'This Week' Transcript: Crisis in the Classroom

Plus, the 'This Week' roundtable.

August 15, 2010 —


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Good morning. I'm Christiane Amanpour, and at the top of the news this week, from the crisis in the classroom...

OBAMA: Education is the economic issue.

AMANPOUR: ... to the junk in the cafeteria. How American schools are failing children. Will your child survive in the global economy?

(UNKNOWN): The stakes have never been higher.

AMANPOUR: This morning, reforming how children learn, an exclusive debate with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, and Michelle Rhee, chancellor of Washington, D.C.'s, public schools.

Plus, reforming what fuels children in the classroom, one man's fight for good food and healthy test scores.

OLIVER: The epidemic of obesity is killing people.

AMANPOUR: An exclusive interview with Emmy Award-winning celebrity chef and activist Jamie Oliver.

Then, Katrina, politics and the economy, analysis on our roundtable with George Will, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, Susie Gharib of "The Nightly Business Report," and Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations.

And the Sunday funnies.

LETTERMAN: And a big controversy in the Miss Universe contest. Miss Iran, yes, disqualified for enriching uranium.

ANNOUNCER: From all across our world to the heart of our nation's capital, ABC's "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour starts now.


AMANPOUR: Hello again, everyone. And consider this: Students returning to class this week are less likely to finish high school than their parents, and they're falling behind students in other countries, scoring lower in science than their peers in 28 nations and ranking 35th in math, behind countries like Estonia and Azerbaijan.

The Obama administration is attempting the most ambitious school reform in a generation, but it's also sparked battles with teachers unions over accountability and merit pay.

The secretary of education says that those countries that out-educate America today will out-compete America tomorrow.


DUNCAN: I'm Arne. How are you doing?

AMANPOUR (voice-over): With $100 billion in federal stimulus money and a close personal friendship with the president, Arne Duncan has an unprecedented opportunity to reform education in America.

DUNCAN: Education is the civil rights issue of our generation.

AMANPOUR: Duncan, former CEO of the Chicago school system, learned the importance of education early on. His mother ran an after-school tutoring program.

DUNCAN: What I was lucky enough to have ingrained in me was that poverty (inaudible) that with opportunities, with support, and (inaudible) every single child can be successful.

AMANPOUR: A former professional basketball player, Duncan is playing with a local basketball team in Louisiana. He's on an eight-state back-to-school bus tour, and he's got business to do, smoothing ruffled feathers amongst the teachers.

DUNCAN: What are we not doing and what should we be doing differently?

(UNKNOWN): And welcome to the classroom. I'm (inaudible)

DUNCAN: Thanks for all the hard work. I appreciate it.

AMANPOUR: The administration's teacher reform plan is controversial. Duncan is calling for schools to use data on student achievement to evaluate teachers, a measure long opposed by teachers unions, but aimed to make sure that children get the best in class.

DUNCAN: In educate, we've been scared to spotlight excellence.

AMANPOUR: Duncan says that student performance and growth should also be used, that teachers are uneasy about having their work tied to student test scores.

(UNKNOWN): How are we going to assess teachers in different ways? Because testing is not the way, Mr. Secretary.

AMANPOUR: It's clear that teachers are frustrated.

(UNKNOWN): But why am I paid as if I'm the lowest of the low, when I have your child's mind in my hands more than you do?

AMANPOUR: Duncan supports paying teachers more based on how well their students perform. At a union rally in Louisiana, Duncan assures teachers that he wants them all to work together.

DUNCAN: We have to do so much more to elevate the teaching profession, to say thank you.


AMANPOUR: And Secretary Duncan joins me now. Also, President of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten and Michelle Rhee, chancellor of the D.C. public schools. She joins us from Sacramento, California.

Thank you to all of us. Let me go straight to you, because that last -- I saw you both nodding in that piece, where really you have to do more together to try to get the teacher situation and the classroom situation better. What can you do to make people like Randi Weingarten and teachers feel secure about how you're trying to reform and weed out the bad teachers?

DUNCAN: Well, I think we've had a fantastic working relationship. And let me be clear: I think Randi Weingarten is going to help lead the country where we need to go. We have to elevate the status of the profession. We can't do enough to recognize great teaching. We can't do enough to shine a spotlight on success. And we have to be willing to challenge the status quo together when it's not working.

And you're seeing that happen in district -- in district -- at district after district around the country thanks to Randi's leadership and courage. That's not an easy feat on her part.

