Episode #8: Don Duggan-Haas, Therese Etoka & Jai Bansal (Transcript)
Quinn: Welcome to Important, Not Important. My name is Quinn Emmett.
Brian: I'm Brian Colbert Kennedy.
Quinn: Somehow, and this is episode eight. Today we’re going to make a game plan for guaranteeing a comprehensive science education for every student in America so they can become full and able-bodied citizens on a safer planet that we have so thoroughly destroyed.
Brian: Joining is today to talk about that is Don Duggan-Haas, a lifetime educator, author and activist for science education, as well as Therese Etoka and Jai Bansal, two high school students and immigrants and generally incredible young people from Idaho who actively fought to keep the climate change education in the Boise curriculum when a bunch of people wanted to take it out again.
Quinn: Again, I mean, thank God for Don. I mean, he literally and people say this shit all the time, wrote the textbook on science education in America.
Brian: People mis-say it all the time but he literally did it.
Quinn: Right. I mean if Therese and Jai aren't running this place one day I’m out. Did you hear their enthusiasm?
Brian: They're incredible.
Quinn: They're so excited.
Brian: I really do look up to them.
Quinn: Yeah, and they are immigrants, it's awesome. Speaking of immigration Brian prefers Australian coffee.
Brian: I don't prefer Australian coffee, I merely mentioned that I like the Australian cafes that are popping up everywhere.
Quinn: You were vehement about it. A place opened downstairs and yeah, I said it was Australian. You said well that’s the best coffee and I said you don’t know that.
Brian: I didn't say it was the best coffee, I said it was good and I like – they’re very passionate about their espresso drinks. What’s wrong with enjoying that?
Quinn: Who isn't passionate? That's like saying Americans aren't passionate.
Brian: Go to Starbucks, they don't give a fuck.
Quinn: I don't drink enough coffee to know, to be honest. It just felt like you were being exclusive.
Brian: Maybe this is why I should be the one that talks about it and you should take a back seat. You have a lot of things over me but let me have coffee over you, sir.
Quinn: Like what? What do you mean?
Brian: You were – a lot of stuff. I don’t know.
Quinn: Yeah, this is going nowhere. All right, just like that, we’re ready to go. Let’s go talk to these guys.
Brian: Let’s do it.
Quinn: Our guests today are Therese Etoka, Jai Bansal and Don Duggan-Haas. Therese was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is a 17-year-old senior old senior at Boise High in Idaho. She testified before the Boise City Council in December to support more energy efficient codes and wrote about it in the local paper. She’s part of a group of teens who apparently call themselves the climate justice league, which we’re definitely going to get to.
Quinn: Jai is a basketball player and student at Capital High in Idaho. He’s a YouTuber, Podcaster and Ultimate and an intern at HP. Brian?
Brian: Yeah, real quick Jai, you have to excuse us. We’re over 30. What is an ultimate?
Jai: Oh, so it’s Ultimate Frisbee.
Quinn: I knew it. Brian said we’re out of touch and I said no, it’s Ultimate Frisbee.
Jai: Yeah. I actually just tried out for the national team a month ago and high school season is about to start here next week.
Quinn: Oh wait, how did try-outs go?
Jai: Try-outs went well. I actually got a concussion during try-outs, so I’ve been kind of dealing with that for the past two and half weeks. I’ll get to know if I make the team here someday.
Quinn: All right, well Brian is definitely going to come watch one of your game matches. Yeah, definitely, he loves that stuff. Well, best of luck.
Jai: Thank you.
Quinn: We’ve got Don. Don is and I’ll quite his twitter profile here, I help earth systems science educators kick butt as director of teacher programs at the Paleontological Research Institution museum at the earth and president of the national association of geo science teachers. Don, did I get that straight?
Don: You did, you did.
Quinn: Awesome. These guys all work their assess off to get climate science included in Idaho’s education standards. A huge win for the next generation of Americans. Together, we’re going to take the lessons they’ve learned and figure out how to guarantee every American student of the next generation and the one after that so your children get the full science education we need them to get. Let’s find out who they are. Therese, Jai and Don, welcome.
Don: Thank you.
Jai: Thank you.
Therese: Thank you.
Brian: Thanks for being here guys.
Quinn: All right, set the tone. We’re the big believers in questions here. The questions that don’t provoke actions are basically just philosophy. Philosophy is great, but these times call for action as you guys know better than anybody and that’s where we’re going to try to go here and what we’re trying to provoke. What we want to do is get some quick context from you, who you are and what you do. We established a little bit of that, Jai is a better athlete than us and then we’ll progress to the topic of the day and some actionable steps our listeners can take, something that will inspire them to get work at whatever level, whatever party they subscribe too. Deal?
Quinn: All right. Therese, Jai, Don, we start with one question. Therese you’re going to up first …
Therese: All right, sounds good.
Quinn: I want you to be bold and honest because you’re here for a reason. Therese, why are you vital to the survival of the species?
Therese: Well, I mean that’s a long answer question but I believe I’m vital to these species because I really provide who I am as a person into what I do and I have a passion for equal rights. Whether it be women’s rights, human rights, I mean, climate justice. I feel that with my personal background and just really love what I do. That’s why I see myself as vital.
Quinn: I love it, awesome.
Brian: Amazing. Can I quickly add one other question?
Brian: If you were in the normal justice league, who would you be?
Quinn: Great question.
Therese: If I was in the normal justice league like who would I be or?
Quinn: Yeah, which superhero would you be?
Therese: The one superhero I would love to be is actually Black Panther.
Quinn: Yeah, it’s so good. Brian hasn’t seen it yet.
Therese: I know, he’s not in justice league but I really like him [crosstalk 00:06:09].
Brian: Still a good answer, still a good answer.
Quinn: Jai, leave that alone, now is not the time.
Jai: Stick to Ultimate Frisbee Jai.
Therese: I just saw it on Monday and I was just blown away by having representational and just what it means to me and the whole community. I would really love to be black panther.
Quinn: Yes, I love it. Sherri is just my hero.
Brian: We were just listening to the soundtrack actually.
Therese: To see like women and the technology and stem, just really having that role, that really empowered me.
Quinn: Awesome, we will definitely get more to that. All right Jai, you’ve got a lot to live up to. Why are you vital to the survival of the species?
Jai: This is almost like a braggy question, like I brag about myself. Right, don’t be modest.
Quinn: It is but you know what, if I can say one thing about it and we instituted this question a couple of episodes ago because it is like – it’s a lot for us to have this in the beginning in our newsletter and podcast, like this what we feel is most vital, that’s a little presumptuous but we do feel like it is. Because there’s so much stuff that’s buried out there under whatever news you see, and this is even before Trump. You’re on this show now for a reason, which is you’re among a group of handpicked guests we believe are truly changing the world.
Quinn: Folks like you guys unfortunately aren’t the super stars that we hear about every day, the celebrities we hear about. More importantly you’re on this planet. I’m not going to say you’re on this planet for a reason, because that would imply some sort of pre-destiny and we certainly don’t have time for that today but that’s a wonderful discussion to have but you guys are, all three of you are here. Everyone at some point either makes or should make a decision why they feel like they’re here, what that’re supposed to do with their time here.
Quinn: Maybe that changes over time and that’s great but I feel like you two, you young folks and Don have clearly made some decisions and I want to say necessarily stand up for yourself, but make your stand, tell us why you’re vital.
