, I think, is that we’ve got to move away from the model of politics we now practice in this country which responds to special interests and I think there are two ways to go. Idealistically, I would hope some of these issues would be bipartisan or even, idealistically, non-partisan. They’re not likely to [be). What if we tried something that worked once before? That’s always dangerous because that can seem like it’s very reactionary, but what about the true party platform -a long-range strategic plan that is the basis of a party platform for the Democrats and the Republicans -that everybody would stick to and really sell as a total program? That used to happen in our history. It would be really interesting to see if-

BILL MOYERS: Well, one reason it’s happened is that there are-that the politics of Washington, D.C., as you know, has become a bazaar where policies and programs are sold to the highest bidder, 80 no matter how the voters feel, the mercenary culture of Washington interrupts the political and democratic process.

JOHN CLENDENIN: Bill, this is not a problem that can be solved in Washington. You know, only 6% percent of all the funding for education is coming from the federal government. It is really a state and a local problem. That’s where the schools are, that’s where the education is delivered. That’s where most of these social programs are delivered. The funds are funneled through the state and local social agencies.

BILL MOYERS: And that’s where the red ink is running so deep and wide.

JOHN CLENDENIN: That’s true. Exactly. You know, I don’t think we can all look for a great solution coming from the Potomac. Every governor has committed himself to education. They’re all searching for answers. There’s no brass ring. We got to go back to what was said earlier. There’s no panacea answer out here. It’s going to be gaining ground by inches and churning up a lot of dust. We do a lot of ground to regain in this country.


JOHN CLENDENIN: If-I think one thing I would disagree with the Father on. I’m not pessimistic because I have seen, in the last 10 years, an unbelievable change in the sense of urgency in this country. We now, at least, have admitted we got a problem and 10 years ago, we didn’t admit that. [crosstalk]

BILL MOYERS: Unfortunately, on that note, we have to bring this discussion to a close because we are out of time. Before we go, I want to bring you up to date on the lives of the young people you met earlier in our program in the film, lives that are-well, they’re works in progress and they’ll change again and again and again. So this is not the end of the story, it’s just an update. [voice-over] Jeremy wound up spending four months in the Indiana State Boys School, but I’m glad to say he’s now back at Joye Howe. Last month, Dessa dropped out of Joye Howe and got married. Jake has moved again. He’s now in his sixth foster home and back at Joye Howe. Michelle Castillo recently lost her job at the men’s clothing store and is looking for another. Annette married her baby’s father. They are both seniors. Marsha is studying hotel management at a local junior college. She expects to run a hotel one day and I’ll bet on her. She needs a scholarship, if anybody out there in the hotel business is paying attention. Dennis is at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He lost a race for class president last fall, but he hasn’t lost his interest in politics. Watch out, out there in the political world. [on camera] In a moment, we’ll show you an 800 number to call for some practical information, including this booklet, Let’s Do It Our Way: Working Together. Thanks to the Charles Stewart Matt Foundation without whose support we would not have had this broadcast and our other collaborators, the Lilly Foundation and General Motors, this booklet is free. From it, you’ll learn how to pick a fight that’s big enough to matter and small enough to win. We called this program “All Our Children” because they really are our children. Someone has pointed that it makes a real difference to you whether my child turns out to be a dedicated teacher or a drug pusher. Well, it makes a difference to the economy, too. Other people’s children who aren’t educated today, as George Autry; aid, aren’t going to make enough money to pay for our Social Security benefits, to pay for America’s defense or to pay off the national debt we leave them. They’re also our children morally because we adults shape the world kids grow up in. This means we’re obliged, as a matter of morality, not just to live and let live. We have to live and help live. There’s an old African proverb I learned in the Peace Corp; that says, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” All of us are the village and these are all our children. Thank you for watching. Thanks to our guests for being here and good night to all of you. I’m Bill Moyers.

This transcript was entered on March 30, 2015.

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