Published Online: September 25, 2002
Published in Print: September 25, 2002, as Federal File


Federal File

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Amid the fall crush of must-see-TV promos and premieres in recent days, the Department of Education's new broadcast offering no doubt slipped in under the radar.

But last week, the department launched a new monthly cable television show aimed at helping parents navigate the education world with their children.

The program, "Education News Parents Can Use," had its debut Sept. 17 with appearances by education notables including Susan B. Neuman, the assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, and Susan Sclafani, a counselor to Secretary of Education Rod Paige. The first show centered—no surprise here—around the "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001 and had the polished aura of a professional news-talk show.

A call-in segment, question- and-answer session, and interviews with parents and teachers will be standard format of each show.

The new program revamps the Education Department's previous offering, which was a televised monthly satellite "town meeting" aimed at parents, educators, and policy analysts, said John F. McGrath, the senior director in the department's office of intergovernmental and interagency affairs, who produces the program.

"The difference is a narrowing of the audience," he said. "The new program's primary audience is parents, and the focus is on parents and questions they might have about a given topic."

The show is produced at the Arlington, Va., studios of WETA, a Washington-area affiliate of the Public Broadcasting Service, with a crew that also works on shows such as "Washington Week in Review," Mr. McGrath said.

It will be broadcast and rebroadcast on a range of cable stations, including early-morning hours on The Learning Channel, and it's available on the department's Web site as well.

Mr. McGrath estimated viewership at about 100,000 for the live broadcast, available on the Web and on some broadcast outlets, and at several hundred thousand more for the taped version on various cable channels.

Next month, Mr. McGrath said, the show's theme will be student safety.

"A big part of the president's and the secretary's agenda right now is creating options for parents and empowering parents," he said. "The idea is to turn this program around and use it to help parents."

—Michelle R. Davis

Vol. 22, Issue 4, Page 20

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