Wednesday, October 3, 2012

No sir, I Like Big Bird

There was a statement in last night's debate made by Mr. Romney that made everyone sit up and pay attention.
"...I like Big Bird,.."- Mitt Romney
Twitter went crazy. In a matter of minutes, fake accounts were created in the name of Big Bird.
But there were probably a few people who weren't chuckling. Mainly the people at PBS who heard the presidential candidate say that, despite his fondness of the big yellow bird, he was going to cut the network's government subsidy.

Hmmm...that's kind of like when your boss calls you in on a Friday afternoon and says, "I like you John, you're a great guy. This is nothing personal, but we're making cuts and you're out. Sorry bud."

It's the nature of business, to lower spending and increase profits. That's how Mr. Romney sees the government, as a business; and he sees PBS as an expenditure that needs to be wiped out from the books. As a person that needs to be "let go."

Goodbye Big Bird, go somewhere else with your numbers and letters. Take your friends with you. Except for the Count, he'll be in charge of the Accounting department.

The Public Broadcasting System is not a person in a corporation using up resources. The Public Broadcasting System is a resource. It is as vital to this country's education as a computer is to an office.

I grew up watching Sesame Street as much as the next kid. And the ones before me. And I would hope the ones after me. I grew up in a Spanish-speaking home. Not because my parents didn't know English, but because they had a a clear idea of how their children would learn two languages: Spanish in the home, English in school. It worked. But when people ask me, as curious people are keen to ask, how I learned to speak English, I simply answer: Sesame Street. Because it is as true as the longer explanation. You see, after school my babysitter would take me home and sit me in front of the television with Sesame Street. School didn't end. I continued to learn.

We live in an unfortunate time where our education system is broken. Children are moved up in grades that they are not prepared for. They fall through cracks in the system. We are behind other countries in reading and math. Interesting, aren't those the primary things Big Bird and his neighbors teach? What about empathy? Common sense?

A television show is not a substitute for parents or teachers. No, but it can be an add-on to the education that a person is already getting, and I don't believe in cutting funds to education. Not for a child and for adults either. We don't stop learning because someone gave us a piece of paper and said "go forth and earn some money."

That money pays for bills. Bills that are necessary to our livelihood, and, frankly, cable television is not a necessary expenditure in my household. Do I suffer? No. You tell me you have the Travel Channel, well I have PBS and I travel through all of Europe. You say you learn new recipes all the time on the Food Network. Well I do too, on PBS we have America's Test Kitchen and I made the best fried chicken you've ever tasted the other day. Oh, you just learned something fascinating on the History Channel? Yeah, I watch History Detectives. There's also Nova, Nature, old episodes of Rob Ross painting "happy trees," and Half the Sky which puts focus on women around the world and the work that still needs to be done to create a true equality between the sexes.

I am a life-long student of PBS, and I will not be forced to stop attending their school because someone deemed their funding unnecessary. You will tell me, perhaps, that I should go somewhere else to continue my education, and pay for it. You will tell me that the government is not responsible for me. I can assure you that I know. I paid for my education and I pay my taxes. I am not asking for free television. I am stating what I want. Because Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama are applying for a job, and I am a board member, as well as every voting citizen in this country. As a board member I say this: I will not vote against my education and our children's education.

I will not vote against the Public Broadcasting System.

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