This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable

Education roundtable: Three reformers making change from the ground up

Last week Alison Stewart sat down with three education reformers who are making change from the ground up.

Dr. Pedro Noguera is a professor of education at New York University and also spent five years teaching in public schools in California and Rhode Island. Zakiyah Ansari is a mother of eight children and parent leader at the Coalition for Educational Justice in New York City. And Dr. Susan Szachowicz is the principal of Brockton High School and helped spearhead the literacy initiative that turned it from a failing school into a national model.

In this wide-ranging roundtable discussion, these reformers share their thoughts on the big issues in American education today, including the state of physical education in schools, the role of teachers’ unions, providing adequate social services for students, the pros and cons of charter schools, and race and education.

Watch more segments from Need to Know’s special education episode.


  • Jkiele

    A wonderful discussion! Thank you, thank you, thank you for having a truthful, intelligent, meaningful conversation about the educational process in our country. I spent my entire life in education and have been amazed and sorrowed by the lack of concern in the past 10 years of how our children are being educated. We have to stop building prisons instead of schools. We know what to do, let’s – as Jon Meacham said – get on with it!

  • Gberretta

    I held my breath praying that the discussion would be fair and balanced and absent the kool-aid of Mayor Bloomberg. I felt redeemed as these educators and one great mom truly exemplify that which this “old” teacher and any teacher I know attempts to achieve everyday in his/her classroom…brilliance. The panel was brilliant and on point at every level. Thank you. I hope someone was out there listening since the media is controlled by union busting,age discriminating millionaires and a billionaire Mayor of New York City who only looks at a bottom line and never at a child. Thank you Channel 13 for being there and being a voice of reason during these turbulent times. Help save the children please.–Genevieve Berretta-NYC”We Educate All” Public School Teacher

  • adav

    As an up and coming teacher it is great to hear people who are really passionate about real change for the right reasons. Many of the teachers I have worked with this past year and have been taught by are stuck in stubborn routines that do not take in the real life education of the students. There is so much more to an education than test scores and standardized “learning” and it is great to see people thinking and making real change. Learning is fun, exciting, engaging, it is what makes life exciting. It opens up endless possibilities for each individuals life, and it is whats lacking in most of our educational systems.

  • voice of reason

    I do wish they would actually have thought to include a TEACHER in a panel discussion involving education. All to often the problem is that the main cog in the machine, the TEACHER is overlooked, and emphasis is placed on the next great “program” instead of investing in human beings.

    We often hear about “the declining/failing educational system” but rarely does anyone acknowledge that the INPUTS to that system, the students, are entering the system less prepared, less motivated, less disciplined, and less supported. However, the first people held accountable are the teachers. Would a cook be held accountable for a restaurant loosing its 4 stat status if the manager started buying lesser ingredients?

  • another voice..

    To voice of reason… I see where you are coming from but I think you are missing some of the vital points that the panel was discussing. As the Brockton Principal stated, there should be no “we can’t teach” attitudes (no matter what your ingredients), but a”we haven’t figured a new way to do it” attitude. Yes I think that students are unmotivated and unprepared, and that changes need to happen from preschool to high school, but this does not give us as teachers an excuse to take the childrens needs out of our hands (blaming other areas for our hardships). We need to find a better way to motivate and make students passionate for learning again, and part of it is making sure that each and every teacher is passionate, open-minded, and flexable to change themselves. We need to not only create better learning environments, but better living environments in our schools. This program should be watched and analyzed by school boards and admistrators, teachers and STUDENTS, because everyone can learn something from it, and everyone deserves an input

  • Robert Dente

    This show rocked and put some very encouraging hope out — a most rare occurrence for mass media!

    Bravo and every good wish for continued government underwriting — even if it is only 15%!