Jai: Awesome. I mean I would say I’m vital – I think my passion and dedication and just perseverance for wanting the best for everyone in this world is vital to the species. I think I’m very passionate about all the things I do. It might not be a lot of things but the few things I do, I’d like to say I’m really good at them and I’m also very dedicated and I’d say my leadership skills at a young age are so, is needed not just for youth but also as growing up and hopefully it will up to something that’s on a bigger scale and I can make a bigger difference than just like my local community. I think that’s why I’d say I’m vital to like the survival of our species.
Quinn: I love that and I look up to checking in with you guys. You better hold up to that. All right, don you’ve been here a little bit longer, doing this for longer than the rest of us and we can’t thank you enough for leading the way. Tell us, why are you vital to the survival of the species?
Don: Well, I’ve been working for over 30 years in education and trying to change the system, trying to certainly in certain ways overturn the system because it doesn’t really have set up – it’s very much in tuned with how people actually learn. Working really hard on that. I’ve been working all of those 30 plus years on trying to help people better understand the earth system because it’s hugely important to understand how the system works. I think we have been doing fairly poorly at that but I have ideas about how to change it.
Quinn: I love it, I love it. You’re trying to change it and that’s more than most folks. If we can live with one thing today, it’s hopefully to inspire folks to do, to be more like you guys.
Brian: Be as optimistic as you guys.
Quinn: Yes, which is also a difficult thing today. All right, we’re going to dive into some context and then dive into our topic and question of the day. Brian, take us there.
Brian: Guys and I guess we’ll go in the same order, should we keep it nice and simple?
Quinn: Let’s just keep going?
Brian: Let’s just keep going. Tell us in a few sentences how education standards and curriculum are planned and regulated. Maybe that would be good for don?
Therese: What was that last part?
Jai: Regulated I think.
Quinn: Basically, we’re going to talk what happened in Idaho over the past couple of years and everywhere across America. We just always want our listeners a little bit of a context of how do these education standards come to be. Talk to us like we’re four-years-old’s. Is it the federal governments, state government, local, school board, etcetera? Just a quick prime around how these things come about.
Therese: I mean, working with science standards has been a three-year process and I’ve been here for about three and a half years. It’s just seeing that our legislator’s kind of felt that they have the ability to take away information that should be given to students just based on the political affiliations or party affiliation which I don’t think is right at all. I mean student education is necessary and it provides us with a place to learn and information shouldn’t be restricted. With the science standards, we wanted to include supporting content which is there to each and aid elementary school teachers when there are teachers who are teaching literally one class and they teach everything.
Therese: Those supporting content, those standards encourage them, help them and guide them to know specifically what to teach. Also, the importance for them to also allow inquiry and conclusion coming from students. Allowing students to form their own conclusions and learning to be the scientist as well.
Jai: Yeah and I think like the regulation and like standard are in place because Idaho wants their students like in elementary or like middle school or high school level to learn a certain amount of things before they graduate from their schools. They have these contents in place. The whole debate was Idaho wanted to take some of the things out. Like specific references to manmade – man effect on climate change would be taken out from like these standards and teachers would then not be like required to teach that. if they did teach that they could get a lot of backlash from parents, from the students or the government even.
Quinn: Got you. Okay, but even just taking the step back and maybe Don you can help inform this a little bit since you’re a life timer. How are education standards scripted? Who does it and who has to follow it, etcetera, etcetera? Educate us on education.
Don: Yeah, that’s a big, big question and it’s literally a cast of thousands. I’m part of that cast for the next generation science standards which are the new national, new-ish national standards for science education. They’re based upon a document called – I hope I get this right, I don’t have it in front of me. ‘A Framework for K12 Science education’ and then there’s a core one and something after the core one that I don’t quite remember.
Brian: We’ll edit it in.
Don: Even though I’m an author sort of in that document. I was part of the earth and space science design team that helped develop what we call the disciplinary core ideas for the earth and space sciences. These are importantly national standards but not federal standards.
Quinn: Wait, stop right there. What’s the difference between national and federal standards?
Don: Well, they will not develop with federal support in a direct way anyway and they are not federally mandated. Education is a state and local decision for the most part and states, many states have adopted these standards that were developed with support from an organization called Achieve, which is kind of a span of the national governance association. I think it came about in the 1990s if I remember right.
Quinn: They’re not binding, is what you’re saying?
Don: They’re not federally binding. There are no federal standards, the common core are not federal standards which deal with language, arts and mathematics. Next generation science standards are not federal standards but those are both sets of national standards and they were developed with support from the national research council and this organization called Achieve, a non-profit. Then states decide whether to adopt or adapt them or none of the above. I think a little bit more than half the population of students in the country are in states that have adapted them and I should have looked out for how many states that is.
Don: I think it’s somewhere between 16 and 20 states have either adopted them outright or adapted them. Which was an adaptation that some states have looked into. It’s striking content about climate change and evolution. Idaho looked into that and they didn’t do that. There is much more tension to climate change in these standards that are being adapted across the country now than they were in the previous set of national standards which again were national and not federal. Tosi were the 1996.
Brian: ’96, it’s not even over 20 years.
Quinn: A little bit has changed since then.
Brian: Maybe they should be updated.
Quinn: I guess that clarifies a couple of things for me. I’m trying to wrap my head around them for our listeners too, which is thinking back to race to the top and to no child left behind. I guess because they’re national and not federal, this is why the national government, the federal government would design incentives for people to meet, for schools and teachers to meet these incentives with or to meet these standards with common core and things like that because they couldn’t mandate them. Am I wrong there?
Don: Yeah, that’s about right and it’s also worth noting that different states have adapted this at different times over the last few years and more will in the coming years. New York just officially adapted them about a year ago and are in the process of a long roll-out in part because they did a fast roll-out out of common core and it’s coined up. They don’t want to repeat that mistake. There are a lot of problems with the common core roll-out in a lot of places. Some places are going slower with science standards.
Quinn: Okay, got it. I think that clarifies it a little bit, and then just summarizing here from think progress to catch us up completely. They said basically, this year when law makers voted for a second time to remove key references to climate science from education standards in Idaho, one representative defended the move by arguing that the decision didn’t prohibit teachers from teaching the science, only there it was no longer required for teachers to do so. Critics are removing their references so you guys argue lack of statewide standards will leave teachers.
Quinn: Especially those in more rural districts where climate science is considered more politically controversial without meaningful resources to help teach kids about climate change, because as we all know, teachers can afford to teach whatever they want. They can afford to bring in any materials they need, can’t they?
Quinn: Yeah, right. It was discussed but you guys saved the day in Idaho. Job well done, but like you said 16-20 states have either adopted or adapted this, so it sounds like, I think there’s about 30 states left. The fight isn’t anywhere near over is it guys?
Don: No, I’ll try and look that up while we’re talking too and confirm that I’ve got the right number.
Quinn: Got it. Therese and Jai, do I have my head wrapped around this. I feel like we’ve tried to explain it a little bit.
Jai: Yeah, I mean, like you said the critics we say like in rural districts where it’s like very political to like things like climate change is real and people might not agree, if teachers aren’t required to teach that, they can get a lot of backlash and even fired from their job.
Therese: Yeah. We attended a couple of public forums and some of the teachers came down and I mean expressed, I mean they’re kind of nervous and scared to teach it. Because like those communities are a lot closer, everyone knows each other and so if they receive push back from a parent, I mean it’s like a whole community knows and knows what’s going on. Definitely difficult in that area.
Don: Yeah. Another piece of this puzzle is that if the state doesn’t include climate change or evolution or whatever the content in the standards, then it probably means that – well, that certainly means that if there’s a statewide test which most states do have a statewide science test, if there’s a state test it will not include climate change unless climate change is in the standards. What gets tested generally is what gets taught. Some teachers will go above and beyond what’s actually on the test but it’s a rule of thumb of what gets tested is what gets taught.
