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The Public Broadcasting Service will air an unusual three-part documentary series next month that uses a courtroom setting to examine several current policy debates in education.

"Learning in America: Education on Trial" features two noted lawyers taking opposite sides on the questions of the need for a national "report card," whether public schools are "beyond repair" educationally, and whether society is "shortchanging" the schools.

The series premieres on Jan. 6 at 10 P.M. Eastern time, with the remaining shows appearing on Jan. 13 and Jan. 20 in the same time slot.

The lawyers--Christopher F. Edley Jr. of the Harvard University law school and John E. Coons of the University of California at Berkeley law school--question "expert" witnesses such as Saul Cooperman, the former New Jersey commissioner of education.

The host of the program is the actor Richard Dysart of NBC's "L.A. Law." The "trial" is presided over by Colorado State District Judge Connie L. Peterson of Denver. At the end of each installment, viewers will be invited to call a toll-free telephone number to register their "verdict" on the issue at hand.

This week, PBS is scheduled to air a one-hour program featuring a discussion of the state of the nation's schools by the four former U.S. secretaries of education Shirley M. Hufstedler, Terrel H. Bell, William J. Bennett, and Lauro F. Cavazos.

The show was taped last month at a national meeting of the College Board in San Francisco. (See Education Week, Nov. 20, 1991 .)

The program is scheduled to air on Dec. 5 at 10 P.M. Eastern time. Because public television stations' schedules vary widely, viewers should check local listings.

National Public Radio has introduced a new call-in program that devotes one day each week to education issues.

"The Talk of the Nation" was launched on Nov. 4. The topics for the two-hour weekday call-in show, with the N.P.R. broadcaster John Hockenberry as the host, include the economy, campaign issues, the arts, and science. On Mondays, the show is devoted to education.

The program is distributed live from 2 P.M. to 4 P.M. Eastern time, but listeners should check with their local N.P.R. stations for exact air time. The show's tollfree number is 1-800-989-TALK.

KIDSNET, the children's television and radio clearinghouse, is now available on the PRODIGY computer service.

The new service, "TV for Kids," provides parents with a daily listing of age- appropriate programming for children. --M.w.

Vol. 11, Issue 14, Page 9

Published in Print: December 4, 1991, as Media Column
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