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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  December 24, 2013 3:00pm-4:01pm PST

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: on this christmas eve, scenes of celebration from the vatican to bethlehem, from the typhoon-ravaged philippines, to american bases in afghanistan. good evening, i'm gwen ifill. judy woodruff is off tonight. also ahead, violence and instability in south sudan and the central african republic. i'll talk to u.n. ambassador samantha power, who's recently returned from the region. n.s.a. leaker edward snowden declares his mission accomplished. we talk to the "washington post" reporter who interviewed him over two days in moscow.
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>> he, i think, feels vindicated by the fact that there has been six months of very intensive attention to things he thought were worthy of attention. >> ifill: and in the forests of mexico, worries are growing about the shrinking number of monarch butterflies spending winter there. those are just some of the stories we're covering on tonight's "pbs newshour." >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
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>> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: christmas eve was marked by festivities and preparations around the world today. the faithful prepared for midnight services in places both traditional and unusual. some of 2013's first christmas eve celebrations occurred in china, where guards and volunteers held back hundreds crowding into a beijing cathedral for holiday services. >> ( translated ): so i say, christmas will be merry.
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why is it merry? because our savior jesus christ has come. but when he comes close to our hearts, then we'll be happy. >> ifill: in the philippines, survivors of last month's catastrophic typhoon erected giant christmas lanterns across the devastation in tacloban. ( children singing "jingle bell rock") >> ifill: people in other towns sang and danced to holiday songs as they remembered lost loved ones. >> ( translated ): we will still celebrate christmas, despite this tragedy that came to us. christmas will go on. >> ifill: and in bethlehem, parades filled the streets as christian pilgrims and tourists from around the world poured into manger square, considered the birthplace of jesus. decorations and holiday lights adorned the west bank for the evening's celebrations. ♪ >> ifill: and at the vatican, worshippers filled st. peter's basilica for pope francis's first christmas midnight mass as pontiff. thousands more gathered outside in st. peter's square.
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u.s. troops in kabul marked the 13th christmas eve for american forces in afghanistan with candles and hymns. ( singing ) but as always, they were missing loved ones. >> so it is difficult, but they, they love me, and they understand that i'm here serving our country and... and so it's, it's really not very easy, but you know it is not easy being away from my family. >> ifill: and far above the planet, astronauts on the international space station performed a rare christmas eve space walk-- only the second in nasa's history. the goal: to replace a faulty cooling system that failed december 11. all this as american shoppers raced against time to find last- minute gifts. >> this is ideal. i mean, you're in, you're out. get great deals, get the wife's last minute christmas gift and you're good.
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>> ifill: but even a surge of buyers in the closing hours may not be enough for merchants. the industry data firm shopper- trak reports sales at u.s. stores have fallen each of the last three weeks, compared to a year ago. the housing market is ending the year on a down note. the mortgage bankers association reported today that mortgage applications have fallen 60 60% since may, as interest rates rose. and, new home sales fell in november. on wall street, the market had a shortened trading day. the dow jones industrial average gained nearly 63 points to close at 16,357. the nasdaq rose six points to close at 4,155. the u.n. security council moved today to beef up its peacekeeping force in south sudan, to more than 12,000 troops. it's a bid to quell growing violence between rival ethnic factions. we'll ask samantha power, the u.s. ambassador to the u.n., about south sudan and the neighboring central african republic right after the news summary.
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in syria, a new round of air raids killed at least 15 people in the northern city of aleppo. the opposition said government planes and helicopters blasted apartment buildings, homes and cars. the aerial assault began on december 15, activists say more than 360 people have been killed since then. at least 13 people were killed in egypt today when a powerful bomb ripped through a police headquarters. more than 100 others were hurt. the blast brought down an entire section of the five-story building in the city of mansoura. it was the deadliest attack since islamist president mohamed morsi was ousted in july. the interim prime minister vowed to respond. >> here at the forefront of a confrontation with one of the worst faces of terrorism, we will not stay silent. we will confront it and whoever committed this attack whether an individual or a group is a terrorist.
