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Page history last edited by Rose Burt 10 years, 5 months ago







1. High Stakes Campaign for School Funds 

2. California’s Golden Era

3. The Legacy of Prop 13

4. The Challenge of Immigration

5. Private Money for Public Schools

6. What’s Next for California’s Schools?



INTRODUCTION – 0.00 – 1.26

Directing air traffic in our nation’s skies…

Building the cars we drive…

Processing our tax returns…

Handling tasks vital to our health…


These and other critical jobs will be performed by the students now entering public school in California, where one of every eight American children is educated.


And that ought to scare every one of us…


- “We’ve basically turned our backs on schools” [voice of expert we will meet later]


Once a leader in public education, California is now near the bottom.


- “There’s something…something is missing in the system.” [parent we will meet later]


- “These schools are slums, there’s no other word for it” [voice of principal we will meet later]


- “We’re always at survival level” [voice of teacher we will meet later]


Coming up, journalist John Merrow examines how the nation’s largest school system fell from first to worst, and why that matters to the entire country.


1. High Stakes Campaign for School Funds 1.26 – 7.40


[Cut to early morning scene of John Deasy, superintendent of Santa Monica schools, who is “campaigning hard” to get people to vote for a ballot initiative that would raise money for schools]



1.26 – 2.46  - Deasy organizing vote effort, talking about what is at stake – jobs, opportunity, future.

2.46: Interview with Deasy – talks of problems facing Santa Monica (which narrator points out is one of wealthiest districts); how shocked he was as a parent coming from Rhode Island with 3 kids and seeing the state of education in California. “I walked into classrooms, and it was unbelievable what they did not have.”


3.48: It’s a problem everywhere in “the so called golden state.” [Fly over shot of golden gate bridge]. Protests; news reports; “How can a state so rich, do so poorly?”

- News report “Compton residents are well aware of the deplorable conditions of their schools.” [montage of collapsing school rooms and facilities]


4.20 “It’s a state that systematically underfunds its schools….physical conditions are incredibly compromised…we have enormous challenges, enormous challenges.”


4.30 (Narrator) Though Santa Monica schools face challenges, compared to the rest of the state they are well off. That could change, depending on the vote. This is not the first time John Deasy has asked local residents to pay more. Tried once before, and narrowly lost. [shots of him out at night putting flyers on doors] It’s hard…because of 1978 law that requires any tax hke to be approved by 2/3rds of voters. This time around he has organized the community, 1000 volunteers working for last 5 weeks.

[shots of volunteers phoning, working, walking streets]. 


On election day, polls opened at 8 am. [Interview with voters – 2 support, 2 oppose]


6.41 Shots of Deasy looking anxious: “There’s so much at stake and so little control over it.” He saw this as the only way to prevent Santa Monica schools from slipping, as so many California schools already have.


6.55: Interviewer question: “Do you think if Californians could just go see what is normal in Michigan, Iowa, Connecticut, they would revolt?” Deasy: “They would move. They would go to those places because what you would want for any child, you would want for your own child, and to see that, would be an incredible awakening experience. Those who stayed would demand it.


7.27: “No one knew how the election would turn out for John Deasy, but what was clear was where the trouble in CA had all begun, and how far its public schools have fallen.”


2. California’s Golden Era 2. (7.42)


[Moves to newsreel footage of California’s golden past, and interviews with large number of experts – historians, educators, writers, etc., who explain how and why California built the kind of school system it did, and how it was organized differently than the present system.

