tv Washington Journal John Gomperts Discusses Issues Facing American Youth CSPAN April 15, 2017 8:04am-8:41am EDT
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the president and ceo of america's promise alliance is here for a conversation this morning about the social and educational
issues affecting our nation youth. thank you for being here. remind our viewers what america's promise alliance is and what its mission is. guest: if the nation's's largest network of organizations, communities and individuals devoted to improving the lives of young people. we have over 400 national organizations, 200 communities and thousands of leaders across the country. all of whom are focused on creating conditions of success for all young people in america. host: it is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year? guest: this month. c-span covered wall-to-wall the original event, the president's summit for america's future in philadelphia in 1997.
host: all living presidents. guest: and that he reagan representing her husband came to philadelphia to call the country to attention and action on behalf of young people. host: how and why was this organization founded? guest: there is a great back story. governor george romney, mitt romney's dad, who have this notion that all the presidents should come together to focus on a domestic issue and should engage all americans and helping to meet that challenge. he was sort of the grandfather of volunteering, point of light foundation and so forth, along with the first president bush. the head of the corporation for national community service and the head of points of light and said how
about we gather all the presidents together? presidents often get together around international affairs or thatpening of a library, they rarely get together around something domestic. -- with the help of others he died in enlisted others to do this. he put together the presidents and they had general colin powell who had recently retired and was extremely popular to spearhead the effort. everyone was in philadelphia in april 1997. they set out a declaration that all the presidents and mrs. reagan signed. since then, george w. bush and president obama have also signed. it puts forth five promises that the nation makes to all young people. that became our charter. that was the birth of america's promise. host: you mention c-span to cover the event. as luck would have it we have video of retired general
colin powell's remarks in the event. [video clip] >> we are coming together. we are coming together because we care. we are coming together because we are a compassionate people. we are coming together because we look out across america and see problems we can do something about. we see young people in need. young people who are wondering is there an american dream for me? can i achieve my dream? can i achieve my ambition? will people help me? . and reached down and lift me up? i wonder about that. the answer we will give them is yes, america cares. each and every one of us cares. [applause] host: that was 20 years ago. how has the issue that faces america's youth changed since then? guest: some things are better. there was a sort of paradox going on.
there are some things that are better in some things that are either not better or worse. --ngs that have happened high school graduation rates are up dramatically over the last 20 years. teen pregnancy is down. crime, all down. yet, other indicators like childhood poverty, mobility are not getting better. we are sort of making progress at the same time it feels like we need a breakthrough. host: we have a chart from a report your organization put out, a snapshot of children and youth over two decades. at the very bottom i see what we have learned. about the same proportion of children live in poverty today as lived in poverty 15 years ago. equity and party rates by race remain that black children are three times likely to be poor compared to white children. why is that such a problem? guest: the question of equity
right now is really big. let me take the high school graduation issue because it's been a big campaign of ours. campaigntarted this high school graduation rates overall for america were around 71%. but for kids of color, black kids, latino kids, native american kids, it was like 50%. in 21st century, 50% of kids are graduating from high school. you know that means in terms of getting a job today. that was totally unacceptable. in this campaign, during the course of this campaign, the graduation rates moved up. disproportionately for kids of color. latino kids, african-american kids, native americans all come up in a closer the white kids, but there is still a tremendous disparity. it has to do with where people
live, the quality of schools. fall thateport last look at how many adults are actually in certain communities. we know relationships with adults, caring adults, role models, part of what helps us all develop as human beings. in some communities there away fewer adults. those kids are already at a disadvantage, not to mention economic disadvantage and so forth. when we look at graduation rates, there are four groups that stand out. lower income, students of color, english lang which learners, and kids with special needs. all of those are places we need to focus our energy in order to make the american dream as real for those kids as it is for all kids. host: the president and ceo of america's promise alliance. we are taking calls. students and parents, (202) 748-8000. parents and educators --
educators, call (202) 748-8001. everybody else please call (202) 748-8002. you talked about the role communities have to play an adult have to play. what role is there for the federal government? guest: policy is obviously important in providing funding and ensuring fairness. but education is principally a local endeavor and a state never. -- endeavor. bringing of kids is presently a human endeavor. kids,d to think education. it is true. one goes to school more than perhaps any other institution when one is young. but education is one of the things that happens. school is one of those things that happens when you're growing up. it was your family life, your home life, your community life,
your faith life. we tend to think about it much broader range of influences on young people. that means that it is a role for all of us to play. that was part of the original point of the president's summit, yes, we are a youth advocacy organization and we believe all young people should have these basic essentials. but the second part is the civic responsibility. that is on all of us, whether you have kids or you don't have kids. it is everybody's responsibility to make the young people in all communities feel like they belong, like we believe in them, like we will do whatever it takes to help them succeed. we have high expectations for them and we will offer them high support, just as we went for our kids. host: you mentioned your organization has five promises. we have a graphic of the five promises.
