Beginning this fall, students at North Davis Junior High School will watch 12 minutes of television each day during class.
In a 4-1 vote, the Davis School Board has authorized the school to sign an agreement with Whittle Communications, a Tennessee-based company that produces a daily scholastic broadcast called Channel One."As a teacher, I would love to have this program," said board member Ray Briscoe, a former high school teacher.
Under the agreement, Whittle would provide the junior high with a satellite dish, television sets for each class and two VCRs in exchange for the school's promise that all students watch the broadcasts every day.
Each broadcast is 12 minutes long - 10 minutes of news and information and two minutes of commercial advertisements, which fund the program. School administrators will be able to screen the broadcasts before showing them to students.
Voting against the Channel One proposal was board member Robert Thurgood, who said he believes the broadcasts would cut into the time teachers spend interacting with students. Over a 180-day school year, about 36 hours of school time would be lost to the broadcasts, he noted.
"We are losing, I think, some very critical time that our teachers could be spending with their students."
Assistant Superintendent Nancy Fleming said the school intends to use the broadcasts as "springboards" for classroom discussions.
Thurgood said he is also against making students watch advertisements on school time.
Board President Lynn Summerhays said he is in favor of the program because it is only a pilot and can be discontinued if found unsatisfactory.
He is also in favor of trying it because the proposal was generated at the school level. The district is trying to encourage more "site-based" management, giving school administrators more power in local decisionmaking.
"It's a faculty and an administration that say, `We think this will aid our students' . . . and I'm willing to let them take a shot at it," Summerhays said.
Admitting he doesn't know whether Channel One is a "quality program," Briscoe said he wants to test it because most junior high school kids have little or no exposure to current events, which he believes should be emphasized more in school.