This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Charles Moore, a columnist for The Daily Telegraph and The Spectator, and the authorized, three-volume biographer of Lady Margaret Thatcher. Lord Moore explains why Lady Thatcher is considered the most important female political figure of the 20th century, and reviews the challenges she faced at home and abroad, from trade union strikes to high inflation rates and political discord. They talk about Prime Minister Thatcher partnering with American President Ronald Reagan and standing in solidarity with Poland’s Lech Walesa to face down Soviet communism. Lord Moore describes her middle-class background and a leadership style that led to her 12-year tenure as prime minister in the male-dominated arena of British politics (including nearly 700 sessions of the world-renowned Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons). They also discuss “Thatcherism,” her foundational economic principles and their applicability to other domestic policy topics, as well as lessons for today’s world. The interview concludes with Lord Moore reading from his biography of Lady Thatcher.
Stories of the Week: Attorneys general from 14 states are suing the Biden administration over the Department of Justice’s calls to monitor parental protests at school board meetings. In Alabama, a group is seeking to address the teacher shortage by suspending the requirement to pass a Praxis content mastery exam.
Charles Moore is currently a columnist of The Daily Telegraph and The Spectator. He was editor in chief of The Spectator, (1984-90); The Sunday Telegraph, (1992-95); and The Daily Telegraph, (1995-2003). Lord Moore is the authorized biographer of Lady Margaret Thatcher, published in three volumes, Margaret Thatcher: From Grantham to the Falklands, (2013); Margaret Thatcher: At Her Zenith – In London, Washington, and Moscow, (2015); and Margaret Thatcher: Herself Alone, (2019). The first volume won the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography, the HW Fisher Best First Biography Prize, and Political Book of the Year at the Paddy Power Political Book Awards. In July 2020, Moore was appointed by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to the House of Lords, with the title Lord Moore of Etchingham. He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read history. In 2007, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Buckingham.
The next episode will air on Weds., March 23rd, with Dr. Arthur Levine, a scholar with New York University’s Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy, a senior fellow and president emeritus of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and president emeritus of Columbia University’s Teachers College.
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School districts risk losing existing superintendent talent and bypassing promising future leaders. Here are some key reasons why. https://t.co/r9GBQ55mNB
— Education Week (@educationweek) March 14, 2022
AGs sue Biden administration over DOJ’s call to investigate protesting parents
Alabama officials consider suspending Praxis teacher test requirement
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Read a Transcript of This Episode
Please excuse typos.
[00:00:00] Cara: Hello, everybody. Welcome to The Learning Curve. This is Cara Candal here with the great Gerard Robinson, Gerard, how you doing today? [00:01:00] Well, I’ve been having some tech issues. Gerard, I don’t like
[00:01:08] Cara: Listeners might hear that I’m going to have any problems with the microphone, the computer. And I think I would rather just go outside on this beautiful day, go for a run or something like that.
[00:01:19] But no, here we are. And we’ve got a wonderful guest today, Gerard, and lots to talk about what’s going on in your world. What are you thinking about?
[00:01:30] GR: Well, one I’m enjoying the weather. So it was going to be 70 degrees here in Charlottesville. So that’s always a good thing. And I put that in context because it snowed on Saturday in Charlottesville yesterday.
[00:01:40] It’s snow. So that’s part one in terms of what I’m thinking about. I am just shocked by high. Attention. One of the issues that I think is really important is getting a lot of other issues, national, international going on, but this is something to do with our schools. So my article is from The Center Square.
[00:01:59] And [00:02:00] it’s by Bethany Blankley. And it’s about the fact that 14 attorneys generals are suing the bike administration over the department of justice has call to investigate parents who were protesting the school boards. So we know that last fall that trying to general Garland had testified before Congress, a number of parents felt threatened.
[00:02:22] School teachers, board members, and other educators felt threatened by what they saw as real protests against group race theory and other issues. What we know as this stuff is taking place. The national school board association center letter dated September 29th to the Biden administration, opposing the parents who were critical of certain issues, referring to the parent protesters as
[00:02:47] domestic terrorists. This of course raised a lot of contention amongst educators across the board. And six months later 14 attorneys general mostly from red states, including [00:03:00] Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah saying that they have requested from DOJ, be a FOIA request information about the.
[00:03:16] In protests and threats against educators. And they’re saying at this point they had yet to receive any new information or confirmation. In fact, if there is a spike, well, why is this information still important? Well, earlier this month school board became one of 21 states that separate tied with national school board association over the domestic terrorism comment is worth noting that the national school board association, in fact, stepped away from that statement and address.
[00:03:46] But still, there are a number of states that said, we just don’t think this makes sense. And so 21 and seven ties number of them are red states, but you also have blue states like Wisconsin who’s in there also Minnesota, [00:04:00] Pennsylvania. In addition to the 21 states that have separate ties, you also have 29 states that have distanced themselves, including blue states, such as Delaware.
[00:04:11] And so this continues to move forward. It is not a big issue. I think it should be. We use words like that. It just really raises a lot of questions. And at least from my read of what the attorney generals are asking, they’re seeing this also through the lens of free speech rights that parents should have an opportunity and having.