AMANPOUR: All right. Well, you're speaking very nicely about each other for the moment. There's an issue that's just come out in Los Angeles, as you know. The Los Angeles Times has been investigating a school district there and has today put up data about teacher evaluation, student performance, all on the Web site, so it's accessible.

Now, you think that kind of data should go out, and you don't.

WEINGARTEN: Well, I think, actually -- I'll let the secretary speak for himself -- but I think the issue is, what we're all grappling with, is how you make sure that teachers are the best they can be. Failure is not an option, and I think what's happened is that we're all trying to figure out how to make teaching -- which has always been an art -- into an art and a science, which is why data is really important.

But what the L.A. Times did is they used this data, which is unreliable and is basically a prediction and an assumption, they used it in isolation of everything else. And so we said, let the teachers see it, let them use it. In fact, they are starting to do that in L.A., but don't publish it in this way.

DUNCAN: The tragedy in L.A. has been the teachers -- as Randi said -- desperately want this data and they've been denied it. Teachers want to get better. It shouldn't take a newspaper to give them that data.

The district, the union, the education stakeholders have to work together to empower teachers. This should be a piece of how teachers are evaluated, just a piece. We have to look at multiple measures. But every teacher wants to get better. Why does it take a newspaper to give them what they desperately want?

Let me tell you: In California, there are 300,000 teachers, 300,000. The top 10 percent, the top 30,000, would be amongst the best teachers in the world. The bottom 10 percent, the bottom 30,000, you know, there are some real challenges there.

No one -- no one in California can tell you who's in the top 10 percent and who's in the bottom 10 percent. Something's wrong with that picture.

AMANPOUR: Let me turn to Michelle Rhee, because she's had to deal with this directly in her own school district. Michelle Rhee, you, you know, have caused quite a lot of controversy, you've got a lot of supporters and a lot of detractors over what you're doing here in Washington, D.C.

I'm just going to put up the picture of the Time Magazine cover when you came in, you with a great, big broomstick, basically signifying that you're going to sweep out the deadwood, so to speak. You got a certain amount of money in the administration's education stimulus fund. How did you do it? How did you get rid of something like 241 teachers and get the unions on board?

RHEE: Well, we certainly sat at the table with the unions to craft a contract that we thought was going to be good for kids and fair to teachers. We completely revamped our teacher evaluation model so that it was more aligned with how students were actually performing, so in our new model, 50 percent of the teacher's evaluation is based on how much they're progressing their students, in terms of academic achievement levels, 40 percent is based on observations of classroom practice, another 5 percent based on how their school is doing overall, and then the final 5 percent based on their contributions to school community.

So based on what Secretary Duncan just said, we're looking at multiple measures. And based on that, we can identify our highest-performing teachers and our lowest-performing teachers.

AMANPOUR: Let me just quickly ask you, because the figures from 2007 to 2009 showed a significant achievement in closing the achievement gap, but the latest amount -- the latest figures that have come out show that that's stalling. How do you -- how do you fit that into your plan?

RHEE: Well, I think what it shows is that it's just incredibly difficult. I think for decades now we have been trying to figure out as a public education system, how do we close the achievement gap? How do we make sure that race and socioeconomic status are no longer the determining factors of a child's educational achievement levels? And we've made tremendous progress over the last three years under our mayor, Mayor Fenty, who controls the schools here in Washington, D.C.

But it's not a one-shot, silver-bullet solution. It's going to take a lot of time to get to the point where we can say that we've closed the gap.

AMANPOUR: Let me turn to you, Randi. And I've sort of commissioned a prop. I mean, it's the teachers union contract with the city of New York, and it's very, very, very thick. And it reads that it's very difficult to actually get rid of teachers who are not performing.

We've checked. Something like seven teachers were let go this year for bad performance out of thousands of teachers in New York. And there's so many -- so much evidence in Los Angeles, as well, of it taking years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to get to the bottom of this -- of this situation.

How do you get through that impediment to good teachers?

WEINGARTEN: Well, actually, let me -- let me say this. First, the states that actually have lots of teachers in teacher unions tend to be the states that have done the best in terms of academic success in this country. And the states that don't tend to be the worst.

The issue is not a teacher union contract or a teacher union management contract. What we have to do with these contracts is we have to make them solution-driven. We have to use them to solve problems like we have just done in the New Haven contract, like to some extent we did in the contract that was negotiated in Washington. But this is...

AMANPOUR: And the question really is about, who gets kept, who gets fired, who gets merit pay?