7:36 – 18:18


  • California in the 1950’s
  • Starts with scene of car driving along the California Coast
  • Kevin Starr (California State Librarian) talks about the bright prospects and glorification of the Golden State
  • Swimming Pools, bright sunshine, landscapes from around CA
  • Children running and playing in school yards
  • Introduces topic of local property taxes
    • New suburbs meant more taxes and more money pouring in to pay for
    • Frequent opening of new public schools
    • More teachers hired
    • California referred to as a “utopia” being formed by education, best schools in the nation
    • 6 weeks for summer school 9-12 in the morning
    • Teachers were well qualified (shows black and white film footage of teacher sitting in the classroom teaching)
  • Quote from James Guthrie, Peabody Center for Education Policy
    • Father moved to California because of booming businesses as well as the “sense of hope” and good schools
  • “5 ½ cents for every dollar were being spent on education”
  • New Colleges being built: shows Fresno State and the UC schools opening up, first state to show commitment to access for public university education
    • University education widening its scope by opening new schools and offering acceptance for more students
  • Man singing song praising California, convertible car, couple riding along the coast. Then stark contrast, black and white film shows billows of smoke and L.A. riots
    • Rioting people, buildings burning, policemen and broken storefront windows
    • After riots court inequality of school funding exposed
  • Sorano vs. Priest, court case detailing unequal funding across California
  • Catherine Lhamon, ACLU, speaks about East L.A. schools underfunded, and court case
  • Court ordered equal school spending across the state, set a ceiling: a few thousand dollars of spending per student
  • Property taxes exploded, Introduce Howard Jarvis “mad as hell”
  • Called a “bumbling man” a “gadfly” who was able to rally support of Californians behind him for Prop 13 on 1978 ballot: requires new taxes approval by 2/3 vote
  • Shows parties rioting against Prop 13, then individuals supporting proposition because of exorbitant property taxe
  • Howard Jarvis “folk hero,” after passing of proposition
  • Dramatic results from Prop 13: firings, cut art and music classes, counselors, nurses, librarians
  • Black and white film reels of children looking up at teacher
  • Michael Kirst, Stanford University: Cut school periods, school day shortened
  • "Unforeseeable consequences of Prop 13"



Strategies in the California Golden State section of First to Worst. In this section of the documentary, many strategies are utilized. Some of the most important (and some examples of their usage in this section) are:


-Illustration (imagery)

            -The new car (physical representation of prosperity)cruising down the California Coast

              (natural topography of the beautiful state)


            -Swimming pool, bright sunshine, landscapes (the picture perfect pictures of suburban

             life which suggest harmony amongst neighbors, family members, etc.


            -Fresno State building and pictures of students (the shining and excited faces of students

             who have every reason to be optimistic about their future places in society.


-Narration by experts (appeals to Ethos)

            -from experts in the fields of history and education (Kevin Starr-Cali state librarian)

             (James Guthrie-Peabody Center for Education Policy)


-Appeal to Logos through the presentation of historical facts

            -5.5 cents on the dollar spent on education

            -date and enrollment numbers for Fresno State

            -details about prop 13 and its implications


-Appeals to Pathos

            -black and white footage=suggests a charming past part of American innovation

            -shocking footage of the L.A. riots

            -Howard Jarvis speech


-Compare and Contrast-Cause and Effect

            -section starts with lovely footage which indicates harmony and a “Golden Age”, but

shifts into footage of L.A. riots (in angry protest to the “separate but equal” practices at the time) and the disharmony created by Howard Jarvis.


These are obviously just some of the strategies used in this section of the film. Actually, I was shocked to contemplate how many layers of strategy are piled onto each second of the film.



3. The Legacy of Prop 13  




Chapter opens with low shots of hazy, dilapidated streets in what is introduced as the town of San Pablo, a city which has been deeply hit by the effects of Prop 13.


Voiceover of Harriet McClane, principal of Helms Middle School, and the face behind the voice we first heard in the opening montage, ““We’re always at survival level”


Appeal to pathos with a guided tour of Helms Middle School by Principal McClane – broken drinking fountains, holes in the ceilings, overcrowded classrooms, rotted, decaying garden at the back of Helms is a visual analogue to the effects of  Prop 13 over the last twenty years, twenty years of devastation to school funding in CA.


Cuts back to narrator guiding the viewer over a montage of Helms’ students interacting with the decaying facilities along with the information that before Prop 13, San Pablo invested heavily in schools.


Cut to parent group expressing concern with the inadequacy of the curriculum at Helms and more importantly the filthy surroundings.


According to one parent, after receiving a tour of Helms, a guest speaker remarked that the “floors at San Quentin, where he had been a week earlier, were cleaner than the floors at Helms.” An important appeal to pathos, the facilities are in worse shape than a prison, a parent’s nightmare come to life and given narrative shape.


