PBS: Education Bill Amendment Puts Sesame Street At Risk

After many stagnant years, Congress is reconsidering a major education bill. once known as No Child Left Behind.

The reconfigured Elementary and Secondary Education Act has versions in the house and the Senate. Arts advocacy groups are excited about some of the provisions in the new bill, one proposed amendment in the Senate has team public television very worried. In my inbox last night, my PBS affiliate, WNET, alerted supporters to a potential problem with the bill, flagging an amendment that could hurt programs like Sesame Street and other educational kids’ fare:

.. there’s an amendment, S.A. 2158, that would end Ready To Learn. Ready To Learn is a cost-effective, competitive grant program that has helped fund public television’s educational and research-based programming for preschoolers like Sesame Street, Super WHY! and more.

The proposed cut will affect WNET directly. It would reduce our ability to serve millions of our most at risk early learners get ready for school success with free educational television programming, online content, resources and outreach.

Sesame Street is a national treasure, maybe our only national treasure, yet it has found itself in the middle of funding controversies before, most recently in the 2012 election when Candidate Mitt Romney was gunning for PBS. Rhetoric aside, educational kids’ public TV is an important leveler, giving everyone access to the same wholesome and stimulating content.

The current bill is quite a few steps way from reaching President Obama’s desk, and many amendments will fall by the wayside. But it’s always important to keep an eye on the arts and public television funding when the education budget gets hashed out.