..Jon Simonds..

AOL/Time Warner: Serving our Schools

There is a huge gap between the task of educating our children and paying for the cost of education. Each year, school boards across the nation are faced with the rising costs of education and are forced to snatch monies from the all important job of educating our young.

Electric company rates rise. Phone company costs soar. We are at the mercy of fuel companies that power the buses carting our children to and from school. Communities are left to wonder where their tax dollars are going, as teachers are laid off, electives are tossed on the scrap heap, school books become too costly to replace and school supplies turn into donations requested of parents, from teachers.

It's utterly amazing to find a major corporation more concerned with educating our children, than profiting from the costly process of education.

AOL/Time Warner is just such a company. They install Cable television into school media centers, absolutely free. They provide cable television services and internet services at no cost to school boards or tax payers.

Amy Van Dell, of AOL/Time Warner Cable, here in Manatee County, Florida, calls the Cable Industry's investment in our schools "A multi-million dollar investment...a long range investment. The mission of AOL/Time Warner is, for people to appreciate our business, number one, they have to be able to afford it. If we want them to grow up and order our magazines, they need to know how to read our magazines. They need to understand popular culture. They need to be interested in current events."

Our students today are, after all, tomorrow's consumer. The greater an individual's education, the more affordable the rewards of life.

Time Warner Cable offers a magazine called Cable in the Classroom to all area schools. It provides a listing of over 500 hours of commercial free educational programming. They can be taped right off the TV and brought right into the classroom via school media centers.

"Cable in the Classroom is a partnership," Amy Van Dell adds, "of all the Cable Providers and the networks, such as CNN and Discovery. They produce the programming at no cost and offer it to the schools absolutely free. Many of the networks also provide educational websites to go along with the programming."

AOL/Time Warner is also actively involved in other programs designed to better serve the process of educating. Together with VH-1, the five-year- old "Save The Music" program has been able to supply millions of dollars in musical instruments to schools all across the nation.

"A lot of inner-city schools face tremendous budget cuts," Amy Van Dell explains. "Electives are always the first to suffer. Programs like Save the Music, keep them going. Networks like Bravo and Ovation work with promoting the arts...theater; dance; writing, even computer graphics."

Here in Manatee County, AOL/Time Warner also sponsors a program called, "Time To Read," the largest sponsored literacy program in the country. The program is active in four elementary schools: Oneco, Samoset, Orange Ridge, and Ballard. It's designed to work with fourth and fifth graders in an effort to raise their F-CAT scores in reading.

Time Publishing supplies "Time For Kids," a condensed version of Time Magazine and Sports Illustrated for kids. "Time To Read" is a volunteer based program and requests no more than one hour a week from anyone willing to take part in the program.

Education is our nation's most powerful tool. It's refreshing to see one corporation so concerned with the process of educating, while so many others are merely concerned with the gains that come from education.

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If you're interested in "Time to Read," go to their website: www.time-to-read.com or email them at info@time-to-read.com.

If you're in Manatee County, call the Manatee County Schools Foundation at 941-741-7242.