[00:04:31] To voice their opinions. Now in voicing your opinion, I surely don’t support threats of any type violence school board members. That’s not the issue, but I will do have two questions. At least it’d be interesting, not for you to answer per se, but just for our listeners. Number one, why aren’t there any attorney generals from blue states, a part of this lawsuit and number two, why haven’t more states separate times?
[00:04:57] With national school board association seems to be [00:05:00] more way upstate. So this very well could be able to wear parts and piece but we see those things happen. And it’s also worth noting that this has gone both ways. Remember when Secretary Paige was the leader of department of education under the Bush administration he had referred to in the conversation.
[00:05:16] Two teachers’ unions as domestic terrorists. And that happened as well. And so this is going on both sides, but the fact that this is not getting the kind of attention that it should, and the fact that they have to lease attorney generals have to sue the Biden administration, DOJ, secretary of it to get information.
[00:05:34] So then we can actually find out if in fact there are more spikes or not at least to be sure.
[00:05:40] Cara: So you bring up two points that come to my mind. The first is that it feels to me like a lot of folks are severing ties with the national school board association. I don’t know, but we should get some, data on that because it sounds like that organization has been having a tough time all around for many [00:06:00] reasons.
[00:06:00] But the other thing that I think you touched on. Is listen, I don’t personally agree with a lot of what’s been going on at some of these school board meetings, surrounding curriculum, et cetera. However, That said, what I do agree with completely is number one parent’s rights. And I’m glad that people are showing up at school board meetings because lots of times they don’t especially pre pandemic.
[00:06:24] Right. But parents’ rights to know parents’ rights to ask questions. Parents’ rights to show up at school. Board meetings are so important. I don’t think we should be discouraging parents from that in any way, but where did we, as to your point on both sides, where did we. Utterly lose the ability to talk to one another civility, because I think that, on the one hand, yeah, the term domestic terrorist is to me, inning to use when you’re talking about parents, probably the vast majority of whom might have an elevated tone, but certainly aren’t domestic terrorists.
[00:06:56] Right. But then on the other hand, we have seen lots of [00:07:00] pictures and videos of school, board meetings where parents. Going in also unable to engage with school board members in a productive and civil way. So I think just writ large in our society, I’m worried about the extent to which we don’t seem to be able as a people to have civil conversations and maybe come to an agreement, which I think Gerard has led to.
[00:07:22] the product of which has been some of these more draconian laws that we’re seeing states trying to pass really hampering what teachers are able to say in the classroom. And so a totally different conversation and there are two sides to that story too. Especially how it’s been playing out in the media.
[00:07:41] But, I think. that you’re right on that this heightened level on both sides , of just in civil or uncivil in civil, what’s the word I’m looking for here? Gerard conversation is really at the root of this problem. Parents do have a right to. Uh, Schools are never going to be able to meet every parent’s single wish and [00:08:00] desire for what their kids experienced in the classroom and especially in our district schools that are larger.
[00:08:06] But parents absolutely , have a right to know. I just hope that on both sides parents and administrators in school boards can learn that. communicate with each other more civilly, because this is what you get. when we get this upset with one another, that’s a really tough issue, Gerard.
[00:08:20] And it’s one that I never thought we would be talking about on a podcast like this when we started it. But I can tell you that. My story the week, I’m really keen to get your take as a former secretary of education and a couple of different states, my friend, and this is about the state of Alabama, which I want to say.
[00:08:37] I think there’s a lot of good stuff going on in Alabama, this legislative session, they’re trying to get past some really productive school choice legislation, early literacy stuff. So shout out to Alabama. However, I have some questions about this next one, and this is. An article entitled Alabama officials consider suspending practice teacher test requirement.
[00:08:59] And this is [00:09:00] from education week. Now, Gerard, let me lead by saying for our listeners, many of you probably already know there’s really little evidence that teacher certification. Equals better teaching, right? There’s an practice being a certification test. a test that is used across multiple states for teacher certification purposes.
[00:09:17] And so the data on the relationship between teacher certification, these tests and successful teaching are scant, but. What we’re seeing in a lot of states, as you know, Gerard is this push to figure out how do we stem the bleeding of teachers from the profession? Although I read an article recently that said, it’s not as bad as we think.
[00:09:37] I think it’s that it’s worse in certain pockets to put, to stem the bleed of teaching from the passion and get new folks into the profession. So. Initiative in Alabama is supposed to go to the first thing. It’s like, how do we get more teachers into the profession that are actually already on the cusp of being there?
[00:09:53] So these are people that have been to ed schools then through educator preparation programs, but can’t pass this test in some cases by like three [00:10:00] questions. And so state officials are looking at the number of people that could get into the classroom. If they just waived this specific requirement and saying, Hey, this could be a good thing.
[00:10:09] Can I understand that this article then goes into the question that comes to my mind, which is so. What are our sort of barriers to entering the classroom if we care about teacher quality. And it’s not that Alabama’s not thinking about that, but one of the things they’re proposing, for example, is there other tests that teachers have to take?
