tv [untitled] CSPAN June 13, 2009 10:00pm-10:30pm EDT
they wanted it to matter so i am sure they didn't think was the bottom of the barrel, the father was pretty big stuff. >> host: do understand we are talking about a real campaign. this is not a school project although you were constantly asked was a real campaign, were you not? >> guest: sure, we had to defend that quite a lot, yes. >> host: tell me for real, tierney, yes, your students dared you and you took them up and felt guilty when you told them they could do everything and you were not doing what they asked you if you would do but did it really awaken something in you that may have been dormant all the time? >> guest: mabey. you know, i felt my parents were politically active and very outspoken about their politics in our home, and taught us to have a conscience and to be involved and certainly to vote and to be participatory citizens, and you know, i thought what a great opportunity
to be a public servant. i already felt i was a public servant as a teacher -- and i felt i was taking it on to the next level of serving my community and i felt that as i was out campaigning and meeting my constituents and people in the communities that i visited that i really felt for and wanted to help. >> host: well, it turns out that you didn't start out to be a teacher. i was very interested to read about your early life. you're the daughter of an engineer and a father who didn't try to keep you from professions like his baton you how to do years and to work on cars and be an athlete and to woodworking, the kind of things guys do. it seems your father perhaps at times your mother had done feminist work on you. it described how you came to be a teacher rather than something you had also weighed with being
a civil rights lawyer. >> guest: yes. i was dead set on being a civil rights lawyer. i had taken a class at the university of the mx kuhl african-american history and was african american history one and i was so addicted because i love history, law of political science and i remember challenging my professor, dr. cortes' williams and saying every history book i ever read lied to me or you're not telling the truth and i can't believe i've ever to become ever heard this before. he giggled and said to pore little girl where did you grow up? >> host: where did you grow up? >> guest: we noted that the and sacramento california. i was in primarily caucasian upper-middle-class and black history to me was martin luther king and rosa parks. >> host: that was the beginning and the end. >> guest: that was pretty much it and i had found a new frontier in african-american history and was very excited about it and took every class i could and got a minor and
african-american history -- >> host: and that leads to civil rights law? >> guest: yes. i was interested in pursuing a degree in civil rights law, and went back to that mentor of mine, dr. williams and told him as of this graduating getting ready to take the test and preparing to go to law school and choose a school and he said why are you doing this? why do you want to be a civil rights lawyer and i told him about discrimination and what bothers me deeply and i wanted to go out and make that my life's work and he said okay well obviously you don't care about money because you are never going to make any money, you know this, right? i said that isn't my motivation. i want to get back and do something important for my country, and he was the one that said why don't you think about teaching, you know, nothing wrong with being a lawyer but there is a lot of them and you know, goodness knows there's some real lawyers out there that start making it and know when you you will end up taking on lots of pro bono cases and they
will get appealed and really you are being reacted to the situation instead of proactive. if you want to be proactive dealing with intolerance and prejudice why don't you think of being a teacher and how many kids you can impact. host koza you are going to impact people's lives one way or another. watch out for miss cahill. don't think that you know her because what she said. he says think about being a teacher. and you, who were raised postfeminist let's call it. i was raised in the feminist generation, so you could be whatever you wanted and civil rights law occurs to you instead he says be a teacher. so, you decide to be a teacher. it looks closer to the law in the first place and of like to say a word about the good advice from your professor as i continue to be a law professor at georgetown university law school where i taught full-time.
i've never been in the habit to people you really ought to go into law just because i am an law. indeed my favorite joke is we have been over a lawyer since thomas jefferson and do need teachers, like the kind you turned out to be and we are going to get into the kind of teacher you turned out to be. but first let me explore a little bit more about this campaign. >> guest: you bet. >> host: why this intrigued by the mystery judge. >> guest: yes. >> host: i have always felt judges can hardly purge themselves entirely of their political instincts. the politics is in their soul. i wish you would talk about this advice from the mystery judge who found you and apparently is the only real adviser than your students that you ever had. >> guest: right. well i don't know that i should use his name. >> host: i'm not asking you to use his name, we want him to keep his job. >> guest: judges are largely
effected in many seats as they are political animals, and he had been involved deeply if the democratic party. of course had to step away once he became a judge, but i know he kept his eye on it. his wife was a middle school teachers of course he had heard about me and he wanted to meet with me to see how serious i was. he said he needed to look willing to take on what it was going to, you know, and so he was trotting to kind of you know, the shore me up and see what i was made that i suppose but he plus a great guy. we met sort of in cockney know. i remember thinking this is odd, he had had an dream coat and sat next to me in this little diner that is known as jim kelly's nugget, the back of the casino they have to fight barstools where they sell these crazy
warble hamburgers, i say awful but they are called awful all of hamburgers and they are so good. i felt i was meeting with a cia agent and i just need to know what you've done, who you talk to, what things you done to prepare for this and of course i was a huge meal fight. i had a little knowledge about how the inner workings of the party worked for the process itself and i was learning on the go. so he finally, i think that he was a little discouraged i didn't know as much as he fought but he sent me in the direction to meet people that could help me which was very beneficial to me. he told me to meet with our attorney general, frankie paabo who was a great female role model in a worse state and another of other connected people within the party that could possibly help me and connect me with fund-raising and and being out events and those kind things.
