09/03/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT
ABC (Tuesday, Sept. 4, 8-11 p.m. ET)
This analysis of the American public school system should leave you either totally depressed or angry enough to start agitating for reform. Peter Jennings narrates this three-part special, which looks first at students, then teachers, followed by examples of schools and communities working on positive steps. There are, of course, myriad factors contributing to the breakdown in educational standards and the descending IQs of students: working parents, discouraged teachers, unmotivated kids, lack of funds, deteriorating conditions and modern distractions, such as cars and shopping malls. It's, like, awesome to hear middle-class Los Angeles teenagers put forth their life-styles and value systems. More hair-raising is the plight of the teachers, who talk of job burnout and their wish simply to bail out. Obviously the system hasn't kept up with changes in society. As one educator points out, school, the so-called formal teacher, is being overshadowed by nonformal teachers, such as TV, videos, records, personal experience and peers. Whether you have kids or not, don't fail to watch this account of the making of our future leaders.