Don: Following up on the earlier thing, over 40 states have shown interest in the standards as of November 2017, 19 states along with the district Colombia haven’t topped the standards.
Quinn: Not to terrify our listeners, that doesn’t mean that 30 states aren’t teaching climate change?
Don: That’s correct.
Quinn: I mean look, I know it’s like – the world is burning, there’s a little bit of a nightmare out there but it’s not that bad, it’s just that they haven’t officially like you said adopted or adapted these standards, correct?
Don: That’s right.
Brian: Well, that’s good. All right, so let’s get to our topic this week guys which is ‘how can we guarantee the next generation of American students gets a full science education’ with like actual facts, real facts and becomes a generation of problem solvers. Right now, there’s a lot of information out there about where US students among math and science.
Quinn: Right, not great Bob.
Brian: Not great. We’re sort of lagging in obviously a huge change need to be made, so yeah. What do we do?
Don: A part of me says throw out the system but that’s not an easy way.
Brian: That’s a punk rock answer there, Don.
Don: Yeah. Well, a fundamental challenge that we face is the structure of schools isn’t really informed by what we know, what research says about how people learn, in fact, not only is the structure of schools uninformed by research and how people learn, it’s pretty much structured to work against it. If you didn’t know anything about schools but you know about how you learn stuff and somebody came up to you and said, hey, I’ve; got a great idea. Let’s put 2000 teenagers into a building and split them into groups …
Quinn: Stop right there.
Don: … 25 or 30 or something and have somebody talk to the group about a battle of Hastings for 45 minutes and then they move down the hall and have somebody else talk to them about climate change or rocks or algebra or whatever. Let’s do that day after day, year after year after year, per years on end, isn’t that a great idea? It’s like no.
Quinn: Therese and Jai, was there a point before 10 seconds ago and I think it’s probably true because you’re here, that you guys realized that this is not the most efficient and practical way to – and again I know it’s two levels and maybe it’s the second conversation about the problem solving thing. I could on a whole tangent about that but have you guys already realized like, wait, this isn’t – are you guys in, is it a public school you’re in?
Therese: Yeah, both public schools.
Jai: Yeah, both of us.
Quinn: Public school for life.
Jai: Two different high schools, right, yeah.
Quinn: Do you guys agree with that? do you feel like oh my God, someone is sitting here reading me facts of a slide from 20 years ago and this isn’t the most efficient way to go? How does it feel in the moment right now?
Therese: I mean, I kind of see that but to an extent. I mean, I’m at Boise high school and a lot of my teachers and a lot of the teachers I’ve had in the past allow for us to be the leaders and also allow for us to do individual projects where we come and teach the class. Like tomorrow I have a hot topic which is where we do like – we have a different country, we are sent a different country and then we pick an article, we print it out and give it to the students. They read it and then we provide them with questions. We teach them what we believe is most important or what we believe is really, I mean what they should know. I have …
Quinn: Is that due tomorrow?
Therese: It’s already done, it’s already done.
Quinn: I was going to say, maybe you should go.
Therese: Yeah but I have some teachers where I mean it’s just reading off the PowerPoint and I really don’t enjoy those classes because it feels like busy. It feels like I’m just sitting there and its long. I have teachers who really love their job and really love to see their students getting hands on and really diving to the topics that they love to.
Jai: I mean, I think the only reason I’m into this a lot of the environment of work I do in like speaking and stuff is because of my AP environmental science teacher. My AP environmental science teacher took his initiative, he also himself …
Quinn: What’s his name, let’s call him out.
Jai: Mr. Butler, Erin Butler.
Quinn: Hell yeah, Mr. Butler.
Jai: He motivated me to just – he one day, I mean before I take AP environmental science, I had heard the work climate change and global warming thrown around. I knew kind of about the science but I didn’t know like all the causes and effects and all the different things that it’s impacting and stuff. Mr. Butler didn’t come at it in the way like oh I’m going to make you believe climate change is real, I don’t care what, who you are. Rather he’s like, he presented me with the facts of the science and he’s like, okay you guys draw your own conclusions now. Like I just showed you what the science and everything and if you can refute that then well that’s your problem …
Brian: Go ahead.
Jai: I don’t think there’s anything you can say. After that I’m like, this is a huge problem, like how was I so blind to this. I think a lot of the burdens comes down to the parents and also educators like teachers. They need to be passionate about what they do and not just thinking of it as like as a way of living and then they go home and watch football every Sunday night, just because they need something like that.
Brian: Yes, true.
Don: I should clarify I didn’t mean to imply school doesn’t work at all.
Quinn: No, I mean, in a lot of cases it is the very best they can do. It’s just like, I mean there is definitely an argument that the system was designed for World War II and it’s broken.
Don: Right and the fact that teachers are able to be successful in the framework that’s not really designed for success is s huge testament of the skills and passion of those teachers. Very clear, I love teachers, I’ve been one in various roles for 30 plus years and [inaudible 00:25:10] amongst my best friends.
Quinn: Yeah, my mum is a kindergarten teacher. I worship them and nobody is – you can’t say in general that everybody is perfect but these people are quite literally training our next generation for basically no money and the least we can do is provide them with – do our best to provide them with a system that is adaptable and dynamic and structured. Like you said, 30 years ago we didn’t really understand how people learned and now we do and it’s time to start applying that. whether it’s creative writing or AP environmental science, which PS did not exist when I was in school.
Quinn: I took a lot of AP classes, some of them went well, some of them not so much but I can tell you I would have been pretty drawn to AP environmental science and maybe this whole thing is me trying to make up for it.
Therese: I also want to shout out, I mean my teacher Mrs. Church. I mean she allows us to …
Brian: Wow, Mrs. Church.
Therese: Yeah, we’re actually using her classroom right now. She gave me permission to use it. She allows us to – we had a skype conversation recently with someone who works with the department of states and was also the ambassador in the diplomat and allows for us to – I mean, I can see myself growing in the career and future in that. She allows us to have like direct connections and attend pendants forums, like meetings and city club luncheons. She really allows for us to really interact and education.
Quinn: That’s awesome and there’s got to be so many other inspiring stories out there like that, that are helping to build little model citizens like you guys are putting the rest of us to shame. One the other side, the second question is, maybe this is just the answer but aside from the hard-learned institute what’s actually driving the law makers in these states to pull these extreme measures, to try to cut climate science out? Is it the money lining their pockets? Is it their own belief systems?
Quinn: Is it religion, like mum and dad work for oil and gas, what do you guys feel like in your experience so far, all three of you? What do the players, what do the typical type of players, what do the typical obstacles and forces you’re running up against as you fight this battle?
Don: The short answer to all those isn’t this and isn’t that of all those things you’ve listed off is yes, it’s all of those things. What the genesis for you asking me to be on the show is I’m the co-author of a book called book called ‘The Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change’ which you can find by Google.
Brian: Yeah, we’ll put in [inaudible 00:27:58].
Don: In there – yes very good. In there is a set of rules for talking about controversial issues and climate change is the obvious specific example in the teacher friendly guide to climate change. One of those rules is be nice and a subset or a sub-point of that be nice is that most people are telling when they believe to be the truth. Most of the people who are wrong about climate change don’t think that it’s a big deal and don’t think that it’s human caused or don’t think that it’s happening at all. Most of those folks actually believe that.
Brian: That’s [crosstalk 00:28:40].
Don: A lot of different places and it’s – go ahead.