>> host: we will get to the party in a moment because there's interesting parts about the party. now, let's get to these kids now, these kids are really running this campaign? >> guest: yes, ma'am. i had no desire to do it and that is the condition on which i agreed to take this on. i will agree to run for office vicariously through me but you guys run this campaign and i felt this was an opportunity for real world of learning which is what we talk about all the time, making the matter to kids. have them be the stakeholders, and worked. they were 12-year-old geniuses as far as taking it off and running with it. >> host: we will get in a moment how you were able to make this work and keep to the education as well. that means the parents had agreed. they went with you to events. >> guest: yes. >> host: and you had no other
staff? >> guest: know, myself and 286th graders. >> host: 286 craters and there were actually to class is that participate? >> guest: it went over a 20 montespan so when one group now we are going to save this for the royal and, just how many votes this kids campaign garnered through their teacher. this is a real campaign we are talking about and what ever you are thinking you will find may not turn out to be the case but i would like to know how much difference did having kids manage the campaign may and i am going to ask a question about what the drawbacks may have been. now, i recall reading use it will can resist taking campaign
literature from a cade? what about your kids and how were you able to approach people? you were on known. did they say what are these kids with you for? did you have to spend time simply convincing them your campaign was serious because hear all these cute little things helping you out? >> guest: not really. i guess in a way that we certainly didn't anticipate is was a huge benefit because the press was enamor with these children, they were in love with them. they loved coming to the classroom and shooting and interviewing kids in the hallway to talk up the process and that was our goal was to stick to the process and not get into party politics. i wasn't trying to brainwash the children into becoming die-hard democrats and from a very conservative part of nevada, so i had to really be careful and very diligent about focusing on how to run for office and how that process works. and the kids were, you know, so
good and charming with the press and so articulate they became the darlings, and so in many ways people knew who we were because they would say i've seen you guys on tv or heard you on the radio and that is wonderful. we wish more normal people would run. [laughter] we didn't have to do a lot of explaining. a lot of people had already seen knous and heard about us and we were very incensed. >> host: described the district. publicly describe the district and will carry a it encompasses. >> guest: nv district ii, the seat -- when ivory and the year was 2,000 so we had to congress people and we begetting of the third -- >> host: this is because nevada is one of the fastest-growing states in the country. >> guest: that is correct but the district ii is the large and goes all the way from the oregon, idaho border above all the way down to north las vegas. >> host: how many people in
the district, about? probably more now. >> guest: at the time district one which was was shelley berkley, a great woman, metropolitan, clark county loss vegas was the largest population center so very rural and mining and ranching. host with the district you were in. >> guest: yes, the largest metropolitan if you didn't count the north las vegas area would have been reno and then -- >> host: did you have all of reno? >> guest: yes. >> host: so this is, is it fair to call this a fairly conservative district? >> guest: very conservative. yes. the 17 counties the only one that traditionally goes blue is clark county which is las vegas and the rest to the klayko command. now lashawn can go either way it depends on the candidate and i am proud to say that it went blue the last election as did the state but it has made us a
swing state for a number of election cycles. >> host: now it is now represented by the district in which you ran is now represented by a republican. >> guest: and has been for a long, long time which is dean heller. >> host: dean heller is one of my colleagues, representative. now i do want the audience to know that if you have any sense of reading for fun or if you are a teacher or you have any interest in education or children or politics or government, you don't want to miss this book. now you just heard how cute it was to have these people who were your campaigners with you and people couldn't reassessed -- resist. i was impressed by the honesty of the book and this is also when you said later on in the book when your opponent, jim gibbons at the time, who is now the governor of the state?
