Reading Rainbow’s End

SETH: We have reached the end of the Reading Rainbow.  The show that practically every child from the 80’s knows with the theme song that practically everyone knows, no matter when they were born, is being cancelled.  Reading Rainbow will soon air its last episode due to lack of funding.  This comes shortly after news that the Sesame Street Workshop will have to cut 1/5th of its work force due to economic downturn.

Concerning Reading Rainbow, Slobhan O’Conner writes:

ReadingRainbow-Kermit-1985“We should all feel a  little gross about this: After a 26-year run, Reading Rainbow is done because nobody will pony up the dough to renew the broadcast rights. It’s partially due to a funding crunch, reports NPR, and due to a ‘shift in the philosophy of educational television programming,’ that started under Bush. So you can file this as another damning piece of that administration’s legacy.

That shift, it seems, has to do with how we teach kids to read—focusing more on the mechanics of reading and (ugh) phonics. Thing is, Reading Rainbow was not designed to teach kids how to read, the same way we don’t rely on Sesame Street to teach us how to count to 10, or what the difference between ‘near’ and ‘far’ is. (Thanks, though, Grover.) It’s about creating a love of learning, and imbuing that learning with the playfulness that gets kids excited.

Indeed, the show, which won more than two dozen Emmys, didn’t teach hard skills. It taught kids to love books, and, in the words of John Grant, the Reading Rainbow’s home station WNED Buffalo: ‘Reading Rainbow taught kids why to read.’

I’m holding some hope for a last-ditch save.

R.I.P., for now.”

For some reason I feel that it is appropriate to share this video of Fred Rogers appearing before the US Senate to fight against Nixon’s plan to cut funds for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


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