Quinn: No, I was just going to say that’s a strong sense of empathy there, Don. I think we can all use a little bit of so take that and go with it.
Don: Yeah. I think it’s really, really important to recognize that all of us believe something is obviously bullshit and probably quite a few things that are obviously bullshit. There’s clear evidence that we’re wrong about some things. If you’re married just ask your spouse if that’s true and you’ll get a confirmation there.
Brian: I’m not getting my wife on this podcast, she’ll ruin me.
Don: I’ve been thinking about these issues for years and years and years. What’s the most important thing for people to understand about the earth system has been really a big focus of my research for a long time. For years I believed that the most important thing was to understand about the nature of systems and the earth is a complex system, which I still think is hugely, hugely important. Now because of work and not only climate change but also hydraulic pressuring or fracking for shot, we also wrote a book about that and included a chapter on teaching about that.
Don: I’ve come to believe that more important than understanding systems is understanding why almost everyone believe things that are obviously just not true and that there’s ample evidence to show that they’re not true. That has to do with cognitive biases and logical falsities. There’s information in the book digging into those but people have a hard – one of the big ones since the status quo bias which in short means we like to do what we’ve always done or are driven to do what we’ve always done. Change is hard and there’s much more to it than that.
Don: Another big piece is on cost falsie because the belief that because we’ve spent lots of time and resources and money on something that if we stop doing that, we’ve wasted all that and all those resources. The reality is all those resources are gone no matter what. Whether you continue working in that system or switch to a different system. Those two are two of the biggest obstacles that a lot of people don’t know very much about.
Quinn: Therese and Jai, do you guys feel like empathy is one of your main tools in dealing either with these frustrating law makers or for even folks your own age?
Therese: Actually yeah. I had a recent conversation with one of my classes on empathy and the lack of it in our society today. Because it seems like we’ve become so, I mean like close minded towards ourselves. I mean like with social media, we can close off when we don’t want to see it and so it’s leading to a lack of empathy and it’s really changing how we interact with each other. It’s really changing how we really, how we care about each other, if then. With the legislators, sometimes it’s kind of trying to see what standpoint they’re coming from.
Therese: I don’t necessarily agree with them, I usually don’t. it’s kind of trying to see where they’re coming from and sometimes I can’t figure out where they’re coming from, so it’s hard to empathize then.
Jai: I mean, I think we all live in our own bubble. Like in twitter we and Instagram we follow our friends and people we agree with. We’re not going to follow someone we radically hate and always [inaudible 00:32:22] things we – we get really used to agreeing with everything in our opinion and we try to formulate like, okay, I strongly believe in this and I don’t know if there’s going to be another opinion and that’s what’s going to change me. A lot of times as humans, it’s hard to empathize with a very, very polarizing opposite opinion that’s opposite to yours.
Jai: I think also when we were testifying against the legislators and against the standards, one big tool when we were writing our testimonies was empathy. We’re not trying to make the legislators wrong, even though we think they‘re wrong, we’re not going to try to make them wrong …
Quinn: Sure. Nobody responds well when you just tell them that they’re wrong.
Jai: Exactly. We were trying to empathize with them and I think that was a big reason especially in the senate when it did pass. Like our empathizing testimonies – okay, we see you guys might not agree with our own values but we as students want to tell you that we really care about this and you guys should at least look at how we come at it and you as legislators, you guys have the burden of like helping us get the best education possible.
Therese: Yeah and Jai makes a really good point. I mean talking about the legislators empathizing with our testimony and I mean understanding our situation where we come from and then also as students, I mean where we see ourselves and education and how we value it. I mean it’s empathizing with us as students. We care about our education.
Brian: It’s a two-way road.
Quinn: It is.
Don: Sort of empathizing a point that I think Quinn made is that, if you call someone a stupid jerk, you’re very, very unlikely that you’ll change their mind about whatever it is you think the stupid jerk is related. Yet, we do that all the time and I mean sort of a [inaudible 00:34:04] and it’s just getting worse. Twitter and so forth is sort of amplifying that but at the same time there’s a real advantage to social media as an education platform that we don’t have in K12 or under graduate education. That’s that your relationship on social media probably lasts a long time and so you can have a conversation that takes years and for most people it’s going to take years for them to change their mind.
Don: Another one of those rules is to be persistent. Social media actually, if you can be civil in social media and you can carry on the conversation over years, you can actually change people’s minds.
Brian: You guys didn’t call people stupid jerks, you empathized with as many people as you could and you actually, you won in Idaho, you guys did it, which is pretty incredible. Now, I guess what else did you do? We need to obviously do this in every other state, we can now. What specifically did you guys so to overcome those sources in Idaho?
Jai: There are a couple of different things. Especially I think one big part was a couple of democratic representatives in this house at least and some of the senate members who were a very, very big push in terms of that they thought this was a big issue and they advocated for a lot. Like last year in March 2017, representative [inaudible 00:35:35] here for district 18. She set up an Idaho climate change forum that just invited any, literally everyone in every single legislator to come get educated and at least maybe draw your own conclusions, like our class maybe. It was a whole forum and I was the closing speaker and almost 600 people showed up.
Therese: Yeah, 650 actually.
Jai: Only three to four legislators came from the whole house. That was at least a start, it was a start in the right direction. Like it made Boise weekly, it made Adam [inaudible 00:36:07], it made a lot of big news and we know every single legislator saw that. They were like okay 650 people coming, the biggest ever Idaho forum in the past 10 years, the public at least cares about it a little bit. That was kind of like a big …
Therese: That was like the big push, like the takeoff kind of stuff. I mean after that there were public forums held to show what the science trends were being changed and how they’re being, they were going to be changed and were going to be different. That allowed for public commentary and there was I think 1000 comments that were in favor of it only, I think there were maybe 1000 comments given and there was only like five that were negative. It allowed for the public to see what was going on and then to also have their input as well. From that a lot of other actions started occurring and then our part came in pretty recently.
Jai: Yeah, with the testimonies. I think Chris Taylor, there was a big reason for us having that opportunity to give testimonies. He is like the guy who kind of makes all these standards and become [inaudible 00:37:06].
Quinn: Yeah, so tell us wo Chris is.
Therese: He’s the head of the department of social studies science and computer science in the Boise school district. He worked, he revised these standards. He’s been working on this for the past three years.
Jai: Yeah, so because of Chris I think he also was again a big push on the internal side. Like okay, they passed these standards last – like three years ago or two -three years ago. Like okay, they took them out the supporting contents, we want them back. He kept revising, kept revising, kept pushing, talking to legislators and so finally there was a vote for the revise again just in December and that’s when like our testimonies came through.
Quinn: Got you. Paint the picture real quick for me, were you guys like,” hey we heard this is going on, let’s get in there” or did he say, “you know what, let’s call in the troops, let’s get the actual kids involved?”
Jai: I think Chris, he was a big teacher at Timberline or like he had a lot of student contact at Timberline.
Therese: I think it’s a little bit of both, kind of.
Jai: Yeah. He definitely wanted students to testify. He already had like Emily Hurt and Cassy, I forgot Cassy’s last name.
Jai: Yeah, Canyon, Cassie Canyon. They both are part of the climate justice league that we’re a part of. He already wanted them – he wanted them to testify. Since Emily and Cassy were both part of the justice league, it kind of got the other schools involved. Like Boise high and Capital and Borough and that’s when we kind of – all our student’s kind of got behind him.
Quinn: Got you.
Brian: Since we’re back on justice league, Jai would you be?
Therese: Oh yeah.
Jai: I would 100% be batman.
Brian: Yeah, good cal.