how it informs your work? promises are a wonderful sweet spot of total ormon sense that any parent anybody would look at these things and say yes, of course that's what you people need to thrive. and they are research-backed. that is wonderful. high promises. . adults. all -- hearing adults. -- caring adult. it is part of how we develop. young people need safety. the second promise is safe places. 1997, thereted in was a tremendous amount concern about what happens in the after school hours. what we have learned since is when we say safe places we mean 20 47. safety in the home, school, community, online. and we need both physical and
emotional safety, psychological safety. the third promise is a healthy start. every young person should have the opportunity to be healthy and get exercise and quality food, and should have access to reliable quality health care. the fourth is an effective education. every young person should be able to have access to an education where she or he learns knowledge and skills so a person can work in the world. the fifth is the opposable from -- thumb. says you are part of this as well. you need to serve, you need to be leaders. you are co-owners of this community, of this society. we see you as valuable and you need to act on that. host: the phone lines are lighting up as i told you they would. let start with patrick from
trenton, new jersey on the all others line. good morning. caller: good morning host, good morning guest. two quick points. you are missing the boat when it comes to improving student scores. if you look back years ago when the students were segregated, schools are much higher. what you are doing is forcing the colored students, you mentioned the blacks, they are fundamentally different. they learn differently than the white students. if you look back at the records before desegregation, the test scores were much higher. graduation rates for much higher because there was not so much friction. groups of people tend to gravitate towards one another. birds of a feather flock together. i'm going to have to respectfully disagree with just about everything you said. in fact, test scores are much
higher today than they have ever been. and a lot of people did not even get tested before. i think actually the evidence suggests both white kids and kids of color are performing better and more integrated schools. there was a whole question about should communities and the federal government be working on trying to have more people go to school together. the other piece of that is that schools have various functions. one of which is dispensing learning. but there is a -- they are an essential aspect of a democratic society, and learning as well as is here in america and figuring out who those people are and how we interact is part of what happens at the school. powerful socializing. host: let's go to elaine from olympia, washington, and educator. i was in education for
the division of child support in washington state. one of the things i noticed in my career, and i was there for 23 years, is that so much of the poverty of the black community is kind of perpetuated by the teen pregnancy. havef the black population teen pregnancies out of wedlock. that perpetuates this ongoing cycle of poverty. they don't get the right education. their children don't get the right home structure. it really is concerning. can we do anything to bring them out of this cycle? i will hang up so i can hear your answer. guest: sure. things for calling. there is no question that teen pregnancy has been a big challenge. i will say a couple of things. teen pregnancy is down significantly over the past 20 years. a whole variety of reasons.
dynamic,n the racial there are more white teen pregnancies than any other race of teen pregnancies. washington state is actually just about to embark on a really interesting venture to try to really reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies. i would stay tuned for that. there has been a huge experiment in delaware trying to reduce teen pregnancy. pregnancy that teen is one of the things that really -- unplanned pregnancy and teen pregnancy are the things that stand in the way of opportunity for young people. opportunity to finish school, opportunity to pursue work. definitely a challenge but i don't think a challenge that is unique to african-americans or any other community and an area in which we are making progress. host: the lower teen birthrate
is noted in the report. rates is one of them. lower youth homicide rate, incarceration rate, smoking and alcohol abuse among teens. what is listed under bad news is higher obesity rates. those go hand-in-hand with higher poverty, is that right? guest: it is. one of the promises is a healthy start. we have certainly seen the growth of childhood obesity and diseases associated with overweight, like diabetes. when we went out and did some research a couple of years ago as part of the campaign, we asked a bunch of young people who had not graduated on time or at all what happened. just earnestly trying to understand what happened. it was very shocking to us how much health became a factor for young people. either their own health that could've been an unplanned
pregnancy, the sickness, the result of violence, mental health issues. or the health of people in their household who they felt responsible for. young people dropped out of school not because they thought it was an important, but something else felt more urgent to them. this question of health and access to health care, reliable high-quality health care is a big deal in treating the conditions for young people to succeed. host: walter from chicago, and educator. -- an educator. caller: can you hear me? first-time caller. ivan washing -- i have been watching your show. i love the guest you have in your program. it is great. what i want to say is ivan teaching construction for over 30 years to young people in my community, which is in chicago.