WEINGARTEN: So this is the issue. No one -- myself included -- wants bad teachers. We talk about bad teachers and good teachers all the time, but we don't actually spend the time talking about the overwhelming number of good teachers who do a superb job and need the tools and time and trust to do that.

In terms of teachers who are not doing what they need to do, both the secretary and myself have been a Johnny One Note about changing evaluation systems. That is a key, which is what we've both talked about, and talk about in terms of both practice and student learning.

Once you do that, which we're now doing in the union ourselves -- are doing in about 50 or 60 districts throughout the country -- you help people. And if you can't, you counsel them or sever them out of the profession.

At the end of the day, teachers -- this is probably the most important thing I can say -- teachers want what students need. They want to do a good job; they want the person next door to do a good job. But they know we need more than just ourselves.

AMANPOUR: And let me ask you, then, about the new curricula, about the new standards for measuring teachers and classroom performance. And you've identified and the president something like 5,000 failing schools where you need new principals, new teachers. Can you really do that?

DUNCAN: We have to as a country. Let me be clear: We have to educate our way to a better economy. I think where we're all united -- Randi, Michelle, all of us -- is we feel this huge sense of urgency.

In this country, we have a 25 percent dropout rate. That's 1.2 million students leaving our schools for the streets every single year. That is economically unsustainable, and that is morally unacceptable.

We have to get that dropout rate to zero as quick as we can. We have to dramatically increase graduation rates. And we have to make sure every single student that graduates from high school is college- and career-ready.

So the status quo is not going to work for the country. We have to get better, and we all have to work to get to that point absolutely as fast as we can.

AMANPOUR: One of the other controversial points -- and I'm going to turn to you, Michelle Rhee -- is the sort of pay for performance or merit pay for teachers. You've instituted that in your school system here, and how is that working?

RHEE: So we're just about to announce in the next couple of days the highest performing teachers in the district, the most effective. And then we will give merit pay to those folks, a bonus for last year, and then it will impact their -- their pay moving forward, as well, so that we will be able to pay the most effective teachers in the district almost twice as much as they used to be paid.

And I think that's incredibly important, because one of the things that we have not done in public education in the past is differentiate between the types of performers that we had. And it's incredibly important to recognize and reward the people who are doing heroic work in our classrooms every single day, just as important as it is to ensure that for those who are not performing, we're swiftly moving them out of the classroom.

AMANPOUR: One of the -- one of the issues, I think, you have said in your reform is to try to pay more teachers for things like math and science, try to pay teachers to go out into the poor and rural areas where they're desperately needed. Do you think that will create teachers who just now want to teach math and science? I mean, is it going to sort of subvert the balance of classrooms?

DUNCAN: I would love to have that problem. Let me be clear: For the past couple decades, we've had a shortage of math and science teachers in our country. So how are we going to compete in a globally competitive economy if our students don't have teachers who know biology and know chemistry?

We've had very few incentives and, frankly, lots of disincentives for the hardest working, the most committed teachers and principals to go to inner-city communities, to go to rural communities, to go to the children in the neighborhoods who need the most help, and education -- talent matters tremendously. Great teachers are the unsung heroes in our society. They perform miracles every single day.

How do we get the hardest-working, the most committed to the children who need the most help? We have to be more creative (ph). And let me be clear: Financial incentives are a piece of that, but a small piece. You need a great principal. You need a supportive community. All of us have to work together. You have to create the climate and the culture where great talent want to serve where it's most needed.

AMANPOUR: So you've just identified a crisis in...


WEINGARTEN: Right, that's what's so complicated about...

AMANPOUR: But a million school teachers are going to be retiring by 2014 because of Baby Boomers. How do you incentivize them?

WEINGARTEN: So this is what's interesting. The Gates Foundation just actually did a study of 40,000 teachers. And what they said was what is number one for them is to have a supportive, real environment in which they can work with each other and have a supportive principal.

Now, we have to pay teachers competitively. It's tough right now because the economy is so bad, but we have to pay them competitively, and then we have to do some of these differentiations.

As the chancellor said, we negotiated that incentive pay plan, unlike what happened in terms of the evaluation plan. We've negotiated lots of evaluation plans all across the country. But it is about multiple things: good teachers supported by good leaders; really good, robust curriculum; the conditions to -- for kids so that we can eradicate the obstacles to failure.

And the last thing I'll say is this: We have watched other countries outpace us, but let's look at the country that now outpaces us the most, Finland. When they start doing the things that the secretary and I are talking about, really focus on curriculum, focus on how we make -- how we help teachers be the best and the brightest, have supportive principals, have the conditions that help eradicate student failure, then kids succeed.

