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2024 Heats Up: DeSantis To Declare Candidacy; Does Biden Have A New Hampshire Primary Problem?; Trends In Post-Pandemic Work-Office Culture; Re-Writing The Rules Of Homework; Ohio Mayor Issues "No-Mow May" Executive Order. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired May 20, 2023 - 09:00   ET




MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: It's about to get real. I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. This coming week Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will file paperwork formally declaring his candidacy to challenge former President Donald Trump for the GOP nomination. He follows South Carolina Senator Tim Scott who filed on Friday and Chris Christie is said to be on the verge. This is in addition to already declared challengers Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson and Vivek Ramaswamy.

Former Vice President Mike Pence has said he'll decide before June meanwhile, names being floated for a so called Unity ticket. The idea from the bipartisan political group No Labels include Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Larry Hogan, the former Maryland Governor.

Trump's biggest obstacle still seems to be his own legal entanglements among them his recent seemingly self-incriminating remarks here on CNN regarding Jack Smith's case about the withheld Mar-a-Lago documents and the investigation into interference in the 2020 election by Fulton County, Georgia Da Fani Willis, who recently signaled that a decision from her could be coming in early August

So into this fray finally steps Ron DeSantis. Joining me now to discuss is Gary find out he writes for Florida Playbook for Politico previously worked in the Tallahassee Bureau of the Associated Press. Gary, nice to see you again. So DeSantis is dug in on this Disney issue. And I find it interesting that your reporting suggests that issue started, the feud that started was not initially a priority for him, please explain that.

GARY FINEOUT, REPORTER, POLITICO/AUTHOR, FLORIDA PLAYBOOK: Yes, basically, what happened was the legislation that sort of sparked this entire battle, actually was came from the Florida House, there were Republicans in the House who decided to pursue it. And then basically what happened very early on, I would say that very early on, is he got questioned about it. And he defended it. And he suddenly then became the face of the legislation.

And he defended it very vociferously. And, you know, basically said, you know, he was in favor of the legislation, and he supported it. And so sort of, then when everything began to the ramping up of the opposition, including Disney's sort of talking about it, he stuck up, he stood up and, you know, then it became sort of a central to his identity. And he has become the lead protagonist in this drama.

SMERCONISH: Interesting that it kind of comports with his campaign slogan. And I'm asking this question first, because I think it's a tell in terms of what we can expect from him when he's a formal candidate.

FINEOUT: Well, yes, so I mean, the point is, is that, you know, he dedicated an entire chapter of his book about this fight with Disney. He discussed how sort of like they, you know, kind of hatched the plan to go after them initially last year, that it was done very quickly done very rapidly without anybody knowing.

And you know, and then when what happened is, when the news came out that Disney had tried to sort of circumvent the state legislation and what the state was planning on doing, then he doubled down and said, well, you know, you're not going to win this fight.

So we've seen this kind of go a few rounds now Disney sued. Now they say they've pulled off out of this project in Florida, although the financial conditions should just that, you know, there was a lot of questions about where they were going to go forward that anyway. But, you know, here we are, you know, you just you look at this, and you kind of think regardless of what happens in the presidential race, Disney in Florida could be tangled for a while.

SMERCONISH: I know how he's being received nationally, in fact, put up on the screen. I'll read this aloud to you, Gary. Here's some of the legislative accomplishment or the record of DeSantis that we hear about often, the six week abortion ban, ending the concealed weapons permit banning gender affirming care for trans youth, restricting drag shows blocking the AP African American Studies course, prohibiting vaccine mandates, and the so called Don't Say Gay or correctly described Parental Rights in Education Act.

Question for you is that's a very conservative record. Is that the view from the ground as well? Or are there points of moderation that he'll be able to point to if he survives the nomination process and becomes a general election candidate?

FINEOUT: Well, two things there. I mean, basically, on a lot of these issues, it's clear that they are trying to get to the right of Donald Trump in terms of a GOP primary, that what they want to do is they want to be able to say to Republican conservative voters, look, this is the level of accomplishment and going beyond. I mean, you saw what happened this past week, where basically the DeSantis took a little bit of a dig at Trump in which said, well, I signed a six week ban but you won't say even what you're willing to support.