Return to principal remarking that the school doesn’t even have a librarian.

Appeal to logos/ ethos, principal speaks to exploding enrollment, numbers listed.

Appeal to ethos, return of talking heads/ John Mockler, former Director of CA Board of Education commenting on enrollment explosion, strains on school system, enormous student body, compares it to “Calcutta” , an Indian city known for its sprawling population and urban pollution, which may be a reference that students aren’t familiar with.


Teachers are forced to deal with overcrowding, no longer have a home class to set up in, teacher Anthony Blackburn shown rushing from class to class and interviewed regarding the amount of time wasted in setting up and quieting his class down.


Principal McClane comments that her district is “a revolving door for teachers” the working conditions are so bad that many teachers leave and look for jobs elsewhere, leaving positions open to under-qualified/ unceritified teachers—appeal to pathos, no parent wants his/ her child to be exposed to this. Cuts to long shot of Helms’ dilapidated grounds.


Cuts to talking head James Guthrie from the Peabody Center for Educational Policy, an appeal to ethos, although it is unclear what this organization does or what its credentials are. Guthrie and the narrator introduce a new idea, Prop 13 in effect took decision making away from individual districts and centralized it in the state legislature in Sacramento.


Guthrie claims that Prop 13, “changed the government structure of the CA ED system. It centralized decision making, it changed CA from a system of local schools to a state system..” This is another negative effect of the legacy of Prop 13.


Narrator claims that this centralization of power in Sacramento gives the CA state legislature “unprecedented control over classroom teaching.



Marian Joseph: The teachers showed us the book they used for reading.  It was a beautiful anthology of stories, but in no way did it teach reading…Can all the children read those words?  Well some can and some can’t.  I asked the teacher what book she used for reading, and she shrugged.  There wasn’t any.


Narrator: Whole language emphasized story-telling over comprehension of letters and words. [Shot of children struggling to sound out words in textbooks].


Nancy Ichinaga: There are times in education when people get on the bandwagon and do it without thinking through if it meets what their objectives are and what their goals are.  And they do this because they have no idea what they’re supposed to be doing.


Narrator: Nancy Ichinaga turned down state funds and rejected whole language.


Ichinaga: People thought children could learn to read like they learn to speak…reading is a skill that needs to be taught.


Narrator: Test scores in Ichinaga’s district went up while scores in the rest of the state went down.  By 1994, California was at the bottom of reading tests across the nation, tied with Guam.  The state backpedaled on whole language, but centralized power over instruction remained.


Peter Schrag:  CA culture is newness, change, innovation.  The whole technology culture here is a sort of focus.  When we see new things, we tend to rush in and try them and we tend to try them statewide rather than pilot them in a few places.


Pete Wilson: I ask that you join me in making class size reduction the spark for an even broader renaissance in California education.


In 1996, a statewide education mandate limited class sizes to 20 in Kindergarten through 4th grade.  Districts scrambled to find teachers.


Peter Schrag: We had a very large increase in the number of underqualified, undercredentialed teachers, because all these new classes then required the hiring of a lot of new teachers.  And not only did we get unqualified teachers, but the better teachers left the urban districts and went to the better suburban districts, and so the greatest concentration of unqualified teachers appeared in needy schools.

It was not uncommon to find schools like this one in Los Angeles where half the teachers were unqualified.


[Shot of young new teacher from 1997]


New Teacher: I’m working on my credential.  It’s a learning experience for me, too.


Little girl: “The first [teacher], he was a police.  He worked at the night.  So in the morning, he came to sleep.  He said “Okay, do math at page 31.”  So we started, and when he sees that everyone was doing math, he started to sleep.


Also demand for new classrooms [Shot of students entering a portable].


Schrag:  Florida was shocked when 10% of its students were in portable classrooms.  We’ve got like a quarter of in portable classrooms, and there are some schools where there’s no playground space left.  It’s had a lot of unintended consequences.



4. The Challenge of Immigration 





(Visual & Strategies) Intro: Juxtaposes image of capital building with playground/children and suggests that not all of schools’ issues rose from centralized legislation and that there were immigration/enrollment influxes.


