WORTH NOTING ON TV

* THURSDAY

The Nightly Business Report (Public TV stations and cable channels; check local listings): Part 6 in a timely seven-part series on the impact of health-care reform on business and the economy. Tonight, "States Go It Alone," a look at those few states that have decided not to wait for the federal government to act and have crafted their own solutions on heath-care financing. In the process, they are providing some lessons for Washington. The program examines health-care coverage in Oregon and Hawaii, and what Florida is preparing to do. * FRIDAY

Liberating America's Schools (PBS, 9-10 p.m., E.T.): In the debate over how to improve schools in the United States, one of the bitterest controversies rages over the question of school choice. Under this scheme, parents can send their children to the school they believe best meets the children's needs. The idea is that schools, given the freedom to innovate and improve, will have to compete for students, and this competition will lead to even more improvements and the closure of schools that can't make the grade. A large part of the controversy involves whether private schools should be included in such programs, since many say that including religious schools would violate the separation of church and state. In this one-hour documentary, Clarence Page, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Chicago Tribune, explores the groundswell of support for school choice. The report looks at successful choice programs in Minnesota, New York City, and Milwaukee. It's a useful overview of how far the debate on sc hool choice has come since the program began in the East Harlem section of New York in 1970. The report delves into the diversity of choice programs in various locations and demonstrates some of the creative thinking under way by parents, teachers, school administrators, and legislators. A must for anyone interested in how to help Johnny learn.

Please check local listings for all programs.

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