[00:10:29] One is really. Folio of the work that teachers have done throughout their educator preparation program. And that that’s supposed to be good way to know whether or not a teacher can teach. Here’s my question for you. And here’s where I’m really struggling. The practice exam is different from, for example, a portfolio of work in that .
[00:10:48] It was supposed to be. Content knowledge, it’s supposed to allow teachers to display that they have mastery of the content that they’re going to be teaching. We’re. Some of the things we know in educator preparation programs, [00:11:00] portfolios, especially we’ll focus on are things like pedagogy. And I think personally, as a former ed school professor at schools, A lot of time on pedagogy and not enough on content knowledge.
[00:11:11] And we know that kids need teachers with content knowledge to be successful in schools. So I’m a little bit, I understand the impetus to do this in Alabama, but I am a little bit befuddled, even though I know the data that say these tests don’t necessarily make for good teachers. My question is if we start to bring down these barriers to entry now, and we’re not thoughtful about.
[00:11:33] How long such an initiative would last, or we’re not thoughtful about alternative ways to make sure educators have the content knowledge. They need to teach kids. What are going to be the consequences, both short and longterm for children in classrooms. So with your state chief hat on Gerard, tell me , what are your thoughts?
[00:11:53] GR: So I will wear my state chief hat on this one because every state has got very interesting dynamics on how it’ll play out[00:12:00] what I will wear as my policy hat. So , there are two things that come to mind for me. Number one, what is the end goal is the goal to keep people in the profession or attract people to the profession.
[00:12:13] And so if you’re saying that or that you, but if the groups are saying the practice is willing, now take that. And you’d get rid of it. Therefore we’ll have more teachers in the profession and then we’ll clap and say, that was a good idea. We got more teachers. Now, if we say that we will attract and keep teachers.
[00:12:31] That’s great. Now we know there’s a tough time keeping teachers right now with pandemic. So if it means that we suspended , that’s fine. I guess what I’m trying to figure out is what is the long-term goal. And so right now Alabama’s linked 47th and weeding last. And this is according to a recent story about Alabama and what you’re talking about, if the goal is to raise reading, and if it means getting rid of practice is going to increase reading scores that you get rid of [00:13:00] practice, because the goal is , really to increase reading scores and math scores.
[00:13:04] If the goal is to keep people in the profession and you don’t raise masks, Or reading scores. And the goal is let’s just keep people in the profession or is it to attract more people? There’s also, of course, an Alabama going to be a question about diversity whether it’s poverty first gen color or gender.
[00:13:21] So that’s another dynamic. So as far as I’m going to answer, because I’m not always sure. I know what. We’re trying to reach because through all the B the multiple efforts that Alabama, Virginia and other states have passed over the last 20 years, we’ve seen some success, but there’s still pockets in 2022 that were challenging in 1992.
[00:13:44] And we try adding tests, changing tests, moving tests, and it seems not to make a difference. So at one point it goes to show me that maybe we’re focusing on. Solely on one issue, which is testing where we often don’t have. I don’t think really good [00:14:00] conversations about what role, if we’re talking about families, what role do families play in this?
[00:14:04] What role does family structure play in this? What role could afterschool programs play in being an assistant to schools and as they try to raise math and reading scores, and are we frankly, at a point where we just have to accept that some students for a host of reasons just are not going to. The standards we’ve set for them, no matter what role we change or there’s controversial, we’ve got examples of changing rules and people rate rising, but does this always seem to work across the board?
[00:14:33] So for me, policy side, I’m not sure what question are we trying?
[00:14:38] Cara: Yeah, no, it’s a good one. And maybe Alabama and other states, as they undertake some of these initiatives to basically get bodies into classrooms, need to think about how they use tons of this federal money to make up for. Some of the things that we are afraid teachers in the short term might be lacking because they’re having problems with these tests as we [00:15:00] rethink these processes and the good questions you raised Gerard, we are going to bring in now most fabulous guests coming to us from across the pond.
[00:15:10] This is pretty cool. We are going to be speaking with Charles Moore. He’s a columnist at the Delhi Telegraph and the spectator and the biographer of Margaret Thatcher coming up. Right.[00:16:00]
[00:16:17] Learning Curve listeners. We are very fortunate to have with us today, Charles Moore, he is currently a columnist of the daily Telegraph and the spectator. He was editor in chief of the spectator. the Sunday Telegraph and the daily Telegraph. Lord Moore is the authorized biographer of lady Margaret Thatcher published in three volumes, Margaret Thatcher from Grantham to the fall.
[00:16:40] Margaret Thatcher at her Zenith in London, Washington, and Moscow, and Margaret Thatcher herself alone. The first volume one, the Elizabeth Longford prize for historical biography, the HW Fisher. Best first biography prize and political book of the year at the Patty power political book. In [00:17:00] July, 2020 Moore was appointed by the prime minister of the United Kingdom to the house of Lords.
[00:17:05] With the title Lord Moore of Etchingham. He was educated at Eton and Trinity college, Cambridge, where he read history. In 2007, he was awarded an honorary doctor of letters from the university of Buckingham. Lord Moore, welcome to The Learning Curve. It’s just so wonderful to have you today, and I’m sure you probably hear this from a lot of people, but I like many have been watching The Crown a little bit and have only, just now gotten to the point where we’re learning about Margaret Thatcher.