So you kind of see where that strategy is going. Now in regards to a general election, yes, these are things that, you know, they're going to have to deal with if they make the general. Now he is going to be able to sell a few points. He's going to be able to say, well, look, I boosted teacher pay a billion dollars, I basically got money for Everglades restoration.

So there are some things on his list of accomplishments in terms of Florida, that it could try to sell to people in terms of a moderating influence. But I mean, I think the real, the thing is, you know, the Biden campaign, if he in fact is the Republican nominee, Biden campaign is going to focus on all this cultural war stuff.

SMERCONISH: No doubt. I'm about to talk about that campaign. Gary, great to see you. I really appreciate your insight.

FINEOUT: No, thank you for having me on.

SMERCONISH: So let's talk about the other side of the aisle now to President Biden's campaign. Does he have a New Hampshire problem? For 50 years the nomination process has started in Iowa and New Hampshire. This year, the DNC voted to adopt a schedule suggested by President Biden making South Carolina the first contest on February 3rd, and moving New Hampshire to February 6th, the same day as Nevada, the idea being to better reflect the demographics of the national electorate and presumably to give President Biden an advantage.

So far, New Hampshire hasn't agreed and is insisting on going first. In fact, their state law requires that they go seven days before any other primary. Remember now in 2020, Biden lost both the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary. In New Hampshire, he finished a distant fifth, and his candidacy looked dead on arrival for a while. Then house whip Jim Clyburn endorsed Biden before the South Carolina vote, which he then won, and several moderate candidates dropped out threw their support behind Biden. That's how we won the nomination.

This week when CNN Chris Wallace asked Jim Clyburn, if the move was stacking the deck for Biden, Clyburn said this.


REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): I don't think you're stacking the deck, I think you avoiding embarrassment. And that is what he is attempting to avoid here. And I would expect anybody to do the same.


SMERCONISH: So if New Hampshire still goes first, what's going to happen? Joining me now is Jim Geraghty, contributing columnist for The Washington Post, senior political correspondent for The National Review, where he writes the daily morning jolt newsletter. He also recently wrote this piece for The Post, the primaries haven't started and Biden has a problem, New Hampshire. Jim, thanks for being here. So what are the options that the Biden campaign faces in New Hampshire? What can they do?

JIM GERAGHTY, CONTRIBUTING COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, the current status seems to be that they're sticking with the proposal that the DNC that Biden basically, I'm going to say, forced on the DNC, but he had strongly suggested it, and the DNC generally goes along with what the current president wants to do. And that, you know, that they were going to say, well, we're not going to recognize the New Hampshire Democratic primary.

We will, you know, in the past, we've seen the national party committees do things like only count half a delegate for each delegate from any rogue state that is holding a primary before the date that the National Committee had permitted. If he does that, if Biden does say, we're forfeiting it, we're not competing. We don't recognize it, then the odds of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. or I suppose Marianne Williamson, winning or finishing with some really high percentage increases dramatically. Now, I think --

SMERCONISH: So what is it? Is it an embarrassment only issue? Or is there real concern that if RFK Jr., because I think he'd be the more likely given those independently minded Granite State voters if he should win New Hampshire, then all of a sudden, there's a cloud of confusion over every other race, or is it just a temporary, you know, egg on the face of the Biden campaign?

GERAGHTY: Look, I think there's about a high 90 some percent chance that Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee in 2024 presuming he stays healthy, presuming he doesn't, you know, God forbid, have something terrible happen. But if you do lose, first of all, the odds of Biden losing the Iowa caucuses, which is currently scheduled to go forth, is greater than zero, because the Iowa folks are not the Democrats are not thrilled about it.

Now, this was a case because they couldn't count the votes back in the 2020 Democratic Iowa caucus. I think there was a broad consensus that Iowa should not go first. But I think New Hampshire Democrats feel like they're being unfairly punished for that. But their primary ran without a hitch back in 2020. And so it's like, wait a second, why are we getting shoved back to fourth place? We're behind South Carolina, and they strongly suspect with good reason that this is mostly about they're being punished for not having voted for Joe Biden.

