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JIM LEHRER: Good evening. The news is not good tonight if you've just eaten or are about to eat lettuce or celery. Both are on a list of foods a researcher says contain cancer-causing material. We're going to ask him why he says that. And we've got a report with two reports on the health of the public high school in the United States; the first is ours from Denver, in which a teacher says --
CHET BOGAR, high school teacher: If you look at the government, look at the family, they're all in trouble. And so I think that it would be strange if education were not included with the other institutions also.
LEHRER: And the second is from the prestigious Carnegie Foundation. Robin?
ROBERT MacNEIL: Also in our NewsHour tonight, more on the fighting in Lebanon. Israel's prime minister, Menachem Begin, formally resigns. Congress approves the defense budget that includes nerve gas, and we visit the town in Arkansas where it will be made.
LEHRER: That half-hearted joke about not being able to eat anything anymore that doesn't cause cancer doesn't look funny at all tonight. Science magazine has a new report which says there are many more cancer-causing substances in what we eat than anybody ever thought, and that even includes what are normally called "natural" foods. The list of things to eat that contain cancer-causing carcinogens is enormous. It includes lettuce, celery, mushrooms, potatoes, radishes, spinach, corn, coffee, parsley, parsnips, pepper and nuts, as well as burned or browned foods like caramel and toast. The report says an individual is likely to consume thousands of times more natural toxic substances from these foods than man-made pesticides, which until now had caused the most controversy about its cancer-causing possibilities. The Science magazine piece is a stunner, in other words, and is based on the work done by Professor Bruce ames, chairman of the biochemistry department at the University of California at Berkeley. We'll be talking to the professor later in the program. Robin?
MacNEIL: In Beirut today, two French soldiers of the international peacekeeping force were injured in a grenade attack. Sporadic fighting continued in the hills around Beirut, and late in the day Lebanese television reported that Palestinian guerrillas had attacked Lebanese army positions only six miles from Beirut airport where U.S. Marines are based. Previously, Palestinians had been reported only further to the east, nearer Syrian army lines. In the hills overlooking the airport, the Lebanese army and rebel Druse exchanged artillery and rocket fire during the day. The center of the fighting was the village called Suk al Gharb, which government troops captured last Saturday. The army has been holding out ever since against repeated attacks by Druse Moslem mountaineers. Western military attaches said that if Suk al Gharb falls, the Druse will once again be in a position to fire on the airport where the Marines are and President Gemayel's palace nearby. U.S. and Saudi Arabian efforts to secure a ceasefire were reported to be at a crucial stage today. In Washington, negotiations continued between Congress and the White House to define the role and duration of the U.S. Marines assignment in Lebanon.
In Jerusalem today the ailing prime minister, Menachem Begin, formally handed in his resignation opening the way to the formation of a new government by Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir.Begin, who is 70, in weakened health and depressed spirits, remained secluded in his home, and sent the resignation to President Chaim Herzog by messenger. Ralph Nicholson of Viznews has a report.
RALPH NICHOLSON, Viznews [voice-over]: A spokesman for the former prime minister said Begin was suffering from a skin disease, and that prevented him from delivering his resignation personally, so ending his eight days of seclusion. So the job of formally tendering the resignation to President Herzog was left to Cabinet Secretary Dan Meridor. Begin, now 70 years old, announced his intention to step down three weeks ago. The delay was intended to allow his designated successor, Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, to put together a new coalition government. But Begin again delayed after a tentative coalition agreement was thrashed out earlier in the week, and concern for his physical and mental health has grown. Political uncertainty ended when Meridor handed over the brief resignation marking the end of a career that had made Begin one of the most controversial leaders of the past decade.
MacNEIL: Further to the east today, the Soviet-backed government of Afghanistan ordered two U.S. diplomats expelled. Radio Kabul said the men had been spying and helping counterrevolutionaries, meaning the guerrillas who are resisting the occupying Soviet forces. Jim?
LEHRER: The U.S. Senate is expected to pass a resolution tonight condemning the Soviet shooting down of the Korean airliner. It follows similar action by the House yesterday on a 416 to zero vote. But there are some senators who came away unhappy today, led by Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina. They wanted more besides the resolution's words, which called the Soviets' action unconscionable and murderous, among other things. They wanted, but failed to add, specific sanctions against the Soviet Union such as recalling the U.S. ambassador to Moscow and linkage to nuclear arms talks. After his efforts failed late this afternoon, Senator Helms expressed his disappointment.
Sen. JESSE HELMS, (R) North Carolina: I simply felt that there ought to be some teeth in the resolution, and not just have some very eloquent stern rhetoric. That's all this resolution is, and the Soviets are going to say, "Big deal! So what?" They couldn't care less what the United States Senate says. They do care about what the United States Senate does in terms of bringing some common sense into our relationship with the Soviet Union. Yeah, I just think that it's time to stand up and be counted, and a lot of folks stood up and followed the leadership. And they wanted a legislative victory instead of a victory for principle.
LEHRER: The other news on the Korean airliner tragedy today is the condemnation of the Soviet action by the International Civil Aviation Organization, the United Nations agency which sets standards for international air traffic, called for an impartial investigation of the disaster in which 269 people died. The Korean delegate to the session held in Montreal described the airliner as a deer hunted down by a savage animal.
And in the waters north of Japan searchers found the remains of a fifth body plus a business card bearing the first positive identification from one of the 61 American passengers. The name was Kathy Brown of New York City. Robin? Carnegie High School Report
MacNEIL: Our principal story tonight is today's Carnegie report on high schools, a report that takes issue with the "rising tide of mediocrity" found by the President's commission last spring. Yet Carnegie, too, wants major changes in high schools.We'll be talking with the chief author of the report, former U.S. commissioner of education, Ernest Boyer. But first, like the report's researchers, we've spent some time in a high school talking with students, parents, teachers and administrators. Kwame Holman has our report on the state of secondary education as seen at South High School in Denver, Colorado.
KWAME HOLMAN [voice-over]: The first day of school at Denver's South High looked like opening day at any of thousands of American schools. It's a time for reviving last year's friendships, gleeful stories about summer experiences, and hopes for the new athletic season. But Denver's board of education is determined to make this year different. On this day they launched a plan to achieve specific educational goals. The board's president is Naomi Bradford.
NAOMI BRADFORD, Denver board of education: It was very evident to me that the students of today were not doing the amount of homework, getting into the tough subject matter as we did when we grew up. Our goals are very specific goals in that every school must establish their plan of action to increase academic achievement.
HOLMAN [voice-over]: South High's principal is Harold Scott.
HAROLD SCOTT, South High principal: Let's all give our own class, as I call them out, a big yell, okay? Class of '86. [cheers] Class of '85. Okay.Class of '84. [cheers]
The Denver public schools, under the direction of a new school board, have come out with some important goals. The main goals: to make sure that no student leaves high school in the Denver public schools without being literate.
HOLMAN [voice-over]: The board's policy is reflected in classes like Jerry Hedges' senior English class.
JERRY HEDGES, senior English teacher: But let me review then the homework policy and how we are going to work that in this particular class. You will recall that the school board and the President and people in other high places are concerned about improving the quality of education. They think improving the amount of homework done is related to that. You know that by Wednesday of next week you should have read chapter one so that we can discuss that. You know that on Thursday of next week we will have a test over chapter one, so you can plan your time accordingly.
HOLMAN: In addition to increased homework, the board has set these goals: a two-percentile improvement i Denver's students' scores on national tests, stricter discipline, tougher graduation standards, creation of an anti-drug abuse program and student achievement of computer literacy. At South High it will take at least a year to find out whether these goals will be met and whether meeting these goals will get at the fundamental problems of education, problems like students whose reading ability is far below their grade level. This is one of South's remedial reading classes.
TEACHER, remedial reading: I'm going to ask you to read aloud to me. [student struggles]
[in interview] There are many reasons why a 10th-grader might read on the fifth-grade level. For one, it might be excessive absenteeism. Perhaps the student should have been retained for a year when it was discovered that he was not reading as well as he should have been.
[to student] In what month last summer did Mary attend Girl Scout day camp?
HOLMAN [interviewing]: What was wrong with school that you didn't do better, you think?
1st STUDENT: I didn't want to -- I wasn't -- they weren't strict enough on me, and I just played around and didn't do my work.
2nd STUDENT: Last year I was -- I was a C student, but I wasn't doing my work, but yet I was passing as a C student.
HOLMAN [voice-over]: Senior Paula Grausnik says if she had been her own teacher last year she would have failed herself in at least some of her courses. Her English teacher this year admits to a policy of leniency in the past.
Mr. HEDGES: We have been told in the schools in recent years that we should try to help students get through and, in a sense, lessen our standards.
HOLMAN: Do you mean that you were told by administration, "Take it easy; don't fail so many kids?"
Mr. HEDGES: Yes, absolutely.
HOLMAN: Who told you that?
Mr. HEDGES: Okay, primarily this was because of the integration, busing, that we had 10 or 15 years ago. We had a large number of students from minority backgrounds who did not have the academic background to succeed in competition with students who had been working at a higher level. We were told that we had to integrate all levels, and that it would be necessary to have standards that would allow all students to succeed.
JOHN FRANK, math teacher: The number in front of it, it has to go. How do you get rid of the number in front of it? Okay, divide both sides by its coefficient, which is four.
HOLMAN [voice-over]: John Frank is a math teacher who would be delighted to see a return to the days of tougher standards.
Mr. FRANK: It was a lot easier teaching in the old days. They were motivated, they worried about their grades, and Momma was going to make sure that they received good grades. And I don't think we have as much of the parent pressure to see that they have a lot of homework.
HOLMAN [voice-over]: For many parents, the problem is that they are at work when their teenagers come home from school. Alicia Robertson is a ninth-grader whose mother holds a regular job.
Ms. ROBERTSON, mother of student: She probably needs that extra push from me, and I think if I would maybe push her a little harder, that would make her want to do better.
HOLMAN [voice-over]: Randy Butz's parents feel they have done their best to push their son. They point the finger at American youth.
Ms. BUTZ, mother of student: It seems like the kids are just laid back and "hand it to me." They want everything handed to them on a silver platter, more or less. A kid could be extremely good, brought up superbly by his parents, and his peers will come in and influence him and he'll go the other directio completely, even though he knows it's wrong.
RANDY BUTZ, student: You'd rather go out and drink or whatever instead of going to school.
Mr. FRANK: Sixteen from 18's how much?
Mr. FRANK: Positive two and a minus five is a --
RANDY: Minus three.
Mr. FRANK: Minus three.
RANDY: School is such a drag, you know? That sort of thing.
Mr. FRANK: The reason why they get some bad teaching, we have some bad students that's not motivated. It's very difficult for a teacher to be motivated five periods every day in every day. The students should be able to carry some of this motivation on themselves. They should show an interest in something.
Mr. BUTZ: In the middle of the day you just decide, well, now I don't want to go to fourth period, so you're gone and you're gone for the rest of the day. You just, you decide you don't like that class so you ditch it all the time, and then after you ditch one, then you ditch this one, and if you ditch one in the morning, then you're goine the whole day. And like that, and just never go back.
HOLMAN [voice-over]: One class that students rarely skip is Chet Bogar's social studies class. He tries to explain political power by relating it to students' daily lives.
CHET BOGAR, social studies teacher: Every semester in class there are students in my classes that have power. As the semester progresses in here there are going to be some people in here that are going to have power. They're going to be leaders. How does a person become a leader in class? Have you ever been in a class and the teacher has been trying to explain something and everyone's talking and all of a sudden someone says, "Shut up, I want to hear this"? And it gets quiet? Have you ever had -- that kid has power. That kid's a leader. Well, political science looks at power and how it works, who has power, how you get power, how you keep power.
[in interview] I think that if we're concerned about education, if we're more concerned about education than we are about the Denver Broncos, we definitely should consider paying -- putting our teachers on a higher priority than we would a football team, certainly.
HOLMAN: You think you'd get better teaching then?
Mr. BOGAR: I think it would be more competitive.
HOLMAN: You mean you'd get better teachers?
Mr. BOGAR: I think that we could get a lot of people that are intelligent, that have a lot going for them. Why should they go into something that they can make $14,000 -- yeah! -- when they could go into something else and make a lot more money?
HOLMAN [voice-over]: South High teachers rarely speak out for increased salaries, but they do complain about having too few textbooks and too many administrative and clerical duties. Jerry Hedges says administrative work takes up nearly 20% of his time. Chet Bogar says the paperwork distracts him from teaching. Combined with the everpresent problem of drug abuse, these are the factors that make education one of society's toughest challenges.
Mr. BOGAR: If you look at all the major institutions in society, if you look at the church, if you look at the government, look at the family, they're all in trouble.And so I think that it would be strange if education were not included with the other institutions also.
LEHRER: That teacher, Chet Bogar, is in the studio in Denver now along with the presient of the Denver school board who we heard from earlier in that tape. Her name is Naomi Bradford, and we're going to go out to them in a few minutes to see how today's Carnegie Foundation report looks from there. As you know, there have been a lot of major reports on education in recent months -- eight, according to our court, just since April when a presidential commission issued one on the sad state of education in America. Today's from Carnegie is number nine, and it rates special attention for several reasons. One being simply because it is from Carnegie, a foundation that has influenced education reform in this country since 1906. That's when it issued its first report, one that led to standards for the length of classes and of the school year, most of which still apply. In 1910 there was another which triggered a reorganization of the way medical education works. In 1938 there was one which advocated standardized testing and led to the present-day college board examination process. And in 1968, it was a Carnegie report which led to direct federal aid to low-income college students, now called the Pell grant program that cost the government some $2.4 billion this year alone. So people usually pay attention when Carnegie speaks, and this time it is about public high school education. Its report today is based on three years of research focused primarily on 15 representative high schools around the country. Here to tell us what was found and is now recommended is the president of the Carnegie Foundation, Ernest Boyer. He was the U.S. commissioner of education in the Carter administration, and before that was the chancellor of the State University of New York system. Dr. Boyer, generally your report was more upbeat than some of these earlier ones. Why?
ERNEST BOYER: Well, in our school visits, which we have conducted for the past three years, we found outstanding institutions as well as some that were failing. And it just isn't correct, we think, to say that the entire public school system is a disaster. We found brilliant exceptions to that, and an accurate report card would say we have some A's as well as F's.
LEHRER: I noticed that you said to blame the schools for the rising tide of mediocrity in the country, which was the term used by the presidential commission, was to confuse symptoms with disease. That's what you said in your report. What do you mean by that?
Dr. BOYER: I mean by that that the school is connected to the institutions and the social conditions that surround them.
LEHRER: Just as teacher Chet Bogar had said.
Dr. BOYER: Exactly what Chet was talking about. When the family is unstable, the community has crime and instability, it's impossible for the school to build a wall around it and pretend that it can be an island of excellence and stability. It is in fact in a large -- to a large degree, a reflection of the community and context of which it is a part. Now, it's not wholly the victim, but we say in our report, a report card on the schools is in large measure a report card on the nation. And we can't always point the finger elsewhere; we have to also look at the conditions that have caused instabilities and pathologies in the school.
LEHRER: You make some specific recommendations. Let's go throght two or three of them. Your report puts more emphasis on reading and language skills than some of the earlier ones have on math and science. Why is that?
Dr. BOYER: Well, in our view, language is the most essential human, social and educational function. Through the symbol system we communicate, and the mastery of English in our society is the means by which all other further learning proceeds. Without diminishing the importance of math and science, we just have to say the first and most essential priority of the formal school system is an effective use of the English language, and we urge it at all levels, and we especially stress writing because clear writing is connected to clear thinking, which is the means by which one proceeds educationally.
LEHRER: All right. You also advocate a strong core curricula, meaning not dividing students up in categories -- pre-college, pre-vocation. Why is that?
Dr. BOYER: We think that there is a body of knowledge and understanding that's important for all young people as they anticipate the adult world of which they have to be a part. We stress civic responsibility, and that means that you have to prepare to be a citizen in the sense that Jefferson talked about. That's what public schooling is about, and we don't think ignorance among half of our student population is justified, nor can we live it in the future. So we call for a core curriculum that stresses understanding government and how it works, world understanding, as well as math and science, and we also stress the arts because that's what makes us truly human.
LEHRER: You also call for high school students to be required to do volunteer work out in their community. What's behind that?
Dr. BOYER: Well, as I watched those tapes I was intrigued that they were talking about a youth problem. And we're convinced that it's not just a school problem, it's a youth problem. And we found among young people an attitude of feeling useless, and they're being held in the schools until they're adults and then they can walk out.We have a youth problem in this country of not knowing how to have adolesents feel that they belong and have a purpose. So we found some schools where service was one of the requirements, weekends and summers, and we have proposed that all students engage in some volunteer service as a part of their school experience to discover what it means to be socially and civically responsible. That's a part of becoming a good citizen, too.
LEHRER: Thank you. Robin?
MacNEIL: Dr. Boyer, let's turn to teachers for a moment. It seemed to us that your report, in contrast to others, was sympathetic to teachers. Do you feel that the teachers have been maligned in the previous studies?
Dr. BOYER: I think we've used the teachers as a scapegoat far too much. I discovered in our report that teachers feel powerless. That is, they're being asked to deliver more and they're being given less authority to do it. Now, I think teachers need to have greater control over the textbooks and what they teach; they need to be given some free time to prepare, and not be given the assignments and even have -- to take them away from the classroom.
MacNEIL: You've given us your report card on the schools. What is Carnegie's report card on high school teachers?
Dr. BOYER: Well, in terms of morale, I'm afraid it's far below average, D or F. But we found outstanding teachers in almost every school we visited, and we found some poor ones, too.But when I was commissioner I asked a group of students who visited me, "How would you grade your teachers over four years?" and I was intrigued that on average they gave them above average grades, and that's where I'd come out.
MacNEIL: What is getting in the way of good teaching now, in your view?
Dr. BOYER: I think an increased bureaucracy is getting in the way, and I think lack of parent support is getting in the way. And I think feeling that everything in the system is more important than what goes on in the classroom is emerging as an attitude among the education establishment.
MacNEIL: What practical recommendations does your report have to cope with these?
Dr. BOYER: Yeah, we make some very direct recommendations. We think every teacher should have at least one period during the day in which they're able to work on preparing for the next class. We also recommend that every school have a teacher discretionary fund in which excellent ideas can be rewarded at the school level. We also recommend that every school have a travel fund in which teachers occasionally can attend professional meetings and meet with colleagues beyond the class. So -- and the school. In our view we have to start recognizing that excellence in education begins and ends in the classroom, and that means recognizing the importance and authority of the teacher.
MacNEIL: Don't you also say cut down on the paperwork, have a moratorium on paperwork, turn off the loudspeakers, and --
Dr. BOYER: Yeah, well, I have a story. In one of the classrooms I attended, the P.A. system interrupted three different times, once to talk about late slips and once to talk about an assembly and once to talk about smoking in the men's room.And you genuinely had the feeling that, "when we get all of the logistics of this place worked out, then, by the way, go back to teach." Yeah, I'd suggest we pull the plug on the P.A. system for a week to see if we couldn't keep the school afloat and give the teachers some free time to teach.
MacNEIL: You recommend that every teacher in the country over three years have an increase of 20% in their basic pay. Is that correct?
Dr. BOYER: Yes. Yes.
MacNEIL: What do you suggest in order to improve the quality of teachers in the future?
Dr. BOYER: Well, I think if we increase the -- improve the working conditions and increase the salary and start recruiting teachers even in high school -- we have a suggestion that young students might be identified in high school as prospective teachers and start working with senior teachers in the school. And if we can have a national teachers service in which perhaps federal scholarships could be given for several years of teaching in the public schools, we could start giving honor and recognition to this profession, and then it would be attractive. But it's certainly not going to happen unless we start improving some of the conditions that are hurting the morale right now.
MacNEIL: Do you have any rough ballpark idea of what it would cost -- to reduce the teachers' workload to the degree you recommended and increase their remuneration -- to the average school board?
Dr. BOYER: No, we haven't made a detailed estimate of the impact on the budget except to make this point: for the past 10 years the amount of money going to teachers' salaries has been declining as a percentage of the overall school budget. In fact, it's less than 40%. And it's my conviction that if we would consider teachers' salaries to be more important than the educational bureaucracy that's been emerging, we could perhaps gain come leverage for the teachers without increasing the overall school budget in a disproportionate way.
MacNEIL: Thank you. Jim?
LEHRER: Let's go back to Denver now to see what a teacher and a school board president make of what Dr. Boyer has been telling us. The teacher is Chet Bogar, who teaches social studies at South High School in Denver; the board president is Naomi Bradford of the Denver Board of Education. Ms. Bradford, does what Dr. Boyer says have the sound of the real world to you out there?
NAOMI BRADFORD: In part, but not terribly realistic in other parts.When he's talking about some of these things that have a budgetary impact, we simply don't have control over some of those issues. They're mandated by the state and by the property tax level.
LEHRER: You mean like his recommendation on teachers' pay and cutting down the -- or adding free periods to the teachers' workload? Is that what you're referring to?
Ms. BRADFORD: Yes. All of those are dollar figures. I also disagree with another thing that he said, and that is that in school districts only 40% of the budget goes to salaries. I think our figure is around 80%.
LEHRER: Eighty percent goes to salaries in Denver?
Ms. BRADFORD: I think that's a close figure.
LEHRER: Mr. Bogar, generally what do you think of what Dr. Boyer has to say?
Mr. BOGAR: I'm in agreement with many things that he said. I think that his comments on the reading and the writing -- I'd also like to add social studies. I think one of the things that I've noticed in the schools is, you know, we have a lot of foreign students in the schools now. It's much more of a cultural mix in the schools than probably in the past. And I think that it's important for us as a nation, as well as the school district here in Denver, to make the students aware of what culture is all about and, you know, basically living with other people. I think that in the past that's been a problem, and I think that's still a problem. I think that, you know, nationally that's a problem, I think in our relations with other countries, even. So I see that as really being something important. I am in agreement with many things with the report.
LEHRER: Ms. Bradford, what do you think would happen in Denver if you required that all high school students to do volunteer work after school and in the summer?
Ms. BRADFORD: Let me make myself clear. I don't disagree with all that Mr. Bogar has said. In fact, a volunteer experience is a good experience. As to requiring it, I'm not sure about that. But I think that what he is referring to is a point well taken. The other point that he made concerning students having some idea about what is out there in reality is very, very important, and we are moving in the direction of causing students to be able apply what they have learned in theory in the classroom. So I think that is an important direction in learning, and probably literally the cutting edge of education in this day.
LEHRER: Mr. Bogar, what about the requirement of a core curricula? Do you agree with that?
Mr. BOGAR: Yeah, I do.
LEHRER: How about you, Ms. Bradford?
Ms. BRADFORD: Yes. In fact, that's one of the things that we've done that is strengthening education in Denver, and that is clearly defining what our curriculum is. But in addition to that, you must also have some periodic assessment so that there is constantly a pulse on the learning that is taking place, and that information has to be a part of the thinking of the building-level administrator so that there can be a continual fine tuning throughout the year so that a high level of learning really does take place.
LEHRER: Mr. Bogar, from your perspective as a classroom teacher sitting in Denver, Colorado, do you think reports like the one that Dr. Boyer and Carnegie issued today is going to make any difference?Is it an important thing to you?
Mr. BOGAR: It's an important thing to me as an individual, but I think, you know, as far as district-wide, I don't know if it'll have a tremendous impact.
LEHRER: Why not?
Mr. BOGAR: Well, I think it, you know, parts of it would certainly constitute change, and change is something that is very slow. It's a very slow process, and you know, it might have some impact, but would certainly be a long ways down the road, I think.
LEHRER: Do you agree, Ms. Bradford?
Ms. BRADFORD: Well, I hope it does, but I have to point out something that I've noticed that has been missing from, I think, all of the reports, and that is there's not been an emphasis on the role of the boards of education. There has been a real absence of emphasis on the role of the building-level administrators. Now, in Denver, we believe that that is the beginning. Those are the beginning keys to this problem. We're not placing blame on teachers; we're almost placing it squarely on ourselves, and saying that we have to strengthen our policies, set some very important goals, and then assess to see how we're reaching them.
LEHRER: What about Dr. Boyer's point that there's too big of an educational bureaucracy, and I assume that he includes the bureaucracy at the school board level or the district level. Do you think you have too big a bureaucracy in Denver?
Ms. BRADFORD: I don't know how he means that, but I do believe that boards of education often have been hesitant to make themselves felt, and I think that a major key is involved in the determination and the ability and commitment of a board of education and the highest level administration to a lot of sheer work.
LEHRER: Let me ask Mr. Bogar that. What's the bureaucracy problem in the Denver schools from your perspective?
Mr. BOGAR: Well, I just think that whenever you have a bureaucracy it's difficult to implement new ideas, and it's, you know, just in terms of a school board, that it's a political position and, as a consequence of that, there are certain things, maybe, that an individual possibly wouldn't be at liberty do to. You know, just in terms of the political considerations.
LEHRER: Well, thank you. Robin?
MacNEIL: Mr. Boyer, what do you think of what you just heard? Let's start specifically with Mr. Bradford's comment that not enough attention in all these reports -- presumably including yours -- has been paid to administrators?
Dr. BOYER: Well, we do have a section of our report called "The Principal as Leader," and I have a strong conviction that every school must have administrative leadership to pull it together, much as an orchestra needs a director. And so I haven't talked about it, but our report couldn't be more sympathetic to the recognition that, while we have teachers in the schools, we must have administrators to help those teachers perform the tasks that are so essential.I'd support her view on that, yes.
MacNEIL: Does that satisfy you, Ms. Bradford?
Ms. BRADFORD: Yes, thank you.
MacNEIL: What did you think of the -- of the reaction, Mr. Boyer, from the teacher, Chet Bogar, that change takes a very long time and he wasn't going to look for it very fast?
Dr. BOYER: Well, I understand how one can be pessimistic. On the other hand, I looked at a film of a report that was released 25 years ago by Dr. Conant at Harvard, and I heard him talk about the need for reform, and then I thought of what's happened to American schools in the last 25 years. And I just have to tell you it's a different world. While change seems to come slowly, change does occur, and I don't believe that a single report like ours will overnight change the world. I wouldn't be so arrogant or optimistic. On the other hand, I do think that the healthiness of the moment is we're debating new ideas, and I'm able to talk with Denver about school improvement. And I think that's the excitement and health of this nation, so I'm optimistic that change does occur. Sometimes we're not aware of it, but I think the vitality of the schools are now being identified, and I'm optimistic about change.
MacNEIL: Ms. Bradford, do you feel in Denver -- as we reported in our piece, you've launched a program of improvement this year. Do you feel you don't need any more reports like this, that you've got the message and you're going about it?
Ms. BRADFORD: Yes, I think clearly that we are and that we've set some pretty high standards. But we've only begun. It's important to mention that because goals as strong and as in depth and ambitious as ours are going to take time. For instance, the goal of greater parent involvement. That's going to take awhile to turn around, but we're determined that we are going to make these changes, regardless of how much time and determination it takes.
MacNEIL: And, Mr. Bogar, do you think South High School in Denver's program of improvement has got it right and it doesn't need any more advice from outside? How do you feel about that?
Mr. BOGAR: Oh, no, I think that, you know, that certainly -- I don't think you can ever get it right. I think that, you know, things are always in a constant state of change and that --
MacNEIL: Do you feel hopeful -- do you feel, yourself, an improvement taking place?
Mr. BOGAR: Well, I see a much more positive attitude, certainly, among the faculty.
MacNEIL: Where do you think that comes from?
Mr. BOGAR: Well, I think that there might be some optimism that possibly, you know, there might be some things happening this year. We started off the school year and -- with a presentation from Ms. Bradford and other members of the board, and they spoke about some of the changes. And one of the things -- one of the changes, we have a new program at South, for example, to deal with drugs. It's a pilot project now. It's in two high schools, and eventually it will be in all of the high schools, and we're starting to address some of those problems that previously we really hadn't begun to really address. So, yeah, I think there's a positive attitude now.
MacNEIL: Well, I'd like to thank you very much, Mr. Bogar, for joining us; Ms. Bradford, in Denver; and Mr. Boyer in Washington.Jim?
LEHRER: There's another education story today. It's from Chicago and it's about the possibility of a strike. The 28,000 teachers in the Chicago schools who are members of the Chicago Teachers Union took a strike vote. The main issue is pay. Some 450,000 students would be affected by the strike on October 3rd if it comes off. And we'll be back in a moment.
[Video Postcard -- Penobscot Bay, Maine] Cancer in Our Food
MacNEIL: As we reported earlier, a new scientific study says that many more cancer-causing substances are contained in the foods we eat than previously thought. Our next guest is the author of that report.He is Professor Bruce Ames of the University of California at Berkeley. He's a noted expert in the field of cancer research who developed one of the primary tests for detecting cancer-causing substances, known as the Ames Test. Professor Ames joins us tonight from public station KQED in San Francisco. Professor Ames, good evening. What are the substances in the carcinogenic foods -- substances in these foods that you've identified in this report? What kind of substances are they?
BRUCE AMES: Well, the purpose of my article wasn't to say that you shouldn't eat lettuce or you shouldn't eat mushrooms, but what I was trying to do is say, in the last five years or so, there's been an enormous amount of information coming in about mutagens and carcinogens and teratogens, and in fact there's a whole world of these things in nature. So the public thinks that nature is benign and all the chemicals are man-made chemicals, but every plant in nature has to defend itself against all the millions of insects --
MacNEIL: Now, are these mutagens and carcinogens things that have always been in these plants naturally, or have recently been put there or arrived there?
Prof. AMES: No. They've always been there because the plant has to defend itself against fungi and insects, and so the plant defends itself with toxic chemicals. So every plant has a few percent in toxic chemicals, and now that people are doing more testing, they're realizing that there are mutagens in this plant and carcinogens in that plant, and so, if you look at the amounts of nature's pesticides versus man-made pesticides, we're probably getting 10,000 times more of nature's pesticide than man-made pesticides.
MacNEIL: So just to be totally clear, we're not talking about things that may have been sprayed on crops as herbicides or fungicides or pesticides or any of those things?
Prof. AMES: No. Plants have to have -- they can't run away, so they have to have something that keeps off the insects and the fungi, and they have toxic chemicals. So every plant has a few percent in toxic chemicals. So the potato has solanine and chaconine and the tomato has tomatine and lettuce has something else, and there's just a whole world of these things out there.
MacNEIL: And each of these things is a recognized carcinogen, is it?
Prof. AMES: No, no.Organic chemists have been looking at these structures for 100 years, but only recently have people been testing them using our test and other tests, and they're finding lots of mutagens; they're finding lots of carcinogens. And if you look at the amounts of these things, they're enormous. So that there are always tradeoffs. If you breed these compounds out of plants then they're much more susceptible to insects. If you raise the level, you'll get toxic plants. So the purpose of my review is to say, well, there's a whole world of thses things, plus there are anti-carcinogens in plants. So the whole field has been changing. We're learning a lot more about what's out there, and but it isn't that it's just man-made chemicals, that there's this whole world of natural and traditional things. So when you cook your food, scientists in Japan found, you make all kinds of mutagens and carcinogens. So that whenever you burn anything you make mutagens and carcinogens, so --
MacNEIL: Just to be clear, a mutagen is something that changes a cell, is that correct? Causes changes in a cell?
Prof. AMES: Yeah. A mutagen is a chemical that damages DNA, the genetic material, and there's been -- over the years there's been many people who've associated carcinogens -- chemicals that cause cancer -- with mutagens, so that people think that that's one aspect of cancer that chemicals damage the genes.
MacNEIL: Now, since the natural tendency of anybody hearing this story is going to say, does that mean I shouldn't be eating all the things that are on that list, can you place the risk of getting cancer from eating those substances on some kind of scale of known risk compared to other things in the environment?
Prof. AMES: Well, if you ask epidemiologists, these are people who study cancer in people, what's causing cancer, they'll say, well, lung cancer is due to cigarette smoking, pretty much, and 30% of the people are dying of -- the people are getting cancer are getting it because of cigarettes. And 25% of the people who are getting heart disease. So that's a major risk. We know about that. But then diet is coming up more and more as another major risk. But diet is not only a mixture of carcinogens, but it has anti-carcinogens. So that part of my review was to discuss this whole new area of anti-carcinogens that are present in our diet.
MacNEIL: So you could identify a list of foods, one list that contains carcinogens and another list, possibly even overlapping, that contains things that help people -- prevent people getting cancer?
Prof. AMES: Right. In fact, they are overlapping so that our food is a mixture of both, and as we understand what the basic mechanisms are, part of my review s to discuss the whole idea of oxidative mechanisms -- when your fat goes -- when fat goes rancid or you paint your wall with linseed oil, then when the paint solidifies it's an oxidation process, and so the same kind of thing is going on in our body, and many of these anti-carcinogens that are coming up in animal cancer experiments and even epidemiology are turning out to be anti-oxidants.
MacNEIL: I know you are a research scientist and not a doctor. What is your own personal feeling about eating or not eating the things that you've listed?
Prof. AMES: Yeah. I haven't changed my diet very much. I eat a nice -- a good, balanced diet. Maybe I don't eat quite as much burnt material as I used to. So, again -- so it isn't so much that you identify a chemical as a carcinogen. We want to know that, and that's a red warning find, but you also want to know the amount: is it significant? So that, for example, when you smoke you're getting 10 milligrams of tar times 40 cigarettes. You're getting maybe this much material coating your lungs every day for 40 years, and that's eight years off your life. Well, if you get air pollution, you're getting also burnt material that has mutagens and carcinogens. You'll be getting very little of it -- maybe a couple of weeks of Los Angeles air is the same amount of burnt material as one cigarette. So -- and then when you cook your food you're making a lot of burnt material, but there we're eating it instead of getting it into our lungs. So people are going to have to more and more think about what are the minor risks and what are the major risks. There's no sense scaring everybody over really minor risks, and I think we're understanding more about that.
MacNEIL: Well, thank you very much for joining us tonight, Dr. Ames, in San Francisco. Jim?
LEHRER: Mostresearchers at the various cancer centers around the country, including the National Cancer Institute here in Washington, were caught by surprise by Professor Ames' findings. We checked today, but none were willing to react or comment in detail until they've had a chance to see and study the new report, and when they're ready, we'll be too to follow up.
There were three pieces of economic news today. The Federal Reserve Board said factory production climbed only nine-tenths of one percent in August. That could be bad because it shows the economic recovery may be slowing down a bit, but others say any increase is good, and it is the ninth month in a row that that figure has gone up. Also, the Commerce Department reported the U.S. foreign trade deficit rose to an all-time high in the second quarter of this year, to $9.7 billion. That's the money difference between what the U.S. exported and imported. The high figure was attributed primarily to the high value of the dollar, which has hurt the sale of U.S. products abroad. And the World Bank confirmed what everybody in countries like Mexico and Brazil already knew, that the economic recovery in the industrialized world is fine, but it will be a long time before the Third World escapes difficult and painful economic times. Robin? Nerve Gas
MacNEIL: For 12 years, Congress has been fighting about a project to build a breeder reactor to make plutonium out of uranium. It would be built on the Clinch River at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. This is the home state of the Senate majority leader, Howard Baker, who is a firm supporter of the project. Opponents call it a financial boondoggle, and more than $1 billion has been spent on it already. Supporters say it's vital to the energy needs and the national security of the United States, well worth the estimated final price tag of $3.6 billion. Today, Clinch River was before Congress again as Energy Secretary Donald Hodel defended the project at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on science and technology. Here is an excerpt.
DONALD HODEL, Secretary of Energy: First of all, over 90% of the design work of this project has been completed. Typically for a light water reactor, 25% or so of the design work has been completed at the time construction permits are obtained. Seventy-five percent of the equipment is on order, and half of that has been delivered. The cost of this project has grown enormously since it was first estimated in 1972. That is not unique to the Clinch River project; it is common to large projects between 1972 and 1982-'83. The policy debate and the arguments about this project have had a significant impact on our ability to move forward with it. The uncertainty of financing, the five-year policy debate that has gone forward, has resulted in essentially marginal funding or insufficient funding, which has helped create the very problem that is now being used as a reason for not completing the project, which is the costs have gotten out of hand. But the reason I continue to support Clinch is that we are well into this project. It very well might be -- I would not be before this committee recommending that we commence such a project, but we are $1,600,000,000 into this project. It has become symbolic of the commitment of this nation to a breeder reactor program.
Rep. ROBERT WALKER, (R) Pennsylvania: Is there any chance that breeder technology over the next several years is going to meet 20% of all our electrical energy needs?
Sec. HODEL: No.
Rep. WALKER: Is there any chance that it's going to meet 10% ofall of our electrical needs?
Sec. HODEL: No.
Rep. WALKER: Then the question arises in my mind is, why can we justify spending 20% of the entire research and development budget for breeder technology, including the base program, or, in the case of just the Clinch River programs, spending 10% of the entire energy R&D budget for one project alone?
Sec. HODEL: To abandon it now sends all kinds of wrong signals, I think takes us away from the proliferation table, and leaves the United States dependent on future breeder requirements on other nations.
Rep. HOWARD WOLPE, (D) Michigan: The issue really is, how can we most efficiently make investments that will most quickly and cheaply displace our dependence upon petroleum. That's the question. And I think that too frequently we kind of take the cart before the horse. We are kind of indiscriminately throwing dollars behind various technologies in the hope that they will yield a cost-effective benefit at the end of the line. Let's admit that a more rational approach would be, first of all, to identify what our energy requirements are in this country for heating, for transportation and the like, and then to determine what's the most efficient means of meeting those energy requirements. And the economic argument that has been advanced with respect to the breeder is that there are simply a lot of other investments that will much more cheaply, much more quickly meet our energy requirements and displace petroleum. So that the question is not, would it not be desirable? It would be nice to do everything. We have to make choices.
Rep. GORDON HUMPHREY, (R) New Hampshire: Clinch River is -- the breeder reactor demonstration project is not essential to our base breeder reactor research program. If Clinch River disappears from the face of the earth today or tomorrow, it does not affect our base breeder reactor research program.
MacNEIL: There will be more hearings on the Clinch River project next week.
Money was not the object today -- or the immediate object -- when the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a 1984 defense budget of $188 billion. The same bill was approved by the Senate on Tuesday.The strong tide of emotion over the Korean airliner helped stifle opposition to controversial elements like the MX missile and nerve gas weapons, both authorized in the bill. It permits the government to start making nerve gas for the first time since 1969. One of those opposing it was Republican Congressman Ed Bethune of Arkansas, where the nerve gas weapons will be made. He appealed to his colleagues "not to take leave of our sense and do something because of our emotions at this particular moment." But his opposition on nerve gas is not shared in the actual town where the nerve gas factory is located, the town of White Hall, Arkansas.Kwame Holman narrates our report.
BUDDY WHITEAKER, White Hall resident: I'd say basically it's middle America. It's a community that has good old-fashioned values and ideas, and neighborliness, and a kind of progress that says we're looking for tomorrow as well as aware of our past and our heritage.
KWAME HOLMAN [voice-over]: Buddy Whitaker's town is White Hall, Arkansas. It may be old fashioned, but these days it's making headlines as the town whose residents favor the production of nerve gas.
