California Department of Education officials announced Monday that they will appeal a ruling by a Santa Clara County judge that allows a San Jose public high school to broadcast in class the controversial "Channel One" television news program and its commercials.
The judge's ruling in September limited the use of the program, requiring that teachers not be obligated to show it and that students who decide at the beginning of the school year not to view it be given alternatives, such as reading assignments.
At the time, then-Supt. of Public Instruction Bill Honig called the ruling "a valuable first step toward protecting the school day." But the Department of Education has decided to push for more restrictions, contending that the ruling sidesteps the issue of whether "Channel One" advertisers should be allowed to tap a "captive student audience" during class time.
"The question is: Can California public schools sell off part of the school day for non-education purposes?" said William D. Dawson, acting superintendent of public instruction. "If the courts allow that, where does it stop?"
"Channel One," a daily 12-minute current events program produced by Whittle Communications, is offered without charge to private and public junior and senior high schools nationwide. In return for their promise to air the show daily, schools receive free use of satellite dishes, videocassette recorders and television sets.