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>> ifill: mohammed morsi's organization-- the muslim brotherhood-- denied any role in today's bombing. back in this country, the u.s. postal service won a temporary rate increase today, after losing $5 billion in the last fiscal year. the postal regulatory commission raised the price of a first- class stamp by three cents to 49 cents as of january 26. rates for bulk mail, magazines and packages will rise 6%. the increases will last for two years. grammy-winning musician and composer yusef lateef died last night at his home in shutesbury, massachusetts. the renowned tenor saxophonist and flutist was one of the first to incorporate world music into jazz. and, in 2010, he was named a national endowment for the arts jazz master, the nation's highest jazz honor. yusef lateef was 93 years old. still to come on the "newshour": samantha power on the violence in two african countries; one reporter's exclusive interview with edward snowden; the
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dwindling number of monarch butterflies wintering in mexico; a year end assessment of public education reform and an entrepreneurial alternative to college. >> ifill: we take a look at two bordering african nations consumed by conflict, beginning with south sudan, where there fighting continued today, as fears of civil war prompted the united nations to send more help to the world's youngest nation. >> ifill: the security council voted to nearly double the size of the peacekeeping operation in south sudan-- hoping an additional troops will protect civilians from the worsening violence. secretary general ban ki-moon warned all sides in the conflict that the world is watching. >> attacks on civilians and the u.n. peacekeepers must cease immediately. the united nations will
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investigate reports of these incidents and of grave human rights violations and crimes against humanity. those responsible will be held personally accountable. >> ifill: meanwhile, the country's president, salva kiir, said his troops have re-taken bor, from rebels. but there were also reports that the bodies of dozens of government soldiers were found in a mass grave in bentiu. in all, u.n. officials report more than 1,000 people have been killed in south sudan-- and more than 100,000 turned into refugees since fighting broke out only a week ago. many are seeking shelter at u.n. bases in the capital of juba and elsewhere. >> ( translated ): the two factions should be reconciled by the international community so that the problem is solved once and for all, so that everyone can go back where they came from. we can't live like this. >> ifill: the conflict erupted after president kiir, an ethnic
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dinka, accused former vice president, riek machar, an ethnic nuer, of plotting a coup. heavy fighting in bor over the weekend prompted the u.n. to evacuate non-essential staff and wounded civilians from its mission there. >> there was a lot of looting. a lot of gunshots. a lot of dead bodies and very, very out of control youth. heavily armed and that needs to be brought under control. >> ifill: rebels in bor also fired on three u.s. osprey aircraft saturday, wounding four american troops as they attempted to evacuate u.s. civilians. civilian helicopters ended up bringing out the americans. on sunday, president obama alerted congress that the 46 troops already sent to south sudan may not be enough. he wrote:
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u.s. defense officials said monday that more than 100 marines, plus aircraft, are being moved to the horn of africa, in case they're needed. next door, in the central african republic, an unrelated sectarian conflict threatens that country's stability. in march, muslim rebels overthrew the government in the majority christian nation. since then 700,000 people, almost 20% of the population, have fled their homes. nine people were killed in religious violence in the country's capital yesterday. france has now deployed 1,600 troops to its former colony to help african union forces trying to disarm both sides. >> ( translated ): we are waiting for all the french people do their work and finish with the militias and then we will go home. but if it carries on we will stay here, even six months if necessary. >> ifill: last week, the u.s. ambassador to the u.n., samantha
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power, visited bangui to appeal for peace. i spoke with samantha power this afternoon just before security council voted. ambassador power thank you for joining us. it's only been a week since everything fell apart in south sudan, how did it happen so fast? >> well, as you know there have been deep political divisions, been playing themselves out for some time but when president ki,r responded to maneuvering within his own government by making arrests then a full on rebellion was declared and as they say, the rest is history. we've been living with the consequences of that. so you now have espla. sudanese government the army up against rebellion that's pretty widespread and very volatile. >> we know that there are some american forces on the ground in
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neighboring countries poised to act, do we know how much u.s. military action might be involved? >> we have been focused on securing the fate and security of u.s. citizens and we have performed and u.s. military has help perform along with the united nations evacuations of personnel, u.s. citizens who wanted to get out. there was also a departure of embassy staff and so forth. we just have a small presence remaining to try to help with the diplomacy. that is our emphasis. our parallel emphasis is helping the u.n. secretary general beef up forces. the secretary general came to the so security council asked for permission to move about 5,500 troops and police from other missions, principally in africa but also elsewhere in the world to south sudan so that the relatively small u.n. force there could get support. so we're focused on doing what we can to support the secretary general, do that as quickly as
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possible time is of the essence. >> ifill: when the president said that he may take further action to support the security of americans on the ground, how far would further action go? >> i'm not going to speculate on what is going to happen on the ground, so many contingencies, so many things that we're working through right now. again, our focus is to working the political track, the diplomacy, don booth our special enjoy is in juba today just as he was yesterday, he will be there again tomorrow. shuttling twine the parties, reinforcing the efforts by african foreign men terse to get president kiir and riek machar to start negotiating have a political dialogue this armed approach that both sides are taking is going to be extremely powerless for the country. >> ifill: are those talks imminent? >> i think we're pushing. it's very hard to say, i don't want to get in to the details.
