Controversial Channel One comes to Ashland Elementary School

November 14, 2011

 Did school administrators seek input from parents?


How did Channel One get into this elementary school? Will this youth marketing company stay once parents find out?


From Jim Metrock:

So, this fall Ashland Elementary School (Dumfries, VA) has agreed to make its 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders part of an experiment with the Channel One youth marketing firm. [A short video about Channel One. A brochure: 10 reasons to be glad you never had Channel One News. Organizations ask advertisers to drop Channel One.]

Did the school or Prince William County School District ask parents for permission to conduct this highly unusual experiment with their children?

I doubt it. Channel One doesn’t operate that way. Channel One knows that if parents were informed about their company and its desire to come into the community’s classrooms, many would protest.  I feel safe in saying parents never gave their informed consent. But we’ll find out soon enough.

It appears Ashland Elementary students will be one of the first guinea pigs for Channel One’s new “Interactiv Jr.” show.  You can read Ashland’s principal explain what it’s all about in the Education Week article below. Students will learn current events and take quizzes. (Oh wait until you see what a Channel One quiz is like. I give several video examples below.) Channel One says they will also train Ashland Elementary teachers. That’s rich. A New York marketing company has something to teach an elementary school teacher. I imagine there will be few teachers in Prince William County in need of Channel One’s guidance.

It appears that Principal Andrew Jacks is sold on this new business product of Channel One and white board company Promethean.  I wonder why.  Has Jacks read nothing about the criticism that has been leveled at Channel One from its founding in 1989 to the present day? He could easily find out that Channel One has never been allowed in any public schools in its home state of New York. The writer of the article must have been directed to Mr. Jacks and his elementary  school knowing Jacks would say nothing but positive things about this unprecedented intrusion of Channel One into elementary schools.

What parents of Ashland Elementary School students need to know is Channel One is a youth marketing company. They are not an educational company, although there is some educational content in their programming.  They are not a journalism enterprise, although there is some news in their programming.

Channel One was created to do one thing above all else: help advertisers get their advertising messages to a captive audience of schoolchildren.

The president of Channel One News has always been an advertising or marketing executive. The current Channel One president is an ad man named Kent Haehl. Channel One News has always considered their clients to be advertisers not schools and certainly not students.  Channel One News is owned by Alloy Media and Marketing (Gossip Girl and which is in turn owned by ZelnickMedia the company behind the vile video game Grand Thief Auto.

Channel One and Promethean have tried to calm the public by saying the elementary school version of Channel One will not contain advertising. They are playing with words.

For several years Channel One has created their own form of Doublespeak. Specifically some commercials on Channel One News, their secondary school TV show, are considered advertising, while some commercial content is not considered advertising. This sounds dumb because it is.

The reason Channel One acknowledges only part of their advertising as advertising is because they are contractually bound to have no more than two minutes of ads in their daily 12-minute, in-classroom program. That limits their revenue potential. By refusing to call some commercials advertising, they can show kids more than two minute of advertising and rake in more money. 

Example: A new movie is coming out Friday. The movie studio pays Channel One to air numerous commercials during the show’s two one-minute long commercial breaks. Channel One agrees that these are ads.  The movie studio will also make several actors available to appear on Channel One the week before the movie debuts. These appearances are not commercial content says the marketing geniuses at Channel One. You be the judge. Take a look at some of Channel One’s “educational” content that they do not consider advertising:  Let’s Learn About Famous DisastersLet’s Learn About the Salem Witch TrialsLet’s Learn About Greek MythologyLet’s Learn About the Milky WayLet’s Learn About CatsLet’s Learn About Pandas, and how about these.

And Channel One and Promethean would tell you this isn’t advertising either: The Hulkster gives a shout out.

Not only is there a real fear that Channel One’s elementary school version will have advertising mixed into the news and feature stories, but also that they will be telling students to go to for more information about a story. This routinely happens on their secondary school program. Take a look at this hyper-commercial site and you’ll understand what their TV/Promethean shows are all about.

Elementary schools do not have Channel One in their classrooms. What Ashland Elementary School is doing is bizarre. Parents of elementary schoolchildren in neighboring districts would never allow this to happen in their school.

Channel One is losing schools. Since 2003 the firm has steadily lost schools under contract.

 Channel One News loses 11 schools per week (net !) for the last 364 weeks.

Channel One News loses 500,000 students in 3 months! 


Because Channel One is being thrown out of secondary schools, this marketing firm is now eyeing children in elementary schools. They want them to grow up appreciating the Channel One brand.

Ashland teachers and parents might want to contact Principal Jacks, Superintendent Walts, and school board members to explain why they thought Channel One – a true pariah in the education world – is a perfect fit for Ashland Elementary students. (Who knows maybe other Prince William County elementary schools have been sold out too.)


an excerpt from Education Week, October 26, 2011

Teacher Training Takes a Hybrid Turn

By Michelle R. Davis

At the 950-student Ashland Elementary School in Prince William County, Va., teachers are about to start getting those small doses of professional development on a daily basis, embedded right into the lessons for students, said Principal Andrew M. Jacks.

Ashland is the site for a pilot project set to launch this month that has the Channel One news service partnering with Promethean Inc., an Alpharetta, Ga.-based company that produces interactive whiteboards. The New York City-based Channel One provides free, advertiser-sponsored current-events and news coverage aimed at students, and traditionally has delivered its programming by television.

At Ashland Elementary, where every class and most meeting rooms feature an interactive whiteboard, the daily broadcasts will be aired on a Promethean ActivBoard and will have lessons, quizzes, and assessments for students built in to the material.

In addition, every day, Promethean will deliver short tutorials for teachers on such topics as using various whiteboard tools and improving teaching methods.

Teachers can easily incorporate those new techniques into activities through Channel One, but also with their lessons throughout the day, Mr. Jacks said.

Channel One programming will provide a menu for professional development that will highlight a “skill of the day,” for example, such as incorporating Google Earthinto lessons, creating digital assessments, or using a feature called “magic ink,” a tool that can be used to reveal hidden information to students.

All the tutorials will be stored online, allowing a teacher to go back and review or catch up if some are missed. And a private online forum will enable teachers to connect and get advice from one another.

The cost for those professional-development services will be free, if a teacher wants to use Channel One with its accompanying advertising. If a teacher instead wants to tap the program on demand and without advertising, the cost will be $100 per classroom annually, said Shannon Kula, an education solutions manager for Promethean.

“So many teachers come back from a traditional professional-development session, and they remember only a very small portion, only what they were ready to get and grasp,” Ms. Kula said. “This delivers it in bite-sized chunks, and it’s customizable.”

Though Mr. Jacks said he believes this type of professional development could be more effective than the conventional version, traditional face-to-face PD still has value because “if you have a good person doing it, the personal contact engages them,” he said. In addition, live professional development can be tailored to the specific needs of a small group, he said.

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