And just with that climb, let that fascinating Jim Clyburn, quote you just said about what this is all about trying to avoid embarrassment. You know, Michael, with friends like this who needs enemies, you know --

SMERCONISH: There's one other aspect --

GERAGHTY: This is all about trying to avoid being embarrassed. Yes.

SMERCONISH: There's another interesting aspect about this. You correct me if I'm wrong, but you need the acquiescence of those New Hampshire Republicans in terms of redoing the date for the New Hampshire primary, right? And Governor Sununu is thus far he doesn't want to play ball with this probably because he hopes for the embarrassment that we're raising the prospect of.


GERAGHTY: Yes, and I'd also note that, you know, Chris Sununu is making noises about running for president on the Republican side. But this is one of those rare areas where like New Hampshire Democrats and New Hampshire Republicans, both believe that their state is terrific, and it should always go first, in the presidential nominating process, and you can probably find 48 other states that would say, no, we should go first. But it's one of those things where this works to New Hampshire Republicans advantage, it creates this headache for Democrats.

New Hampshire Democrats, like elected officials, they're not saying well, this is going to cost Biden New Hampshire in the general election. But it's another it's another --


GERAGHTY: It's another competition. It doesn't make it any easier. And it is kind of a purpley state that is not a sure thing of the Democratic profile.

SMERCONISH: Yes, the reason that I'm so attached to this is it's a great example. The only thing we know for sure is that we have no idea what's about to unfold. There are so many intangibles in the cycle now beginning. Jim Geraghty, thank you for being here. I appreciate it.

GERAGHTY: Always appreciate it, Michael, anytime.

SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Hit me up on social media. I'll respond to some throughout the course of the program. Catherine, what do we have? I think Joe's loved ones should convince him not to run. He's given the country years of service. Let him enjoy retirement. Personally speaking I want to vote Democratic but I will not vote for Biden again. Madison, I hear that from a lot of radio listeners. Yes, I too wish for Longevity for all of these folks.

But, man, you look at the situation playing itself out now with Dianne Feinstein. It's just damn sad. I know. I'm pivoting from Biden to Feinstein. But I look at that and I think is there no one -- is there no one in her orbit who can say? Come on, you've had a fabulous career. Don't let it end this way.

Up ahead, where is America's post pandemic work ethic heading? This week, Elon Musk criticized remote work he called it bullshit and morally wrong. Meanwhile, an NYU professor observed a shift in her Gen Z students values, choosing what they call fun employment overwork. One sense is that Kim Kardashian would not approve.


KIM KARDASHIAN, REALITY TV STAR: I have the best advice for women in business, get your ass up and work. It seems like nobody wants to work these days.


KARDASHIAN: You have to surround yourself with people that want to work.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SMERCONISH: All right, and this week's poll question, go to and answer it now. Is Gen Z's work-life balance brilliant or bonkers?



SMERCONISH: There's something I want you to see roll it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Starting next week return to the office, gee whiskers. Hey, honey, I'm going to need you to start meal prepping my lunch ASAP, we're going into the office. My clothes dry cleaned on Saturday, they'll be ready to go next week. I can't wait to have a conversation with Cheryl by the water cooler. Return to office -- seriously?

I just got used to working from home in my normal clothes. I'm very happy right now, but I will try to make it in. Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, this can't be real. Okay, I'm going to LinkedIn right now. Resumes already updated. I knew this was going to happen, a record breaking year like, why, it makes absolutely no sense. Please come along with me today to quit my job. They are forcing us back into the office for absolutely no reason.


SMERCONISH: Though the COVID crisis has finally officially passed the impact on the workplace, it's still being felt. Are these changes now with us forever? The popularity of working from home doesn't appear to be going away and about a third of U.S. workers with jobs that can be done remotely continue to do so full time while 41 percent of workers have settled into a hybrid schedule. Plus, the number of companies that require employees to be in the office full time it dropped from 49 percent in February, to just 42 percent in May.