you can get no support. i'm trying to figure it out how an organization like yourself supports people like myself and trying to do good in the community. where do we go to try to advance this? all these branches of your organization, but they are not coming into communities like ours where we know about it. this is the first some effort of your organization and you have been around this long. the problems we've had in this country are because we have so many people from somebody different cultures. we seem like we don't want to include into the fabric of america. they are part of america now. we have to include them. we have to take care of their thoughts and their passions to make this work. you cannot exclude people from a
situation. it is impossible to do that and not have a problem. we do not need to go to war ever. we should learn from that. every president once of being a lame duck or like bush. what about the first thing he said? connecting the good work you do to people in the field working with young people. guest: i think walter makes a good point, and thank you for what you are doing in inglewood. we know it's a harvard community and there are a lot of -- hard-hit community and people are working to make conditions better for young people in the community. i have to say you should go to our website. rg.ommittokids.o reasonsay part of the the presidents came together in philadelphia 20 years ago and
part of the continuing reason is there are all kinds of good things going on for young people in the country. but they feel disconnected. they are little islands of brilliance, but they are not connected. part of the purpose of america's promise, which we still have work to do on, is try to connect those things so that the brilliant ideas working in one community can spread to other communities. people can learn from each other it also feel a sense of optimism. these problems are not indestructible. one of the things that frustrate people is the negative narrative. schools are not good, all these kids are not doing well. but there is a sort of feeling like that is just the way it is. that is one of the powers to show in a dozen years we are able to help increase graduation rates from 71% to 83.2%, the
highest ever. meaning that over seven years nearly 7 million more young people graduated with the class. that shows you can actually make progress. that gives us optimism in order to continue to fuel the work. you have to believe it will help and i think it's a powerful indicator it does. host: virginia from richmond, virginia. she is apparent. good -- she is a parent. caller: i heard you mention equity in the conversation. what is your organization doing to educate teachers about equity equality? a lot of times people dispersed information amongst children equally, but they are not practicing equity. the expectation of children of color is much lower than the tradition of children the whites. i want to know what is your organization doing to educate
the educators about their own prejudice when it comes to equity? thank you. i will take my answer off the air. guest: thank you. that's a good question. i think this question of equity it's had raising all over the place. for the last 20 years we've had this active school reform movement that increase graduation rates, increased standards, better teachers and so forth. still we see results that are not equal. we identify things like disciplinary practices, were more kids a color get suspended or sent to the principal and so forth. i think people are beginning to hone in on this question of equity and concerned about everybody being treated equally. i love what he said about high expectations. i think people are increasingly realizing there may be some
implicit bias in making that mantra is for every kid you should have a high expectation and high support. you should not believe every kid comes to school in exactly the same position. different home life, different experiences before school, different pressures. and so teachers need to be prepared for that. they need to be equipped and also need to have the time to deal with those challenges. they need to be prepared. they need more knowledge. and they need time to deal with those challenges. host: we have robert, tuscaloosa, alabama. and educator. caller: i'm retired. i have been watching c-span since its inception. let me just say this. the categories that cinnamon
mentioned, i am from two of those. poor, but not destitute. and a person of color, african-american. there are two great divides and the opportunity of people of color in european descendents. here is what the europeans need to understand. those that have more than the people of color. they will have to leave their children back with the children of color. the children of color will be adults monday. it's better to be competitive than adversaries. those without will be adversaries to those who are competitive. we are not going anyplace in this country, so you need to --e sure you are prepar preparing the children of color and you teach the white children so they don't do want to go to war in this country. i don't say i'm an american. i'm a citizen of the united states of america. i'm not a citizen of canada or
south america, but of the united states. hesident barack obama, always said god bless these united states of america. that's just a part of my teaching. i am a citizen of these united states of america. have a great day. i continued to listen to c-span as long as i live. host: thank you for your call, robert. is generaloss powell's wife. he turned 80. he's from birmingham, alabama. it is great to hear your voice and hear your comments. i think the disparities that continue to exist in the world of education among lower income kids and young people of color are really troubling.