Let me ask you, Michelle Rhee -- and maybe it's something for both Secretary Duncan and you -- you've called it a civil rights issue, education.

DUNCAN: Absolutely.

AMANPOUR: But, of course, many in the civil rights movement, amongst minorities and blacks here are saying that, in fact, we should be giving -- you should be giving the stimulus money not based on performance and innovative proposals, but based on need, because there's such a need. How do you deal with that in your schools, Michelle?

RHEE: Well, first of all, I mean, we totally disagree with the notion that the -- the right thing to do in terms of putting resources into the school districts is to continue the formula funding of the past that has completely failed children, and particularly poor and minority children in this country.

What the secretary and the president have done through Race to the Top has said we're going to incent innovation. We don't want the -- we don't want to maintain the status quo. We want people who are going to be aggressive about really reforming their districts and who are serious about that. And we're going to give the resources to those -- to those states and to those districts.

And I think that this idea that somehow by just continuing to give all of the districts that same amount of money over and over again is going to produce a different result is absolutely mad.

AMANPOUR: Interestingly, we have a piece of information, a graphic showing how parents feel about merit pay, and we'll put it up right now. But basically, amongst parents, 72 percent say, yes, the teachers should be paid based on the quality of their work, and 28 percent say, no, they should be paid standard scale. Now, that's pretty much the same amongst public school parents and parents nationally.

Is this the way to go?

DUNCAN: It's a piece in the answer. But, again, let me -- this stuff is complicated. What we've done through Race to the Top is you're seeing the vast majority of states, almost 40 states, raise standards, higher standards for every single child. And as a country, we've dummied down standards. We've reduced them due to political pressure, and we've actually been lying to children and parents, telling them they're ready when they're not.

All of us are working together to raise standards. Rewarding excellence is important. Creating wraparound services, after-school programming, tutoring, mentoring, family support, counseling is important, figuring out how you get the best talent where you need it the most important, engaging parents in more creative ways is important.

There's no simple answer here. All these things are working together. But, yes, we have to shine a spotlight on excellence. We have hundreds of thousands of teachers who are beating the odds every single day, performing miracles. We have extraordinary schools closing achievement gaps, great districts, great states. We have to learn from excellence in education. The answers are all out there.

WEINGARTEN: So that's...

AMANPOUR: We have to wrap now, but one of the things I was quickly going to ask you, it seems that the schools that you've put the money into -- to those 12 states that you've given Race to the Top funds, there's 30 or more states which have, as you know, had innovative programs. Probably wouldn't have done that had they not had that incentive to do so.

WEINGARTEN: Actually, they're -- actually, look, I give the secretary a lot of credit for this, but we have to help all kids. And so what happens is that some of these programs, particularly the ones that are collaborative, what we're going to have to see is how they work going forward, because the goal is not just some kids, but all kids.

AMANPOUR: Thank you all. We have to leave it there for this morning, but thank you, Secretary Duncan, Randi Weingarten, and Michelle Rhee for joining us in this conversation.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST: Jamie Oliver, thank you for joining us from London.

JAMIE OLIVER: My pleasure.

AMANPOUR: Apparently, one in three American children are either overweight or obese. In England, they say by 2025, 40 percent of Britons could be obese.

How is society going to actually make any inroads into this -- into this situation?

OLIVER: Well, of course, it's all about food education. I've been trying to focus my attention in the last seven years on tangible change -- stuff that gives you a really good value bang for your buck. And, you know, schools, to me, where your kids are 180 days of the year, often eating breakfast and lunch, seems like such an incredibly powerful way to make dramatic change, not just on what the kids physically eat, but also where they can be educated about food.

So I mean I think there is massive things that can be done. And it's not rocket science.

AMANPOUR: What were you able to accomplish in England, for instance?

OLIVER: Look, let -- let's be really blunt. When you go into a school situation with lots of teenagers and you change their lunch, they want their chips, they want their fries, they want their burgers, their patties, their sloppy Joes. When you go in and you deconstruct it into proper food, you know, and -- and bring in nutrient based food into that situation, of course there's uproar. When you take away their French fries, it's like, you know, it's almost like messing with their religion. You know, it -- it's -- it has a dramatic effect. And, you know, ultimately, I think, you know, is it worth doing or not?

And-- you know, change is tough.

AMANPOUR: To that point, I want to ask you specifically, because a study has been done by Oxford University scientists and it did actually show some good results for your cause.

