Boone Grove, Indiana

April 19, 2002

From Jim Metrock: I have just returned from a successful trip to Boone Grove, Indiana. (About 50 miles SE of Gary, IN)

I met with parents and other citizens who are upset that their school administrators and school board voted to sign a contract with Channel One without many parents knowing about it.

School administrators chose to eliminate parents from the Channel One conversation and it has now backfired on them. They also tried to stop a teacher from speaking out against Channel One. Both of these are acts of desperation. They always fail. Nobody likes a bully in school.

It appears that “saving face” is now the most important thing for Superintendent James Peterson who appears to be the driving force behind bringing Channel One into this beautiful farm community.

It is absolutely ludicrious that this man is staking his reputation on Channel One. He has brought needless controversy into his school district. Boone Grove Middle School will be subtracting ONE HOUR a week of taxpayer-funded school time in order to get 17 TV sets and a handul of other equipment.

Does it matter to Peterson that he has committed the board to a rental agreement that can never result in title to the equipment passing to the district? There is no record of any board member asking for a financial analysis of this contract.

One would think that this school district is extremely wealthy and have so much school time to waste that buring up one hour a week is of little consequence.

When asked where this time is coming from, Peterson was not specific and his math didn’t add up. He said that “passing time” was going to be cut. (The time between classes.) He said academic time will not be cut to accomodate Channel One and that the school day will be the same length.

The problem with this is Channel One is 13 MINUTES long. Again, Channel One misled Boone Grove administrators when they said it was 12 minutes. (The show on the web is 12 minutes but that isn’t the entire Channel One News program.)

Peterson has allotted 12 minutes for a 13-minute show. That’s one problem. He also has allotted no time for teacher follow-up unless that comes out the time set aside for helping students pass the state standardize tests (ISTEP). There is not time for teachers to undo some of the damage from the powerful commercials.

For example: “Class, Channel One is over but we need to talk about that Snickers commercial. I know Principal Allen approved that for you to see, but is it a good idea to eat more candy bars? Isn’t that the purpose of that ad I just showed you? How did they make that candy bar look so attractive? Principal Allen has approved a total of 5 junk food commercials for you to be shown this week, which ones did you think were the most effective?”

This superinentendent evidently believes there is no need to set aside any minutes on the schedule for “deconstructing” the advertisements or discussing the little bit of news that appears on C1.

Will sacrificing school time to watch a blaring TV set, with rock and rap music and candy bar commercials and movie ads, help Boone Grove middle school students get better ISTEP scores?

Channel One is a disgraceful waste of tax money and school time. That is why the vast majority of middle schools in the country have rejected Channel One.

The bottom line is the school board and Superintendent don’t want to buy TV equipment, they want to rent the equipment and they want to make the children pay the bill, over and over and over again. Channel One is absolutely free for Larry Allen, the Boone Grove Middle School principal who is a big cheerleader for this marketing company. Channel One is free for Superintendent Peterson. The school board may very well believe they have found a “free lunch”.

But the ugly truth is the students of Boone Grove are being sold to Warner Brothers, Reebok, M&Ms, Snickers, Gatorade, MGM, and Hostess Twinkies. The chidren will lose 31-35 hours a year and the commnity will be shocked when test scores don’t go up like they should. Will the Superintendent, principal and current school board be able to tell the public next year that all that “TV time” they voted for in 2002 had nothing to do with the disappointing results?

What if test scores go up? How much more could they have gone up without the loss of that week of school?

Channel One can be a “Career Killer” for school administrators.

What is happeing in Boone Grove is BIG. Will marketers succeed in snatching one hour of school time away from this wonderful community?

I got my answer as I drove around Boone Grove. I saw sign after sign in front yards protesting a dump that suppose to be created a few miles from school. The signs were magnificent. “This Isn’t Rocket Science” read one. Most were hand painted on big boards. This isn’t a meek and shy community. Just because some authority says, “This is a good idea” doesn’t mean it’s so.

They beat back the landfill idea. (It could be appealed.) I think once the truth about Channel One gets out, some will flip over their plywood signs and be just as creative in telling Channel One to go back to their home state, New York (here they are, of course, outlawed from all public middle school classrooms and high school classrooms.).

Much more on this story soon.