Teachers Don't Want YNN In Schools


(CTF Office - Ottawa) The Youth News Network (YNN) is once again attempting to establish a foothold in Canadian schools. Earlier this month YNNís parent company Athena Educational Partners, launched a national campaign aimed at offering YNN to more than 2,000 high schools across the country. The test site for the initial phase of the campaign is a high school in the Peel District School Board in Ontario.

The Canadian Teachersí Federation (CTF) has reaffirmed its strong opposition to YNN as a crass commercial venture and is committed to working with other national partners to make sure that YNN stays out of Canadian schools. CTF President, Jan Eastman, is calling on the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, to publicly oppose this latest incursion by YNN, and urging provincial and territorial ministers of education to show leadership in stemming the growing tide of school commercialism through such initiatives as YNN.

According to Ms. Eastman: "YNN represents an insidious and aggressive takeover of instructional time and curricula content with students as a captive audience. YNNís previous attempts since 1992 to gain access to schools have been resisted through strong public opposition by teachersí organizations, parent groups, school boards, media literacy groups and a number of ministries of education. We are urging these groups to voice, once again, their clear opposition to YNN."

She adds: "So-called partnershipsí between education and the private sector are part of a growing trend of business involvement in schools and, more generally, the increasing influence of market principles on education. Unfortunately, business involvement in schools is being fuelled by a number of factors including education underfunding which is driving many schools and school boards to seek desperately needed money and materials from private business."

YNN, at first glance, seems attractive because it offers schools electronic equipment including televisions, VCRs, satellite dishes and computer equipment. But nothing is free. In exchange, YNNís news and commercial programming -- 10 minutes of news accompanied by 2.5 minutes of advertisements -- is compulsory viewing for students. According to the Canadian Association of Media Education

(CAMEO), "the national movement that continues to oppose YNN rejects both the educational legitimacy and morality of forcing children to watch advertising during classroom time (in exchange for "free" a/v equipment) as well as forcing them to watch news programming from unknown sources."

Channel One, a business venture in the U.S. similar to YNN, proudly promotes itself to potential advertisers such as Nike and Burger King who pay $200,000 for a 30-second ad, as having "the undivided attention of millions of teenagers for 12 minutes a day". Research into Channel One has shown that its educational value is negligible and that the program is disproportionately picked up by school districts in low-income areas.

Ms. Eastman concludes by saying: "CTF supports Cable in the Classroom as a classroom resource that supports curriculum. It brings media into our schools in a way we can endorse. Cable in the Classroom is offered commercial-free and, unlike YNN, teachers are free to use the materials if, when and how they choose."

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