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Florida May Approve "Classic Learning Test" As Alternative To SAT College Admission Exam; Ailing American Trapped In Turkish Cave Speaks Out; Abortion Pill Maker Asks Supreme Court To Make Final Decision; Hard Hits: Can Football Be Safe. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 08, 2023 - 15:30   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Any moment now, the Board of Governors for Florida's public universities expects to approve a new college entrance exam. It's called the Classic Learning Test, or CLT. It's going to serve as an alternative to the SAT and ACT tests. The new entrance exam is popular among Christian schools and conservative political groups, but it's been criticized by some educators as being too narrowly focused on religion to predict academic success in college. If it's approved, Florida would become the first State University system to accept the test.

It is the latest move by Governor Ron DeSantis to shake up Florida's education system. Let's discuss it now with Andrew Spar. He's the president of the Florida. Education Association. Andrew, thanks so much for being with us. So what has your experience been with the CLT?

ANDREW SPAR, PRESIDENT, FLORIDA EDUCATION ASSOCIATION: I have actually don't have a lot of experience with this CLT, but what I do is I talk to professors, we have all over the state of Florida. We represent professors at all the universities, all the public universities in the state of Florida. And we're hearing from them that they are not happy with what's going on at the university level in Florida. And you know, Florida has some of the best universities, and yet our professors are talking about leaving there in droves right now because of decisions that are being made in Florida like this move to allow for an entrance exam that does not appear to really adequately predict how well students will do at the collegiate level.

SANCHEZ: So if it is totally optional, what is the harm of having this option for certain students if ultimately universities get to decide who gets entrance into their institution?

SPAR: Well, what we continue to see here in Florida is that the Board of Governors under the direct leadership of the governor in the state of Florida, is really dictating how universities will handle all kinds of decisions, including students entering the university. So right now they're saying we're going to add it as a tool, but down the road are they going to say, this is the end-all and be-all.

Keep in mind that the governor in the state of Florida has publicly stated he wants to do away with the SAT and ACT. And while I'm not saying those are perfect exams, those exams certainly seem to have a correlation with how successful students will be in college.

SANCHEZ: So Andrew, I did want to ask you while we have you about something that happened in Miami-Dade this week. The school board there decided to no longer recognize October as LGBTQ History Month. How have your members responded to that move?

SPAR: You know, I continue to hear from our members in our K-12 level all over the state of Florida that they are frustrated with the fact that they can't really connect to kids the way they know they need to. Kids need to be able to be the themselves. They need to be safe and secure in their schools, knowing that they can be who they are. And when you see a district as large as Miami-Dade say, they're not going to have a month in which they lift up those who have been part of the LGBTQ plus community and contributed to our society. It really sends a negative message to our students.


And it sends a negative message to our teachers and staff who are part of the LGBTQ plus community. I think this is a travesty and an error on the part of the school board there.

SANCHEZ: Andrew Spar, we appreciate your time. Thanks.

SPAR: Thanks for having me, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Of course -- Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Still ahead, still waiting, the rescue mission for the Americans stranded thousands of feet deep in a cave in Turkey could begin Saturday. We're going to ask an expert who knows that stuck cave diver. What he thinks of the mission. Coming up next on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.



SCIUTTO: We could be just hours away from the start of a rescue mission for the American who's been trapped deep inside a Turkish cave for days. 40-year-old Mark Dickey was on a research expedition when he began suffering from gastrointestinal bleeding. This new video shows him alert upright as he receives several units of blood. His condition is now stable, but he remains about 3,600 feet below ground.


MARK DICKEY, AMERICAN EXPLORER TRAPPED IN CAVE: I look forward to working with everyone to safely get myself out with their assistance. And as you can see, I'm up. I'm alert. I'm talking, but I'm not healed on the inside yet. So I need a lot of help to get out of here.

SCIUTTO: Joining me now is Tony Smith. He is the Eastern regional coordinator for the National Cave Rescue Commission. Happens to know Mark Dickey as well. Tony, good to have you. I wonder, was it a relief there to see that video of Tony upright and talking? TONY SMITH, EASTERN REGIONAL COORDINATOR, NATIONAL CAVE RESCUE

COMMISSION: Yes, Jim, it certainly was a relief to see Mark up right and talking. As you know, our concern is whether or not he'll be able to, you know, walk out at all. Of course, he'll have to be carried over the multiple drops that are in this cave.

SCIUTTO: And that is still your sense, even to see him standing there. I know it's hard work to climb some 3,600 feet, given the depth and all the features down there, he will need to be carried out. Is that your understanding?

SMITH: Yes, Sir. Even though Mark's up right. He still has, you know, the gastrointestinal bleed. Therefore, they're going to be really careful about him exerting himself. They'll be able to walk between the different drops, but there's 70 drops that they're going to put them in a basket and do a haul system with a mechanical advantage and raise him up those 70 drops.

