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Whittle To Unveil New Programming for Teachers

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Whittle Communications this week will unveil plans for its "Educators' Channel," a package of noncommercial television programming designed for the professional development of teachers.

The first program from the new service is to air in late November over the same satellite and video equipment in use at some 3,500 junior and senior high schools nationwide that subscribe to Whittle's "Channel One," the 12-minute daily classroom news show that includes two minutes of paid advertising.

The Educators' Channel will debut with two programs:

"The World of Teaching," a monthly anthology show featuring previously produced video material on teaching. Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers, will serve as the host along with another prominent educator to be named soon, company representatives said.

"American Classroom," a town-meeting-style show addressing issues that face the teaching profession. It will be moderated by Judy Woodruff, anchor of the "Frontline" series and chief Washington correspondent for the "MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour," both on the Public Broadcasting Service.

The concept for the Educators' Channel was first announced by Whittle, a Knoxville, Tenn.-based media company, in 1989 to help counter criticism of Channel One. That program has drawn the wrath of numerous national education organizations and state education officials because it includes commercials.

In an attempt to allay critics, Whittle promised to help develop noncommercial programming for students and teachers to supplement Channel One. (See Education Week, June 14, 1989.)

The noncommercial programming for students began airing earlier this year on Whittle's "Classroom Channel."

'Isolation' Cited

"Teachers feel isolated from their peers," said William Gubbins, a group editor at Whittle in charge of the Educators' Channel. "They don't often get a chance to feel a part of the larger community of teachers."

Whittle conducted interviews with more than 50 leading teacher educators, staff-training experts, and others in preparing the programming. It has also formed a 13-member educators' advisory board, to be chaired by Linda-Darling Hammond, co-director of the Center for School Reform at Teachers College, Columbia University.

"The World of Teaching," which will premiere Nov. 30, will include materials developed by the Great Books Foundation and Encyclopdia Britannica, officials said. The first two editions of "The American Classroom," to air in January and March, will focus on cooperative learning and multicultural education.

Company officials said the programs can be videotaped and adapted for use during inservice training or for home use by teachers.

The programming will be broadcast on an unscrambled, Ku-band signal, they said, so any school with a satellite dish, even if it does not subscribe to Channel One, can receive it.

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