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but the contacts between u.s. officials and senior officials on the ground in south sudan have been extensive, even relentless you might say. and we are determined to do everything we can and leverage the very strong relationship we have had with south sudan and with the people for so long. to try to help calmer and cooler heads prevail here. but the african union and number of african foreign ministers are also active in this regard. i.t. it's safe to say that president kiir and riek machar are hearing from a lot of people this christmas eve. >> ifill: from a trip to the central african republic been things also seem to be veering out of control. how did that happen? >> well, again, similar in the sense that there's a rebellion that took hold in part of the country and swept through the country, run by a group that call themselves celica, means
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alliancea muslim group. there was again on the trip again great relimb us harmony between and among muslims and christians in the central african republic for years. but the looting and killings that accompanied this sweep through the central african republic have led to christians on the other side forming these self defense militia known as anti-machete. now you have a dynamic you have ex celica forces that are seen as muslim forces and anti-balaca seen as christian forces targeting people sometimes on religious ground. often on religious grounds. the good news, such as it is that the african union has been very responsive to the circumstances on the ground and themselves have increased the troops just as we're doing in south sudan to try to deploy more africans in to the central african republic. >> ifill: you mention the the
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c.a.r. with you also in sudan. are there being stretched a little thin and does the u.n. need to beef up its peacekeeping presence? >> let me take each question in turn. are they being stretched a little thin, i think the answer is, yes. the demands on african peacekeepers are higher than they have been in a very long time. let's recall also the somalia mission which has made a lot of headway against slshabob and is doing a very important job. not only main feigning peace and security for the people of mali but also fending off the presence of extremists who could present problems across the broader region and beyond. if you combine those very large missions with these two that we've discussed, yes, the demands are very high. and so it is true that u.n. peacekeeping as a whole right
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now is at one of its high water marks in the history of the u.n. peacekeeping. so one of the things that we're seeking to do to try to get more countries interested in deplowing their forces and wearing blue helmets because the needs are feeling very great right now. >> ifill: you mentioned so malleolar, around the world there are a couple of different lessons to be taken from that, one is to stay out. and the other is that you cannot allow big states to fail. which lesson can you apply in this case? >> well, i think that we all know now is that particularly when you have a failed state or an under governed or ungoverned base, that is central african republic, that's how i would describe it, having visited it. just so little electricity across the country, roads that are impassable. when you see then state failure where a government collapses as a happened over the last year nothing good comes of that. and the people who take
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advantage of environments like that are extremists, of all kinds. whether it's al shabob or al qaeda or extreme cyst now lunching muslims or christians in the central african republic there's both the imperative of the international community and regional players coming together to try to help because they matter intrinsically. then there's the additional collateral reality that we have encountered as you suggest in somalia and mali and elsewhere. these border are huge among these countries, not very well patrolled and the kinds of unsafer reelements that graph kate toward situations like that cross borders and cause havoc for our core interest as well. >> ifill: u.s. ambassador to the u.n. samantha power, thank you so much for joining us. >> thanks for having me, gwen.
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>> ifill: edward snowden, the n.s.a. contractor who leaked a trove of documents about that secret agency's operations is once again in the news. jeffrey brown has the story. >> brown: "the mission's already accomplished. i already won." the words of edward snowden from an extended interview conducted in moscow. it comes six months after snowden's revelations first appeared in newspapers. barton gellman of the "washington post" wrote some of those key early stories and it was he who's just interviewed snowden. he's also a senior fellow at the century foundation. gellman joins us now. >> the welcome to you, clearly edward snowden feels you succeeded how does he define his mission and what he silt out to do? >> that's exactly the important question. he is not saying he succeeded in remaking the world or changing any particular policy. what he wanted to do was take big important decisions out of a small secret world and give it
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to the people, on whose behalf the policies were undertaken. he thought something big and dangerous was growing in terms of a big sur vail answer apparatus, he wanted the american people to decide for themselves what the limits should be. >> that question aimed at him, who elected to you decide what should be public. he has no regrets about what he did. >> he is very comfortable with his choice. he i think feels vindicated by the fact that there has been six months of very intensive attention to things he thought were worthy of attention. and indeed, just after we spoke i come back from russia and a federal judge says that the program that snowden thinks is illegal is almost certainly unconstitutional. and the leaders of the u.s. technology industry tell the president that the nsa's work is damaging the american information economy. the empty's own task force --
