Joe Scarborough and the Rev. Al Sharpton shook up the education world during a recent segment of "Morning Joe", where they had a very direct exchange and agreed on key points in education reform. Topics included unions, merit pay and whether teachers should be fired (the new "f" word in education?).
Sharpton is a civil right activist and president of the National Action Network. Scarborough is a former conservative Republican Congressman who served on the Committee for Education and the Workforce and is author of the recent book, The Last Best Hope. He is host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe".
See and hear for yourself. Vid 3 min. clip below. Unofficial Transcript - 1/8/10:
JS: And you also are talking about it in a way that a lot of civil rights leaders haven't talked in some time about teachers unions about education reform.
You're ready to turn the tables over in the temple and say, hey schools are not about unions, schools are not about jobs, they're about kids.
AS: The priority of the educational structure in this country ought to be whether the kids are learning.
Secretary Duncan and Newt Gingrich and I have toured the country. President Obama met with us last May and said you all ought to tour the country because both of us --though Newt Gingrich and I don't agree on much -- we agreed on that. We've done that. In fact Secretary Duncan and I are going to Atlanta.
JS: You have a lot of people in unions angry at you.
AS: Well, but the point is some of the union leaders are saying we're right, some are saying we're wrong. My thing is, if black and Latino kids are four grades behind in reading and writing, I don't care about somebody that has not effectively taught being protected, I would care about the kid being protected.
JS: So fire the teachers that don't work, that don't perform, that let down kids, and hire teachers that can teach kids.
AS: I think you have to hold the teachers accountable, I think you have got to deal with the teachers who can teach and give them incentives.
I think you've got to deal with merit pay.
I think you've got to give people the incentives to get out into the community.
I think you've got to deal with alternatives.
JS: Why don't more progressives get that?
AS: It's according to who you define as progressive. I think people call themselves progressive and have regressive policies that don't educate our children.
It's who has the power of definition. I do not call anyone that protects the status quo that does not educate kids in my community progressive. They call themselves progressive while they enforce a regressive policy.
JS: I couldn't agree more.
Video below - advance to 1 minute 42 seconds: