Monday, August 18, 2008

Ralph on NPR Taking Questions

Neil Conan: We're talking with independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader here at the Newseum. I'm Neil Conan along with NPR Political Junkie Ken Rudin. If you'd like to join us, 800-989-8255 e-mail This is Talk of the Nation from NPR News. And let's get a question from here in the Newseum. Patty: Hi, good afternoon. I'm Patty from San Francisco, California and as a retired public school principal I'd like to know your views on No Child Left Behind. And I'd also like to know what your education platform is. Ralph Nader: Well the way No Child Left Behind has been implemented is not good. First of all, there are too many tests. It ruptures the relationship between teachers and students -- they've got to have a test Tuesday and a test Thursday. They're the wrong kind of tests in my opinion: A, B, C, D, "None of the above." That's not the assessment test that I think are better evaluators They make teachers teach to the test. It's this frantic test mania. It creates unnecessary anxiety among children. So I'm against it. Teachers are against it too. A lot of people think it was underfunded and I think the key thing in environmental agenda for a presidential candidate is more decent facilities -- I mean a lot of these inner-city schools are crumbling, we have gleaming stadiums funded by you the tax payer in the same cities the schools, and clinics and libraries are crumbling. The second thing is decent pay for competent teachers. They should be assessed too. And the third is citizen skills, civic skills. We should teach students connecting the classroom with their town with their community so they can learn about the history, the geography, economics, government of their town and in the process learn citizen skills. How to use the Freedom of Information Act in your state, how to build coalitions, how to get information from City Hall. How to do comparative price analysis of staples in supermarket. That's what makes student learn indirectly reading, writing and arithmetic. I hope a lot of teachers will . . . push to replace No Child Left Behind with this kind or practical and down to earth and very exciting educational process. Neil Conan: Thanks for the question. Let's go the phones, line six, and Mike is with us from Boca Raton in Florida. Mike: Good morning or good afternoon. Mister candidate, considering what's happened since the year 2000, don't you think that your candidacy creates too much of a risk of unintended consequences based on your past performance? Ralph Nader: Well the social scientists who studied that say that [Al] Gore won the election, he won the popular vote. The electoral college stood in his way and the press investigations and others in Florida indicate, and Gore believes this, that he won Florida but it was taken from him before, during and after election day in all kinds of tricky ways that have been subject to documentaries and investigations, to the five Republicans in the Supreme Court who selected George Bush. I keep saying to Democrats "Look in the mirror Go after the thieves because they might do it again and there was a lot of shenanigans in Ohio -- the swing state that left Kerry behind -- Mike: You obviously can't win. Which of the two candidates would you prefer to be president. The other two candidates. Ralph Nader: The ones that are closer to the agenda of Nader - Gonzalez and we don't have time to go through a checklist but if you want to look at we have a sheet which says these are the issues on the table for Nader - Gonzalez -- like full health insurance -- and they're off the table for McCain and Obama. It's quite remarkable how similar they are on about 15 major re-directions for country and the reason is they've been dialing too much for corporate dollars and they're too close to these corporate interests. Mike: Well you know, I'm all for anyone being able to run but candidly we can't stand another eight years of George Bush, McCain and that crowd. Ralph Nader: Nor can we. In fact if Al Gore picked up my withering criticism in detail of Bush's record in Texas when he was governor, he'd have won even over the obstacles that these Republican illegally put in his way.

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