In the 1950s and 60s, California had one of the best school systems in the country. Now it has one of the worst. What happened? And what is California doing to raise its system back up?
2003; 56 mins
Hosted by John Merrow, the program chronicles the rise and fall of Californias public school system, the largest in the nation and home to one of every eight American students. ‘First to Worst’ explores the roots of Californias current education crisis, tracing it to the anti-tax movement of the 1970s and 80s and to civil rights lawsuits that aimed to equalize school spending but resulted instead in disastrous funding limits on schools. ‘First to Worst’ pays special attention to Proposition 13, the 1978 anti-tax law (still in effect) that froze property taxes on businesses and homes and, critics say, cut funding for public schools off at the knees. Today, California is trying to regain its footing. It has developed high academic standards for all students and a new system of accountability, but academic progress has been slow. Much is at stake and for the nation: Californias six million students represent a sizeable portion of Americas future voters, parents, and workers.