Michigan Town Bans Live War Coverage in Schools

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For high school teacher Bill Boyd, television can be a valuable classroom tool.

But if the U.S. goes to war with Iraq, live TV news coverage will be off-limits at his and all other schools in Plymouth, Mich., from kindergarten through 12th grade. Instead, teachers will be limited to showing edited videotaped footage only.

Plymouth-Canton School Superintendent James Ryan said he’s afraid the live war coverage could be too graphic for students. Some parents agree.

"I just am concerned that there will be things on there that not everybody can handle," said Kathy Powers, the mother of four school-aged children. She prefers that if her kids watch live war coverage, they watch it at home.

The reason behind Plymouth-Canton’s decision stems back to Sept. 11, when students saw the terrorist attacks unfold on classroom televisions.

In the days following the disaster, Ryan was barraged with a stack of phone messages from parents who were angry about the horrible images shown on TV in school.

Some teachers were traumatized, so they could only imagine what it would have been like for the kids.

"To see those people jumping from 80 stories — I won’t ever forget," said teacher Darrin Silvester. "I was 28, 29 years old, and I won’t forget it."

But most of the Plymouth-Canton students who spoke to Fox News think the ban on live television in school is overprotective and unnecessary.

"If the majority of the students feel that they should be able to see it, they should," said student Kaz Pumphrey.

Some even think watching the coverage could prevent kids from being frightened and traumatized.

"The more you are informed, the less fearful you are of what is going to happen," said student Anna Wilson.

Teachers in other areas of the country have adopted a different way of incorporating the looming war into classroom discussions.

"I give them my opinion and they know it’s my opinion — and I entertain their opinions," language arts teacher Aurelia Blake, of McKinney Middle School in Yellow Springs, Ohio, said Tuesday. "I want them to feel my passion."

Blake, who teaches kids aged 13-15, is against the war. She said she gives the other side of the issue, too, mainly from facts gleaned from newspapers.

U.S. government teacher Sarah Roeske, of Stafford Senior High School in Falmouth, Va., has another approach.

"I do not put my views into the classroom," Roeske said. "I do not want to be a mouthpiece for the kids."

Instead, Roeske said she starts the debate by arguing from a liberal standpoint one day and a conservative stance the next. She declines to give students her opinions when they ask.

"I personally believe that a teacher should not put their views into the classroom," she said. "We are not in the business of telling kids what they need to think."

One way or the other, Boyd of Plymouth believes it’s teachers’ responsibility to bring current events into the classroom and to help students digest how those events are covered on television.

"That should be part of our job as social studies teachers — to show them the news and show them how to watch the news intelligently," he said.

Fox News' Steve Brown and Catherine Donaldson-Evans contributed to this report.