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president's own task force says that the nsa's program that snowden brought to attention ought to be cut back. >> in your interview snowden raised his concerns internally with superiors, but the nsa denies having any evidence that he talked to anyone about this before going to reporters. right? >> the nsa's denial was careful as many nsa denials are. they said they have no record of any conversation of the kind that snowden described. they also say that they haven't asked anybody to respond to snowden's account. all the interviews they did with his co-workers took place before i asked the question. >> tell us about snowden himself, he's living in moscow, he's a man who captured the world's attention, but he's a wanted man. how did he strike you? >> he's a wanted man. also under international law, he's quite cautious and not
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looking to expose himself to outsiders. he is calm, he's serene. he's a man who knew what he was getting himself in to as much as anyone can know that. and he is satisfied that he did it for the right reasons and he's prepared to -- he was prepared for the consequences. which already are considerable given the fact that he's been taken away from hisly and so on. >> hookies he live now? how much could you -- how does he live now? >> he allowed few glimpses, he's a private guy. he has no obligation to open his private life to others. his ideas, he knows are going to be scrutinized, he doesn't have to tell everybody about himself personally. and he's got security reasons not to. it's quite interesting, he is living a life -- describes himself as in door cat. that predates his time in moscow
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, even in hawaii which we associate with big open spaces. he his world is controllable. he is one of ideas of the big library and nsa sources. all the developments, he's communicating with journalists and lawyers and whoever else he likes. and insisting on -- he also used the word aesthetics to describe himself. i don't have a lot of needs. >> one of the striking things he told you rather than trying to destroy the nsa he says he's trying to make it better. he says he believes in that sense, quote, i am still working for the nsa right now. >> he has not given a lot of time to critics and hasn't wanted the story to be about him personally. he did make some responses for
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the first time. he affirmed quite clearly that his loyalty is to the united states, the u.s. constitution. he is not against the nsa, not against intelligence gathering. built he's against very specifically is bulk mass surveilness, the idea of sweeping up enormous amount of data about whole populations to look for clues you don't even know exist. he believes that the nsa's historic mission, in fact the only thing it ever had the capability of doing for most of its existence was to target individuals and institutions for foreign intelligence purposes. nothing stopping from doing that. he supports that, he thinks that's the right thing to d. he believes in the mission of intelligence gathering. what he can't accept is that the lives of hundreds of millions of people who are suspect of nothing wrong are being stuffed in to these gigantic data systems. >> what about more releases and more revelations, has snowden
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given out all that he has or still releasing material? >> he has had nothing to do with the pace or content of stories. he handed me and two other journal cyst, quantities of material some six months ago, he has not tried in any way to tell us what to publish, when, what not to publish, what the story should say. so that continues to be the case. i in p tend to keep on working on the story i am sure that my fellow journalists who have the material are going to continue to do that. but that's completely out of his hands. >> barton gellman of the "washington post," thank you so much. >> thank you. >> ifill: the monarch butterflies that spend their winters in the forests of mexico before returning north each year, are appearing in fewer numbers. independent videojournalist
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ross velton filed this report for us on why their numbers are dwindling. >> reporter: tradition says they're the souls of the dead, returning to earth. that's why monarch butterflies arrive in mexico around the start of november, when lost loved ones are being remembered on a holiday called the "day of the dead." the monarchs sometimes fly over two thousand miles from the u.s. and canada to spend winter in these mountain forests in central mexico. >> ( translated ): more than a decade ago, practically two decades, the butterfly colony here in el rosario occupied up to three hectares. >> reporter: that's nearly 7.5 acres in the part of the monarch butterfly biosphere reserve where the most butterflies are often seen. but the forest has been missing some souls.
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>> ( translated ): during 2012 to 2013, which was the period we monitored last year, we determined that the butterflies only occupied 1.9 hectares. >> reporter: or just over 4.5 acres. that's the lowest number of monarchs in the past 20 years, and a nearly 60% drop on the year before. and this winter could be worse. the butterflies monarchs as a species aren't in danger, but their migration might be. the world wildlife fund tracks the number of lost souls on one of natures great journeys. >> ( translated ): the monarch butterflies which hibernate in mexico are those butterflies which appear as adults in southern canada, and the north and center of the u.s. during september and part of october, they fly south. and the greater proportion of butterflies in this big region come to hibernate in mexico. >> reporter: but something's happening at the start of this journey, so that fewer butterflies are coming down to mexico.
