Santa Rita Principal Could Be On The Hot Seat

April 30, 2002

Madonna owns a recording company, Maverick Records, and they are an advertiser on Channel One News. C1 partnered with Maverick to get one of their new artists some publicity to help her new CD. The plan was simple: find a principal that would agree to host a concert for Maverick’s Michelle Branch and allow Channel One to film it for promotional purposes.

But what principal would allow their school to be used in such a way? Well now we know the name of one principal that doesn’t see a problem with wasting school time and turning over a public building to a private company to promote their product. The name is Abel Morado, principal of Santa Rita High School in Tucsan, Arizona.

Here is the letter he sent out to parents and published on the school’s web site: (Obligation’s comments in italics)

April 26, 2002

Dear Santa Rita Parents,

I am very excited that our school has been selected over 12,000 other schools nationwide to receive a visit by pop music artist Michelle Branch on Monday, April 29th.  We won the honor of her visit through a community service contest sponsored by Whittle Communications’  Channel One which broadcasts daily during homeroom.

Do the parents know how controversial Channel One is? They probably don’t if this principal is their only source of information about C1. “We won the honor of her visit” is silly language. Dr. Morado was played like a cheap violin by Channel One and Maverick Records. Schools did not rush to enter this contest because of the potential trouble their administrators could get into by entering. Madonna’s Maverick Records needed a school to help push one of their new recording stars and they found the right patsy when they found Dr. Morado.

Notice Dr. Morado refers to “Whittle Communications Channel One” which means this man still thinks Whittle still owns C1. Whittle sold out in 1994.

Our school was selected because of the Habitat for Humanity homebuilding program that is run by Mr. Chuck Gallagher’s Building Construction classes.  Santa Rita has participated in the Habitat for Humanity program for the past nine years, building a home each year to help a low-income family realize the dream of home ownership.  After submitting a video and an essay to Channel One, our school became a finalist in the contest.  The next step was to earn the most votes for our school’s program via on-line voting at Channel One’s website.  On Wednesday, Channel One announced that we had won the contest and the prize of a concert in our auditorium by Ms. Branch.

The contest was simply a way for Channel One to get
a list of schools that would allow them to help one of their advertisers, in this case Madonna’s Maverick Records. As far as we know only four public schools entered this contest. The good work that Santa Rita students and teachers do is beside the point. This school allowed a gross misuse of school property and school time to occur.

What Dr. Morado did was shocking. 1. He allowed a private company to use a taxpayer-funded building to promote their product (singer Michelle Branch) and 2. He stopped the entire educational process at Santa Rita to host the concert between the bells. This occurred on a day that state testing was being done in his school.

Obligation will send a letter to the Arizona State Superintendent Jaime Molera to alert him of this event. Last year, Obligation’s discovery of Channel One’s effort to pay teachers $500 for doing recruiting lead to a Wall Street Journal article and action by several state ethics commissions and state departments of education.

Michelle Branch is 18 years old and a resident of Sedona, Arizona.  Her first hit single “Everywhere” reached #5 on the pop charts and receives regular airplay on local radio stations.  She has appeared on many television talk shows including Conan O’ Brien, Regis and Kelly, Jay Leno, and Rosie O’ Donnell.  She has toured abroad and is currently headlining her own tour here in the U.S.  Her album “The Spirit Room” has been certified gold in the U.S. and Japan.

This principal sounds like the record company’s public relations agent. If only he had done his research on Channel One as well as he did on this young singer’s career.

All students who attend school as usual on Monday are invited to the concert.

It is important that parents and students understand the schedule that is planned for Monday.  After first period, students will report to their third period class for state-mandated AIMS testing.  All sophomores, as well as juniors and seniors who have not previously passed the test, will take the AIMS reading test.  Freshmen will take the TUSD Core Competency Skills Assessment (CCSA) in reading.  After testing, students will report to their fifth period and lunch.  At 11:53 a.m. all students will report to their homeroom for attendance and then to the auditorium for the Channel One news production and Michelle Branch concert.  The concert will conclude at 2:10 p.m. so that students can be dismissed and report to their buses at 2:15 as usual.

The principal first “invites” students to the concert then he says all students are to report to the auditorium for the concert. Notice how this advertising gimmick takes up so much of the school day.

We are proud to be recognized by a national news organization for our Habitat for Humanity program, and I hope that all students will attend this exciting event.  Monday has been designated a “green and gold” spirit day, and I encourage students to sport our school colors.  Since our school and students will be featured on the Channel One broadcast, the dress code will be strictly enforced with violators being barred from admission to the concert.  Please encourage your student to dress appropriately.

“National news organization”! Channel One is a satellite marketing company that gets advertising into classrooms. A 1997 study on Channel One shows that only 20% of their show deals with hard news. Most high school students in our country have never heard of Channel One because their schools never fell for Channel One’s “deal”. Dr. Morado, your school was “recognized” by one of the most controversial marketing companies in America. That’s not much to be proud of.

Channel One filmed their TV show from Santa Rita H.S. along with holding the concert. The principal encourages the students to dress up for the Channel One cameras. This is similar to the Georgia high school that “encouraged” students to wear Coke colors during “Coke Day.” It’s a shame that teachers and parents, and even students, didn’t gently tell the principal that he was way out of line with his behaviour.

If you do not want your child to attend the concert, please let us know by Monday morning.  Those students not attending the concert will be supervised in the library for the duration of the concert.  Please contact me at 731-7504 if you have any questions or concerns regarding the concert or Monday’s schedule.

Go Eagles!

Dr. Abel Morado

Oh yeah, the students not wanting to be a part of this joke will be “supervised in the library for the duration of the concert.” Dr. Morado is doing everything he can to make this a big success for Madonna’s recording company, who is the sponsor of this event. Why didn’t Morado tell students they could go home if they didn’t want to attend the concert? It’s not like they were going to miss any lessons or classwork. Education had come to a stop at this high school. Why keep students under “supervision” in the library? Is that punishment? And if anyone is due punishment shouldn’t Dr. Morado be required to write on a blackboard a hundred times, “I will not turn a public school into a circus”?

Aren’t principals suppose to mitigate any type of disruption of the educational process? Isn’t that a big part of what they are paid to do? When the results of the state testing come out later this year, will anyone hold Principal Morado accountable for bringing a circus to school on one of the testing days?

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