Elon Musk calls working from home BS morally wrong and accuses the quote laptop class of living in la-la land. As Bloomberg reported, perhaps an accidental side effect to working from home gives employees too much time to indulge with daytime drug and drinking habits now on the rise. According to a study by the Atlanta Fed, 27 million working age Americans have a substance abuse disorder. That's a 23 percent jump since the start of the pandemic. Maybe it's these frightening side effects that make joining the workforce less appealing.

Suzy Welch is my next guest. She's the former editor of the Harvard Business Review and co-wrote two international best-selling books with her late great husband, former chair and CEO, Jack Welch. Suzy now teaches at NYU Stern School of Business. Her most recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal explores the newest work office trend in a post pandemic world. It's called Fun employment. Suzie, it's great to see you. What is fun employment?

SUZY WELCH, NYU STERN PROFESSOR & SENIOR ADVISOR TO THE BRUNSWICK GROUP: Oh, fun employment is a term that Gen Z uses to describe the period between jobs. And the first time I heard it, I was teaching. And a student said, well, I don't have anything quite yet. Until then I'll just do some fun employment. And I literally screamed. I said what, what, what, what did you just say? Did you say fun employment?

Because I think like you come from a generation where unemployment was never fun. We never put those two words together. But times have really changed and the whole contract between the worker and the company that they were first changed, and my students and many people from Gen Z, not all of them, of course, believe that unemployment doesn't have to be dismal and dreary and scary and bad.

But when you're not working, you can actually be living and you can be having fun, and you can be enjoying it and they've got all sorts of great ideas for fun employment. It's absolutely do they in my mind.

SMERCONISH: Do they think that the deal is stacked against them or Suzy are they looking at their parents and saying I don't want to end up like that?


WELCH: Yes, well both to tell you the truth. I mean I think they look and they say, you give everything to a company and then you get laid off. And it may have nothing to do with your performance. Or the, you know, the company puts you into a job that you don't want, or they make you work from the office, which is the last thing in the world they want to do.

I informally pull my classes and I say how many people want to go in five days a week, zero hand, you only start seeing hands when it gets below the number of three days a week, three days a week, some people were to have two days a week. I have people say just one day a week, that's enough for them. And so I think they also look at their parents and say, what did all that hard work get them? I don't want that life. They want to opt out.

Now, the complicating factor is that some of them still want to be corporate Titans. They want to be on the cover of magazines. They want to and touchingly really honestly, they -- a lot of them want to give money away. And so they want to make money, no really to give away some or most of it. But they also don't want to work the way previous generations work. They just don't believe -- they don't buy in.

SMERCONISH: Easy to criticize them as a group, easy to come to the conclusion that they're malingerers. But in your own very thoughtful piece, you say, you don't know maybe they have the right idea. I mean, my poll question today asks about their work life balance and whether it's bonkers or whether they have the right idea.

WELCH: And, you know, look every day I'm in class and I think to myself, wait a minute, are they brilliant or bonkers? I asked that. So and I don't come out thinking that they're bonkers. I think that like our own generation, we -- they came to their values honestly. They have had very limited geopolitical stability. They see layoffs all around them. They see AI coming at them. You know, remember, Warren Buffett just called AI like the atom bomb, they see their futures like with this bombs coming towards them.

And they have come to these values of saying I don't really trust the man. OK. And should we try to talk them out of it? And I don't think that they're lazy. I hate that description of Gen Z. A lot of them want to work. They just don't want to work for anyone but themselves. Even if they're working at a company, OK, technically, they want to be working for their own growth. And because they don't, there's no more lifetime employment, and none of them seek it and none of them want it.

SMERCONISH: You're reminding me of someone saying to me looking at me in a summer setting last year, you're not on vacation. You're just working in a bathing suit. I'm not sure if it was my iPhone, or it was my iPad, or my laptop that they saw spread out in front of me. But that's why your piece really made me think, here comes some social media, stay there. I'll read it aloud and you can answer it with me.

