Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Dr. Sharon Washington on the upcoming Million Puppet March and the value of PBS to education. -M.P.
When education becomes an ideological pawn in politics, it looks like Big Bird perched front and center of a “Million Muppet March”. Born somewhere in the Twitterverse, in response to a statement made by presidential candidate, Governor Mitt Romney, more than 1,000 public broadcasting supporters and puppeteers have committed to march on the National Mall in Washington D.C. on November 3rd (three days before the presidential election)–to defend PBS funding in support of saving Big Bird! Because of the overwhelming positive response, the organizers changed the name of the march from the “Million Muppet March” to the “Million Puppet March” in order to include sock puppets, hand puppets, marionettes, shadow puppets and mascots. Hilarious isn’t it?
Here’s the back story to the outcry that sparked such a fantastic display of civic engagement: In 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren declared that it is doubtful that any child who is denied education, could reasonably be expected to succeed in our society or to even fully participate in our democracy. PBS has been on the forefront of ensuring this American value for more than 40 years. My mother taught me to love reading, but Sesame Street taught me how to read. When Presidential Candidate Romney declared that he would cut spending to PBS, but give more spending to the military even though they didn’t ask for it, I’m not sure he fully understood the insuperable role that PBS has played in the education of generations across races, ethnicities, genders, age groups and religions.
The PBS learning experience is a quintessential learning model. The programming (or what we educators call “curriculum”) covers the cradle to pre-school, to kindergarten, to secondary school, to college, to trade schools, to PhD, to post-graduate experiences. The PBS curriculum engenders learning through the interrogation of our world. It re-presents the original purpose of education. The term education dates back to the 15th century to the Latin educatus, which means to rear, and educere, which means to bring out, as in bring out something latent.