SCIUTTO: Wow, 70 drops. So how many people are we talking about who need to be involved?

SMITH: So there's seven teams that are currently in the cave that have divided the cave up to work on these different drops. My understanding, there's over 100 persons in the cave now with more coming.

SCIUTTO: As you look at this happening -- and I know you're of course, a caver yourself -- are some caves like this just too dangerous to explore?

SMITH: Not that they're too dangerous. All caves are cold, wet and dark. The caves in the eastern region here in the United States average about 58 degrees. The humidity is 100 percent. There's waterfalls in the caves, there's streams in the caves, and then they're all dark. So those three things you have to prepare for with special clothing. And then with special lights, currently we're all using LED lighting, which you know helps in that total darkness.

The cave that Mark is currently in is 49 degrees. If you look in the video, you'll see steam coming out of his mouth. It's very, very cold. And of course, the 70 drops, a person in good health would, they're saying, will take at least a day to travel from below where he is to the entrance. So figure multiple days and having to raise him, raise in those seventy drops.

SCIUTTO: Yes, goodness and a lot of work. Well, Tony Smith, we certainly wish him the best of luck. We wish you -- I know he's a good friend of yours and the teams Involved -- good luck. Thanks so much for joining us today.

SMITH: Thank you.


SANCHEZ: Football is back and so is concern about the safety of the game. Has enough changed to keep players safe this season? We're going to discuss it next on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.



SCIUTTO: Breaking news into CNN. The Supreme Court is once again being asked to make a major ruling on abortion in an election year, no less. CNN's Joan Biskupic is here. This one relates to the abortion drug mifepristone. What exactly is happening here next?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Sure, Jim. We're just, this news just came in and we're just now a step closer to the Supreme Court taking up the next battle over abortion rights in America. And this one involves medication abortion, women's access to the pill known as mifepristone, which is one of a two drug protocol that a majority of women use in America to end their pregnancies.

Today, the drug manufacturer Danco appealed to the Supreme Court, a ruling that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit had issued a couple weeks ago that would limit if it were to take effect. It would limit women's access to this key drug that, as I say, is now used to end pregnancies. The Department of Justice is also expected to file soon.

And the reason today's step is important is because the drug manufacturer and the Department of Justice are trying to make sure that a ruling that would limit the availability of the drug and women's access to the drug in terms of when they could get it and who could prescribe it, they want to make sure that the Supreme Court takes a look at that decision.


And what they're hoping for is to have that decision reversed as soon as possible. And the filing today and the one we expect from the Department of Justice would tee this case up for a Supreme Court review in its upcoming term in October.

And Jim, you know, this is the next big battle after the Supreme Court in June of 2022 eliminated all constitutional rights to abortion and put it back on the states. And that's why access to medication abortion is even more critical now.

SCIUTTO: And as you know, medication abortion is how most abortions take place in this country today. This started, of course, with a judge in Texas who issued quite a broad ruling against its use. The 5th Circuit, somewhat less broader ruling. But there's a lot here, right, because it goes to the FDA's broader powers to approve drugs such as this.

BISKUPIC: That's exactly right, Jim. And in terms of those restrictions, it would make a difference of whether women were able to access the drug at 10 weeks as they now can or only at 7 weeks. And whether they'd be able to get only a physician to be able to dispense the drug or other medical people able to provide the drug and whether it could be obtained by mail also or in person.

But the larger question does go to the authority of the Food and Drug Administration, which since the year 2000 has found this drug to be safe and effective. And in 2016 and 2021 enhanced the availability of the drug and it's those two steps that are especially at issue here with this 5th Circuit ruling and the reason the Department of Justice is expected to come in pretty strongly here. Is because it goes to not only the FDA approval of mifepristone, but FDA approval for all drugs and its ability to use its own expertise to ascertain the effectiveness and safety -- Jim.

Yes, it'll be remarkable to see what the conservative majority of the Supreme Court, how they would rule on this, given the ruling on Roe. Joan Biskupic, thanks so much. Lots to follow -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: You could feel it in the air. Football is back and we already have our first shocker of the new NFL season. The Detroit Lions beating the reigning Super Bowl champs, the Kansas City Chiefs. CNN's Cory Wire recently sat down with Chiefs head coach Andy Reid for a new report on CNN's "THE WHOLE STORY." It's called, "Hard Hits Can Football Be Safe." Here's a preview.


COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: What do you think it is about the game that fans just love this sport?

ANDY REID, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS HEAD: AND THREE TIMES SUPER BOWL WINNER: It encompasses what we all go through. There are challenges in life. There's challenges on the football field. There's a camaraderie and excitement. You get to see all the different races, religions brought together and that's celebrated.