Catherine, what do we have? They were catered to as kids and teens. I knew we were going to get this. They were catered to his kids and teens protected from the consequences of life. Wait until a deep recession hits and they have to pay a mortgage. All these work from home demands and balance stuff will go bye bye. Suzy Welch says what?

WELCH: I say that there's some truth in that, that a little bit of this is that they are still, some of them are still supported by their families. And there will be a moment where they want something like a house, or they'll have a kid and they'll want to send that kid to a private school. And they're going to have to face into a different reality.

I think right now they are a little bit protected, but at the same time, they are aware that they're being accused of this, that they just have these attitudes because they're being taken care of by others. And I think that they're -- they understand that this doesn't last forever. And I want to make it clear that when they talk about unemployment, they don't want to be unemployed forever, but they do feel like unemployment doesn't have to be this terrible thing. They can do their work and they can do their careers on their terms because it doesn't get you anything to do it on anyone else's terms.

SMERCONISH: We shall see. Suzy, great to see you. Thank you so much for being here. You inspired today's poll question.

WELCH: Thanks.

SMERCONISH: OK, gang, now you're prepped, go to and vote. Is Gen Z's work life balance brilliant or bonkers?

Up ahead, should kids be graded for how they've mastered the material regardless of whether they've done all the homework? That's the question being wrestled with now in programs known as equitable grading, which try to compensate for those students who have living situations that are less than stable. I'm going to talk to an expert.

[09:24:22] Plus, a bipartisan bill has been proposed to save A.M. radio after many car manufacturers have discontinued including it in their vehicles. If this century old technology does fade away, might it be what finally squelches the impact of conservative talk radio?


SMERCONISH: There's a campaign underway to save the static. Quick history, 1988 after being syndicated to radio stations across America, Rush Limbaugh saved the A.M. band by creating a clubhouse for conservatives who were rightfully feeling shut out of the mainstream media. The political ramifications were huge and the payoff for Limbaugh enormous, as evidenced by the invitation he received to sleep in the White House Lincoln bedroom by then President George H.W. Bush.

F.M. radio was becoming all the rage when Limbaugh's entertainment based on headlines provided a respite that may have run its course after his passing in February of 2021. Because now comes the news that several major automakers including BMW, Volkswagen, Mazda, and Tesla are removing A.M. radios from new electric vehicles because electric engines can interfere with the sound of A.M. stations.


Ford went even further eliminating A.M. from all of its vehicles electric or gas powered, citing its data that A.M. accounts for less than 5 percent of in car audio use. Cars are where about half of A.M. listening takes place in this country. Station owners and advertiser say removing access from car dashboards will kill off many of America's 4,000 plus A.M. stations, 700 of them Spanish language.

So, this week Republican Senator Ted Cruz and Democratic Senator Ed Markey began pushing the AM for Every Vehicle Act. The legislation would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require automakers to keep AM broadcast radios in their vehicles at no additional cost. The two parties, though, seem to have differing interests as to why they want to preserve AM's singular role.

As the "Washington Post" puts it, "Some Democrats are fighting to save stations that often are the only live source of local information during extreme weather, as well as outlets that target immigrant audiences. Some Republicans, meanwhile, claim the elimination of AM radio is aimed at diminishing the reach of conservative talk radio. Eight of the country's 10 most popular radio talk shows are conservative."

To which I would add how ironic that typically laissez-faire Republicans would want to prop up an industry on life support due to technological advance in competition. No doubt it's because they fear the loss of the clubhouse that Limbaugh built them. At his peak, Limbaugh aired on approximately 650 stations. "Talkers" magazine estimated his weekly audience at 15.5 million listeners, the most listened to show in the country.

If AM is jettison from cars it would hasten the end of an era that began in the early 1900s. It's where Americans heard FDR's fireside chats, the Hindenburg's crash, Ronald Reagan's baseball broadcasts. While the National Association of Broadcasters says 82 million Americans still listen to AM stations each month that audience has been ageing for decades.

Look, I get the nostalgic feelings for AM radio. I have them too. I grew up listening to Philly 56 WFIL which played in my parents' 1966 Chevy Impala when I was a kid.

