Charleston Gazette (West Virginia)

 

February 13, 2001, Tuesday

 

Kanawha board bans movie trips unless educational

 

BYLINE: Eric Eyre

 

SECTION: News; Pg. P1C

 

LENGTH: 667 words

 

 

ericeyre@wvgazette.com

Kanawha County school board members told Superintendent Ron Duerring Monday night to ban student field trips to movie theaters unless the films have an educational purpose.

The school board voted 4-1 to require Duerring to review all future field trips. He must provide a monthly report on the trips to board members.

"In a society that spends more time at the movies, more time in front of the computer, more time in front of the television screen and video games, let's get students away from the screen to things that can enhance their minds," said school board member John Luoni.

Out: field trips to Disney movies. In: trips to Sunrise Museum, the state Cultural Center and the Governor's Mansion.

"People send their kids to us every day with the understanding we're going to educate them," said school board President Bill Raglin.

"I can see going to a museum," said school board member Pete Thaw. "I can see going to an educational film. But I don't think we can justify '101 Dalmatians.'"

Kanawha County schools sent students on movie trips more than 60 times during the past nine months, according to school transportation records. Movie theaters hold special morning showings on school days for Kanawha County students.

Earlier Monday night, Duerring said many teachers and principals use movies to reward students for good behavior and attendance.

The school board's motion and vote did not specify a ban on non-educational films. But four of five board members said they expect Duerring to uphold a ban on movies with no educational value.

"He understands what the intent of this board is," Raglin said. "He knows what the board wants."

After the meeting, Duerring declined to say whether he would allow trips to non-educational movies. "I'll have to look at each situation," he said.

Students may still see movies based on books they read in class, board members said. And they may watch films that depict historical events they study in class.

School board member Cheryle Hall vigorously objected to the movie ban. She said it would punish elementary students and jeopardize a reward system that "gets children to learn."

"It exposes them to a different world where they're given guidance on how to behave," said Hall, whose children attended a movie at least once a year as elementary students. "It's just a treat. I want to stand up for what is right for our kids. To have a little entertainment in their lives."

But Luoni said students already have enough mass media entertainment in their lives.

"I'll never buy the argument that kids need more time to watch movies and TV," Luoni said. "They need more reading, more time with comprehension, more time writing, more time on math. We need to put education first."

In other business Monday night, the board voted 4-1 to require teachers to list all supplemental books and articles on the syllabus they hand out at the beginning of the school year. School board members wanted teachers to notify parents when they assign books to students that contain profanity.

But the new regulation does not require teachers to single out books. It's up to parents to scrutinize the syllabi and decide whether teachers assigned materials that contain objectionable material.

Hall opposed the regulation, saying the current policy - students receive an alternative book if parents object - works just fine.

Also Monday night, school board members rejected a proposal to allow a teacher who is assaulted by a student to veto the return of that student to the school.

Luoni proposed the policy after Sissonville students and teachers complained about a special education student who had attacked them. The student was removed from the school.

School officials said Luoni's proposal was unnecessary. Students who assault teachers are seldom allowed to return to the school where the attack occurred, they said.

To contact staff writer Eric Eyre, use e-mail or call 348-5194.

 

LOAD-DATE: February 14, 2001

 

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

 

Copyright 2001 Charleston Newspapers