Narrator: “Not all the schools problems were the problem of centralized power in Sacramento. In the 1980's and 90's other forces were at work.”

            California grew six million people. For several years, school enrollments up by 200,000 a year. Grew 4 million people between 1990-2000. Always having 100,000 students or more to accommodate.


Transitions to interviewee


“The millions of new students who arrived in California's schools were mostly immigrants and children of immigrants.”


Shows more imagery of students focusing on diversity—representation of Asians/Hispanics


Classroom scene showing “immigrants” or “children of immigrants.”


Interview with Leti Gutierrez, a hispanic middle school teacher, who addresses the issue of immigration and language issues—she’s clearly someone who conducts her classroom as a mainstream ELL teacher, who speaks both English and Spanish.


Shows her teaching basic language acquisition. Students parrot back basic words and sentences.


Interviewer: “It looked to me as if some of the kids didn't have a clue as to what was going on. Didn't understand enough English to understand what you were talking about.”

Leti Guttierez: “And they don't. Some of them have only been here 2 weeks, some 2 months. Some of them come from rural areas where it's totally different that what you encounter here in an inner-city school ... It's frustrating because you have kids that are all different levels, and to address each one is  very difficult to do.”


Commentary by a State Librarian, Kevin starr, who is stating that California Public Schools face such a tremendous by attempting to absorb the world’s population—and what a social challenge it is—imagery shows him speaking and once again, a classroom made up of a of a body of extreme demographic differences.


Kevin Starr: “I don't think any governmental entity was ever faced with as complex a social challenge as the public schools of California saying 'absorb the peoples of the world, bring them into your classroom, meld the 60 or 70 languages, and somehow meld that together into a workable classroom.' That was an extraordinary challenge which the public schools of California accepted.”


The camera shot pans from the back of the classroom to a white female teacher, who presumably may not have the language tools necessary to teach students at such disparate language levels, and then shows students who are working in a math/science classroom speaking Spanish. The shot also shows students teaching each other, when one student only speaks Spanish, as one student serves as a translator. Rennae Lauerman, a science teacher, advocates this learning style.


Rennae Lauerman: “I rely on my students that are bilingual, truly bilingual, to translate the information from English to Spanish. I really encourage the Spanish only speakers to do all their work in Spanish.”


Student in class (speaking of a peer): “She came from Mexico. So I was translating in Spanish to her, helping her to do her work. I want to help her to get good grades because if I were from Mexico and I didn't know English I would want her to help me, do the same for me.”


Interviewer: “Do they learn science?”

Teacher: “Do they learn science? I think they learn science concepts, yes. At the level that they should? No. They don't follow along at the same level as the rest of the students.”

Shows a student pondering—while the narrator had just stated that some students have much more difficulty than others and don’t follow along at the same level as other students.


Language isn’t the only issue—shows a Hispanic student from a presumably lower socioeconomic background and pans from that student to a white student, then to another shot of diverse students on campus. The school itself seems a bit run-down and shows exteriors of classrooms that are only partially painted over with another color.


Once again, pans to interviewee (Leti) and then students walking around campus.


Leti: “I was appalled this one time I made a home visit, this family invited me home for dinner, and they were living in a studio apartment—seven people in one studio apartment. So to think that they're going to have their homework done—sometimes you have to be a little flexible.


Peter Schrag: “The strains on the schools are much greater than they were 40 years ago. Kids coming with less home support, less command of English, particularly, more poverty, more single parent families. None of which is always individually a disability, but collectively, it has made an impact.


Narrator: “After the challenges and failures of the 1980s and 90s, California is changing. Today all students are expected to know more, and there's more accountability. California hit bottom in 1994, today [note year that documentary was made] it ranks 9th from the bottom.”


Shows elementary students walking in a single-file line, and as the interviewer suggests that the trend line is “tending up” from CA’s ranking as 9th from the bottom in the nation, the camera shows the students climbing stairs. The obvious visual suggestion here is that these students should have the chance to receive a better education before their public education has ended.


