In the old movies, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland were always putting on a show. In Baltimore public schools, students are now getting a chance to put on a television show.
Actually, it's the city school system and the Mayor's Office of Cable and Communications which are mounting a monthly half-hour show, called "Cool City Schools," on which students have a chance to express their views. The first edition premiered last week on city-operated Channel 44 of the United Cable Television system, and can be seen often through the end of November.
Radio personality Jean Ross of WXYV-FM 102.7 is the host, and the producer is Maria Broom, a news figure in the mid-1970s on WJZ-Channel 13 who left TV to operate a local dance company. Broom also appears on "Cool City Schools," reporting news from city schools.
While the Baltimore County school system has had its own cable operation for some time, with Channel 36 of the Comcast Cablevision system designated The Education Channel, this is the first school-oriented regular show on the city's cable system.
Mayor Schmoke and school superintendent Richard Hunter said at a press conference yesterday they hope the program gives local students an outlet for expression and also teaches young people and their parents about good things happening in public schools.
Each month a particular school will be highlighted -- November is Patterson High's turn -- and students will participate in panel discussions of youth issues. The first edition has five students talking about what Ross calls "the big A," for sexual abstinence.
Parents may not be comforted by the views expressed by some of the young people, such as the girl who suggests that parents paradoxically are encouraging their kids to be sexually active by preaching abstinence. There is no question from this first show that youngsters can speak their minds on "Cool City Schools."
As always with well-intentioned programming for kids, however, the big question is: How do you get them to watch? The new show's producers are only beginning to promote the show within schools to drum up viewers. Ross says the monthly highlighting of an individual school may encourage at least that school's community to tune in the show.
At the moment, "Cool City Schools" can be seen at 4 and 8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 p.m. Tuesday, 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Thursday, and 10 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.