Friday, August 26, 2011

  • MLK National Monument Inspires Calls to Continue Civil Rights Leader’s Work to End Poverty and War

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    This week, the public got its first look at a newly unveiled memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., that honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is the first memorial on the National Mall not dedicated to a war, president or white man. The threat of Hurricane Irene has forced organizers to postpone the planned dedication of memorial on Sunday, which was to have been attended by 250,000 people, including President Barack Obama. The dedication ceremony was to have taken place on the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, when Dr. King gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Despite the storm, a related Rally for Jobs and Justice will proceed tomorrow, ending with a march to the King Memorial. We speak with longtime civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, president and founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, and with Dr. Vincent Harding, a longtime friend and a former speechwriter for Dr. King. He co-wrote his famous "Beyond Vietnam" address. Harding reads from a Carl Wendell Hines poem written shortly after Dr. King’s assassination and notes that "Dead men make such convenient heroes... It is easier to build monuments than to build a better world." [includes rush transcript]

  • “Poverty Is the Problem”: Efforts to Cut Education Funding, Expand Standardized Testing Assailed

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    As millions of students prepare to go back to school, budget cuts are resulting in teacher layoffs and larger classes across the country. This comes as the drive toward more standardized testing increases despite a string of cheating scandals in New York, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and other cities. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan also recently unveiled a controversial plan to use waivers to rewrite parts of the nation’s signature federal education law, No Child Left Behind. We speak to New York City public school teacher Brian Jones and Diane Ravitch, the former assistant secretary of education and counselor to Education Secretary Lamar Alexander under President George H. W. Bush, who has since this post dramatically changed her position on education policy. She is the author of "The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education." [includes rush transcript]