“There's a long way to go. But is the trend line still going down? Was it stuck at the bottom? Or is it beginning to tilt up? What I see is that we are tending up and there is a slow growth that will take place. It will take many years to put back, if we ever do, what we had in the middle 60s. So we're probably off the bottom and moving up.”


Harriet McClain in San Pablo surveys a dilapidated campus, where the image bungalow classrooms that are very run-down is placed in juxtaposition against a development of new housing, which seems to be an apartment building. This suggests that the private funding required for housing development is much less affected than the public/taxed funding required to keep schools aesthetically and functionally up-to-date. Black Top and playground is faded and extremely run-down looking. One child is walking solitarily across said playground, and the shot widens out to show the empty and barren schoolyard as the students must wait for the funding necessary to update the school.


(34:50) Narrator: “Back in San Pablo, crumbling facilities are still a major problem for Harriet McClain. Her district recently passed a school construction bond, but only after 2/3 of voters had approved it, as required by Prop 13. That law continues to make money the central issue in the state. Until funds arrive at Helms next year, repairs will have to wait.”


Signs are shown on a chain-link fence, which read “Disruptive Conduct,” “Unauthorized Motor Vehicles Prohibited,” and a “Notice to Dog Owners,” and they are marked with graffiti. These signs suggest that the taxpayers are abusing these schools, not only through the lack of funding, but by treating the periphery of the schools as a dumping ground. It’s as if the signs act as a reminder to the public that schools are a sacred space that should not be mistreated.


“Over one of the breaks, we got tagged so badly, graffiti everywhere. And I was talking to a girl, and I said, 'look at this, it looks like a ghetto here.' And she said, 'it is a ghetto.'”


More graffiti—voice-over with commentary about how the school mirrors a ghetto. Students are clustered around a building with old crank windows, which are covered with protective mesh.





Narrator: “California has 1,000 school districts—not all of them are struggling. Just 15 miles from San Pablo is the town of Orinda, where the public schools look different”


Segment pans from the school and its relative-looking houses with a marked transition to a commercial area with an Asian restaurant and a Jack-in-the-Box, both representations of lower socio-economic eateries to a much more affluent neighborhood. The shot acts as if we are in a vehicle looking at the passing scenery, suggesting that these disparate neighborhoods are merely a short drive away from one another—the locations and houses get progressively better as the setting changes from San Pablo to Orinda.



5.  Private Money for Public Schools Part 1.


:Film cuts to various images of a decrepit school in San Pablo as Principle McClain explains a conversation she had with a student once where she told the student after the school was vandalized that it looked like a ghetto.  The student replied, "Well it is a ghetto."


:Film cuts to a street in Orinda, a town roughly 20 miles from San Pablo.  The camera passes by large hopes, contrasting to the earlier images of the buildings in San Pablo.  Film cuts to a local school in Orinda where Principle Helen Laird is followed by the camera as she shows Merrow a 5th grade math class.  Compare to the earlier images of the San Pablo schools. 


:Film then cuts to a greenhouse where Merrow explains the school has its own botanist with a Masters degree.  The camera shows a group of students asking her questions.  The group of students and the students in the school are predominately Caucasian.  


:Film cuts to a meeting between Paula Goodwin and other members of the Education Foundation (EFO) a local group of Orinda citizens who raise money for the town's 5 schools.  


:Film cuts to one of the groups fundraisers, an art auction.  The camera starts in a close up, showing parents bidding hundreds of dollars for the artwork.  Camera cuts to a patron drinking wine as he looks at the artwork before zooming out to show the room filled with people.  Merrow explains in voice over that 400 foundations exist among the state's 1000 school districts.  Cuts back to a close-up of a patron bidding 2000 dollars for a painting.  


:Film cuts to Goodwin announcing to a large group of people that the foundation has raised over a million dollars, followed by applause from the audience.  


:Merrow explains that, "Orinda parents raise two million a year for Orinda's five schools.  That's almost 1000 extra per student."


40:53- Goodwin announces how fund raising keeps afloat the music program, then differentiates their organization from classic PTA model ("a whole new model where we're having to be more professional," mentioning necessity of business plans and incorporation).


