Saving ‘Sesame Street’

Anyone paying attention to the presidential debate knows that Mitt Romney is out to defund PBS, despite admiring its work and programming. Twitter lit up in a firestorm over the comment, and dozens of memes have graced the Internet in support of “Sesame Street,” which was specifically mentioned by the GOP presidential nominee.

According to an interview with CNN, PBS chief executive Paula Kerger said entire PBS stations in rural areas would be defunded if this came to pass.

“Stations in rural parts of the country — where their parts of the federal funding is 40, 50, 60 percent — those stations will go off the air,” she said.

“Sesame Street” itself only receives about 15 percent of its funds from the federal money PBS receives, according to an ABC News article, and will be able to continue broadcasting if cuts eventually happen.

Even though Big Bird and the gang are safe, supporters of PBS and other federally funded companies, such as NPR, need to start thinking ahead.

Public broadcasting is such a fantastic service. PBS alone provides diverse educational programming that benefits kids. There are shows for basic algebra, history, basic morals, colors, shapes and most everything else you can think of.

I personally learned more math from watching “Cyberchase” and American Revolution history through “Liberty’s Kids” than I did in school — not because I had ineffective teachers, but because the fun visuals and intriguing stories provided me with a way of learning that clicked well. Being able to relate things visually is important to many people, and it’d be a shame to risk losing that avenue of education.

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On the other side of the spectrum are the more adult-oriented shows. PBS stations in Alaska air a show called “Alaska Film Archives” that shows archived films from within the state. Where else but public broadcasting can the majority of Alaskans access that if it interests them? “BioCentury This Week” discusses issues in biotechnology once a week; where else can we find that?

Growing up in the Lower 48, I never had cable. My family couldn’t afford it. But I would still get to see interesting and informative programs about archaeological digs around the world, dinosaurs on program specials and animals in Africa with “Zoboomafoo.”

If public broadcasting is defunded and stations and programs are cut, who exactly does that benefit?

If you love PBS, and other public broadcasting companies, protect them. No matter who you vote for as our next commander in chief, take a stand behind public broadcasting. If defunding is presented, speak out against it. If funds do happen to get cut, don’t be shy with your donations.

Remember the credits given before and after each program on PBS? “This program was made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you. Thank you.”

We all enjoy at least some the services and opportunities public broadcasting offers, so let’s be deserving and appreciative of them as well. Keep Big Bird, Clifford and the rest of the gang kicking.