OLIVER: Yes, I mean, look, basically, we went into a zone of London called Greenwich. We had basically about 37,000 meals a day to provide. And what we did, we had an independent survey done by Oxford University and Essex University. And it showed that the only reason that they could find within a five year period for a rise of about 16 percent in math and English and a downturn in, you know, illness and absenteeism, you know, the only reason they could find for this was the cultural change of food.

And nowadays, they have proven if you feed your children good food, you know, your brain, its ability to remember, its attainment is about 7 to 10 percent more efficient.

And that is why this new bill that's, you know, going through, you know, Capitol Hill at the moment, is so important.

AMANPOUR: You're following the Child Nutrition Act, which is working its way through Congress. What specifically are you looking for it to achieve?

OLIVER: This bill is probably one of the most important health pieces of work in the last 50 years in America. It can and it has the ability to save lives and certainly improve many. The cost, as of this February, you know, to -- of obesity to America is about $150 billion a year. The money that they're talking about supporting this bill is pathetic. It's completely irrelevant to the scale of the problem. $4.5 billion to be spent on this incredibly important bill over 10 years works out at seven cents per kid per day.

You know, so I think my big worry is cash. And what I mean by cash is cash to put proper food on the plate for American children and also to train the cooks of America to work in school -- and it's not just schools, as well. It's old people's homes. It's any civic catering at all.

AMANPOUR: And what did you find in the United States when you brought your -- your good dinners, your Jamie Oliver food revolution, to West Virginia?

It was designated, that particular town, by the CDC, as the most unhealthy in the country.

OLIVER: The tri-state area of West Virginia came up with some of the highest figures of heart disease, diabetes and diet-related deaths. It's not a glamorous thing. They're -- they're actually not the worst anymore. I think they're about number five now instead of number one, which is great news.

What we tried to do in the town was very simple. We -- we took over all of the schools in the area. We took them from processed food to fresh food and as much local food as we could get. We did it on budget. And we worked with all the school cooks.

We put a kitchen in the middle of town. And this is the biggest town, you know, in the tri-state area. And we offered free cooking lessons to anyone that wanted to come. And we're fully booked all the time. And we have people from seven years old to 85 years old coming in to learn to cook.

But what I found, really, was vulnerable people that didn't know or have the tools to make good choices to nourish themselves or their family. That -- that's generally what I found.

AMANPOUR: When you were here, you also went on "David Letterman." And he said this to you about the likelihood of success with this revolution over here in the United States.


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: Try as hard as you might, you're never going to succeed, because we are living in a culture dominated by the commerce of selling food which is inherently unhealthy.


AMANPOUR: So what do you say to that?

OLIVER: In the one way, he's right. You know, the structure of commerce and food in America is so intertwined in broadcast, print media, advertising, TV.

I think that the problem we have to have -- and it's an interesting one. I'll throw it back at you. Like fast food I've hated for many years. And the last two years, I liked stopped. And I actually now start to see them ironically as part of the solution.

Now, I'll give you -- I'll give you one brand, like McDonald's. McDonald's, in -- in England, is -- has had its best three years ever, profitability. It only sells organic milk, free range eggs. You know, it's got an incredible standard of beef. And their ethics is really -- and moving. But that's nothing like the one in the States. And the only, you know, distinguishing part is the public and what they expect.

You know, for me, from what I've learned from America is if you can be humble in your approach, work with people and let them find the -- let them find this food revolution, I think they have the capacity to change more aggressively and better than any country in the world. I -- I believe that. That's my belief.

AMANPOUR: On that note, thank you so much for joining us, Jamie Oliver.

OLIVER: Take care. Thanks for having me.



BUSH: We are dealing with one of the worst natural disasters in our nation's history.

(UNKNOWN): We need the National Guard, Mr. Bush. Please send somebody down here to help us.

(UNKNOWN): The situation grows ever more critical for those stranded in the city.

(UNKNOWN): Please help. I'm asking for anybody to help us.


AMANPOUR: Remembering Katrina, on this, the fifth anniversary, one of our topics for our roundtable with George Will, Susie Gharib, anchor of the "Nightly Business Report" on PBS, Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of "War of Necessity, War of Choice," about the Iraq war, and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.

Welcome to you all. Good morning.

HAASS: Good morning.

GHARIB: Good morning.

AMANPOUR: We're going to start with the economy, of course, because it is at the top of everybody's minds. And some of the stats that came out this week on the existing home sales in July, they were down 27.2 percent, new home sales in July down 12.4 percent, and also the second quarter GDP revised downwards to 1.6 percent.