41:38-Shots of the well-funded theatre program's Shakespeare performance (to indicate unequal enrichment, paid for by parents' fund raising).


41:56-School official shows off Orinda's new daycare center.


42:05-Mockler is asked if there is unfairness..."I suppose it's a quasi-privatization of the public system"..."it's very hard to have a system that's equal."


42:30-Goodwin walks her son to school--this demonstrates her status as a committed, humanized parent beyond hard-nosed raiser of funds.


43:00-43:30-The parent group acknowledges semi-private public school status at Orinda.


43:33-43:56-Guthrie defends morality of parents' rights to improve their child's school ("it's more for a parent to want the very best they can get for their children").


44:00-The school band plays with the extradiegetic narration of Goodwin enumerating programs they wouldn't have without the extra funds.


44:47-Shots of students at lunch/recess with beautiful hillside in background, kicking a soccer ball and adroitly tossing a frisbee; ultimate is a classic supefluous sport of young bourgeoisie.


44:56-Lhamon, J.D., explains how minority/poor students don't attend these higher-caliber schools.  "There are schools that are pinnacles of education that anyone would want to go to, but they are not the schools my kids attend, they are not the schools black, Latino, Asian Pacific, poor students are attending in California.  Instead these schools are slums, there is no better word for it." 

          -Her clients are, according to narrator, "trapped in decrepit public schools."


45:30-ACLU is suing State of California in class-action lawsuit.


45:38-Male lawyer states "if these schools were housing, they'd be condemned as slums." Subsequent shots of tagged bathrooms, etc. exemplify filmmakers' use of antipathy.


45:45-Lhamon states simple requests for each student-a textbook, a seat, a teacher in front of each class.


46:00-Lhamon exposes contradictions of students unable to progress in grades w/o passing standardized tests, yet schools are not held to meaningful standards.


46:50-Lhamon makes logos appeal that the state supreme court has publicly prioritized education and so must be held responsible to reflect that in their actions.


47:03-Shots of empty legislative chambers seem to imply the emptiness of justice/equality in California school system.  



6What's Next for California's Schools?


[Forgive the "TKs," I couldn't remember the exact names of the people interviewed so I'll go back to the film and see when they're first introduced. I'll update it then. -- Alicia]


Beginning at 47 minutes


On the surface, the most prevalent strategy in this section has to do with structure. Not only is the narrative coming full circle but it is utilizing the journalistic device of looking at a larger issue through something timely (the election) in addition to suspense (whether the tax measure passed). Here we are reacquainted with John Deasy whose story began the documentary and it segues into the film’s larger argument about the ills of Proposition 13 and what education means for the state and the nation. 


(47:00) Re-acquainted with John Deasy encouraging parents to vote, and transition from previous section on foundations. Besides foundations, there’s only one way for schools to raise money. Need 2/3 vote because of  Prop 13.


- Shot of women advocates also going car-to-car; shows that by the end of the day Deasy is not alone in his advocacy. Most are women holding bright pink folders reminiscent of the breast cancer awareness (another powerful foundation).


-At 8 p.m. Deasy and tax supporters gather to await vote counts. A shot of Deasy, and then while the narrator says he is joined by "other supporters of the new tax" there is a shot of people at the bar. Deasy isn't shown with a drink, which is an interesting editing strategy. (strategy: chronology, in the first part of film noted he was up at 7 a.m.—which he probably is anyway as a superintendent but the filmmakers are choosing to note the times to give us a sense of time passage and the amount of work, waiting and anxiety Deasy deals with on this day)

-Looks like they’re in a bar—interesting given that they’re all parents/teachers/etc. Several shots of drinks being poured, perhaps to note the passage of time?


-Merrow: Victory would mean $6.5 million, loss would be layoffs for nearly 100 teachers (emphasis here is on saving faculty jobs, not "we'd have to increase class sizes to 50" or anything similar that would talk about the specific effect on students)


-We witness Deasy’s anxiety and finally his and the crowd’s relief (pathos appeal)

Deasy: I’m not optimistic natured, I’m really concerned

-On the phone seeking info on the count: on his cell, asking for help with his cell, in an office.