WIRE (voice-over): And make no mistake about it, football is a way of life for many Americans. From peewee leagues and flag football, to high school football's Friday night lights and colleges and universities all across this country, people are obsessed with football.


SANCHEZ: Coy Wire joins us now. Coy, you played nine seasons in the NFL. You finally hung up the cleats in 2010. You took some hard hits. Do you think football has gotten safer since then?

WIRE (on camera): Yes, I first of all, I can't get over the da dah da, that you --

SANCHEZ: It's been in my head for days. I'm so excited.

WIRE: Football is back, baby. The game has changed so much. I've just blown away by our reporting in this and digging into it. You know there have been fifty rule changes over the past two decades, Boris. There are protocols now in place that were never in place before. Like the emergency action plan. Which essentially saved Damar Hamlin's life on the field on a Monday Night Football game last season before the world watching.

And they actually, mid game -- mid season changed the concussion protocol after your team's quarterback, the Miami Dolphins Tua Tagovailoa had a scary concussion. So they are really vigilant now about making sure this game is continuing to be as safe as it can be.

I think the biggest thing we're seeing -- the difference today, is this culture shift. This mindset in regard to player health and safety. We had a game cancelled mid game for the first time ever last season with that Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals game. And this pre season alone, including your Dolphins, was one of them. Two games called off mid game due to an injury because the players health and wellness and well-being was more important than any outcome of a game.

SANCHEZ: Coy Wire, thank you so much. We look forward to watching that report. Be sure to tune in. Actually, before we go, Coy, we do have time for a follow up question. So let me ask you about what you found in your investigation regarding parents that might be hesitant about their kids playing.


You're a young dad. If your kid grows up, would you let them play?

WIRE: Yes, I do believe my 2-year-old Ruby is going to be a beast of a linebacker someday if she chooses to. But listen, those concerns by parents out there all across the country are completely justified. This is a brutal game. This is not chess. No offense, LeBron James. This is not basketball. This is a tough sport and it's not for everyone. But our reporting shows that it's safer now than it's ever been. We went to Biocore, a lab and they hooked me up to all these sensors. Turned me into a video games show. How they're collecting data and injury statistics and using that to further the progression of the safety in regards to football. And there's a trickle-down effect affecting collegiate and youth and high school levels as well.

SANCHEZ: Coy Wire really look forward to this report. Thank you again. You should definitely tune in to an all-new episode of "THE WHOLE STORY" with Anderson Coy's special airs Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific only on CNN -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Time now to meet this week's CNN hero. Nearly 1.5 million children in the U.S. have a parent who is incarcerated. Yasmine Arrington knows first hand what they're going through. She's dedicated to making college more accessible for students like herself.


YASMINE ARRINGTON, FOUNDER, NONPROFIT SCHOLARCHIPS: What we're ultimately doing is ensuring that young people who have incarcerated parents are overcoming systemic barriers and also changing the trajectory of not only their lives but their families' lives. And breaking the stereotypes and the stigma around having an incarcerated parent getting.

ARRINGTON: Are you ready for graduation? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm not. Congratulations. I'm so excited.

ARRINGTON (voice-over): What keeps me going? It's that proud mama effect to see our scholars just achieve and accomplish and overtime gain a sense of healthy confidence just a little bit of support can go a very, very long way. It really is a snowball effect.


SCIUTTO: Another CNN hero. To see more of Yasmine's story, please go to


SANCHEZ: Author Stephen King has invented some of the most terrifying characters in American literature, the murderous clown Pennywise.

SCIUTTO: Still scares me.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Jack Torrance in the Shining and Christine, that homicidal Plymouth, just to name a few. And today the author is revealing a bit of his inspiration, his soundtrack of choice while writing these dark and twisted novels.


LOU BEGA, MAMBO NO. 5: In the Trumpet. A little bit of Monica in my life, a little bit of Erica by my side.

A little bit of readers all I need.


SCIUTTO: You probably remember that. Lou Bega, Mambo No. 5, probably the summer's most obnoxious hit from 1999. Stephen King, it turns out, tells Rolling Stone, quote:


My wife threatened to divorce me. I played that a lot. I had the dance mix. I love those extended play things, and I played both sides of it. And one of them was just total instrumental. And I played that thing until my wife just said: One more time, and I'm going to f**king leave you.

Do you know, it was a Cuban musician that originally say Mambo No. 5.

SANCHEZ: Really.


SANCHEZ: I didn't know.

SCIUTTO: Like in the '40s or something.

SANCHEZ: What do you listen to when you're writing a book?

SCIUTTO: I listen to jazz.

SANCHEZ: I do as well. You got a new one coming out soon.

SCIUTTO: I really do.

SANCHEZ: "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.