My Kids (and My Sanity) are Dependent on Public Television

I blame my sudden interest in politics on my trip to the local state house last week. Saturday morning I sat down and read the entire front section of the newspaper, which is something I don’t do often enough. I also started trolling political news sites online, trying to find more depth on issues important to my family. It’s hard, and discouraging to have to read through all of the mud-slinging and slanted language both sides take, even in journalism. It’s hard to read through the lines and get issues boiled down enough to see what the matters at hand actually are.

And lately, what’s been making me crazy is amendment after amendment after amendment being added to every bill as representatives agree to vote if their amendment gets added. It’s ridiculous, and I’m not sure that it’s the most efficient way to run our fine republic. My eyes typically glaze over as I see calls to action on Facebook, but 170 Milion for Public Television has gotten my attention.

It appears that Congress has proposed to cut federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

If you interrupt PBS Kids, you interrupt me. And I will “Like” a Facebook page, and send an email or two in regard to it.

I did come out of the closet as a conservative in the comments on Meghan’s political wrap-up post in Friday. Just because I don’t believe in big government doesn’t mean that I don’t believe the government doesn’t have a responsibility to its people. The best money a country can spend is on its youth, for it will reap the benefits for years to come, and that’s where PBS Kids come into play. (Public Broadcasting does a lot more for this country, but I’m focusing here on why Super Why needs to stay on the air.)

If you don’t have kids, you may not realize how far PBS Kids has expanded past Sesame Street. Our local station provides programming for young children Monday through Friday from 6:30am until 1:00pm, and then again from 2:00pm through 5:30 pm. While I don’t believe children should be in front of the television for hours on end, the fact that something developmentally appropriate is on every day for most of the day for my children is appreciated.

The wholesome, inclusive, educational messages are appreciated. The lack of commercials is appreciated. It’s amazing to me how the “I wants” start approximately three seconds after a commercial break begins when my children watch network or cable television.

These aspects are appreciated in my house, where my kids attend daycare and kindergarten respectively, and where they are exposed to a variety of people and experiences on a daily basis. It’s a vital community service in homes where children aren’t able to attend preschool, where English isn’t the first language spoken, and where resources are meager. Essentially, public broadcasting has become the provider of satellite education for young children across the country, and the way H.R. 1 is worded now, all federal funds will be cut for public broadcasting.

It’s hard to say if your local television station will go dark if the bill passes. Right now, federal funding accounts for about 15% of the funding my local station receives (this varies in each market). It seems to me that a better response is to reduce funding, rather than cut it all together. Give stations time to adjust their budgets without interrupting services too much. Local stations are experts at raising money (most of their funding comes from individual members, grants, and corporate funding); give them a little forewarning and they can adjust. Give the public a little time to help, and I’m certain that they will. I’ve also ignored their membership drives in the past, but this year I’m feeling more inclined to contribute. If I am truly in favor of less government spending, then it’s time to be part of the solution.

What has Public Television/NPR done for you lately?

6 replies on “My Kids (and My Sanity) are Dependent on Public Television”

WORD GIRL!!! What will people do without Word Girl?

By the way, you can thank budget cuts in New York State for Reading Rainbow going off the air. That show came out of my local station, and it was fabulous. But budget cut after budget cut decimated the place. Fundraising drives became more frequent, staff was getting furloughed, original programming was slashed left and right. Eventually, Reading Rainbow had to go. The Powers That Be decided that kids only need to learn HOW to read. They don’t need to learn how to LOVE to read. The director of our local station was devastated. (So was I!) That’s what public broadcasting funding cuts do.

My roommate works for the local NPR station and I asked her about this. She told me that the federal funding is actually a very small portion of all their funds. She said if it got cut it would hurt but it wouldn’t be enough to shut them down. In fact, her particular station has $20 million dollars in the bank that they are not using and collecting interest on.

It would suck to have their funding cut but its nice to know that it won’t do too much damage

Honestly, we don’t watch PBS–my kids will only watch Nick Jr., which has no commercials. They HATE commercials, because they interrupt the show and are loud and annoying. They love the little educational “commercials” in between the Nick Jr. shows.

However, my husband and I are both die-hard NPR listeners and donate during every fund drive. I would be devastated if it went off the air–I probably get 70% of my news from NPR, and the rest online from Al Jazeera English and the BBC.

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