  • BHS teacher

    To Voice of Reason,
    I am a teacher at Brockton High School, and speaking for myself only, I don’t really mind that Need to Know didn’t include a teacher in this roundtable (they did in the segment). I think Sue is the proper person to represent us. Just like at the college / university level, it is the president who is the most important spokesperson for the institution.
    That said, what really is a problem in the teaching profession is the “egg-crate,” factory model that traps teachers in classrooms, year after year after year, often doing exactly the same thing over and over again. Mobility within districts can be difficult; the current licensure situation makes it extremely difficult to go to another state; even going ten miles up the road to the next town results in the loss of seniority, accumulated sick leave, and other benefits of “longevity.” And, unlike the college level, where tenured and tenure-track faculty get time away from teaching for the purpose of developing new courses and new curricula, teachers can expect that, if they make a change, all the extra time that it takes to learn new ropes will come out of their personal lives. It is one reason that our society can’t find enough really bright people to do this job. People who are bright enough to do it at an excellent level are bright enough to be bored by it after a few years.
    So while I don’t think that a teacher should necessarily have been at the roundtable, I do think that teachers are being starved by lack of opportunity to contribute beyond the classroom. Brockton High’s Restructuring Committee, the school’s “think tank” for change (as Sue calls it), has about 35 teachers on it, which is 10% of the faculty. The other 90% are stuck in a role that is much more passive.

  • Robert Dente

    Yes, let’s keep everyone ignorant, greedy, selfish and well armed here in America!

  • Mattedwards50

    are you a freeloader too bobbi? there shouldn’t be 1 cent of taxdollars going to this’ravel rousing black crap group!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! not i cent . tell that breeder pig to get a real job and PLEASE PLEASE KEEP YOUR LEGS TOGETHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • MATT

    BLA BLA BLA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TYPICAL LIBERAL TRIPE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! let’s start where we should with the EGG AND SPERM DONORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! they pop out chocolate drops like hershey kisses and WE THE TAXPAYERS ARE SUPPOSED TO CORRECT THEIR OFFSPRING. many are no better than ANIMALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND I FOR ONE AM FED UP WITH HAVING TO PAY FOR THEIR ROMP IN THE SACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Matt

    GREAT MOM????????????????? what the hell are you drinking? 8 kids. probably 8 fathers. and was she born in africa or does she like to play dressup???????????? if us whites started to wear the garb of our home land we’d BE RIDICULED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WAKE UP THIS IS AMERICA IF SHE WANTS TO PLAY DRESS UP GO BACK TO AFRICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Matt


  • Robert Dente

    Note: The comment above was meant to be a facetious response to a hateful knee-jerk conservative statement that was removed by either the moderator or the unregistered poster labelling himself (or herself): “WhinerBozo.”

  • Sherman Hill

    Alison and Jon:

    The Need to Know program on education February 11th was the best of its kind I have seen. That students from disadvantaged backgrounds can, with appropriate help, learn as well as privileged students and must be helped and taught so that they can be productive members of society, and that this requires hard work and cannot come about by passing laws or through mindless testing or firing of teachers, is important for all of us to know.

    What I think needs more emphasis is the need for schools to encourage in students a love of learning and a desire to know themselves, their culture and other cultures, and to become the best individuals that they may become. This education is best achieved through the arts and particularly by active participation in the arts.

    There are some excellent books in which this need is emphasized:

    Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities by Martha Nussbaum. I think this is the best. I hope that she might be invited to participate in a future discussion of education.
    The Power of Their Ideas: Lessons for America from a Small School in Harlem by Deborah Meier
    The Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire

    I am very grateful for Need to Know and will continue to watch it regularly.

    Sherman Hill
    Concord, Massachusetts

  • Sara

    The February 11 program on education is still fresh in my mind. What impressed me was the positive way you presented all of these innovative approaches to education. I particularly liked the energy and excitement that Alison put into the interview with the panelists.

    I ‘m glad to see that Need to Know is starting to be recognized for its own merits. I think that people are finally starting to let go of the expectation that it is going to be like Moyers or Now and are looking forward to the unique qualities of Stewart and Meacham and the range of important subjects they are covering.

  • violetfan

    Thank you for a sane, realistic conversation about education that focuses on the needs of students and not on a narrow political agenda.