[00:17:40] So across the globe, as you know, many consider the former British prime minister Lady Margaret Thatcher to have really been the most important female political figure of the 20th century. And you, as I just said, have completed this three-volume biography of her. Could you give our listeners an [00:18:00] overview what her world-changing accomplishments were?
[00:18:05] And maybe you can tell us a little bit of what we don’t see on The Crown.
[00:18:10] Charles: Yes. Well, thank you. The Crown is a vivid picture, but essentially wrong
[00:18:18] because what it shows is Mrs. Thatcher sort of trying to have an argument with the queen. And of course, this absolutely was not the case. And in fact, there was a lot of mutual respect, which was shown particularly by the fact that the Queen attended Lady Thatcher’s funeral, and the only other prime minister’s
[00:18:35] funeral she attended in all these 70 years, is that of Winston Churchill. So actually the relationship was strong. but to come to your question the so much one could say, but I would pull out three things. First of all, I would say there was this thing called Thatcherism, which has made a big difference to the world, which is a political, economic dot.
[00:18:57] About the independence of human [00:19:00] beings and of nations. So that it’s sort of to do with self-reliance and so belief and a capacity to get on with problems rather than shoving all the burden on the state. And the next is The very important role. She played in the defeat of Soviet communism, where she was by far the closest and most importantly, to working with president Regan and because they were friends and bargain from a position of strength they were able to come to terms with the changing Soviet union of Mikhail Gorbachev.
[00:19:31] And this is a very relevant question for the current time, the current times that we’re in. And then finally I think the fact that she was the first enormous. Woman leader in the Western world made an enormous difference to the fortunes of women in the world, and also produced a new style of leadership, which was much more challenging than the usual male leadership.
[00:19:53] So she’s the sort of role model of a particular set of attitudes and also a particular type of character and a [00:20:00] way of women leading, which I think is enormously influential in the 21st.
[00:20:04] Cara: Absolutely. I’d like to press you a little bit on that last point that she presented a new style of leadership. I mean, in certainly , here I am in a country where we have yet to elect a female head of state.
[00:20:16] could you just push a little bit on those aspects of female leadership that were perhaps a little more challenging as you put it?
[00:20:23] Charles: Well, what she thought was that men tended to have a club in politics. Back to one another up worked against the public interest because what she used to say was there’s no second chance for a woman and the trouble is there.
[00:20:37] Isn’t a second chance for the men. she would say so that when they failed people didn’t get rid of them. They just looked after one another, but they weren’t so good at looking after the country. And what she was saying was. She felt her leadership had to do the absolute best at all times. she also used this as a common sense way of talking.
[00:20:56] So she would say she, used economics in a very [00:21:00] political way, which is unusual in Britain. So she would get to grips with serious economic problems, but she would talk about it in terms of women’s experience at the time. So she would say, look, this is an era of inflation. We women know what it’s like to manage a hotel, but.
[00:21:14] She was talking at a time when most women were, what were then called Housewives. We know how to manage your household budget and don’t get fooled by all this jargon. The men are using, they’re making a mess of it, but we know the reality and another joke she sort of jokes she would make about it was, she’d say the Cox may Crow, but the hen lays the egg so that the female is the one who actually does things.
[00:21:37] And the man is the one who just talks.
[00:21:41] Cara: I think I might have to drop that at the dinner table tonight.
[00:21:49] Charles: Okay.
[00:21:51] Cara: That’s wonderful. So, in, as you said so much of what you. Right about in her life seems so relevant today, not just what is [00:22:00] going on globally in the invasion of Ukraine. But also you you’ve already mentioned inflation, right? So when mark Satcher was elected prime minister in 79 Britain was being torn apart by trade unions.
[00:22:15] High inflation rates and political discord, which certainly sounds familiar to this podcast, hosts ears. Talk a little bit more about those foundational economic principles that she established, and then more specifically the impact of those principles on restoring the British place in the world.
[00:22:35] British prestige.
[00:22:37] Charles: Yes, Britain at that time was much more socialist than the United States at that time. And what had happened was we’d got poorer relatively, and we got very, very smelled up with labor union disputes and national, particularly with nationalized industries. So the capacity of British workforce to produce competitively and to work production.[00:23:00]
[00:23:00] Had greatly diminished. And also the labor unions had been taken over by the left to some extent and wielding too much political power. So the question was, how do you restore prosperity and an open economy and a better polity so that the people who are elected are the people who make the political decisions, not the head of the labor unions.
[00:23:21] And she got to grips with all those questions. And of course, inflation was a function of this problem because it was overspending overboard. Very little control of the money supply and she didn’t succeed in every respect, but she succeeded in at least two very important ones. One was that she privatized great chunks.
[00:23:40] In fact, the great majority of nationalized industries and made them competitive and perhaps the most important of all was. Change labor law in such a way that most of these disputes and almost all this political intervention by trade unions went away because she would turn power in the unions to the members rather than just the [00:24:00] leaderships.