It was the age of big markets being dominated by larger than life personalities. Alan Freed in Cleveland. Cousin Brucie in New York City. Wolfman Jack in the American southwest. And Jerry Blavat, the Geator with the Heater, the Boss with the Hot Sauce here in Philadelphia.

The radio station where I was heard before coming to SiriusXM was a 50,000 watt clear channel AM signal based in Philadelphia that could be heard after dark as far away as Florida. But just as vinyl was overtaken by 8-track which was replaced by cassettes and then outmoded by CDs and rendered extinct by MP3s, time has marched on for AM.

But fear not my conservative friends, the days of your having no place to gather they are long over. As explained to me this week by Dr. Brian Rosenwald from the University of Pennsylvania, he's the author of "Talk Radio's America." He said, what's going away here isn't the content. It's just the delivery mechanism. People will still get the exact same sort of extreme infotainment that they've gotten on the AM dial, it will just now come from FM shows, and podcasts, and internet outlets, streaming shows, and a combination of Fox, Newsmax and OAN.

He's right. And many of the radio companies have themselves hastened the demise of AM radio by moving popular programming including live sports to the FM band. So even if AM disappears, the political programming won't just fade away. It will just be found on different platforms.

Still to come, because not all students have stable home lives some school districts are experimenting with a concept called equitable grading, downplaying homework assignments in favor of mastery of the material. Does that work?

And are yards in your neighborhood looking a little unkempt this month? That might be because of a new movement called "No-Mow May," which aims to let grass grow early in the season to help pollinator populations, but not everybody likes it. I'm going to talk to one Ohio mayor who issued an executive order on just this subject in his town.

And I want to remind you to answer this week's poll question at Is Gen Z's work-life balance brilliant or bonkers? Register for the newsletter when you're there.



SMERCONISH: Is re-writing the rules on grading going to help or harm our students? Dozens of school districts across the country, California, Nevada, Iowa, Virginia, among them adopting this unconventional approach into their classrooms. It's called equitable grading and it's gaining traction. The approach minimizes the importance of finishing homework and emphasizes more weight on students proving they have mastered the material taught in class through essays and tests and projects.

Supporters of equitable grading they argue that assigning homework after school favors only students with stable home lives and parents that are more hands on in their kids' education. Students required to work after school or take care of their loved ones like older relatives or younger siblings may give them a disadvantage to finishing their homework on time.

My next guest, Joe Feldman, is the author of "Grading for Equity: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms." He's a former teacher, principal and district administrator.

Joe, nice to see you. You know that some say this sounds like coddling. If all of the sudden there's no homework, you're not going to look at classroom participation, like where's the accountability? You say what to that?

JOE FELDMAN, FORMER TEACHER AND ADMINISTRATOR: Good morning. You know, we are only used to one way of grading. We have had this grading system for the last (AUDIO GAP) and unfortunately the ways that we grade now are -- undermine effective teaching and learning and perpetuate a lot of achievement disparities. And what this is actually about is common sense grading, right? This actually makes grading more rigorous. And it doesn't penalize students or reward them for circumstances outside their control.

SMERCONISH: But what about effort? I'm a little selfish when I think of this because it didn't come naturally to me.


It came naturally to my brother. OK? He's a smart guy. I was always the one who had to turn in the extra credit. I was always the one who had to hustle to sort of make up for that which didn't come, you know, in my genetic code. What about that guy?

FELDMAN: Yes, everybody is extremely important, and we want all students to do their best and work hard every day. And equitable grading (INAUDIBLE) what we perceive as effort in the grade. It's for this reason, right?

If I go to the doctor and the doctor does a test and sees that I have high blood pressure, and then I go and I work out every day for three months and I changed my diet and I work super hard to lower my blood pressure. And I go back in three months and the doctor does my test and sees that I still have high blood pressure.

I don't want the doctor to say, well, Joe has worked so hard. I better say he's fine. That he has low blood pressure, right? I want the doctor to tell me the truth. And equitable grading means that we wanted our grading always to be accurate. We love when students work hard, we want to praise them for that, but we don't want that to work the accuracy of the grade.