Where does the country go from now?

WILL: Well, the question is, does the country go anywhere or are we in for, some people say, a lost decade, such as Japan has had, not a double-dip recession, but sort of a flat stagnation?

The problem is that we seem to be having something like a general strike. That's usually a term of the left, indicating labor against capital. Who's on strike now are, A, the investors, the investing class, partly because they're getting free money at 0 percent interest rates. They can put that money in safe investments or in government bonds and make a tidy profit, the banks can.

And the consumers are on strike. The consumers are still heavily in debt compared to their historical norm. They've seen their 401(k)s whither, and they're becoming frugal, which is normally a virtue, but now an inconvenience.

AMANPOUR: The Federal Reserve chairman made a statement on Friday. I mean, he basically said that they're standing by ready to do what they have to do if it gets to dire. Is it not dire?

HAASS: Go ahead.

GHARIB: Go ahead. I mean, the situation is difficult right now, but he's saying that we'll prop up if the situation gets really worse. The real question is, does he have the tools to do what it takes? And this week, Alan Blinder, who used to work at the Fed, put a piece in the Wall Street Journal where he was saying the Fed is running low on ammunition, and the ammunition that it does have is the weak stuff.

I mean, he's saying that at the height of the financial crisis, the Fed was using things like machine guns and hand grenades, and now they're fighting with swords...

AMANPOUR: And throwing rocks.

GHARIB: ... and throwing rocks. And, you know, even -- even the Fed is -- Bernanke is saying that, you know, there are options, but, you know, don't count on us, the Fed alone, the central bankers, to solve the world's problems. It seems like he was hinting at maybe ultimately Washington is going to have to step in.

HAASS: It's exactly right. The Fed has essentially played its hand. Interest rates are as low as essentially they can go. So we can't look to the Fed to get us out of this.

I also don't think, by the way, we can look to stimulus to get us out of this. We've had one. It didn't have the effect people wanted. Plus, at a time of budget deficits, I don't think we're ever going to get a stimulus that's going to be large and focused enough that's going to make a difference.

Instead, we actually have to return to first principles. Why can't we have a gradual reduction in our budget deficit? Why can't we have a more predictable economy about regulation, about taxation? Why can't trade reform and open trade come back on the agenda?

We actually need some policies of growth. Business is sitting on an enormous hoard of money. Businesses are not spending. We need to create an economic and political environment where American business will spend and start to hire again.

BRAZILE: Yet Congress is divided. They are afraid to put more money back into the system, although most Americans should know by now that the stimulus did create or save 2 million to 4 million jobs, averted the Great Depression 2.0, but Congress doesn't have the appetite to put more money into the system, so the Fed may have to step in.

There may be more tools in their arsenal that they can use to try to stimulate this economy, but 45 percent of those who've been unemployed, they've been unemployed for six months or longer. They desperately need the skills and the tools to get back into the workplace.

AMANPOUR: Which goes back to our education debate, which we had at the beginning of this program.

GHARIB: And I think Richard makes a very good point, because right now the debate is, you have to go beyond the conventional cures of Fed policy and also these piecemeal stimulus measures. And this week in the Washington Post, Mohamed El-Erian, a noted economist, wrote a piece saying, you know, we've got to start thinking out of the box. Maybe structural changes that have to be made, more pro-growth tax reform, back to your education case, more support for education, job retraining, things like that.

So I think the debate is moving more in that direction. What are the structural measures that we have to take?

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, Donna and George -- I'm going to put up this quote from Mark Zandi, the economist, which was in the Washington Post, basically talking about the government -- talking about the administration. They've played their policy hand, and they've got to hope it's good enough. There's nothing they can do to make a significant difference in the next six months or even a year.

WILL: Well, it's very difficult to go to the country, as I think (inaudible) Donna would have them do, and say the government today is dangerously frugal, because, in fact, the government's borrowing 42 cents of every dollar it's spending this year. There's no appetite in the country or in the Congress.

And, indeed, the Democrats had been planning to have an election eve Armageddon debate about extension of the Bush tax cuts, saying that this -- sort of a class war, your argument, saying that this is tax cuts for the rich. Now the Democratic position increasingly is the Bush tax cuts were reckless, the Bush tax cuts were inequitable, and the Bush tax cuts should be extended.

AMANPOUR: What do you say, Donna?

