Tune in parents, board

Eagle Valley Middle School finds itself in a bit of a pickle over Channel One, the television program piped into schools along with commercials.

By now, Principal Joanie Burris realizes that she should have gotten the backing of parents before signing up for three years of Channel One. But Superintendent Jim Parry should have run it by the School Board before he let Burris make the decision.

School Board members are the representatives of the parents. We elected them to make policy decisions.

All that's 20-20 hindsight now, and it does beg the question of just how far educators go in getting permission from parents to try innovative ideas.

On one hand, school officials must feel like they just can't win. Too many parents are only too happy to hand over responsibility to schools for everything from breakfast to bedtime.

Principals and teachers have a cloudy mission these days as they struggle to compensate for the vacuum in some kids' family lives so those children have an opportunity to learn.

On the other hand are the many parents who take an active, responsible role in their child's education. They have strong opinions about what is taught in school, and Channel One is the kind of thing they would like to see before their children do.

The merits of Channel One are debatable. Frankly, we'd like to see the students spend their time reading. In this, however, we're not without bias. The Nevada Appeal has a Newspapers in Education program that provides the paper to classes.

In some respects, it's not that different from Channel One. We want them to read about current events, and we want them to grow up to be newspaper readers. And, by the way, we don't clip out the advertisements before we give them the newspapers.

With that said, we don't think we'll get much disagreement in saying that children already spend plenty of time watching television and not enough time reading.

The temptation of Channel One, of course, is that it comes with all kinds of free goodies - televisions, satellite feeds, educational videos.

We have put our public schools in the position of holding their hands out for any kind of corporate donation they can get. We shouldn't be too surprised that the corporate donors want to slip two minutes of commercials into the 12-minute newscast, even if teachers turn them down.

There's still time to review the benefits and drawbacks of Channel One. Teachers seem to like it, and perhaps they can allay the fears of parents that it's just one more commercial exploitation trick.

If they can't, turn it off.


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