[00:24:01] So little statistic will tell you that, but when she came into office in 1979, Britain lost more than 29 million working days to strikes in that year. When she left, when she left office in 1990. Britain lost 1.6 million working days districts. And now the figure is, less than half a million, half a million a year.
[00:24:21] So, she’s often called divisive Mrs. Sacha, but in this respect, she produced harmony. The, workforce became 90% of the dispute disappeared, and people got back to work.
[00:24:33] Cara: And can you talk a little bit about the impact of that on how Britain was perceived across the globe?
[00:24:39] Charles: Yes. I think one thing she was very good at was though she was a very much a conservative person.
[00:24:45] She was also a great innovator. And so Britain had ceased to be a model in the early days of the industrial revolution and free trade in the 19th century. And so on Britain had been the nation of all the nations in the world. Even more than the United States, we should integrate. In politics [00:25:00] and economics and in business and science, and this was much, much diminished.
[00:25:04] And by the 1970s and people weren’t ready looking to Britain, but with particularly privatization and also labor union reform, and also so-called monetarism about controlling inflation. People started to look and they said, gosh, Britain is doing, experts is doing way. This is an example of privatization, particularly.
[00:25:23] So that say it became a. Intellectual export a policy export for Britain was bad at any privatization before Britain started this. And it became a worldwide phenomenon, which it continues to be to this day. And people knew what this is such as doctrines were because she was a very good preacher in politics.
[00:25:40] So she’d be always telling you what she thought and why it mattered, and people could pick up on this and they could apply it to their end situation.
[00:25:48] Cara: you say she was a very good preacher of politics, which is fascinating to me. And one of the things that I think is fascinating to many Americans is prime minister’s questions in the house [00:26:00] of commons.
[00:26:00] and she is known for participating in almost 700 sessions, 698 sessions. I’m curious to know, because you talk a bit about her, how she presented herself, how is it that, she was a middle-class person? What was it in her background? In her formative education that helped her to thrive in this heated political environment?
[00:26:26] Charles: Well, I think it’s important that her parents had no sons. She had a sister and her. In those days in that lower middle-class provincial Britain, where she came from from a, a gruesome shop. Very few fathers would’ve wanted their daughters to be highly educated, but her father did, he was interested in politics himself.
[00:26:46] And he really encouraged her and she was a very good academic friend. And so from a good local school, she got into. And not only was she very unusual as a woman getting into Oxford in those days, but she also brought in [00:27:00] as a scientist, which is even rare for a woman. And that type of analytical brain that she had in mastery of facts was immensely useful.
[00:27:09] And she learned about political and public affairs from her father who was as well as being a small businessman was a Methodist lay preacher. So he would go around and preach and she would listen to the way he’s spoken about. And so she was sort of ready for the challenge. And by getting into Oxford, she began to meet people from much richer and more powerful families and get to know all that as well.
[00:27:31] And though she was, I think, very lonely in many ways. As the only woman in the lower middle class woman, she also understood how to take advantage of that, to bring something fresh to the conservative party and to, public affairs. And one thing she always said is the old wisdom Neil saw that people use when they say time spent in reconnaissance is never wasted.
[00:27:52] And this is why she was so successful at parliamentary questions, as you mentioned, because she always did the work. And so, as you know, in that, system of [00:28:00] questions, you don’t know what’s going to get thrown at you by MPS on both sides of the house. And so she was fantastic. He well-prepared twice a week, every week, parliament.
[00:28:09] And this was enables her to grasp its use and also to sort of keep an eye on the whole range of governments and to have a quick answer, because she has a very crisp way of talking when people were fraying this stuff at us. So it was a sort of a challenge, a 15 minute challenge twice a week, keeping her up to the mark and it allowed her to dominate the house of commons in a way that rarely happened before.
[00:28:32] And I think never happened. The prime minister
[00:28:36] GR: arrived to power and began to challenge bureaucracy at the same time that president Ronald Reagan ascended to the white house and began the challenge, the bureaucracy, and the way we had done business in DC for decades, both of them became political friends, and both of them were also committed to winning the cold war by defeating Soviet communism.
[00:28:56] Would you discuss their friendship, the historic significance of [00:29:00] the. Political economic and foreign policy partnerships as well as ways in which their policy ideas and leadership different.
[00:29:08] Charles: And this is very much in the front of my mind at present, because I’ve just recently been in the United States, completing a BBC documentary television documentary about the Reagan Thatcher relationship, which will come out, I think, in about two months or less.
[00:29:21] And it’s also, I think, relevant to where we are now with this terrible situation in UK. The friendship between Reagan and Thatcher was a very unusual one because it was forged in adversity in the 1970s, when neither of them were in power, that’s unusual in the global level that such a relationship starts that way.
[00:29:40] And so they knew straight away. They clicked very first meeting in 1975, about the big issues, economic and cold war. They couldn’t be more different styles of people, you know, Mr. Reagan, very relaxed genial. not so interested in the detail. Her very serious, very earnest, very, always in a hurry. But they were [00:30:00] complimentary to one another and they both liked that.
