Charleston County schools threw a little red meat to their usual critics last week.
Diette Courrege reported that Associate Superintendent Terri Nichols told principals that they must approve all classroom movie screenings.
“Movies are not to be shown in their entirety nor for entertainment,” Nichols said.
It's good public relations for the district. Because for every parent upset by this, there are probably three or four absolutely thrilled. A lot of folks say, with some justification, that they don't pay taxes and send their kids to school to watch TV.
That's what they do when they're home.
Certainly this is in response to the recent firing of a Wando High teacher who showed a clip from “Jackass Number Two” to a Latin class. Of course, this rule wouldn't have helped that situation, as Principal Lucy Beckham would have never consented to such tomfoolery.
In fact, she would have probably knocked that guy upside the head had he asked.
Still, this is overall a solid, prudent call by the district.
Even if it may be over-compensating a bit.
Last year, there was this movie — one that no class should see — called “Bad Teacher.” The title pretty much sums up the plot.
In the film, the teacher smokes weed in the parking lot, sleeps through class and shows students inappropriate movies instead of working up a curriculum.
See, even Hollywood says movies in class are bad.
But the truth is, teachers who show movies — well, other than “Jackass” — aren't bad. They simply understand that you can't cram facts into the heads of children 24/7 without them glazing over. But more importantly, there are some films that are truly educational. Why do you think the state funds ETV? E is for Educational.
But perception is reality, and many folks believe watching a movie in class is goofing off.
John Graham Altman, a school board member for 20 years, says in general, movie time is not a good idea. Especially on the last day before break.
“They shouldn't show movies unless they provide free popcorn,” Altman says. “We pay them to teach, not to baby-sit.”
East bound and down
Privately, some school board members say the district may have gone a tad bit nuclear on this.
That's because there are always exceptions to the rule.
Altman says “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” has been used for history classes before, and probably is educational. But when you start showing “The Polar Express” and “The Little Mermaid,” that's just killing time.
The caveat in this nuclear option is principal approval. That is reasonable, as there should be some standards. Left to their own whims, you never know when some driver's ed. teacher will get the bright idea to show his class “Smokey and the Bandit.”
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @BriHicks_PandC.