it's where a lot of our focus is. and i would also say getting better. there was a hopeful note in there. one of the things i think people have realized over the past 20 years, one of the things that is different than 20 years ago is there have been so much brain science research on how people learn and grow. thatn't just the fact economic hardship gets in the way of kids. that has a lot to do with adversity. it has to do with stress. sometimes it has to do with trauma. if you look at what are called adverse childhood experiences or adverse life experiences, death of a parent, health challenges, housing insecurity, lack of access to quality food, those things happen in much greater
number two people who don't have -- to people who don't have economic resources. they tend to be buffered by relationships. but if the people you are in a relationship with our also suffering stress, you begin to understand what some of this multigenerational poverty is really about and it's hauling kids back. when we understand that, and as the previous caller suggested, equip educators, teachers and school personnel to understand what might be going on with that young person, that i think we can free that young person to unleash their ability and native desire to learn. but as long as you're wondering where you are going to sleep tonight or if you're going to eat or if you're going to be a will to clean your clothes, you are distracted and on the edge. you are on alert in the way we are when we are stressed out.
that in little kids really stands in the way of learning. why low think a reason notme communities are finishing school as well as others. host: apparent from the standpoint -- perth amboy, new jersey. caller: for people don't always have to be poor. the statistics gathered up the sanctuary cities where the cities have a natural traded by illegal immigrants, they are making it harder for our children to learn. that is where it lags. teachers have to be social workers and set of teachers. all these different principles. -- none of these people are in the poor communities speaking in these communities. what happens is the caucasian
communities are not infiltrated by illegal immigrants. 7 -- if everyone is concerned about four people, what are our immunities economically strapped inheriting so expensive? we have no resources. everybody else is to utilize the resources except black people who are statistically analyzed. the real people is not drawn and don't what's going on in the spy communities. thaton uss those things why don't uss those things -- why don't you assess those things? lack of education, lack of resources in those communities. there are no afterschool outreach. every school should have a boys and girls -- an outfit and all of these poor communities. talk and nois
action. guest: host: she thinks it's caused by illegal immigration. there are multiple kinds of resources. one resource is money. think weersonally should be devoting more resources the young people, but that is probably know what's going to happen in the next little while. then there are questions of how we spend the resources that are allocated. and are there other types of resources. on how we spend resources that are allocated, we really need to focus on the young people who are struggling to get ahead and understand why they are struggling. and meet the challenges.
there is a lot going on in the lives of those children that is standing in the way of them doing well in school so let's deal with what's standing in the way. what other kind of resources are available. that is part of the americas promise mantra. there is all of us. there are businesses in communities. there are organizations and churches and communities. give all the institutions of our society -- if all the intitutions in our society, ways small and large say what is the priority to create the conditions in which everyone has a real opportunity to thrive. people are not born with the odds against them. we are for all kids. we send a message to all young people that we are here for you. you belong here. we have got your back. we will hold you accountable. it's not a free ride. you have to do your best. bet is really important.
-- that is really important. let's look to the business community, to government, to each other, the boys and girls club's and other community institutions, and let's surround those kids with the kind of support and believe they need in order to thrive. host: here is a big summit in new york. it was going to be there? guest: whole range of people from all the groups i just mentioned. from business and politics, from philanthropy, from community organizations. bill clinton, who was the president while we have the original summit is coming back happenedbout what's over 20 years and what needs to happen for the 20 years going forward. it is called the recommit the kids summit. #recommittokids. recommittoki
ds.org, watch the entire thing. i don't think c-span is going to cover it is time, that you can stream it live at three committ -- recommittokids.org. it's an opportunity to reflect and make plans for what needs to happen to me to challenges and frustration the various callers have mentioned. thank you for mentioning that and thank you for having me today. alliancerica's promise president and ceo. thank you so much. of next, american enterprise institute resident scholar and addiction scientist sally patel will be here to talk about the efforts to battle the opioid crisis. later, smithsonian magazine correspondent jonathan hammer discusses his piece that highlights the challenges facing refugees. stay with us. ♪
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