A preview this month of the new Dinosaur Train movie Dinosaur Big City, from PBS Kids, included a panel on what makes parenting in Los Angeles unique – and the future of public television itself came up in the discussion. As Congress continues to consider eliminating funding for public broadcasting, parents’ source for fun and educational programming like Dinosaur Train is in jeopardy.
Why does this matter? PBS Southern California offered a few facts:
- PBS is watched by 117 million people each month, and more than 20 million people explore their online content.
- Last year, PBS offered more than 500 hours of arts and cultural programming.
- PBS is the number-one source of media content for preschool teachers.
- Children who watched Sesame Street in preschool spend more time reading for fun in high school and obtain higher grades in English, math and science.
- Kids who played the Martha Speaks app increased their vocabulary as much as 31% in two weeks.
- In 2003, President George W. Bush made PBS music show Austin City Limits the only TV show ever to be awarded the National Medal of Arts.
- Less than 1% of Americans have taken an astronomy course, but 3 million tune in to the wonders of the universe weekly with Nova.
- For every $1 in federal funding invested in PBS member stations, they raise $6. Running PBS costs each American $1.03 per year. (Try renting a DVD for less than that!)
As I was chatting with a friend recently about the fate of PBS and PBS Kids, someone overheard and said, “A major network will probably pick up Sesame Street, so what’s the big deal?”
Here’s the big deal: PBS provides quality educational programming, commercial-free, all in one place. It’s the only channel I trust that, no matter what time of day, I can be assured there will be an appropriate cartoon or show on for my daughter – and that she’ll learn something valuable from it, too! And my favorite arguing point is that it costs each American just $1.03 per year. I actually can’t think of anything with this level of quality that you can buy for anywhere near that amount. PBS Kids’ reach goes beyond the television, too. My daughter, who just turned 4 in June, is an avid user of her Super Why app on my iPhone as well as the PBS player on my iPad (in limited quantities, of course). Since just after her 2nd birthday, she also has had continued exposure to their online world at www.pbskidsplay.org. We pay the annual fee because it’s worth it, but their free version at pbskids.org is great, too.
As further evidence, I’ve considered posting some of my Facebook videos of her reciting the entire Peter Rabbit book when she was just 2 years old. Or the one I took just two weeks ago where she spelled “P-O-P-C-O-R-N” in her words, “all by myself.” My friends ask what I feed her. My response is always “a healthy variety of daily reading and exposure to educational websites and TV.” Then I often point them to some of her favorite shows, Super Why and Dinosaur Train. Some of our weekends are filled with trips to local places such as the Natural History Museum, where Kieran gives me a tour of the exhibits (“Mommy, look! A Pteranodon!” Thank you, Dinosaur Train! If you agree that PBS is worth saving, find out how you can help at 170millionamericans.org.
* We did not receive monetary compensation for this review. We did attend the PBS event mentioned above and received a 4 pack of tickets to the Discovery Science Center. This article was written for L.A. Parent and reprinted here with their permission. This will in no way sway our opinion. This is in our own words. Your opinions may differ.