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herbicides used by north american farmers to protect crops like corn and soybeans from weeds are also killing the butterflies food source, a plant called milkweed. >> the female butterfly will deposit one egg on the underside of a leaf. and when the caterpillar emerges, it starts to eat the leaf. >> reporter: that's something craig wilson tells children when he visits schools as part of the u.s. department of agriculture's future scientists project. and he's got more to say about the benefit of milkweed to monarchs >> it has a poisonous sap. i don't know if you can see it bleeding there when i pull a leaf off. and that latex sap protects the caterpillars. >> reporter: because it gives them a nasty taste which puts off predators. molly keck, an insect expert at texas a&m university, says milkweed isn't just being attacked by farmers under threat from herbicides. >> we're developing, and so these natural areas. there are buildings in neighborhoods that are popping up, so there's less places where milkweed has the potential to grow.
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few animals like changes to their surroundings. but the loss of milkweed isn't the monarchs only problem. the adult butterflies get energy from nectar as they fly down to mexico. >> when we have extreme droughts like we've been experiencing in the united states, there are less nectar-producing plants and we see less butterflies, we see less bees, we see less of all the pollinating insects. >> reporter: the falling numbers add a sense of urgency to research into monarch behavior. here in college station, texas for example, researchers are trying to find out how genetics and the butterflies body clock affect the migration. the monarchs problems have also fired up citizen scientists. >> the children at this school in texas have planted a milkweed garden to try and attract monarch butterflies. it's an example of one of the many projects all over the country to try and protect the migration. >> reporter: mike quinn took part in another one. it involves looking for milkweed and signs of monarchs. >> monarch larva monitoring
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project is a way for citizen scientists across u.s. and canada to collect quantifiable data that can be compared scientifically with other sites and at the same site over time. and this gives us a bigger, more accurate picture of the monarch population levels. >> reporter: the monarch population flying south to mexico hasn't always had a great welcome. the type of fir trees in the reserve where the butterflies like to spend winter have suffered from several decades of illegal logging. now thousands of new trees are being planted back into the reserve. this is a tree nursery supported by the world wildlife fund. the ideas to give those working there an income, and therefore a reason, to reforest. and this nearby forest has been grown to provide wood for sale, meaning less pressure on the reserve. >> ( translated ): the monarch
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butterfly is a marvel. but to get a marvel, like a flower in a garden, you must take care of the garden. and this is the garden of butterflies. >> reporter: eduardo rendon salinas says there's been a growing bond between the people and the butterflies. old men from el rosario have formed groups to protect them. their job includes making sure tourists don't get too close. rendon salinas says illegal logging on a big scale has stopped in the heart of the reserve. but he knows things take time to heal. >> ( translated ): this butterfly is a female. its in perfect physical condition, there are no signs of it having been attacked, it looks complete. however, it's dead. very likely, it dropped to the ground during the night. and in places such as this, where there are gaps in the tree canopy, the temperature falls during the night and the butterflies die.
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>> reporter: the butterflies that survive mexico might one day be seen back at the school in texas, because the same monarchs that migrate, do a round-trip. so the kids tag them. alina garcia has just done her first one. >> they just have to travel so far. i mean i couldn't really handle that pressure. and i don't know how they can handle it. >> reporter: they get help handling it from friends on both sides of the border. when he comes to the reserve, rendon salinas breathes warm air on butterflies that cant fly because of the cold, so they'll fly again. >> ifill: we have a stunning photo gallery of monarchs from across the globe on our homepage. >> ifill: next, another in our series of year-end retrospectives on issues in the news. this one is a look at the big
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battles playing out over the future of public education. jeff taped this conversation yesterday. >> one of the more significant stories of the past year is the growing adoption of new academic standards for math and reading. district of columbia have moved toward implementing there is still plenty of pushback as well ranging from anger over the role of the federal government to ways of our tests that begin more widely next year. battles come amid larger tensions over testing and teaching, accountability how american students are faring overall. look where things stand with three people covering education, clawed yes sanchez, writer amanda riply and the "newshour" special correspondent john merrow welcome to all of you. i want to start with you i understand came back from reporting trip looking at common core. what is the most important thing you're finding now? >> first of all it was a year
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long effort to gauge how the public feels about the common core. and not surprisingly most people don't know what it is. >> they just don't know what it is. >> polling shows that 60-70% of american certainly parents are kind of in the dark about it. during the visits, though, i also found that its educators and administrators that are most anxious they don't know what the implications for them are going to be. in the name of raising academic standards to compare them internationally. >> john merrow, how does that jive with what you've been seeing with understanding. >> most people don't know that the common core, there's a huge education effort required. after all this is a national experiment it's like testing the depth of the water with both feet. and i think the pushback is the concern is about the tests. already test a lot, are these
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going to be more tests, what will they be like. >> amanda you've looked at this through the international comparisons, what do you see happening? >> it's hard to find a top performing country in the world that doesn't have something like the common core. or at some point everyone got together said let's make a list of what kids should know at each grade level. make it more rigorous and more coherent than what we had before. but there are a lot of really poorly performing countries that have something like the common core, too. it's kind of like a prerequisite. they are more aligned, vast majority much states is closer to a what really the smartest country in the world are doing. that is on paper a really good idea. in the execution of other gentlemen pointed out that's where you run in to trouble. >> so execution, what have you seen in terms of where it's already sort of settled in a little bit? >> of common core was adopted pretty much in 2009 with the national governors association and chief state school officers said, this is what we need.
