Friday, August 28, 2009

Reading Rainbow R.I.P

Today, the final chapter of Reading Rainbow comes to end. After a 26 year broadcasting streak on public television stations all across the United States, no one is willing to put up the several hundred thousand dollars needed to renew the show's broadcast rights. Not Reading Rainbow's home station WNED Buffalo, not PBS, not the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and definitely not the government.

About the cancellation, according to John Grant who is the content manager at WNED Buffalo, "the funding crunch is partially to blame, but the decision to end Reading Rainbow can also be traced to a shift in the philosophy of educational television programming. The change started with the Department of Education under the Bush administration, he explains, which wanted to see a much heavier focus on the basic tools of reading — like phonics and spelling."

He goes on to say that, "PBS, CPB and the Department of Education put significant funding toward programming that would teach kids how to read." Reading Rainbow was no doubt focused on teaching kids why to read and how to love reading and feel empowered by it. "The show operated on the assumption that kids already had basic reading skills," which they learned at school or in their home.

What is indeed sad, is that this shift marks a time where that that assumption is no longer true. According to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Education in January of 2009, some 32 million U.S. adults over the age of 16
do not read well enough to understand a newspaper story written at the eighth grade level or fill out a job application. That's 14 percent of the country's adult population. So just take a moment to think how many children are effected by these staggering numbers, and how illiteracy contributes to a such a massive swarm of negative's a very scary thing and it's on a national scale.

Alas, Reading Rainbow, "was the third longest-running program in PBS history, outlasted only by
Sesame Street and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." And damn, that show taught me a lot. I learned about all kinds of books I ran to the library to check out...about storytelling and diversity, about cities and music. And, to this day I still hum that teamwork song in my head. Granted, it is not PBS's sole responsibility to teach Americans how to read, but to me, Reading Rainbow has always been one of the most important shows on PBS- and I'm really sad to see it go.
But, you don't have to take me word for it.

Check out the full article here.


Lord Sabbat said...

damn. so thats why my alarm woke me up to the reading rainbow theme this morning? glad i didnt realize or i would have been super bummed all day.

King of Daves said...

Dang, that sucks. Reading Rainbow was tight as fuck. But to be honest, I was usually watching that show becuase I didn't want to read boring ass books. That show never made me want to read, because when I opened a book rainbows and butterflies never shot into my eyes and turned me into an astronaut.

kegbenk said...

you never let them dave :(