President Trump’s plan to privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting defunds entities like PBS, a disturbing blow to the arts. Vital programming like ‘Sesame Street’ won’t be available to kids and their parents anymore. PBS must be saved!
Forty years ago, Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett joined forces with Jim Henson to revolutionize children’s TV. Sesame Street was born out of the need for “master the addictive qualities of television and do something good with them.” After extensive research and funding, including from the US government, Sesame Street aired on public TV in 1969, and has aired daily since.
The iconic show, which has helped countless children learn and grow, has always been free for all families to view. But with a budget cut proposal looming that would defund PBS in 2018, that may no longer be possible. It was beyond insulting, bafflingly so, when White House budget director Mick Mulvaney stated that “coal miners and single mothers in Detroit” shouldn’t have to pay to support PBS, when without PBS, they wouldn’t be able to access the programming at all. Without PBS, children will no longer have the opportunity to learn and grow with the help of Big Bird, Elmo, and their other beloved friends.
When a parent puts on Sesame Street, they’re not just giving their little ones a distraction; they’re helping them learn. Studies have shown that watching Sesame Street can be as educational as preschool! It makes sense; ourselves, and some of our parents watched the show religiously and remember the lessons it imparted. Hanging out with The Count means learning counting and numbers. Cookie Monster teaches us our ABCs — starting with C, for “cookie,” of course. Sweet, sensitive Elmo shows us that everyone has a wide range of feelings, and it’s okay to feel them.
As years passed, Sesame Street added more complex lessons, too. Cookie Monster taught kids about self-restraint in one memorable episode; while gobbling up cookies is fun and delicious, it’s important to eat other foods too. Solid life advice! Big Bird is huge, but inside he’s just a little kid — and he has an (even bigger) imaginary friend. We learn that things like that, the fear of making real friends, too, were all normal. A cast of Muppets of all different sizes, shapes, colors and species, along with their human friends, teach kids that everyone is unique, but we’re all awesome.
Children learn the meaning of love, empathy, courage, and kindness — things that the people trying to take away the show should have paid attention to years ago. Sesame Street will be fine without PBS; the show was picked up by HBO in 2015 in a deal that allowed the show to run on public TV and the cable channel. But the truth of the matter is that families won’t if they can’t afford it. PBS and all its broadcasting need to be preserved.
HollywoodLifers, share your fondest Sesame Street memories in the comments!