l Given the meager resources available to the city school system, it is understandable that officials would jump at the chance to equip schools with free color televisions, video recorders and satellite dishes. In return, beginning this fall, the schools have to show 12 minutes of programming provided by Channel One each day in the classes of 45 middle and high schools. Two of those 12 minutes -- or six hours over the school year -- will include commercials for such products as burgers, bubble gum and acne cream.
Most city children already watch too much television outside of school. Having 10 minutes of news programming each day isn't going to contribute much to their education. Channel One's news programming is much like that already available through commercial outlets. Moreover, Channel One's own study revealed that students who don't watch Channel One know about as much about current events as those who do.
So what's the value of this program? Channel One says it donates about $50,000 in equipment to each school; some critics say the value is more like $10,000. Having television equipment in city classrooms that can be put to other uses may be nice, but instructional videos will not do much to improve city students' low reading and math skills. They need more interaction with teachers, tutors and mentors and much less time sitting passively while the television blares at them.