Jai: I’ve had the biggest obsession with batman since ever and I consistently say I’m batman even though I’m nothing like – I don’t look like batman or have any affiliations with batman. It’s just kind of a cool thing.
Quinn: If you just keep saying it, maybe you’ll be batman.
Therese: I think Jai should do the batman voice.
Therese: I think you should.
Quinn: Jai, you have to do the rest of the conversation in Christian Bale’s voice. Okay, so we’ve got again, 20-30 more states that aren’t opposing this to be clear, opposing these standards that Do’s worked his whole life on.
Don: No big deal.
Quinn: At the same time, we’re going to run into issues again, no doubt. How do you guys feel like – do you feel like you’ve found a blue print in what you did? Do you feel like there were lessons learned that can apply other places, obviously each state, each legislator school district is different?
Brian: Clone Chris Taylor, step number one.
Quinn: Chris Taylor, check. You guys is there, I don’t know. Are there people to call on? Is there a blue print made now that can affect other places?
Therese: I will say it’s not like an exact blue print but I mean for me it definitely started with wanting this change to happen. There was like an environmental club in my school and then it kind of disappeared and I didn’t know why. Is till kept doing the environmental work and still finding ways to be involved. That’s what led to all of this but I mean, it’s been a really long process. It took – we did a petition on an [inaudible 00:40:12] campaign and we got over 1000 signatures from students, from teachers, from educators.
Jai: We got 1000 signatures in a week.
Jai: Therese Three days actually, it was 64 hours I think exactly where we hit that 1000 mark. I mean it took a lot, I had to talk to a lot of students and talk to a lot of teachers …
Quinn: What was the petition for specifically?
Jai: The petition was going to be presented – so we were going to testify I think on a Thursday and we wanted 1000 signatures saying that Idaho students want the revised standards.
Quinn: That’s great.
Therese: We put it out like Sunday night at 10 PM and then I think on Wednesday by two something, that’s when we hit 1,000. I mean it was incredible to see that support. I mean I personally like spoke to teachers had really influenced my life for education in elementary school and junior high and I mean show them what I was doing and show their impact on my education is really – why I was really advocating for this as well
Quinn: I’m sure that didn’t make them cry at all. How many, do you guys have any idea how many students are in your school district or at least high school students or anything like that?
Jai: In the Boise school district?
Jai: I’ll say, I think at capital we have 1200 students.
Therese: Here at Boise it will be like 1500 or over.
Jai: Let’s say 1400 by four schools and so that would be about 5500 students.
Quinn: You get 1000 signatures, that’s a hell of a chance.
Jai: Yeah, that’s like wild.
Quinn: Jesus, that’s incredible. That’s awesome. That is something that can be applied, that can go other places which is get the students involved and some maybe it’s testimony if it comes to that, if necessary. I mean persona stories always help but getting those kinds of numbers on board to say hey, you’re talking about us and our little brothers and sisters, we get a vote and this is our vote which is we want this. we’re not going to be the silent majority here. It feels like that’s something that can be used going forward. Don, any thoughts on that? I mean, this isn’t your first battle, it’s not going to be your last one.
Don: I have lots of thoughts on that. One is that I think that we’re seeing student voices being heard just in the last few weeks in a way that we haven’t heard since I think the 60s and I think that’s awesome. I think that’s a fundamental part of strategy for success. Paleontological Research is obviously is what’s brought it to the form most directly. On climate change there are students that are suing the federal government over climate change …
Quinn: Yeah, we’ve covered that in the newsletter.
Don: That kind of activism is hugely important and powerful and a great piece of what’s going on. The thing that we are doing with my colleagues at the Paleontological Research Institution is when we were working on our book, the teacher friendly guide to climate change and we’re very, very close to done when the Heartland Institute started mailing out their book which I believe the title is Why Scientists Disagree About Climate Change, which they don’t. their goal was to send it to every science teacher in the country and …
Quinn: Yeah, we saw a number like two hundred thousand, something like that.
Don: Yes, and they sent it to tens of thousands. I don’t know if they reached 200,000 but they sent to tens of thousands. Like I said, this hit the news just as we were putting the finishing touches on layout. We had finished the layout of almost every chapter. We said we can’t really go back because we’re behind schedule already but we can add an FAQ chapter where we address the Heartland Institute claims. We said this is a teachable moment and opportunity for us to respond. We decided to do a crowd funding campaign to get our book to every science teacher in the country and it’s actually relevant to more than just friends.
Don: We’ve had a remarkable success I think so far. It’s a yearlong campaign and we’ve raised, at this point raised enough money to send it to eight states. We have not shipped to all eight yet but we shipped to Idaho a week before last. One of the reasons that we shipped to Idaho is because we had a restricted gift and it relates to these kinds of political issues going on in Idaho. Another reason is that Idaho has 165 public high schools, New York has over 1200, so Idaho was a little easier to check off the list.
Quinn: Just a little bit. Before I forget, where are you doing the fundraising for this? is it kick starter or somewhere else?
Don: GiveGab but again if you search for teacher friendly guide to climate change and you throw in crowd funding you will find it. We can put the link in the short notes too and I’ll just rattle off the state that we have funding for New York, Idaho, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Iowa and Nevada. As I said, we’ve shipped to Idaho, we’re I think more than halfway done shipping to New York and we’ll dig in to what’s next after that. We haven’t actually figured out which states are going to be next in line but we do have them, we will be sending them to Florida North Carolina, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Iowa and Nevada and all of those six states that I just rattled off.
Don: We are also done with tagging gifts from people who have more money than I do but it’s actually surprisingly inexpensive. It would cost on the order of 8,000 dollars to send it to every school in Massachusetts, for example.
Quinn: What was that number?
Don: 8,000 dollars.
Quinn: For each school?
Don: Yeah. To get it to every school. What it’s in the package is the hard copy of the book and CDs of the book for every science teacher in the building and some other supporting materials and actually the teacher friendly guide to the climate changes, the 10th in the series of teacher friendly guides. The other guides are in the CDs as well.
Brian: Oh cool.
Quinn: Important question, Therese, Jai, do you want me to explain what a CD is?
Therese: Compact Disc actually.
Brian: Did you Google it? How did you know? Don’t cheat.
Jai: Do you have this podcast on CD?
Quinn: Right. We’ve got student involvement which is like you said is, has really come back around it. Just the tiniest side thing, there is this picture online yesterday of, yesterday or the day before of these students going back to school in Parkland and there was a line of line nine golden retriever empathy dogs waiting for them. A buddy of mine noticed, I’m sure someone else posted this before but up above on the front of the school was that great Gandhi quote, “be the change you wish to see in the world” and it just made me think of everything they’ve done in the past few weeks and everything you guys generation is going to do.
Quinn: It just made me feel like and excuse my French, like boy they really fucked with the wrong school. Like that motto is written in the front of the school and it’s the first think besides golden retrievers they see when they come back and boy have they embraced that over the past – through horrific circumstances. You have to imagine, I’m sure they’re teenagers. You walk past that every day and probably don’t think about it for a while until you do and you go “no, I got it, I got it. Now I have the tools, blows 1968 out of the water” to do that sort of thing.
Quinn: Anyways, I just thought that was a wonderfully small moment but important one which shows that this isn’t going to stop.
Don: Another piece of the strategy that we haven’t said much about is that I’m President of a national association in geo science teachers and we mobilize our membership to go and testify when stuff like this comes up in their states. We’ve got, I think we’re in about 1800 members now all over the country. We can get people to those hearings and those people are usually either university, college and university faculty or high school teachers who are all teaching geo science in one way or another.