[00:30:01] I think she thought he was the classic ideal of the American partners, his actor, of course, and this good-looking man and charming man. And he thought of her as a charming well-mannered English lady of greatness. And right from the start it worked. And what was unique was also the situation because it’s never happened before, or since there’s a two term American presidents had the same British prime minister throughout his time.
[00:30:29] He came in later than she did into office. And he left earlier. And so all through this crucial cold war period, these two friends were working together. Sometimes they had big tensions, but they always had great respect and affection for one another throughout. And they use that to enormous effect in the bigger issue.
[00:30:47] I think it is right to say. So the biggest issue, which was what to do about the Soviet union and how to win the cold war.
[00:30:54] GR: Well, to stick with the idea of communism and foreign policy. Lady [00:31:00] Thatcher’s 1988 visit to Poland, including meetings with solidarity leader, Lech Walesa in the shipbuilding city of the Gdansk was among the most triumphant and emotional episodes of our career.
[00:31:13] The Iron Lady had a complex domestic relationship with trade unions, but could you discuss her enthusiastic reception, bipolar shipyard workers, as well as parishioners as Saint Brigid’s Church in Gdansk. And what did.
[00:31:27] Charles: It was very important. Indeed. The British visit as indeed with her visit to Moscow in the previous year in 1987. But in both occasions, she was incredibly well received by the people. Whereas the regime was somewhat uneasy about her. She had always said about trade unions to take your Polish point in particular that trade unions were good things, but they had to be responsible to their members rather than perverted by the leaderships.
[00:31:53] And what was marvelous about solidarity was it was an authentic trade union rather than a communist front organization. [00:32:00] And it grew up in revolt against communist government. And that was just great from Mrs. Hatch’s point of view, it was an authentic workers movement rather than a bogus one. And they, I think look to her and to present Regan much more to other leaders in the west, because part of the strategy and belief of Regan and.
[00:32:20] We’re not just talking to governments here. When we deal with cold war issues behind the iron curtain, we want to reach out to the people of these places. They are not free and they want to be free and we can help them be free. And they really did that. And the Mrs. Sanchez visits there’s particularly these two ones I described, I’ve just mentioned exemplified that.
[00:32:41] So when she got to get dance, she was absolutely fated by. So these people that, but at the very point, when she sees to be the official visitor of the Polish government and was handed over to the reception by the trade union leaders by Lexa went by solidarity, produce television, cut off everything. [00:33:00] So the Polish people were not allowed to see anything of her in Gdansk from that moment.
[00:33:05] And that shows the situation the Polish government was in so huge crowds, recenter and Gdansk. And of course it was also very. Church element, which you mentioned in the, in solidarity and relationship with the Polish Pope, John Paul, the second, all that was invisible to the wider Polish public, because all the official media cuts off, but she was the heroine of the time.
[00:33:27] Gdansk, a friend of mine who was there at the time, he saw a notice in English, Richard in one of the markets and get danced. We said, Mrs. Sacha bipolar and, was the spirit at the time. And what we’re talking about there, 87, 88 is the time when coming to the end of president Reagan’s time when the cracks really, really were showing in the the Soviet union and in the Eastern block, and Mrs.
[00:33:49] Sacha had established a good relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev, and she was the first British leader really to get to know Gorbachev. And it was, she that recommended him to Reagan on the grounds that [00:34:00] he really was changing things. She didn’t pretend to agree with him. And the first thing she said to him almost when she met him for the.
[00:34:07] Mr Gorbachev, you need to know that I hate communism was almost the first words. But they had a very frank and she considered honest discussion, 1984, Christmas, 1984. And from then on the whole atmosphere was changing from the big buildup of nuclear weapons that she had. And Reagan had arranged in Europe in the early eighties to a more warm relationship, which brought about huge change in the later eighties and led to the fall of the Berlin.
[00:34:33] GR: When you think about the nature and the character of naturalism, and that term is loaded on bogus in the U S as well as as someone sitting on the other side of the pond and how it was expressed in her views about education reform, environmental conservation, and the European community. How should we think about the nature and character of naturism as relates for guiding lessons for us here in the world today?
[00:34:58] Charles: I [00:35:00] did think secularism is a philosophy. I think it’s more like a disposition which very much reflected her character. It involves a set of beliefs, but they’re not very from doctrines. What they are is a belief in, I think they’re grounded in a belief in Judeo-Christian civilization and in the, virtues of the way.
[00:35:19] she was very keen on the idea that these virtues should be recognized by the west and critically examined by the west and promoted by the west. And she felt that there’d been this terrible weakness in the culture of the west as the post-war era continued. And so she was, it was a sort of call to arms.
[00:35:37] I don’t mean literally to a harm. So in a way, she did a call for nuclear rearmament. Come on. We’ve got something that we can really offer the world. We’ve got a great tradition. We’ve got a great idea of markets, of Liberty, of choice, of national independence. And this is something we should be evangelical about.
[00:35:55] We shouldn’t just let the world divide up into spheres of influence. We need to [00:36:00] tell this good message to the world. And that I think, and also of course emphasize the freedom of the individual in becoming responsible and then improving the condition of society through individual, as well as collective efforts.