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since then, though, we have an enormous amount of disarray, have now five states that are not participating at all. we have hate states that are pulled out of the testing consortia that was created in part with federal aid to make sure that we had tests that are comparable comparable. there is this dissention certainly a lot of political opposition to centralizing, what the term that critics use, to centralize the decision of what kids know and should be able to do. implementation really at risk. because by 20-15 school year what is not guaranteed that you're going to have the kind of cooperation from states have dropped out of the testing consortia that means that they're going to come up with their own test. >> john, pick up on that, where are we then? are we still moving ahead or is this all this a question mark again? >> it's a question mark, money is a big issue. we test more than anybody, but
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we use cheap tests, jeff. state will spend between $9-25 per kid on tests. these common core tests are going to cost $30 or more, they're better, more complicated tests but states are saying we don't want these. kansas just dropped out they said well, we'll develop our own tests at the university of kansas. that will allow kansas to compare kids in topeka and wichita but as amanda said not much use making international or comparisons across states. it's going to be very chaotic. >> we talked about your book recently on the show, i also talked to andrea about the piza evaluations, do they have an impact on this debate that we're talking about in this country? >> i think it was those kinds of comparisons that helped really motivate some of the governors and local school officials to try to make more rigorous standards. because we saw year after year, despite all the fights we have
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all the money we pour in to education that at age 15 on the piza test a fairly sophisticated test of critical thinking you see the kids just flat lining. we're right in the middle of the pack slightly below average in math for the developed world. that's a point of some anxiety because these piza scores in particularly are pretty predictive of college completion and other things especially again in math where we have a clear weakness at every socioeconomic level. >> jeff, i think it's worth saying that teachers especially classroom teachers don't dispute the need to raise rig or of these standards and what kids are learning. i think that what often gets mixed up in this is how the test scores are going to be used. that's a huge issue. that means ranking schools, rating states, making decisions about whether a kid should be advanced another year or not. and most controversial use is of course whether these tests are going to be used to decide how
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much a teacher should be paid. >> teacher accountability. >> or keep his or her job. i think that's is poisoned the well for many educators. >> if i could weigh in, fundamental distinction between united states and most other countries is, we test teachers. now the kids take the tests. but we're testing teachers. most countries are assessing kids to figure it out. i was looking at piza sample test and oregon high school math test. the high school math question, certain valley has six snakes, they double in number every year. how many years will there be 96 snakes. that's just count wrong your fingers. a piza test by comparison says, hike up to the top of mount fuj six 18 kilometers, a man can go one and half kilometers an hour on the way up, three kilometers an hour on the way down. the park closes at 8:00 what
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hour in the morning does he have to leave to be back before the park closes. now, it's not multiple choice, there's a whole lot of mathematics. the oregon test was a multiple guess question. we simply don't ask enough of our kids. that's a huge -- >> john, let me ask you because all these things we're talking about you've reported on the program for many years. i mean, common core questions are things that go to a whole school of form generally, teacher accountability, evaluation, all kinds of things. where do you think we are more generally speaking now with the school reform movement. is it still going ahead? is it stymied? where are we? >> that's a great question. it's possible that in 2014 we might see a fraying of the coalition between the test accountability people, which is republicans and right leaning democrats and civil rights groups. they have supported test-based accountability because they
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recognize that when you disaggregate data you saw how poorly black kids or brown kids were doing. then we've had since no child left whined had 12 years of this test stuff, although there have been some gains there really hasn't been much significant process. prog. >> very possible we'll see fraying that have coalition which would lead to more push back against testing. >> amanda, where do you think we are in the wider picture. >> testing fatigue is owe intense among kids. i larry a lot about this from kids. they feel like their time is being wasted because they took dumb tests in so many states. and parents as well, i fear that the common core, which is a very legitimate effort to try to raise the standards so the work ask more interesting and relevant to their lives. that's being conflated with the larger fatigue with testing. i understand why that's happening. but it is -- like everything is kind of coming together and it may not be the same thing so the