SMERCONISH: Allow me to read aloud -- put it on the screen, Catherine -- from "Newsweek." This caught my eye and I'd love you to respond to it.

"In the name of equity, progressive education consultants and the progressive educators who pay them to advance their ideological goals" -- I think that might be a suggestion of you -- "drove this change, not parents. And the problem they're trying to fix is parenting itself, or the lack thereof."

You would say what, Joe?

FELDMAN: Well, there's a lot of misinterpretations of this. And what we find is that when parents start to learn about this they actually think this is a huge improvement to the way their students are graded. Right now students are graded on everything they do, when they raise their hand, when they bring in cans for the food drive, when they get their syllabus signed, when they do their homework, if they don't do their homework.

And what this is actually doing is making grading more rigorous. It tells us, hey, students, it doesn't matter as much if you raise your hand in class, if you come to class on time, if you get your syllabus signed. You don't get points for all those things. What matters in school is have you learned the material? It makes the grade much more pure or accurate for parents to know where their students are in their learning.

SMERCONISH: Let's take a look at social media together. I'll read it aloud in case you're not able to see it. Show it to me, Catherine.

Grading exists so we can measure success and failure. We should learn lessons from both. If we don't measure the failure, we can't fix it.

You'd say what to that?

FELDMAN: I totally agree. I mean, equitable grading means that we are telling students exactly where they are at every stage of their learning. And what equitable grading is not is saying it doesn't matter if you do homework, it doesn't matter if you turn in your homework on time. We care about those things deeply. It's about making sure that when we tell students where they are in their learning we are telling them accurately and without regard to their circumstances outside of the school.

SMERCONISH: OK. It's a lab experiment of sorts playing itself out across the country. We'll see how it turns out. Thank you so much, Joe Feldman. Appreciate your time.

FELDMAN: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Still to come, this month to help the much-needed pollinator population, many communities are observing "No-Mow May." Letting lawns go wild. Well, in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, the mayor actually issued an executive order to encourage the practice and he's here next.

Plus, I want to remind you please go answer this week's poll question at Cannot wait to see the result on this. Is Gen Z's work-life balance brilliant or bonkers?



SMERCONISH: Question for you. Are you observing "No-Mow May"? That's a slogan that originated in the U.K. It refers to refraining from mowing one's lawn for the entire month of May.

The theory propounded by environmentalists and conversationalist -- conservationists is to allow weeds to grow and flower which helps feed pollinators during a period when little else is in bloom. Detractors, they feel it makes a neighborhood look unkempt.

Well, on May 3rd the mayor of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Kahlil Seren, actually issued an executive order on the topic. It read in part, throughout the month of May, except in the case of clear health or safety concern, enforcement activities related to violations for tall grass will be suspended.

Joining me now is the Cleveland Heights' mayor Kahlil Seren. Mayor, explain it to me. What's the purpose? What are we trying to do here?

MAYOR KAHLIL SEREN, CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OHIO: The purpose is to provide an additional component to a comprehensive push for ecological sustainability here in Cleveland Heights. We want to provide an opportunity for people who are intentional about participating in "No- Mow May" the space to grow their yards just a little longer this month.

We know that we are having a devastating impact on pollinators in this country and in this region. And this is something that we can do to introduce people into a new creative way of thinking about how we use our lawns.

SMERCONISH: What if I want to mow my lawn? What happens to me in Cleveland Heights?

SEREN: Absolutely nothing. You are very welcome to. And, in fact, there are some yards that are not well-suited for "No-Mow May" at all.

If you have a yard that is exclusively monocultured grass, we are not actually looking for tall grass. That's not the point. We are looking to provide a little bit of room for plants that flower, that provide pollen for the pollinators, you know, to grow a little bit before we cut them down in the early season.

[09:50:02] And if you have a lawn that's all grass, you might not be a good candidate for "No-Mow May in the first place. So please feel free if you do not want to participate --

SMERCONISH: If I were driving -- if I were driving through Cleveland Heights, Ohio, today on this Saturday, what would I see? And what's going on relative to public lands?