Quinn: Sure. All right, so we’re moving our way through sort of this blue print which is student involvement. Whether it’s online or testifying or its petition. Not every petition is going to work but if you get a big chunk that does make a difference to say we’re here, we’re listening, we want to be involved, we should be the ones involved here. Then you’ve got materials like Don’s book and materials that most teachers can’t afford on their own if schools aren’t providing them for them.
Don: I will note that the PDF is free online and we’ll put that link and the short notes.
Quinn: Yes, absolutely. Then further getting some of those teachers to testify themselves. One of my question is have there and forgive my ignorance here if I didn’t find this in you guys travails over the past year. Has there been any attempt to appeal to parents? The world is changing so fast, your children will be left behind, they’re being left behind already. Your children won’t be part of the next great employment revolution. Your children won’t be able to contribute when we need them the most. How do we best engage them because even Jai said, a lot of it comes down to the parents?
Jai: Yeah. There seems to be a huge group of people that could be fighting for us.
Therese: The parents end up by finding that they really care about it. I mean through their students, hearing their students talk about it. I mean we did have parents come and testify too. There was a guy who was actually British, the only British guy there but he came and he had a son that was early born in 2016 and he was talking about, I want a better future for my child. I want to know that he will be educated, that he will be ready for post-secondary education and that he’ll be ready to go on to the real world with these issues.
Therese: I mean, as a parent, you really want what’s best for your child. When you see that’s not given to them, you kind of know in your heart that you want that change.
Jai: I think this is going to sound kind of like no teenage like student wants them but I think parents should ask their children more questions and like be more involved in their lives. In terms of that, like sometimes parents get caught up in like their own problems. They have to work, they have to pay their bills and they have to support a family and it’s hard to like know what’s going on every single day of your student’s life and what they care about and what’s not being taught even though – you just don’t know, the parent doesn’t know.
Jai: I think the parents doing their own research and asking their children what’s wrong, what do you think should be there, doing what’s going on and like being involved politically in like senate house is a big, big thing too.
Quinn: You guys have obviously contacted your representatives in your cities and in your school boards.
Brian: To say the least.
Quinn: Yeah, to say the least and then some. How can some of our listeners who maybe don’t know how to do that …
Brian: Even in a proactive way, even if it’s not a problem in their state.
Quinn: Yeah right, just to start it. How should they approach their representatives, their city council, whether they have kids or not and frame their arguments so that the city benefits. Not just do it for the children, do it for everyone.
Don: The teacher friendly guide at the climate change is not only teacher friendly, it’s friendly for lots of other readers. We’ve actually put together a flier on how it’s a legislator friendly guide as well. Part of that is that it’s easy – we think we’ve put pretty clear descriptions of the basic physical science but we’ve also paid a lot of attention to the social science that makes teaching about climate change a different kind of challenge that teaching about photosynthesis for example. I think those social science issues are really important for talking with your legislator or with reporters or with uncle Fred at the Thanksgiving table.
Quinn: Yeah, oh boy, we talk about crazy uncle Bob all the time on this show, everybody’s got one or seven. A quick clarification, can anybody buy the book Don?
Don: Yes, anybody can buy the book. It’s 25 dollars to buy the book and the PDF is also free for anyone. It was written with funding from the national science foundation which is what allows us to make it free.
Quinn: Awesome, that’s amazing. Now I imagine it integrates with the new standards?
Quinn: One could, whether they’re – again, have kids or not. let’s say it’s someone like me and I’ve got three young kids – I have so many kids, and they’re thinking about the future and they’re thinking about what their children are going to get taught in public schools because yeah public schools and they can go online, they can buy the book for 25 dollars. They can learn about what the new standards are and how to effectively teach them and communicate them and then take that to a city council meeting or best-case scenario we always preach, go run for city council yourself if you want the change you want to see in the world.
Quinn: Take it to a meeting and say look, here’s the deal. I see that we haven’t adopted this yet or even attempted to adapt them. Not necessarily fighting them but I would just like us to get proactive. I’ve got young kids and I want us to start thinking about how to best integrate this so that we can build citizens that are ready to make change in the world.
Therese: I will let you know that city council meetings can be a little long depending on where you go.
Quinn: I’ve done a few yeah.
Therese: I attended one for – to talk about the building codes and energy codes and I got there at five and I ended up doing my testimony around 11 PM, yeah on a school night,
Brian: Hopefully you had your disc command with you.
Jai: Then also open up Therese opportunities to write a notepad and also like get more known by the council. There’s also very major pros sometimes [inaudible 00:54:30]
Therese: Getting the smile from the male bidder and getting the support – I mean our [inaudible 00:54:35] Lauren McQueen and having that connection with them is also really powerful. Just seeing the different issues within our own city, so I’d definitely attend a city council meeting, a few.
Don: Yeah and school board meetings too.
Quinn: Yeah, which public schools again, they’re open and it might not be on the calendar but again what we’re trying to do here is look, climate change is what it is at this point, it’s going to get worse, it’s already happening, it’s being happening. There’s a whole conversation we can have about adaptation that needs to happen, we can still be “proactive” and folks going and saying, “hey look, we’re at – our town is 40 feet sea level.” We’re in deep sheet. We’ve talked with other guests about going to your city council, going to your mayor, going to your – not necessity school board and saying, “how do our water quality test look? What are your measurements looking?”
Quinn: If they don’t have an answer demand one and if they don’t come up with it again run for office and find it yourself. We’re trying to encourage proactive change here and proactive actions. I feel like you guys have, again, that was a drastic all hands-on deck save the day, we want to avoid those. There’s going to be more of them but how do we get proactive, so we don’t have to deal with those?
Don: Well, one thing that I’ve done is go and visit my representatives in DC or visited them at their local offices or when they have, local events. I went and visited as part of congressional visit days for the American geo physical union was the lead organization sponsoring that. if you’re in a professional organization, chances are very good that you’re – and it’s a big professional organization, chances are that they do something like that with a visiting congress folks and help you figure out how to do that. it’s a really interesting learning experience and it gives you a chance to meet these folks and be a resource for them.
Don: We didn’t actually meet with the congressman and the senators themselves but rather with their staffs. Their staff do an awful lot of work. Of cure in the current political climate this is laying groundwork for a future political client. Yeah, there are actually and Bob Ingles talking about this when he was at the show, was it two weeks ago caucus – I’m drawing a blank on the name of it requires members of congress to join in pairs, Jack and Jill caucus they call it where a democrat and a republican have to join together. there is, I think it’s a climate consensus caucus, something like that.
Don: That’s there, it exists and it’s grown. I don’t remember how many members there are right now but there are dozens and they’ve added members in the last month or two, so it’s a growing caucus. They are as [inaudible 00:57:45] said on the show, there are a lot of members of congress who personally believe that climate change is a real and serious problem caused by us even though they don’t say it allowed and more of those will be joining up.
Brian: All right guys. We’re getting up pretty close to the time here and thank you so very much.
Quinn: This is great.
Brian: This has been incredible. We’re not quite done yet but we’d like to know, we’d love to hear from you guys who else you think we should have on.
Quinn: Who should we talk to? Again, what we’re focused on is not necessarily climate change. It is artificial intelligence, anything that’s going to affect the species …
Brian: Asteroids, we love asteroids.
Quinn: What is already doing – yes, asteroids Brian, I know.
Jai: Can we get [inaudible 00:58:28] here?
Brian: Working it Jai.
