Baltimore will join the handful of large public school systems using Channel One, a controversial educational television program that brings a 12-minute newscast, complete with commercials, into public schools.
After brief discussion, the city school board voted last night to allow Channel One at all middle and senior high schools in Baltimore. The company that sells Channel One, Whittle Educational Network, provides video equipment and the newscasts free of charge.
Some schools will be on line as early as September. It will be up to the 27 middle and 18 high schools whether they take part, although most have expressed interest.
The program has been criticized widely for bringing commercials -- two minutes per newscast -- into schools. Supporters say it provides schools with easy-to-understand newscasts as well as with sophisticated video equipment.
City school officials said principals would be able to preview each newscast. Most schools intend to use it during homeroom, not in lieu of classroom activities, they said.
In other action, school board President Joseph L. Smith welcomed the newest member of the board: Lloyd T. Bowser Sr., who has attended and sent three sons through city schools. Mr. Bowser, an assistant area manager for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Baltimore, replaces Warren N. Weaver, who left the board in December because he was moving out of the city.