I know it’s been a while that I’ve updated my blog, and I will post another book review in the coming days. But I’d like to talk about something that it’s near and dear to my heart, which has become a hot-button issue for the past few days.
Many of you have probably watched the first presidential debate last week between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. In the end, the general consensus has favored Romney’s performance over Obama’s lackluster demeanor. Though I agree with the majority, there has been an ongoing debate among the political pundits and the American people over Romney’s narrative about PBS’s future, which has angered some people including yours truly.
According to Romney, he stated in the debate that he plans to cut certain programs like Obamacare (no surprise) and subsidies for PBS if he’s elected President of the United States. His exact words were:
“First of all, I will eliminate all programs by this test. Is the program so critical it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it and if not, I’ll get rid of it. Obamacare is on my list. I apologize Mr. President … I’m sorry, Jim (Lehrer, debate moderator and veteran anchor of the PBS NewsHour). I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you too, but I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it …”
I’m going to play the Devil’s Advocate for a moment. First of all, I’m glad Romney loves Big Bird. I mean, who wouldn’t?! Second and most importantly, it’s no secret that the United States is in debt. We are in a tremendous debt crisis that we’ve never faced before. According to the U.S. Treasury, the U.S. government debt reached more than a trillion dollars in fiscal 2012. The actual amount is $1,275,901,078,828.74 and climbing. We do need to tighten our wallets when it comes to spending. I don’t like the fact that we keep borrowing money from China, but it is what it is. However for the past 10 years, we have been spending countless dollars on wars, for example. There may be an instance where certain programs have to be cut, but killing Big Bird isn’t one of them. It is not the answer, Governor Romney.
The facts and figures to the left indicate why PBS is important in American household. One fact figure that is astounding is that more than 121 million people watched 500 hours of arts and cultural programming on PBS last year. Another amazing fact is that PBS ranks #1 for media content for preschool teachers. Educational programs like Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, and Square One create a foundation for children for their love of learning and reading, etc. and for parents to spend quality time with them while they are expanding their minds. Why rob them of that opportunity?
According to a report recently published by Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance, students in Latvia, Chile, and Brazil are making gains in academics 3 times faster than American students. Students in Shanghai outscored every other school system in the world by taking international exams. American students ranks 25th in math, 17th in science, and 14th in reading. Will eliminating PBS greater the chance to bump USA up to #1? I don’t think so, Mr. Romney.
On a personal note, I am an example that public television is an asset not a liability. Sesame Street and other PBS programming played a significant role in my upbringing. As the daughter of Italian immigrants, I had a difficult time learning the English language as a child b/c we spoke and still do speak Italian in our household. I got held back in kindergarten because my English-speaking skills sucked. I was behind all the other kids b/c I wasn’t properly pronouncing certain words or constructing sentences correctly. It was frustrating. Television, particularly PBS, was a major source for me to step out of that comfort zone of Italian lifestyle. Watching shows like Sesame Street, Barney & Friends, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and Reading Rainbow changed my life because it made learning the English language fun and educational and it laid the foundation for my love of reading and writing. If it wasn’t for PBS, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here in the middle of the night writing my convictions to this issue. So PBS, from the bottom of my heart I thank you, and I will continue to support you.
I guarantee you there is a child out there who is in the same boat as I was about 25 years ago. These 21st century children, especially the low-income children, do not deserve a total educational disadvantage. Americans should be investing in the future of all aspects of early childhood education. The reason we invest in public television is that it brings educational programs to people who might not have them. It is one of the best investments we’ve ever made to this country. The 21st century children are our next leaders. We could foresee our next president of the United States or our hero who finds the cure for cancer, etc. There is a large amount of students in our public school system that do not know who the vice-president of the United States is or where Texas is on a map, and cutting funding to education and educational programming is the right thing to do? There are other ways to lower the debt.
If I was president, my first priority would much rather be eliminating tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires who suck the life out of it than automatically expelling PBS programming. Forbes recently listed 400 richest people in America. I bet you if each of them would be willing donate $1 million to $10 million a year from their precious bank accounts to the national debt, I am sure the total amount would not be in the trillions. Come on, Oprah!! It’s like giving away a car! There’ll still be work to do, but the rich should not be getting off that easy.
Let me ask you this. Would you want the Kardashians or the Paris Hilton’s to teach your child the ABCs and the importance of sharing?? They would probably teach kids that, “A is for Armani, B is for Burberry, C is for Chanel, D is for Dolce & Gabbana … Oh Kim, shut the f*** up!!” Give me a break!
We face a deficiency in our problem-solving mechanism. Why does it have to be all or nothing?? Why can’t we just be bipartisan about this and come up with a compromise? I know we can. We’re just too stubborn because we think that our own way is the right way. Listen, if we keep this trend going in our country, we are never going to come up with a proper solution, and the only people who are going to be educationally malnourished are the innocent children.