Shanker Quits 'Channel One' Advisory Panel
Worried that his involvement was being promoted as an endorsement of Whittle Communications' "Channel One" classroom news show, Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers, has resigned from an advisory council for the controversial service.
Despite his early criticism of the 12-minute commercial news show for high-school classrooms, Mr. Shanker agreed last year to join its "council of advisers" in the hope, he said, of serving as a "watch dog."
"I should have realized that being on the council would inevitably lead to the perception that I endorsed Channel One," he said in his Oct. 12 resignation letter. "But it was not until I saw my name and picture being used in Channel One promotional materials that this point was driven home."
Mr. Shanker asked that the Knoxville, Tenn.-based media company stop using his name and picture to promote Channel One, which is now in use by some 4,000 schools. Whittle has drawn continuing criticism for including two minutes of paid commercials in the show.
Gary Belis, a spokesman for the company, said Mr. Shanker had not attended any meetings of the advisory council, which includes among its members Terrel H. Bell, a former U.S. Secretary of Education, and Lamar Alexander, president of the University of Tennessee and a former governor of that state.
"We are certainly sorry to see him go," Mr. Belis said, "but he is still working with us on the Educators' Channel."
The Educators' Channel is a non-commercial programming service for teachers that will be telecast to schools over the same equipment as Channel One. Mr. Shanker is to serve as a host for "The World of Teaching," a monthly anthology program on the channel. (See Education Week, Oct. 31, 1990.)
Mr. Shanker noted in his letter that the AFT adopted a resolution last summer opposing television commercials in the classroom.
He also noted, however, that AFT members are free to continue serving on various advisory groups to Whittle, although "their involvement is at their personal discretion and should not be taken as representing national AFT policies."