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The United Federation of Teachers of New York City has asked NBC-TV to change the name of "The Bronx Zoo,'' a new series set in a fictional high school in one of the city's boroughs.

The title of the series, which began on March 19, is "an insult to the men and women we represent--as well as their students,'' the union contended in a recent letter to Brandon Tartikoff, president of the network's entertainment division.

"The title of your show doesn't do much for morale in the schools,'' wrote Sandra Feldman, president of the U.F.T. She said she did not object to the program itself, which she had been told "is sensitive and extremely well researched and acted.''

Last October, Stephen R. Franse, the Bronx representative on the city's central school board, reported that he had persuaded the program's producers to change the show's name. (See Education Week, Oct. 8, 1986.)

But in an interview with The New York Times last week, the producers said they had never had any intention of changing the name of the show, which stars Edward Asner as the school's principal.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, was expected last week to introduce legislation to fund five regional educational-television consortiums across the country. The Senator said his proposal would enable small schools to offer a broader range of science, mathematics, and foreign-language courses.

The bill would provide up to $100- million over five years to create "teaching networks'' that would link by satellite local and state education agencies, colleges and universities, hospitals, private companies, and teacher-training centers.

The concept is based on a program now being developed in Boston by the Massachusetts Corporation for Educational Technology. Known as "Star Schools,'' the program would allow students and instructors in various schools to communicate with each other using satellite technology.

Under Senator Kennedy's bill, five regional networks would receive $20 million each for the construction of satellite-transmitting facilities.

Mr. Kennedy, chairman of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, said the project would allow "even a one-room schoolhouse--with a satellite dish outside the door--to have access to a whole world of new information.''

People who watch television frequently are more likely than others to accept progressive views on racial and sexual equality, according to a University of Michigan researcher.

Richard L. Allen, associate professor of communications at the university, based his findings on a 1985 telephone survey of 534 randomly selected households in a predominantly white Detroit suburb.

Mr. Allen found that people who watched more than an average amount of television tended to disagree with the statement that wives should stay at home to raise their children. Such viewers also disputed the suggestion that "there are enough blacks and women in responsible positions in government and business.''

Television viewing was the only variable in the survey to show a significant effect on responses to questions on those issues.

"Television presents a 'normative' view,'' Mr. Allen said, "or one that supports the currently acceptable cultural attitudes, not necessarily because it believes in them, but because it abhors controversy.''

More than 16,000 Milwaukee- area residents cast ballots last month as part of a media campaign on five controversial issues facing the public schools.

The project, called SchoolVote, consisted of a five-week series of prime-time television documentaries and news segments on topics including desegregation, discipline, dropout prevention, teen-age pregnancy, and school funding.

At the end of the series of programs, viewers were asked to cast ballots on ways to handle those issues. The results were presented to Gov. Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin and Lee McMurrin, the city's superintendent of schools.

A majority of viewers said the schools should hire more teachers and counselors to help "at risk'' students. Viewers, however, were split on whether to plan now for desegregation or to wait for court decisions.

Half of the respondents advocated mandatory sex education for elementary-school students, but most opposed school-based birth-control counseling. And 79 percent of the viewers said schools should be funded through state income taxes, rather than local property taxes.

The project was sponsored by WISN-TV, the ABC affiliate in Milwaukee, and The Public Agenda Foundation, a New York-based group.

A similar project was conducted last year in the Philadelphia area.

In contrast with the reluctance of U.S. broadcasters to give air time to birth-control messages, developing countries are using radio and televison shows to promote family planning and "responsible'' sex, according to a study by the population-information program of The Johns Hopkins University's school of public health.

Discussion of family planning and birth-control methods on commercial television or radio is limited in the United States, the study notes. All three commercial television networks have reaffirmed their policy of not accepting contraceptive advertising, after being urged to do so because of the AIDS epidemic.

In Jamaica, however, the prime-time radio soap opera "Naseberry Street'' is set in a family-planning clinic. Regular followers of the show, the Johns Hopkins study found, are more likely than nonlisteners to use contraceptives.

In Costa Rica, a 10-minute radio show called "Dialogo'' explores such themes as family planning, human sexuality, parent-child relations, and divorce. More than one-third of the country's adults listen to the show regularly, according to the study, "Radio--Spreading the Word on Family Planning.''--K.G.

Vol. 06, Issue 26

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