9:30 on the East Coast; 6:30 out west. And this just in, new video from outside a London courthouse where the founder of the WikiLeaks website Julian Assange is in court. He was arrested five hours ago on a Swedish warrant alleging sex crimes but has not been charged. His attorneys say he will fight extradition to Sweden.
Elizabeth Edwards' health takes a turn for the worse. The wife of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards has stopped treatment for cancer and may have only weeks to live.
The sun is shining across Florida, but the temperature is reading 15 degrees below normal for this time of year. Florida's dealing with some of the coldest temps in 10 years. Citrus and vegetable growers are trying to protect their crops by covering them or spraying water on them to freeze. Temperatures across the mid-Atlantic and southeast states are running 15 to 20 degrees below normal.
Well, Michelle Rhee; she's one of the most controversial figures in public education today. She made a name for herself as a revolutionary overhauling the Washington, D.C. school system. She closed schools, fired teachers, cleaned house and she resigned. Love her or hate her, Rhee attracts attention. Oprah even dedicated an entire hour to her.
She graces the covers of magazines like Newsweek and Time and now she's catapulted herself into the center of the national education debate launching education advocacy group called Students First. She talked about her goals this morning to our John Roberts.
That brings us to our AM Extra.
So, John, this woman is definitely a lightning rod and she's been labeled a revolutionary. But how is she actually changing the game?
Well, yes. She is a lightning rod and some people have called her, as you pointed out, a revolutionary. But sometimes it takes a revolution to get something done. With this new Students First, she's got a goal on her first year of attracting a million members and a billion dollars of funding for three major reforms.
First is, to put a quality teacher in every classroom, and Kyra, with your parents are teachers, university professors, you know how important a quality teacher is. The second thing is to spend money where it counts, trim down the bureaucracy and put the dollars on the road where they can actually do something. And then the third goal is to invest parents in their children's education because so many parents kind of send their kids off to school and when they get back in the afternoon don't even ask how their day was.
She believes, like Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, that education reform is the civil rights issue of our generation. And like the civil rights issue, which didn't negotiate everything, she believes that there is room for confrontation here in education reform and some of that confrontation, as she told me this morning, will be aimed at the teachers’ unions. Here's what she said.
I'm prepared to take on a high level of confrontation and conflict in favor of our kids. Because, look, I'm sure the teachers' union doesn't want a lot of confrontation because they don't want to be confronted with the facts, which are that often times the policies that they are pushing, while they are fine for the adults, are actually not good for kids.
So it raises the question, are you preparing to go to war with the teachers' union?
You know what? I don't know. This is not about a war against the teachers' union. For me, it's about fighting for kids.
And John, you also talked about how our universities rank among the rest of the world and we've got big problems in our public school system among developed countries. I mean, we rank mid-20s when it comes to science, math, literature.
How'd she answer to that?
Yes, it's such a dichotomy. You know, the best universities in the world and the public school system in many areas not so good.
She said that we're really headed for a fall if we don't do something and do it quickly. And one of the things she points to and many other education experts do, is that in the next decade there will be 123 million skilled jobs available in this country and only 50 million people who come out of our education system who are qualified to fill them. So that means we'll going to need to bring in people either from the outside or those jobs you are going to go wanting, which would not be good for the future of America.
Well, something's got to happen. John, thanks.