Mr. WHITEAKER: We have to have something that is comparable to what we know our adversaries have.
NEIL CLARK, publisher: I think we have an obligation, and I think we have the right to have everything militarily better than any other country.
WHITE HALL RESIDENT: You know, the nuclear bomb all they got to do is push a button and it's over with. So if something small like nerve gas, you know, that's no problem.
HOLMAN [voice-over; high school ROTC corps drill]: White Hall is a patriotic town. It's proud of its high school ROTC program, proud of the local boy who died trying to rescue the hostages in Iran, proud that the anti-war movement of the Vietnam era barely touched it. Publisher Neil Clark says that White Hall is a town in the Southern tradition.
Mr. CLARK: I think the South is a little bit more patriotic, maybe, than other parts of the country. I think that they rally to a cause.
HOLMAN [voice-over]: From the ROTC rifle team to city hall, there is strong support for national defense. Tom Ashcraft is mayor of White Hall.
TOM ASHCRAFT, Mayor of White Hall: Most people, if you were to say, "Well, you are very hawkish, you are very conservative," they'd consider it a compliment.
HOLMAN [voice-over]: To the people of White Hall, nerve gas is an essential part of a strong defense.
Mayor ASHCRAFT: It is needed because of the potential use against our troops. We should be able to retaliate in kind.
HOLMAN [voice-over]: That feeling was echoed over morning coffee at a local restaurant.
CUSTOMER: Now, if they'll make a deal with Russia or Russia and China and different places not to have it, then I'll make a deal not to have it also.
GEORGE GOODWIN: If it's to be produced, why not produce it here?I don't see any -- I'll take it. They can manufacture it in my backyard. It wouldn't worry me.
HOLMAN [voice-over]: Former alderman George Goodwin just might get his wish. White Hall's backyard might well be the site where the new nerve gas production begins. Here at the Pine Bluff arsenal on the edge of White Hall the Army made chemical and biological agents from the 1940s through the 1960s. Now they're gearing up again, buildings used during World War II for the production of mustard gas are being renovated to manufacture one component of the modern binary nerve gas system. Last week, Congressman Burl Anthony came to the control room of this facility to talk with community leaders.
Rep. BURL ANTHONY, (D) Arkansas: You know, even for those people who get nervous about chemical warfare, they ought to be able to see just from a factual standpoint that this makes a lot more sense than what we've presently got. I tell you what, it just destroys my mind that people can't understand that this is the best way for us to have a deterrent capability because it is so safe.
HOLMAN [voice-over]: Anthony says it is safe for the community because only one non-lethal component of the nerve gas would be made at the arsenal. He also believes it would be safer for the world if the United States could retaliate in kind to a nerve gas attack.
Rep. ANTHONY: You're a commander in the field, and if you knew you only had the ability to hit the first echelon, what's the first thing you're going to do? You're going to pick up the telephone and you're going to call the general, and you're going to say, "General, we're being swamped, they have contaminated our rear echelon. Give me the authority to push the button to use the nuclear weapon." So the big argument is, in a new chemical capability, it lowers the threshold for nuclear war.
HOLMAN [voice-over]: To many people the question is not whether nerve gas is a good deterrent, but whether it is morally right to use that kind of weapon. White Hall is a religious community with a church in almost every block, but in this town nerve gas is not seen as a moral issue. Mayor Ashcraft is deacon at Lee Memorial Church. He rejects the moral argument.
Mayor ASHCRAFT: When you're talking about morality, you've got to consider that in a war situation where a potential enemy or an enemy is trying to disable your people, the name of the game is to disable them.
Mr. WHITAKER: In discussing it with my coffee colleagues, I've never heard the question of its moral implications assessed as much as I have simply the tragedy and horror of war.
HOLMAN [voice-over]: The citizens of White Hall say they want to protect their town and the nation from war. If, as the government says, nerve gas is what it takes to help prevent such a calamity, then White Hall is willing to do more than its fair share.
Mr. WHITAKER: If I had lived in Omaha, how would I have felt about that becoming the headquarters of our international air defense command, or whatever it is, you know? And I've got to say thank God for the people in Omaha. And I hope that the people of New Jersey and California or you-name-it look upon the people of White Hall as saying, "We wish it didn't have to be, but we're glad that there's a hospitable community of people who are willing to shoulder that responsibility down in Arkansas."
LEHRER: To run down again the major news of the day, a researcher stunned everyone with the news many foods we thought to be good for us may in fact be a cause of cancer.
A new report on the state of the public high school in the U.S. recommended a new emphasis on reading and writing rather than math and science.
This evening the Senate joined the House in passing a condemning resolution over the Korean airliner tragedy. The vote was unanimous, 95 to zero.
And two French soldiers were seriously wounded in Lebanon, as negotiators tried to engineer a ceasefire amidst fresh reports the Palestinians are now fighting the Lebanese army near the Beirut airport. Good night, Robin.
MacNEIL: Good night, Jim. That's our NewsHour tonight. We'll be back tomorrow. I'm Robert MacNeil. Good night.
The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
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This episode's headline: Carnegie High School Report; Cancer in Our Food; Nerve Gas. The guests include ERNEST BOYER, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; In Denver: NAOMI BRADFORD, Denver Board of Education; CHET BOGAR, Social Studies Teacher; In San Francisco (Facilities: KQED-TV): BRUCE AMES, University of California. Byline: In New York: ROBERT MacNEIL, Executive Editor; In Washington: JIM LEHRER, Associate Editor; Reports from NewsHour Correspondents: RALPH NICHOLSON (Viznews), in Jerusalem; KWAME HOLMAN, in Denver and in White Hall, Arkansas; LESTER M. CRYSTAL, Executive Producer
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