School Board Picks A Video About Aids

July 21, 1991|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

For school board member Ann M. Ballard, the real value of an educational video called "A is for AIDS" came when her 10-year-old son reacted to the animated program.

"Get real, Mom," the fifth-grader remarked.

Like her son, Ballard, other board members and school staff gave the thumbs-down to that video and another that was under consideration for fourth-grade AIDS education.

"It was a very immature program," Ballard said. "My son didn't take it seriously -- he made jokes through the whole thing."

Heeding the recommendation of a Family Life and Human Development Committee, which comprises parents, teachers and staff, the board will retain the use of "The Inside Story of the Immune System and AIDS," used in a pilot unit on fourth-grade AIDS instruction last year.

That video, which features an actor portraying "Slim Goodbody" (who explains the body's immune system), came underfire last summer after some parents and board member Cheryl A. McFalls objected to the sexual content of the material.

Even so, the board approved the video for use in the classroom but requested that other audiovisual materials be reviewed for possible use the following year. Besides "A is for AIDS," the board and committee reviewed "AIDSand the Immune System."

None of the board members object to AIDS instruction. The disease has become "so prevalent and publicized" that the earlier education begins the better, Ballard said.

Joseph D.Mish Jr., reviewing notes he took while watching the tapes, said he found "AIDS and the Immune System" to be less factual than the othersand thought the acting was contrived.

In the video, an elementaryschool students asks the mother of another childabout the body's immune system. Mish said he couldn't imagine elementary kids standing ata doorway talking about the immune system. Ballard said the video hardly discussed AIDS.

"I wasn't real happy with any of the videos,"Mish said. "But with good instruction I don't think any of them are a problem."

He did find some redeeming values, such as the promotion of morality, in "A is for AIDS." He recalled that a statement was made in the video to the effect that "AIDS is transmitted through sexand needles, which you don't do."

But Mish said the video, like the Slim Goodbody program, talks about sex but doesn't explain it. TheSlim Goodbody tape is relatively factual but does not stress morality, he said. Its approach,though, appeals to children.

"It featuresthis entertainer -- Slim Goodbody -- and kids are singing songs," hesaid. "I guess that's a good technique for that age. It gets kids involved."

Board member Carolyn Scott said the positive reaction among committee members and teachers to Slim Goodbody far outweighed those for "A is for AIDS" and "Aids and the Immune System."

"Slim Goodbody deals well with a very difficult subject," she said. "It delivers a very important message, and that's what we're looking for here. It's going to be a while before we have a wide selection of materialsto choose from."

Added Board President John D. Myers Jr., "I feelwe've selected the right (video). I feel for anyone who disagrees with the video but it is our job to educate the children."

Board member McFalls could not be reached for comment.

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