BRAZILE: The Bush tax cuts are unaffordable. We cannot simply afford another $700 billion in debt that -- and there's no evidence that the Bush tax cuts will create jobs.

AMANPOUR: But there are some who are saying that perhaps that might happen...

BRAZILE: Well, I don't...

AMANPOUR: ... that the Democrats are under some pressure to maybe -- maybe keep them on.

BRAZILE: I think they're under pressure to keep and extend those tax cuts that will benefit Americans who earn $250,000 or less, but there's no evidence that giving rich people more money will help create the economic conditions that will put more people back to work.

AMANPOUR: Let's -- go ahead, Richard, and then we're going to move on to the (inaudible) which is tightly connected.

HAASS: Exactly. But we also need to think about not simply the tax cuts in isolation. They've got to be married to, among other things, spending cuts. Look at what Germany is doing. They are growing now, in part because they are carrying out economic policies of some responsibility and some restraint.

The international markets will not fund this level of American profligacy forever. As bad as things are now -- I hate to say it -- they could get a lot worse. We simply will not be able to sustain this trajectory.

AMANPOUR: The difficulty is, of course, very significantly, you know, senior economists differ. I mean, some are saying exactly the opposite, there needs much more ease or stimulus, and only then start with the deficit. So I think this for a lot of people is very confusing, that economists at the top, top levels disagree.

But because of all of that, I think that's also causing quite a lot of anxiety amongst voters. Certainly we're hearing it all the time. I was at the rally, the Glenn Beck-led rally at the -- "Restoring Honor," yesterday, down on the mall. And certainly I got that impression from people, that they were anxious about what's going on. Whatever you think of the politics of it, you get the impression that when these speeches come on, people want something to feel good about.

Donna, what do you think about what happened and what I've just said?

BRAZILE: Well, I think what Glenn Beck has tapped into is a reservoir of fear and anxiety right now across the country, because most Americans just don't know. They don't have a firm grip on the future. They know that things are out of control. There's chaos in Washington, D.C. And yet Glenn Beck has been able to become their prophet, their prophet not of hope, but perhaps he's been the person who has spoken to their desire to see things return to a bygone past that will never come to fruition again.

AMANPOUR: The election results this week, the primary results. I mean, what did that say? Again sort of anti-incumbency...

WILL: Well, take Alaska, where Senator Mikulski -- Murkowski lost. That seat had been held by her or her father, who appointed her to it, for 30 years. This is exactly what in a sense the country is rebelling against.

And I think the real message of Alaska that ought to alarm a lot of people (inaudible) I think the polling models this year are all wrong. She was genuinely surprised. Her polls showed her winning, if not overwhelmingly, comfortably. The polls are not picking up the change in the turnout and the composition of this year's electorate.

This year's electorate is going to be older than the general election last year. It's going to be whiter. Minorities are less apt to vote in this kind of election. And it's, therefore, going to be more conservative.

BRAZILE: Well, the pundits can't cut a consistent storyline about the election results thus far. One week, it's anti-establishment; one week, they want more experience.

And George is right. There's an undercurrent right now in the country of voters who are simply disgusted with the politics -- what I call the status quo politics. And it caught Lisa by surprise, Senator Murkowski by surprise. It will catch many other folks by surprise this fall.

AMANPOUR: Let's put up this ad. It's a Democratic ad. Let's put up this, and we'll talk about it.


(UNKNOWN): Bobby Bright is the most independent member of Congress. Bobby voted against the bailouts, against stimulus spending, against the massive government health care, and Bobby voted against the trillion-dollar federal budget.

(UNKNOWN): I like Jason Altmire. He's not afraid to stand up to the president.

(UNKNOWN): And Nancy Pelosi.

(UNKNOWN): That may not be what the Washington crowd wants, but I don't work for them.



WILL: There's a missing word. Those were Democrats, right?

AMANPOUR: Precisely.

WILL: But you didn't hear the word "Democrat," did you?

AMANPOUR: Well, that's why we put that up.

WILL: Yes.


HAASS: But it also doesn't connect. A lot of these people are against the federal government doing this, this and that, except, until it affects their Social Security, their Medicare, and the rest. Americans are not putting it together. It's where these general feelings of frustration are still not creating a political environment where Congress and the executive can do what this country do desperately needs.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you -- somebody was saying to me last night that, look, it was Wall Street, by and large, that practically took the country over the edge, and yet people are lashing out against the government.