-1 a.m., Deasy: "Barring anything not known as this point, we’ve won" (looking down while he makes the announcement)

 Crowds applaud, hug, some wipe their eyes. Deasy: "Kids are very lucky" (a brief return to talking about kids, though he goes back to talking about saving faculty jobs later)


50 min

Merrow: Santa Monica passed its tax by a mere 50 votes (67.77%, something like 16,800 votes (it doesn't say if that's how many voted yes or the total number of votes counted). On the same night, 19 other districts put tax measures before the voters, only nine passed. The rest of California’s school districts never even tried. (Appeal to logos. Telling us about other districts helps us see how hard these campaigners worked for such a narrow victory)


51 min

Deasy: It’s an enormous relief to go home and talk to faculty tomorrow and say you’ve got a job


Strategy: Using the particular case to segue into the broader issue


Merrow: In September, Santa Monica opened without drastic cuts, the rest of California faces a future full of tough questions, foremost among them, what to do about Proposition 13?

Gov Schwarzenegger has made his position clear

Lots of photo flashes when Arnold walks in (equal time spent showing him as a famous star and governor)

Clip of press conference for the California Economic Recovery Council, Gov: Additional taxes are the last burden that we need to put on the backs of the citizen and businesses of California


Merrow: Behind him are tens of thousands of homeowners and business owners whose property taxes are among the lowest in the nation. They oppose any politician who comes out against Proposition 13


TK?: It’s almost a third rail of California politics because it’s perceived as protecting property owners so much, but Proposition 13’s governance system has to be changed in order to give local school districts an opportunity to have purchase on their children’s education


Shots of children walking, reading silently and out loud (contrast to earlier footage of them struggling)


52 min

Shot of classroom

Merrow: Today, a political solution to prop 13 may be father off than ever, but inside classrooms the state has made up lost ground gone are yesterday’s education fads, replaced in the 1990s by higher standards and tests

(Fail to mention NCLB specifically)

TK?: I do think California is in a good direction now. We are able to teach more students to read in more depth, we’re focusing the schools on results so the last four years have been very heartening.


From Merrow: To improve school buildings, have made it easier to pass school construction bonds: 23 billion in the past three years


Merrow: Per pupil spending increased, richest state in the nation now ranks 35th, but all the progress is threatened by a severe budget crisis.


Much is at stake for California ad the nation, 6 million children, 1 in 8 in America attends a California public school.

(Strategy: revisiting the claim of the “stakes” introduced in the first chapter, repetition/structure)


53 min

Merrow: Is this a civil rights issue?

ACLU lawyer: It is absolutely a civil rights issue. For me, it’s the civil rights issue of our generation, we’re slipping backwards. I’m not gonna be able to go to a doctor with any trust, I’m not gonna be able expect my car tires to be changed with any trust in 15 years because the kind of education we’re providing our kids right now is going to affect me and going to affect all of the people of this state.



Merrow: Why should anyone outside California care what happens to public schools in California?

TK: If I though California somehow had a wall at the border and these relatively uneducated students never got to Tennessee, never got to New Jersey, never got to Illinois, maybe I wouldn’t worry about it, but of course that’s just silly. This nation, just like this world, is far too interdependent to wall off any state and its residents and say it doesn’t matter to the rest of the nation, it matters to all of us


Important clips here: when he talks about the "wall at the border" there are shots of children's shoes while they walk down a hallway; there's a shot of kids playing basketball taken through a chain link fence (again emphasizing the border); when he says "interdependent" there's a shot of dark-haired teens walking through a fence to get onto the school campus


Merrow: It’s often said, as California goes, so goes the nation


55 min

TK?, in regard to public schools today: They don’t get blue ribbons, there’s many things that need to be worked on, but in all those challenges is the fact and the symbol of this new American civilization struggling to be born in California and everywhere else as well.


Important clip: While saying "new American civilization struggling to be born" there's a shot of kids lined up on a school yard wearing matching uniforms, clearly chosen shots to emphasize multiculturalism (a sea of different faces all coming together on the same campus in the same clothes). It would suggest that we rise and fall together.


School bell rings (strategy: structure/parallel to school)

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