>> guest: yes, he is. >> host: -- was crafty enough not to attack ms. cahill and her cute little volunteers. and here is ms. cahill and frustration if i can read from you, ms. cahill. his gentle response was surely politically motivated, but while a campaign spearheaded by students made it very hard for people to attack me, it became a double-edged sword because it was also hard to get anyone to discuss the issues. i am a serious candidate, i wanted to say but it was hard to get the press and to focus on much more than how acute the campaign was, and cuteness was into going to win the race. why don't you describe that description of the race? >> guest: well, there was a little frustration as we made it through the primary which i have to say was a surprise. i never anticipated making it through the primary. there was a gentleman that we ran against that was in vegas
and i'm figuring that's the democratic mecca of the state. he will win this. >> host: just a minute, tierney, was he supported by the primary and or is this where you are not supported -- >> guest: that is correct. >> host: how much did you beat him? >> guest: honestly that morning i woke up and read the paper and i was in such shock that i had won and i later heard it was based on a technicality that he was a felon and wasn't allowed to go forward. so that was news to me. i certainly had not been told that and i was just trying to be the best candidate i could be and let the chips fall where they may and we will deal with whatever happens after august but i was certainly shocked to have won the primary and then head off in to that general i realize i am the democratic candidate and had numerous groups -- [laughter] >> host: get ready for it, mes cahill. >> guest: rebels and prepared.
i had numerous organizations asking me to speak. you are a candidate and we want you at the seabed and that was the expectation and i had to shift gears from focusing on the process a loan to being the candidate for the general election, and it was hard to get much attention be on the fact that a sixth grade class had started this campaign and was running it because certainly that was the cute factor desolate in the media and it was a benefit but it did make it hard to talk about issues like education and mental health and nuclear waste in nevada because they didn't take me that seriously so it was difficult. >> host: well, watch, ms. cahill, which you wish for because you certainly got it. i think people would be interested in your view of teaching. this is a serious teacher. she thinks about teaching for home teaching wasn't just all i will do this on till i can do something else, and i want to question you about your view of
teaching. you say in the book instead of helping build strong and effective citizens by figuring out all that they have learned to try to find out what they haven't and instead of measuring mastery, comprehension and growth all too often these tests include tricky questions that require students to select the best answers from several partially correct options. in gotcha, that's hard to me. i would much rather find out what they know and teach him to their strengths rather of and trying to figure out their weaknesses. well, ms. cahill, i have to ask in the year of no child left behind where there's a certain modicum of knowledge, every child is supposed to learn, how do you make sure that these were children answer these gotcha questions, and yet teach so that they do have comprehension and
how do you do that in a campaign and make the campaign part of already what is a difficult learning process we gather for teachers and students in the country? >> guest: well, the campaign we limited the class time that it soaked up. i mean we certainly had a number of other things and areas in the curriculum we had to get through so when it was matthau were able matthau were and we get into campaign staff to read >> host: said you did have to teach some the kids could take exams? >> guest: absolute, that would be responsible making sure they've been exposed and can master the sixth grade curriculum so they can move on to seventh grade and be where they need to be so that is completely appropriate. we used or social studies block time to have our work campaign meetings and after school and those kind of things so i was clear with the school district how i would manage time and make sure the children were getting what they needed.
you brought up no child left behind and i certainly don't own this phrase i've heard it talked about quite a bit and i wish it were called every child moves forward because i don't think testing a child at the end of the year and then saying they are reading and a fifth grade level and they are a second grader, shame on you, school, because the problem is you don't know where they came in. you don't know how much growth the have had. maybe they can in had a second grade level reading level they have grown three years and that year very specific one, measurable testing at the beginning of the year to see where the kids are coming in and at the end of the year to look for growth and that is what should matter is the growth. nevada is a very chancy and state and we have high turnover in other schools. i don't think i've ever had a school year i ended with one group of kids will sell when we
have all these children that move into the school district we picked them up and take everybody wherever you come in and we try and move you forward as best we can and one of the most important ways to do that is the root differentiated instruction and every child deserves to have their strengths talked to and learning style talk to. >> host: how does that help them pick up on their weaknesses? >> guest: certainly you know what your weaknesses are but you don't focus on them so much to where they are not realizing what it is they are good at. >> host: a kit for example is good at math but let's say terrible in spelling and anguish. >> guest: sure. >> host: so how do you teach the math strength and bring the english of? >> guest: that is the duty of differentiated instruction. differentiated instruction books at all postings and helps you teach to the child. or not teaching curriculum, you're teaching children and we need to remember that. >> host: how many are in the class?
