In 1969, Mr. Rogers appeared before Congress to ask them not to cut 20 million dollars in Public Education Television funding. In his speech he talked about what messages were being delivered to children thorough out his program. He told congress how his programs were meant to teach kids life lessons about family, friendship, anger management, self awareness, etc. I don't know anyone who can't name a favorite television show that they watched on PBS. Many of us were prepared for school by our parents and by watching some of the programs on PBS. I couldn't wait to share some of my favorite PBS shows with my children. Mister Roger's Neighborhood and Sesame Street was on for so long, I grew up watching them and so did my children. How cool is that?
While PBS has all types of programming, I think that the children's programming has had the most far reaching effect on our society. All of the children's programming on PBS is meant to educate children. My children had things that my husband and I taught them, reinforced by television shows on PBS. Their math skills were enhanced by watching Cyberchase. Arthur taught them how to deal with a teacher that they didn't like, bullying, respect for various ethnic groups, and religions. They learned about science and technology from watching SciGirls. Zoboomafoo taught them about animals. The lessons learned from Sesame Street are endless. I remember being excited about watching Mister Rogers because I liked the mailman. I'm sure that everyone has their own list of shows that were part of their and their children's education.
Many parents have been accused of using their television as babysitters for their children. With PBS children's programs, that's not necessarily a bad thing if the alternative is the parent doing nothing with the child.
Mitt Romney wants to cut the federal government's funding of PBS. It's too bad that Mr. Rogers isn't alive to defend the need for our government's financial support of PBS today. I think that he made a powerful pitch to Congress 43 years ago. If he were alive today, I think his pitch would be even more compelling considering the state of our country today. Mitt Romney should watch the video of Mr. Rogers speaking to Congress because everything he said is just as relevant today as it was 43 years ago. According to Forbes, this funding represents only 1/100th of 1% of the budget. Practically every man, woman and child in this country has viewed a program on PBS. Is this minute amount of the budget worth denying millions of children, safe and educational television viewing options?