Quinn: Oaky, Jay, come on. [Inaudible 00:58:33] give me a minute, okay. Again, okay, what’s going to – already affecting us or going to affect us in the next 20 years. Like who are these people that are out there, heroes that we should talk to that can answer a specific question or topic that our listeners can take action on. Who inspires you?
Don: Well, a really interesting – I’ve got a number of ideas. Karin Kirk is a science journalist who writes for among other places Yale climate connections and she has been engaged in a really interesting project that I’ve helped out with a little where she finds pairs of people who don’t agree about climate change and has video conversation with them and gets them talking about climate change. She’s had some success in people sitting in these conversations and changing their minds. It’s really, really interesting and it’s Karin Kirk, as in James T and like I can get you the info for her.
Don: Tony Lucero who is also at Yale at the six America’s men. If you’re not familiar with that google it, talking about different perceptions of climate change and how different groups of Americans are sort of lumped by alarm and concern and some labels along those lines. I think you’ve mentioned Catherine [inaudible 01:00:06] before, Catherine is awesome.
Brian: Yes, we do love her.
Quinn: Awesome. Therese, Jai, anybody you want to hear?
Therese: This is tough for me because I’m also involved in human rights and humanitarian and I mean I would propose myself to speak about the global humanitarian refugee crisis but I don’t want to …
Quinn: Let’s do it again, let’s bring you back. No, we’re going to dig into that, I mean, we did something today, it’s going to be in the newsletter tomorrow saying that Africa is well on its way to having 224 million under nourished citizens who will eventually be migrants of climate change.
Therese: Yeah, that’s one of the real, I mean that’s one of the biggest reasons why I’m also involved in this. I mean there is already a crisis there and to have industrialized countries putting another crisis on people who are already so disadvantaged, it just breaks my heart in all honesty.
Quinn: Yeah, for sure.
Jai: Actually, my dad also does the podcast with me that we [inaudible 01:01:08] but my dad is first of all a CEO of his own company and he immigrated from India. He has a very, very amazing actually life story. His dad died when he was three and a lot of what he did, he’s very big on education because that’s how he got out of poverty and started his own company. Now the company is all like valued at like 10 million plus dollars and he has 300 employees. He can speak on a lot of stuff, under software, tech side sector, leadership also but also in terms of like what poverty looks like and also like situation in India because he spent so much time there and everything like that.
Therese: Yeah, I actually had to meet for my own research project as well and he’s a really good person to speak with, whether it’s something on the technology or just a personal background and values for sure.
Quinn: That’s awesome.
Jai: It sounds like he could help in getting us [inaudible 01:02:00], get back to it. If ever I’ll be going to mosque I’ll be like you should get on this podcast. Thanks bro.
Quinn: You’re going to lock it up Jai. All right. Let’s summarize what our listeners and progressives and people with kids and people who’re trying to make kids and people who don’t have kids, people who just care can do to take action, to preserve full science education for American students. One is, be proactive and that means downloading or buying materials like Don’s book, reading these national standards that are federally mandated. Because they’re not mandated that means we need to be proactive, we need to city councils and state legislators and school councils and further drive up to DC or down to DC or east I guess and start that conversation ahead of time.
Quinn: If it comes down to it, getting students involved more, be the change you want to see and getting those materials to the teachers, so that they can take up the fight themselves.
Jai: Yeah, how about that. that whole idea of how you can teach it if you want to but you don’t have to and you don’t have the materials, just blows my mind.
Quinn: What do I have to do about that?
Jai: Yeah, what does that mean?
Quinn: Yeah, I only get 32,000 dollars a year, I live in the Bronx. Does that sound about right guys? Again, we’re trying to make this as concise and actionable to people as possible, so correct me if I’m wrong or add anything.
Therese: I would also say, I mean, if you’re really passionate about something find the areas and find people who are already connected with it, even if it’s a student. There are lots of students who are really passionate about different issues and if you’re able to connect with them and then get more involved and then find where, I mean find your calling and where you fit in, then that’s a way for you to be proactive. I had a – I’m president of our humanitarian club here at Boise high and I had one of our members, one my friends tell me that I’ve been an inspiration to her and I honestly didn’t realize that.
Therese: I mean that I love that I had for what I was doing, kind of had a ripple effect. They were able to find what they loved doing in the club and also move on to working with plant parenthood. There’s a ripple effect when you really are passionate about something.
Jai: That’s got to be an incredible feeling.
Quinn: That’s awesome. All right, so Don I know you guys all fought on this together but …
Jai: Yeah, what advise could you give for these guys.
Don: Well, keep your chin up which sounds a little cheesy but remember that we’ve always thought that the world was about to end an we’ve always been wrong about that so far.
Brian: Hopefully that trend continues.
Don: Part of the reason we’ve been wrong about that in the past is because we did things to change the world. When we looked at rivers and fires in the 1950s and 60s and 70s, we created the environmental protection agency and now the rivers and lakes and such in this country are so much cleaner. The [inaudible 01:05:15] was almost extinct and it isn’t anymore and that’ because we figured out things that we needed to do to make the world a better place and we did the. Right now, we’re deeply ingrained in denying a lot of the reality around us and if we can embrace reality I think we can change reality to make the reality better.
Quinn: I love that, I love that.
Brian: Did you hear that guys?
Quinn: The world didn’t end because we fucking changed the world, so no pressure.
Therese: No pressure at all.
Quinn: All right guys, so listen we have a few last questions, sort of aligning around and we’ll let you guys go. Obviously, you have homework to do.
Jai: I wish I didn’t.
Brian: I love that I do.
Quinn: I love that I don’t it’s amazing.
Therese: I can give you some work for my six AP classes if you’d like.
Quinn: No, no. [Crosstalk 01:06:08]. You do that and I’ll send you my toddlers to fix dinner.
Therese: Actually, I’d love to. I love taking care of kids.
Quinn: All right guys. Answer in whatever order you’ve got here. Not a life story here, just a couple of sentences. We like this one. When was the first time in your life you realized you were the power of change or the power to do something meaningful?
Therese: I think I’ve always seen myself as a leader. Growing up at my elementary school I was kind of like an outsider. My sister and I were the only African American students there and so to find my place, I mean I kind of had to be a leader and like create my own place where I felt accepted. It really kind of hit me when I was eight years old and I was paying attention to what was going on at the political world. It was 2008 and Barrack Obama was in the running to be the president. I really saw that …
Brian: Remember that guys, God that was nice.
Therese: I really saw that I can be a leader and – I really miss him, but seeing that, a person that looks like me could also represent this nation and be the president, I think that gave me the push to really believe that I could also be a leader. I think that’s when it really started for me for sure.
Quinn: That’s awesome.
Jai: I think that being born, well being born here but then moving to …
Quinn: Jai, you can’t start with when you were born, that’s cheating.
Jai: No, no. it was more of like a transition. Living in India I kind of had a different mindset. I developed like – just like living in India is much, much different than living here. Coming back here was hard, I had to adjust like the way I acted and like the way I talked and stuff like that. The day someone told me like Jai I look up to you, one of my friends, I think that day I realized I have some power and the things I do people do realize that and recognize that even if it’s small.
Quinn: You have something to live up to.
Jai: Exactly and so I live up to so many people. If people are living up to me I have a, big shoes to fill
Quinn: That’s awesome. Don?
Don: I’m guessing my answer will be a bit of a surprise to you. When I was an undergraduate a bunch of my friends and I started a fraternity which …
Quinn: That takes some initiative.
Don: Some initiative, yeah and …
Therese: Can I ask what school?
Don: The state university of New York at Geneseo and the fraternity just yesterday celebrated its 34th anniversary.
Brian: Is there a photo of your friend in the wall?
