Monday, July 11, 2005

Timid Trio Targets 'Reading Rainbow'

by Kyle Michaelis
Those damn Republicans. Having failed (for now) in their efforts to completely slash the funds for public broadcasting, they've been left simply cutting-off PBS from a promised $102 million necessary for modernization and support of educational programs, while slowly taking over the entire operation to try and quench the progressive and inquisitive spirit on which the station is founded.

According to the Lincoln Journal-Star:
The House...did not restore an additional $102.4 million that helps underwrite the production of PBS' "Ready to Learn" children's programs such as "Reading Rainbow."

The $102.4 million also covers satellite technology, basic equipment purchases and a federal mandate to convert public TV stations from analog to digital signals....

[Nebraska Educational Telecoummunications General Manager Rod Bates] particularly was distressed to learn Nebraska's Republican representatives Jeff Fortenberry, Lee Terry and Tom Osborne voted against restoring the funds. The vote drew support from 87 Republicans.

Osborne, a longtime public broadcasting supporter, said he voted against it because he didn't want to see the $100 million taken from elsewhere to offset restoring CPB's funding.

"(The amendment) was going to take a big chunk out of education and the Department of Labor and a couple of other areas that I didn't want to see money taken out of," he said....

Just like the Republican Party to make Osborne choose between funding the Department of Labor or educational programming. Maybe Nebraska's Timid Trio of Fortenberry, Terry, and Osborne even made the right choice. The problem is it's not a choice they would have had to make if even one of them had the courage to stand-up to Tom DeLay's lock-step Republicanism.

Their silence speaks volumes about their individual lackings in character and leadership. It is wrong that they kill 'Reading Rainbow' without a one of them raising a stink about money going to a crack-pot researcher hoping to uncover the alleged bias of PBS news programming, who went so far as to declare Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel "a liberal" and just barely refrained from designating Oscar the Grouch a communist.
Entering its 22nd season, "Reading Rainbow" is a book series aimed at children ages 6 to 8. It's co-produced by NET Television...

The show has won 24 Daytime Emmy Awards, including nine for best children's series. A recent PBS-commissioned study showed "Reading Rainbow" is the No. 1 tool used in classroom study.

Yet, according to Bates, the Department of Education, which gives money to PBS to fund the show, isn't happy with it.

The Department of Education, he said, is leaning toward programs that "teach" reading rather than those such as "Reading Rainbow," which "encourages" reading.

"Whether (money) is restored or not, the future funding of ‘Reading Rainbow' is in jeopardy," Bates said.

As are the other "Ready to Learn" services, which provides resources to parents, child care providers and teachers to make children better readers.

Better readers? We can't have that.

This is actually a pretty succinct example of Republican-brand pragmatism: people should know how to read, they just shouldn't love it. After all, when people read too much, they have this nasty prediliction for getting different perspectives, asking too many questions, and eventually (*gasp*) starting to think for themselves.

How could we expect our Republican Congressmen - Nebraska's Timid Trio - to make a stand for principle like that, especially as they themselves vote as told by Tom DeLay every chance they get. Think for yourself? What a foreign concept to a man like Jeff Fortenberry so addicted to DeLay's money machine he can barely wait to do his greenback-toting master's bidding again and again and again.

Terry's the same way. Osborne...well, he's a different story. It's not about money. He could stand up for the things that matter - the things that count - he just doesn't. I guess it's just so much easier not rocking the boat.

Maybe Osborne knows in Nebraska's Third District no one has expectations that he be anything more than a Republican rubber stamp. That's 'good enough.' What a pity, then, he doesn't have higher expectations of himself.


Post a Comment

<< Home