Thursday, October 04, 2012

Mr Rogers to Mitt Romney: Don't cut PBS!

"Mom, do you know why I like Mr Rogers? Because he likes me just the way I am." -Bobby Aagard, circa 1985

I grew up on a healthy dose of PBS programming. Mr Rogers was a friend, and taught me that being different is OK, and that we should love others not for the clothes they wear, nor their toys, but for being themselves. I also learned valuable lessons in topics such as anger management.

But Mr Rogers was not my only early influence. I gained a love of books from Reading Rainbow, and was reading at nearly a 1st grade level entering Kindergarten thanks in part to Sesame Street.

Because of a series of life circumstances, I get to spend some time with my 5-year old nephew, who is about the same age as I was when I said the quote that leads this post. We sit down to watch TV together, and I look at the programs he watches and the lessons we learn from them. Dinosaur Train takes his love of dinosaurs and trains and turns it into a love of science. On a recent trip to the Utah Museum of Natural History, he referenced Dinosaur train, mostly in the parts of the museum that DON'T have dinosaurs. On Sid the Science Kid, he sees that he, like the characters, can channel their natural curiosity to learn new things. On The Cat in The Hat Knows a Lot About That, he learns lessons in observation. And, n our new favorite show, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, we learn some of those same life lessons that I learned from Mr Rogers.

I can't think of anything we learn from shows such as SpongeBob SquarePants and Phineas and Pherb other than what the latest toys and junk food are out there (seen during commercial breaks)).

Unfortunately, the only way to produce commercial programming is from the private sector getting some help from the Government via PBS. So, when Mitt Romney said in tonight's debate that he wanted to cut funding for PBS (which amounts to a very small portion of the federal budget), I took it personally.

But, this is not the first time funding for PBS has been threatened. In 1969, Congress was wanting to cut funding for PBS, and Mr Rogers went to Washington to testify. Instead of reading his prepared remarks, which he said the Congressmen had promised to read, he spoke briefly about his show, and the good it was doing in the world.

In the next Appropriation, PBS funding went from $9 Million to $22 Million.

So, Mr Romney, please find something else to cut, because this funding is doing a lot of good in the world.


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