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idea of behind the common core was to try to have smarter tests that are more like the, less like the dumb multiple choice questions. we don't have those yet. they're coming out next year. in the void here is a lot of anxiety, a lot of distrusts which is built upon years of fighting. >> does that mean that the whole school reform movement politically speaking as well as culturally speaking has slowed in some way? >> i think in some places it certainly has if you look at new york city, for example. it's going to take a very savvy politician to continue on some of these track, is that adapts them, instead of more tests have fewer, smarter tests to try to get some buy in from people who are understandably just leery of all of this. try to get the trust back. one encouraging thing that we haven't talked about is more focus finally, you can tell me if you agree or not but finally more focus in the united states
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on really starting starting froe beginning trying to make teacher training colleges, education colleges more selective and more rigorous which makes it then possible to maybe pay teachers more. give them more autonomy and expect them to teach higher order skills. that's something we've never done. no state has really seriously raised the bar like that. if you look around the world the top performing countries have done that at some point and they get big returns on that in many ways. >> that's a reminder i think of something very clear which is, a lot of pieces have to come together. and as big as common bore and testing pieces are, amanda is perfectly correct. there is a huge issue about how we prepare teachers in this country. that conversation barely getting started already having its own fireworks. one thing to point out, in our piece about the common core, we asked experts who have advised the consortia who know about testing, have spent years on this, what they would predict
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would happen in 2014. robert brennan of the university of iowa who has been consult was saying, look, you can still have enormous amount of dissention, maybe even more states pulling out of this. as john just said, the fraying of the coalitions but he says one thing that's not going to happen, we're not going to go back in this country no matter what states to to the weak and mediocre testing as well as standards that we've had in place for a long time. the message clear. we need to do something. whether it's going to be part of common core or not is not the issue, the issue is this nation is now recognizing that it has to do a lot more to get our kids up to speed. >> all right. a lot to watch for in the next year. claudo sanchez, amanda ripley, john merrow thank you very much. >> ifill: finally tonight, another take on education. this time focusing on an
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alternative to a traditional four-year college experience. it is one of the signature pieces from the "newshour weekend" program we're showcasing this holiday season. this report is by "newshour" correspondent mona iskander. >> every year, thousands of young people around the country celebrate this important rite of passage, college graduation. for generations it's been the traditional route to adulthood and success. >> wow, that is -- how did 21-year-old sebastian stanton a college drop out ended up here working side by side with the president of a multi-million dollar start up. >> when i was in college the limit was 4.0. here is like if i work hard enough i can pretty much accomplish whatever i'm trying to do. >> he got this job through a nonprofit organization called institute. it's a two-year apprenticeship program for young, would-be tech
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entrepreneurs that aims to be an alternative to higher education. >> all these users that signed up two days ago -- >> he works with daniel klaus, video communications company. >> sebastian in a great job, learning about a task, asking for input, receiving input as we go and learning along the way. it's been a really productive for us. >> more and more young people like sabes shawn are looking for alternatives to a college education. partly because while college grads earn much more over the course of their lifetime than those with only a high school degree, recent college grads have struggled. in 2011 estimates are that half were either jobless or working in jobs that didn't require a four-year degree. these kinds of numbers are what prompted kane and shila to act. >> we believe you need to learn, you don't just graduate high school and to go a company, you just need to be able to learn in
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different ways. it doesn't all have to be in the classroom. >> they are the brains behind institute. they are believers that learning on the job provides far more value than learning in the classroom. that comes from personal experience. >> when i joined the start-up community, saying harvard mba shut doors in my face before anything else. it wasn't valued. i stopped mentioned that i was an mba because people, many interpretations of what that word means they don't really know how good you are. instead i started working at another start-up for free where i proved my competency and my value. >> soon after when she got a job in charge of hiring new talent for a tech start-up her belief was reinforced that experience is more important than a fancy degree. >> time and time again, regardless of what school these young adults came from, the west of the best ivy, the small unheard of community colleges, they couldn't critically think through anything.