[00:36:13] And I think all that came across. So any good philosopher could rip apart some of these doctrines, they didn’t. Coalesce very well. They weren’t systematic philosophy, but they were very, very important messages about the way we ought to be living and the pride we should be able to have in ourselves.
[00:36:32] And that by the way, is why she’s called the iron lady, because it was intended as an insult that prescription, it was given her by a Russian communist red army newspaper. Which was teasing her in a sexist way. It said, you know, think Germany had an iron shops that are in business in Bismarck. She thinks she could be an iron lady.
[00:36:50] Ha ha. And you know, no lady can be iron. And she immediately made a speech saying, I stand before you in my red, she phoned gun with my head, gently [00:37:00] waves, the lady of the Western world. And I’m happy to be called that if that means I stand up for our beliefs against those of communism. And so she knew how to turn.
[00:37:10] The insult into the compliments and it was this sort of almost aggressive way of dealing with things, or certainly very front footed way of dealing with things which made a great difference to the affairs of the world. In
[00:37:23] GR: 1988 in the summer, a chance to travel to Oxford university with a delegation from the university of Virginia to talk about education reform.
[00:37:33] And naturally of course, we talked about some of the reforms that she made when she was in office a month ago. I had a chance to return to England this time to the university of Birmingham. To again, talk to scholars and others about education between the time that she was in office until the time that we’re in right now, how much of her philosophy or bachelorism has relates to education and its relationship to the economy, to jobs and to [00:38:00] making England stronger are still in place now.
[00:38:03] And are there some lessons others around the world can learn from that?
[00:38:06] Charles: Well, it’s been a story of success and failure. She was not fundamentally able to alter many of the, I would say rather bad systems of state education, national education paid for by the state in Britain. The fundamental structure remained the same, but she was able to introduce higher standards of curriculum that she was able to introduce.
[00:38:31] More parental choice. And most importantly she introduced the idea that new schools could start, could generate themselves rather than having, just to be invented by government. And the bad schools could fail and clear. And so we have what we call the academy program. And this means that schools have much more management or their budgets, and they used to have a much more pride in themselves and much more capacity to organize as academy trusts with more than one school in each trust.[00:39:00]
[00:39:00] So you’re getting the sense, that’s a reality of standards and choice is there in the system and that tends to affect what people learn. So. There would be a more rigorous learning that there would have been in those days. And therefore a better preparation for a modern economy and way of life.
[00:39:17] However, I wouldn’t want to exaggerate these achievements because I think fundamentally the British educational system remains controlled by the left and actually in recent years, in many ways, the standards. Declined as the left has become more militant. And that’s particularly happened in our universities as I think it has in the United States.
[00:39:35] So we had getting a big standard, this you all over again. This is how it didn’t always prevail, particularly in social questions. And so not all of her legacy is in place right now, but what is in place, I think is the idea about what this all to be, she can be invoked in order to find out what was said, what was argued, what was done and try it.
[00:39:55] Push that in a new era. And I would say that’s also true in, [00:40:00] well, the fast, because now we’ve got back in a weird situation to the cold war It’s no longer about Soviet communism, but it’s certainly about Russian power and dictatorship and so on and aggression. And how she behaves in relation to that is relevant and there ought to be more attention to it.
[00:40:15] Now in this terrible situation.
[00:40:17] GR: You know what I heard you say? Or the term, the iron lady, and it was used to. Denigrate her. And she ended up adopting that term so much of what she also had to deal with was driven by gender bias and other dynamics when she was in power. There were few women in the UK on the continent, even in the us, in positions of power today in Europe and the United States, more women in power are there some lessons that women, as well as men who were working under the leadership of women can learn from her.
[00:40:48] Style in terms of leadership, diplomacy, and vision.
[00:40:53] Charles: Yeah, I mean, the style is very different today, but first of all, the fact that she achieved this dominance, which was total dominance of the [00:41:00] British political scene for more than 10 years was very important, particularly as it was so innovative.
[00:41:05] Also I think she had an interesting take on this. Women employees policies would agree with, but I think it was very challenging and successful. She said to herself, she didn’t I to say this in public much in order for women to win, they need to capture the citizens that men really think their own.
[00:41:24] So she thought it was not a good idea , for women politicians to talk so much about what are traditionally called women’s issues. Health, let’s say she understood of course the importance of health, but she knew that men were not so interested in that she thought the thing to do where you really win is if you can capture what men care about, what do men care about in politics?
[00:41:43] If they care about war and money and international relations and diplomacy. And so she said her mind above all to conquer those subjects, herself economic policy, cold war policy, and defense policy. And [00:42:00] international relations such as the European community and global relations. And once you do that, you’ve really proved that women can do it.
[00:42:09] And the men are sort of slightly put to flight. and I think she did show that, and it says as a source of anything you can do, I can do better aspects of all of this, which as many as a huge difference to the world. success of Z generations of women, many of whom will not agree with Mrs.
[00:42:26] Thatcher’s actual politics, but will be most interested in her example. Thank you. Well, Lord, more would love for
[00:42:34] GR: you to read a passage of your choice.