>> guest: 28. >> host: does that become difficult with children transient sometimes? you destroyed to children from different homes. how were you able to give the required time to all these kids? >> guest: while i think good teachers find a way and if that means you stay and have lunch recess and eat with the kids that need a low extra attention, or after school i ran to during sessions to make sure they getting the extra attention they needed, and school districts are looking at that. school districts are looking at longer days, making sure kids have more instructional time so that they are getting the services they need and when we are weak in an area it needs to be addressed. you can't just focus on well, you're good at math, we will stay there. if i know you are reading and second grade reading level, we have a moral obligation to make sure we get you up to speed and a great level because we know what happens when kids cannot, you know, perform and are able to graduate from school.
and nevada has the highest in the nation, and you know, we the way the prison system determines how many prison cells the need is the look at third grade reading scores and decide my goodness, this many children are not reading at grade level and that is how many prison cells we need. >> host: it's how they plan ahead? >> guest: just knowing that i get goose bumps and i talk about that all the time the way they determine that in projections. it means we have a huge obligation to make sure children can read, write, do math and be good critical thinkers and that is what standardized testing doesn't always allow is to show a child's ability to critically think. >> host: ms. cahill, you seem to have students who can't think and pass a test, too and you are something of a workaholic which may tell something about a gifted teacher is. i think the next time i see the
president i am going to ask what he liked to read your book because a lot of what you are singing sounds a lot what president obama is singing, and i will get to this in a moment. i know that this is a union teacher. national education association who is loyal to her union, we talk about that, but you see where she is an education. her children come first without forsaking other institutions that have also been important in her life and she thinks in the life of students. it's interesting how and you seem to have had a very keen gifted sense how to teach a lesson out of the blue sky, the incidence for example, there is a part of your book in which you talk about children are doing to decide the logo and the logo was
going to be, chris, i like that, house of representatives is a bit long and formal. but the thing, they had to decide in this republican district whether to reduce the democratic label that talks about how, you know, that might keep you from getting to people in the first place of public a good argument that you heard on the side not using the label and in a child spoke up, why don't you tell about that? >> guest: aandahl logo they wanted our t-shirts and buttons and you are right, they had a picture in the capitol building and tierney cahill for congress and then they had a democrat and when we were at the table and they were presenting their ideas for this logo the debate was a few cues democrat there are some people that won't even listen to anything you have to say. they will be turned off. there's nothing you will say
that is of saw you and i am a republican and another child said but it's important that we are honest and we are not trying to trick of voters, we just want them to know who you are and put you out there and be honest, and to me we talked to the kids about the behavior of the time about being honest and who you are so i felt that child had agreed wisdom and needed to be honored and this was their campaign and as long as i could live with it and it was ethical and they could defend their reasoning by was going to go with it so we put it on the science and buttons and all of that and we were sort of advice to buy other campaigns that ran across you shouldn't have done that and i said i think we did the right thing. >> host: this was the moving part of the book because there was a good strategic reason and it's not for me to say i am from a largely democratic district but there's people who would say it wasn't dishonest, she's not
telling a lie she is just not telling the whole truth, but you allow the children to reach an answer based on sheer honesty in the middle of a campaign and my hat goes off to you. i want to ask about, we are going to shortly be at break, but you have in the earlier segment talked-about some of the problem with schools teaching to the tasks but it was interesting to see how balanced the book is because you defend schools in another part and i am going to have lost weight just a few minutes to talk about how you do your own defense and schools. be back shortly. >> guest: thank you. >> "after words" and several
"after words" with tierney cahill and delegate eleanor holmes norton continues. >> host: we are back with ms. cahill who ran a remarkable campaign for congress. i cannot tell you if she is one of my colleagues in the house, she might be, but it's how she did it and what she accomplished that has made this such a remarkable book. "ms. cahill for congress" came out in paperback. one fearless teacher in her sixth grade class and the election that changed their lives forever. ms. cahill, i have indicated you have been critical of the profession and of schools, but
you've also offered the defense of schools and teachers and where they find themselves. this book is not a diatribe on schools and if you want to know everything about schools that is right or wrong with it education you need to get another book. if you want to have some fun reading about education and reading about how one teacher went about teaching children about the need to know in the sixth grade, all that they needed to know plus what they learned by managing her campaign did you want to read "ms. cahill for congress." at the same time that ms. cahill isn't scared of schools, she has been a teacher and she knows what it's like to work in those venues and i should offer but now i suppose to say, and admission so you know where i am coming