SEREN: Sure. So on our public lands -- I'll answer that part first. On our public lands we've restricted our mowing a little bit. And so, we've -- say, for instance, on the medians, on divided roads, we have thus far mowed a perimeter strip for visibility on our medians in order to provide a bit more visibility to drivers as the grass and the other plants on the medians grow taller.

But we're taking a look at those medians and seeing where it's simply tall grass and where we have got natural flowers blooming when otherwise they wouldn't, so that we can sort of adjust course on the fly as we go. This is sort of a test case to see what comes up out of the ground if we don't just strictly mow.

And if you drive through Cleveland Heights right now, you'll see a wide variety of pristinely manicured lawns. Some other yards that are native planting, you know, gardening, you know, extravaganzas, and others that are just trying this for the first time. And in that case, it's probably a little less structured than the people who really know their native plantings. But you'll see a wide variety of yards in the city.

SMERCONISH: Listen, I applaud what you're trying to do. I think I want to be in the repair business in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, because I know with all the water we've had in the northeast, my grass would be so high right now that I don't think my mower could handle it.

Let's look at social media and the mayor and I can respond together. What do we have?

Waste water, fertilizer, mower costs, gas, pollution, all to watch it grow, mow it and put it in plastic bags and take it to the landfill. What a waste of resources, time and money. One of the many things that people in the future will look back and say, what were they thinking?

I take it you buy into what Brian Kenney who sent us that comment believes.

SEREN: Well, I do believe that what we've created culturally is this weird monocultured, you know, grass lawn that provides very little with the exception of the aesthetic sensibility that we have. You know, biodiversity is something that is important for the survival of all species. We work in an interconnected way.

And, you know, even -- before you get to that sort of lofty principled thing, you know, there are things that we can do here that can be just as beautiful with native plantings. "No-Mow May" isn't intended to be an end all be all. It's intended to be, as I said, a gateway into what we can do differently in order to work a little bit more cooperatively with our environment.

SMERCONISH: I'd like one of your councilmen who was quoted as saying, can we move on to no mo' Styrofoam?

SEREN: Then, yes. Absolutely. So, over time, you know, we're working through making more and more environmentally conscious decisions and economically conscious decisions. Our move toward, you know, reusable bottles for water, for council meetings and that kind of thing is already under way. We are not purchasing anymore disposable Styrofoam cups for council members to use --


SEREN: -- during their meetings.

SMERCONISH: Good for you.


SMERCONISH: Thank you. Thank you, Mayor. Appreciate your time.

SEREN: Absolutely. Thank you for taking an interest in Cleveland Heights.

SMERCONISH: That would -- that would make for a great poll question, but we already have a great poll question. Coming up, your best and worst social media comments and the results of this week's poll questions at Go vote now. Gen Z's work-life balance brilliant or bonkers?



SMERCONISH: So, there's the result of this week's poll question at Wow. Fifty-eight percent say bonkers when asked is Gen Z's work-life balance brilliant or bonkers? Fifty-eight percent say bonkers.

Social media reaction to today's program includes the following. Let's see it.

The poll should be sorted -- right -- sorted by age group. If you had to spend your career at the water cooler you're obviously going to think it's bonkers partly out of jealousy.

I suspect, Joe Santanello, that we had heavy boomer voting among the roughly 60 percent who say that it's bonkers. I said to Suzy, you know, maybe they're looking at their parents. Maybe it's not just being raised in an era of dealing with COVID and now the rise of artificial intelligence, but maybe they're looking at their parents working seven days a week, constantly on the phone, constantly saying I don't want any of that. We'll see. We'll see if they change their ways.

More social media reaction. Let's see. Why are you campaigning against Biden?


I'm not campaigning against Biden. I'm putting -- you should be thanking me because I'm putting on your radar screen something that nobody else is talking about yet, which is he has a problem in New Hampshire, and now has an interesting decision to make as to whether to even compete in that state. And if he loses New Hampshire, what then will be the significance for the rest of the election? Aren't you glad I informed you of that?

I'll see you next week.