[00:42:38] Charles: Yes. Thank you. A word of explanation is required because most of the words in this paragraph. Actually all the words of president Reagan, but I’m reading them out because of the context 40 years ago this year the full cleanse war took place when Argentina captured Portuguese territory, the Falkland islands invaded them and an incredible feat of arms Mrs.
[00:42:58] Thatcher and the British [00:43:00] forces recovered them. 8,000 miles away off the coast of south America. Amazing military feat and political achievement. In that she had quite a difficult time with United States because United States naturally did not want a war in the American continent. But in the end, her friendship with president Reagan prevails and so great with her success, there’s all these attempts to bring about sort of United nations peace plans and things didn’t happen.
[00:43:26] And there was total victory for America. And at this time happily coincided for her with president Reagan, having a state visit to. And visiting the queen. And of course there’s a team. This is Thatcher. And he made the speech in the houses of parliament, where he very kindly from her point of view, use the full example to meet the big play he was making about the nature of the cold war struggle, the Argentina.
[00:43:52] And Falklands, we’re not strictly speaking about the cold war, but they shared the capacities of the Alliance and of. British determination. And so [00:44:00] he made this little speech and I’ll read you a little bit about , just one paragraph which became an important part of the big message, the global message that Reagan and Thatcher we’re giving and this is, what it said.
[00:44:12] The Reagan visit to Britain began on Monday the 7th of June. So it was no whisper of disagreements over. The following day, the president’s addressed MPs and peers in the world gallery the houses of parliament. It was a major set piece speech making much more explicit it’s in the context of the Soviet repression of Poland, where martial law had been declared the previous December, his belief that the west could and should win the cold war freedom.
[00:44:38] He declared in a passage, which he wrote into the speech. Against the advice of the state department Reagan made the Falklands positive. Here’s why the theme, and these are his words on distant islands in the south Atlantic young men are fighting for Britain and yes, voices have been raised, protesting the sacrifice for lumps of broken earth so [00:45:00] far away.
[00:45:00] But those young men aren’t fighting for real estate. They fight for a cause for the beliefs that armed aggression must not be allowed to succeed. The people must participate in the decisions of government. The decisions of government made under the rule of law. If that had been a support for that principle some 45 years ago, perhaps our generation wouldn’t have suffered the bloodletting of world war two.
[00:45:24] And then I say, this was the only part of his speech, which attracted applause as British troops prepared for the final assault. Mrs. Thatcher could not have asked for clearer public support. And I would just add to that as the person referred back to the second world war 45 years earlier, 45 years on, I think we can very much apply these words to the situation with Ukraine.
[00:45:47] GR: We’re Lord Moore. Thank you so much for spending time with us today. Thank you for sharing, not only your scholarship with your insight on her as a person, as a politician, as a visionary at a time in world [00:46:00] history, where we should be concerned less with the right and the left, as much as doing the right thing to make sure we leave our.
[00:46:06] children and families a better world your work and your words have been very helpful to this conversation. You also mentioned you have work coming out soon about Reagan and Thatcher. And so please keep us abreast of that. Work would love to have a conversation with you at a later date about that as
[00:46:22] Charles: well.
[00:46:23] I’d love to do that, and I’m very grateful. It’s been a great pleasure talking to you. Take care. Thank you.[00:47:00]
[00:47:47] Cara: And as always Learning Curve listeners, we close it out with our Tweet of the Week. This one from EdWeek Tweeted on March 14th, school districts risks, losing superintendent talent and bypassing promising [00:48:00] future leaders. Here are some key reasons why, so this one friends, I mean, living here in Boston, it is hard.
[00:48:09] to ignore the idea that our Boston public schools in particular have just a really difficult time hanging on to superintendents. And it’s having a negative impact for a long time. Now it’s been having a negative impact on kids. So, I think that this is a really great read and some of the reasons they give is that superintendent turnover is only.
[00:48:33] Some settings that let’s not blame the pandemic for everything, because some superintendents are actually likely to stay, but that, and these are the important ones. So BPS mayor. Whew. I hope you were listening. Hiring great superintendent. Is getting more complex. And this article says at school boards will need to consider greener talent and probably opening up their wallets and [00:49:00] developing folks which, who in a big old school district that is not something to take lightly.
[00:49:05] Finally. The challenges faced by female superintendents has been placed into stark light, according to this article, by the pandemic so that, you know, we really need to think about diversity in the superintendents workforce and what that means, especially when we are hiring superintendents. It’s a really important job, Gerard.
[00:49:26] It’s about time. We started thinking more deeply. I think we talk a lot about teachers, but we’re not often talking about the people who are steering the ship right at the top of the district. Next week, we are going to be speaking with Arthur Levine. Many of you will know him. He is the president emeritus of Columbia’s teacher college.
[00:49:44] I bet he will have something to say about all of these things, but that more coming up Gerard until then. Please take care of yourself and I’ll be waiting for you’re always illuminating take on whatever stories [00:50:00] and commentary we have in the week ahead.
[00:50:02] GR: Sounds good. Take
[00:50:04] Cara: care. All right. Have a good one.
[00:50:05] Take care.[00:51:00]