GHARIB: Well, you know, let me just say, what the Wall Street view on this whole election thing is, is that it's all coming down to jobs. And so if the unemployment rate gets up to double digits -- and we're getting really close, we're almost at 10 percent -- that that's going to make it very difficult for incumbents. It's going to be more about the job market.

And so the markets are already pricing in a Republican win in the House and maybe a pickup of 15 seats in the Senate, and this is going to lead to, you know, some kind of gridlock.

AMANPOUR: Let's move on -- did you want to say something before we go to Katrina, which is also close to your heart?

BRAZILE: Well, it's very close to my heart, and it's still the story that makes me very emotional. But Wall Street at some point needs to pick up the ball and start playing, because up until this point, most Americans understand that they caused many of the problems, but they're not helping.

AMANPOUR: And earlier, previously on this program, we actually talked about how much profits that actually businesses and Wall Street have been making, but it's not going back into investments and hiring and spending. So that's also, obviously, to be discussed.

But let's go on to Katrina. Five years later, the pictures none of us can forget. I was there. Were you there when it happened?

BRAZILE: No, I wasn't...


AMANPOUR: But your family certainly was. And, obviously, it's taken a lot of time, a lot of money to restore it. what are your feelings today, Donna?

BRAZILE: Well, you know, it's mixed. It's been a mixed recovery, the largest reconstruction in American history. And yet there are some neighborhoods, some communities that have not come back. Many of the people who left thinking that they could return simply has been unable, because it's a different city.

While you see more tourists than ever, the restaurants are back, there are still many Americans who simply cannot afford to regain their foot back in the city.

It's been a blessing in other ways. Many people have found a new path to living elsewhere. And I've seen people come back really invigorated. They're resilient, they're strong, but we're still not there yet.

WILL: The population of New Orleans today is about 355,000. That means it's about 100,000 down from what it was and that probably the population today actually fits the economic capacity of the city better than it did then.

Furthermore, one of the problems of New Orleans was a calamitous public education system. They had three charters before Katrina. They got 51 now. A majority of the children are in charter schools because the state stepped in, took over the education system, and it's much better for that.

AMANPOUR: And the government's just put in $1.8 billion, also, to replace some of those destroyed schools.

GHARIB: I think one little insight into the revival of what's going on in New Orleans is that -- what's going on at Tulane University. You remember that Tulane had to shut down at the time of Katrina. And now we're hearing that this year they got 44,000 applications for 16,000 slots of freshmen, four times what it was pre-Katrina, and the dean says it was more than what's -- you know, the number of applications were more than what Yale got.

And what he says is that some of this is because of -- you know, what happened at Katrina. You had a lot of kids coming with school groups and church groups, helping in the rebuilding effort, and now, you know, they decided to apply to the school.

And the interesting thing about population growth is, a lot of these graduates are getting jobs, staying in New Orleans, and that is adding to population growth, which could be a good thing.

HAASS: It's also a big international story. For a lot of people around the world, they saw Katrina five years ago, and it gave them a glimpse of America they didn't know existed. And in some ways, like our economic problems, like the mosque debate, one of the reminders (ph), what goes on here doesn't stay here.

What we -- what we are is as much of a foreign policy as what we -- what we say and do, and Katrina was one of the things that hurt us. It hurt the American model. It made it impossible for us to preach to others, "You've got to fix your societies," given what was going on here.

So it's an important reminder. The foreign policy by example, who we are, what we do, for better and for worse, has a powerful effect on our ability to be an influence in the world.

AMANPOUR: One of those examples, for better or worse, was the war in Iraq, and this week the president is giving a televised address from the Oval Office on the withdrawal. What do you think -- what are you thinking?

HAASS: He has to be careful in two ways. One is, before he claims too much success, he has to be careful about all the ways Iraq can still unravel. Five, six months after the election, you still don't have a government. The fault lines in the society are deepened and profound, so he has to be very careful about claiming too much when it comes to Iraq.

AMANPOUR: (inaudible)

HAASS: Very much.

WILL: Electricity is intermittent. Seventy-five percent of households are not connected to the sewage systems. You have terrible poverty. You've got a semi-autonomous region called Kurdistan.

AMANPOUR: We are going to have to talk about this more in the green room, because lots and lots at stake there. And that you can see at abcnews.com/thisweek, where you can also find our fact checks in conjunction with PolitiFact.

Next week, I have the first North American interview with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in advance of the release of his memoir, "The Journey." And, of course, you remember he had a huge role in the Iraq war.

The interviews begin airing on "World News" Wednesday night, "Good Morning America," and "Nightline" on Thursday, and on "This Week" next Sunday.