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if i give you a task to actually get this done. >> in november 2011 she and sarhan who worked for the same tech start up, created institute. they raised $90,000 by liquidating their personal savings. and another $300,000 from private investors including microsoft. when they solicited applications, nearly 500 young people applied. and 11 were close en. >> we get hundreds and hundreds of applications, college isn't working for me, i can't afford it, it's not the right program. this what i've been working for. >> take sebastian. >> in college classes aren't part of your career but make you a whole person. do you miss those kinds of classes? >> no. i remember my freshman year sitting in my 'tron me class and it was 90-minute course i remember sitting in the class thinking that some other aspiring young tech entrepreneur was using that 90 minutes to
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further his career. >> the others in the institute program still spend six to to eight hours on academic pursuits. from art history to engineering. but they spend at least 40 hours a week working for tech companies that provide two-year apprenticeships through institute. the companies pay institute a small fee to access the application and recruiting fee if they hire the fellow full time. companies include bitly, and flavor pill. >> that was so perfect. >> for the last year, each fellow lived for free in this manhattan apartment. sharing cooking and cleaning duties and living on their earnings of $800 to $1,000 a month. outsider looking at your program might say, two years, very little pay, no guarantee that any of these people will get jobs in this industry. it's a big risk. >> i think when you come and sit down with our students and you ask them if they feel like they're not going to get a job, they would 100% disagree.
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they see first hand the networks they're being exposed to. the people they get to work with. the on the job training and education that they're getting. >> once or twice a week they invite tech entrepreneurs to network with the fellows. >> the technology industry as a whole has been used to this idea of students not going to college and getting certified. i'm not quite sure that the rest of the economy is quite ready for that. >> jeff is an editor at the chronicle of higher education. a weekly news service that covers academic affairs. he says that higher education is in a state of crisis. for public universities alone, in-state tuition rose 66% between 2002 and 2013. making it unaffordable for many americans. that's even harder for parents of college-aged students to swallow given the difficulty many kids have getting a job once they graduate. >> we know we have this one size fits all system that treats most students alike. students want a more flexible
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experience, they want to have a chance to work, to study abroad, want to have a chance to learn online as well as face to face. this is where i think that higher education really needs to take a cue from a place like institute say, how do we build in to the curriculum that kind of experience. >> they really see themselves as an alternative to college. do you agree with that? >> i see them as an alternative to college at 18. but having college degree at some point in your life is still the best insurance against unemployment. and getting higher salaries over the course of your lifetime. >> even so, more and more alternatives to college are popping up for small number of students with an entrepreneurial bent. paypal founder peter steel started a fellowship giving $100,000 to young adults to skip college and focus on entrepreneurship full time. uncollege gap year is a program in which young people design their own education path by pursuing creative projects around the world.
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and a school is residential education program for young people interested in social entrepreneurship. these types of options including apprenticeships for skill trade jobs like electrician and carpenters should be encouraged. >> used to be in the united states that apprenticeships were very big. the idea that not everybody necessarily went to college that you kind of learned on the job. this still is true in other parts of the world. in germany, for example, a lot of students end up going to apprenticeships instead of college. >> as for institute, new companies have already signed up as it plans to expand to 100 fellows and open offices in washington, d.c. and st. louis this january. and for sebastian he's been offered full time job with the company where he's doing his apprenticeship. but he has ambitions to one day start his own business, creating technical innovations in the political campaign field.
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what happens if your dreams of building a company aren't realized and you need to go back in to the job market. >> i think this kind of like relieve my mom, like college always going to be there and always going to have space for me. and so if worse comes to worse like i guess i could go back to college. >> ifill: again, the major developments of the day: christmas eve brought festivities and religious services worldwide from bethlehem to the typhoon-ravaged philippines. and the u.n. security council voted to beef up its peacekeeping force in south sudan to more than 12,000 troops. on the "newshour" online, yesterday, paul solman explored the perils of bad gift-giving. but some economists disagree with that theory. they argue gifts are actually worth more than their sticker price, because they teach us a
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valuable lesson on reciprocity. you can find both sides of that holiday story on our "making sense" page. all that and more is on our website and that's the "newshour" for tonight. on wednesday, we'll look at america's role in the world. i'm gwen ifill. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us here at the "pbs newshour," thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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>> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh >> this is "bbc world news
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america." >> funding of this presentation is made possible by the freeman foundation, newman's own foundation, giving all profits to charity and pursuing the common good for over 30 years, and union bank. >> at union bank, our relationship managers work hard to know your business, offering specialized solutions in capital to help you meet your growth objectives. we offer expertise and tailored solutions for small businesses
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and major corporations. what can we do for you? >> and now, "bbc world news america." >> hello, our top story this hour. as the u.n. goes to double the numbers of peacekeepers in south sudan, the numbers dead are in thousands. express appreciation for the response with the secretary- general and the security council are showing to the tragically unfolding situation in our country. >> edward snowden says it is mission accomplished. he says he wanted society to have more of a say in being monitored.


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