No in-school ads, union report says
Stance could set stage for battle over YNN

By PETER McLAUGHLIN -- The Daily News

Classrooms should be advertising-free zones and commercial enterprises prevented from exploiting students as a captive audience, says a teachers union report.

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union yesterday released its Principles on Public Private Partnerships, taking a hard line on what teachers will tolerate in classrooms.

The policy says there should not be advertising in schools, urges banning commercial enterprises from schools, and insists students be permitted to refuse any demand made by a private partner operating inside the classroom.

The policy, which has been forwarded to the education minister, sets the stage for a potential clash between teachers and any school board that might sign on with the Youth News Network.

YNN proposes showing a 12-minute, youth-oriented current-affairs show to high school students each day. Included in the broadcast would be two minutes of commercials.

In exchange for access to students, Athena Educational Partners, the Montreal-based parent of YNN, would install thousands of dollars of free TV and satellite technology in each school.

"Quite obviously, YNN doesn't fit because it interferes with instructional time," said union president Donnie MacIntyre. He said it's too early to say whether a future deal with the network will lead to a showdown with school administrators.

"I would hope it doesn't happen," said MacIntyre, noting the main reason for the policy was to address educational merit in relation to P3.

The union said private-partner access to students is permissible, but only if educators determine the service provided is educationally valuable.

Education Department spokeswoman Donna MacDonald said officials need more time to analyse the union policy, but she added both the union and government have the best interests of students at heart.

"We don't want to see students exploited in anyway," she said. "Educational benefits of any private-sector proposal will always be at the forefront."

The province has not taken a position on YNN.