Don: We were able to start something that has really stuck around and we felt like we were doing something and we did it. It’s really made an impact I think generally a really positive impact on a lot of folks over the years. I don’t think I would have guessed that one, I was starting school but it’s a really interesting piece of my life story.
Quinn: Sure, but anything else it taught you, I can make things, I can make [crosstalk 01:09:31] I can manifest something,
Don: Yeah and what’s very distinctively is not just being in an organization but either starting it or restarting I think is something that everybody ought to take stab at anyway.
Quinn: Sure. All right guys.
Brian: Question number two, how do you consume the news?
Jai: I’ll start …
Quinn: When I was born …
Jai: A lot of social media, a lot of me going to like websites I find interesting and just reading some of the headlines stuff. A lot of it is for forced for research that I have to do for classes.
Therese: Not a bad thing.
Jai: Not a bad thing, you do learn sometimes but it’s very few. That’s how I [crosstalk 01:10:16].
Quinn: Cool. Therese?
Therese: I mean for me, I’ve always loved. I mean we’ve heard like the news aspect and I actually love podcast, podcast for sure for me. Up first MPR, my number right there. I also, I don’t really watch the news like CNN or Fox, I don’t. that’s not just for me but kind of like the daily shows, just seeing it, just kind of like a liberal kind of side ball, so that side. Then reading like the economist and just a lot of like news articles out there, more print than video for me.
Quinn: Nice, Don.
Don: A lot of MPR for me. I listen every morning and every afternoon pretty much and a lot of social media. I still, I’m a subscriber to the actual physical paper, the buffalo news in my hometown here …
Brian: Hey now, love it.
Don: A digital subscriber to the Washington post which I check on pretty regularly. Chris Mooney will be another good example of the …
Jai: Wait, wait, they still make newspapers?
Therese: Oh wait, I didn’t [crosstalk 01:11:27].
Quinn: All right guys.
Don: A lot of social media. A lot of my professional learning comes from being connecting to colleagues on social media that connect me to relevant news and news in my field.
Quinn: Well awesome. We have one last one and we’re going to actually change it up for the first time with you guys. It used to ne what are you reading these days but we’re going to make it a little more specific starting this week and going forward. That is, if you could Amazon prime one book to Donald Trump, what would it be? I’m even going to addend this further Don it can’t be your book.
Jai: You should send him a copy of your book, absolutely, but another book.
Quinn: Go ahead, one book, send it today free shipping to 1600 Pennsylvania, what would it be?
Therese: That’s definitely tough. I consider myself a book nerd. I actually remember how many books I read in first grade, it was 172 so just picking one book is so tough.
Quinn: No, it doesn’t have to be instructive, it doesn’t have to be climate change, it doesn’t mean the world. Whatever is your answer it’s your answer.
Jai: He’s a big reader.
Therese: I guess I’ll have to go with “so you want to talk about race.” The book was written by a woman who lives in Seattle and she’s – it just came out actually in January 15th, so it’s a fresh book. it’s very, very new. It really talks about the struggles as a black woman being a minority and also a woman, those two, that really plays. It really emphasizes, I mean looking at that person’s stand point and having empathy for them and remembering sometimes when you say something to a certain person you don’t see anything wrong with it.
Therese: There’s a lot of layers that come behind it from racism and from police brutality and institutionalism and just all the different layers behind what guys one a woman of color. I mean a person like myself, so for sure.
Jai: I would pick a book called “a people’s history to the united states of America.” It’s because …
Brian: Zinn, Zinn. That’s book is way too thick for Trump to read.
Jai: The reason is because I think Trump needs to know a little more of its history and also like how he [inaudible 01:13:46] to people. I think Zinn does a really good job expressing all the - a really good, very cool perspective on the people’s story during the United States.
Quinn: Everyone should read that book.
Jai: I would send that to Trump.
Quinn: Love it. All right, Don.
Brian: Good call.
Don: Well, I guess we’re assuming we’re not only sending it to him but somehow [crosstalk 01:14:08] which I think is dreaming.
Quinn: Just go with it Don.
Don: Well, I think Jai and Therese’s suggestions are excellent. One possibility, the one interesting book that I’ve read in the last year by Richard Clarke and R. P Eddy called Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes which is looking at people, Catastrophes that have happened in the past and finding people who identify them before they happen and looking for characteristics of folks who are, who made calls ahead of the events, which is quite interesting.
Quinn: That’s really interesting. That feels like it ties in a little bit to the black swan stuff. Interesting. Well listen guys, this has been tremendous.
Brian: Really great.
Quinn: Really appreciate it. Where can out listeners find you guys online?
Therese: I mean, you can find me on almost any form of social media. Instagram therese.Etoka, twitter.out, don’t question the username and also on articles out there for sure.
Jai: You can find me anywhere with the username technolojai.
Therese: He’s a technology nerd.
Jai: Technolo but without the gy, the jai so it’s technolojai.
Quinn: I’m not saying one day you’re going to regret that handle, I’m just saying I had one based on superman growing up on instant messenger and I don’t know.
Brian: You guys don’t know what instant messenger is.
Jai: Well, if you want to follow like my personal life like on snapchat or something, that’s jaikb and then other than that I think if you want to get a hold of me, if you look up my name you probably can.
Quinn: We will find you, and Don?
Don: I’m @ DugganHaas on twitter without the hyphen, there is a hyphen between Duggan and Haas.
Brian: Don, my last name is hyphen in, we’re brothers?
Don: What’s that?
Quinn: No, that’s not how it works Brian.
Brian: Is that how it works?
Brian: There’s not a lot of guys with hyphenated last names, it’s very special, we’re part of a small family.
Quinn: I know but that doesn’t make you related. All right guys, this has been so much fun.
Therese: Yeah, thank you so much for this opportunity.
Quinn: We really, really appreciate it.
Don: Thank you so much.
Brian: There is one more question we can’t leave without asking the last guest who we haven’t asked yet. What member of the justice league they would be. Don?
Don: Wonder woman.
Quinn: Nice, good one. Gosh you guys are great.
Therese: Did you see the recent movie with [inaudible 01:16:57]?
Brian: So great.
Quinn: It’s incredible. She’s so much and just every – I mean everybody is better than green lantern but wonder woman is amazing.
Brian: Yeah, very good choice.
Quinn: Awesome. Well guys listen, thank you again, Therese, Jai, Don, thank you for coming on, thank you for all that you do. Don, for everything that you’ve done, students, for everything you’re doing to do. We need you real bad, we do.
Brian: Thank you so much.
Jai: Thank you so much.
Quinn: Yeah. Keep kicking ass out there and yeah, we’re depending on you.
Quinn: We’ll talk to you soon.
Therese: Bye, thank you,
Quinn: Thanks to our incredible guests today and thanks to all of you for tuning, we hope this episode as made your commute or work out or dishwashing or fucking dog walking late at night, that much more pleasant. As a reminder, subscribe to our email newsletter at important.nonimportant.com and it is all the news most vital to our survival as a species.
Brian: You can find us all over the world wide web. You can follow us on Twitter @importantnotimp, Facebook and Instagram at importantnotimportant, Pinterest and Tumblr the same thing. Follow us, share us, like us, tell your friends, you know the drill. Please subscribe to our show where every listener thinks like this and if you’re really fucking awesome rate us at Apple Podcast, help put the lights on. You can find the show notes from today right in your little podcast player and at our website, importantnotimportant.com.
Quinn: Thanks, as always to Tim Blane for all of our jamming music, to all of you for listening and to our moms for making us. Have a great day.
Brian: Thanks mom.