by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Good Use of Media, Parenting

Long before Mitt Romney announced that he’d take a pass on federally funding PBS, there has been much back and forth on this issue. It’s prompted me to think about what the world would be like without PBS…because let’s face it, if it’s not assisted by the public, the agenda is different and it’s no longer the Public Broadcasting System.

I would not be who I am today without PBS.

Growing up, I honestly couldn’t sit any closer to the television when Mister Rogers Neighborhood was on. He inspired me to get my Masters Degree in Developmental psychology. He inspired me to think bigger and think different about what we could offer kid. I read study after study that talked about how if you “create content with the intent to teach” you could reach millions of people using television. “If a show is grounded in a strong educational curriculum, then kids will learn.” Study after study proved this to be true.

Sesame Street has had over 1,000 research studies proving its impact & effect. We have summative studies done by the University of Pennsylvania that statistically proved that kids who watched Super Why on PBS scored significantly better on standardized reading tests, than those who did not.  In fact, the effects were even BIGGER in lower-income households.

We were making a difference where it was needed the most.

What we found was that in order for young children to learn to read, they need multiple and sustained enriching experiences with language, storytelling, and early reading.

Preliminary evidence suggests that SUPER WHY! Not only engaged preschoolers (e.g., over 97% reported liking SUPER WHY!) but also provided critical instruction through its language & literacy enriching activities and lessons. Exposure to these activities and lessons enhanced preschoolers’ early literacy skills, resulting in learning the content directly featured in the program. The ultimate goal of learning, however, is to be able to successfully transfer information or skills acquired in one context to another context.

As parents, we see the effects of media every day.  Whether positive or negative, we see how much the media inspires our kids and ourselves to try something new, to use different vocabulary, or to be motivated to learn to read a book.

While such is true for children, the same also holds true in regards to older content. Offer information that educates and people are more likely to make smarter decisions that will behoove themselves and society.

So, what would the landscape look like without PBS?

[welcome, if you joined us from Bonbon Break!]

At the end of the day, children’s television producers at PBS go through a rigorous amount of vetting to ensure that their program is going to positively effect children. If it is a Ready to Learn property, producers sit in front of a board at the Department of Education, every year, and prove why the content works. We report on:

  • How many incidences of education per minute are in our show?
  • What is our basis of our education curriculum & strategy?
  • We must show proof from research studies that our shows are effectively teaching children through media.

We have strong advisory boards of the best teachers, educators and researches who all weigh in on our shows. In addition to this, the PBS Kids Executives also ensures that everything they air, meets their high standards as well. If we didn’t have PBS, show content would most likely veer more towards the side of entertainment than education.

As a preschooler, I learned through Mister Rogers that “there is only one I in the whole world” and that people like me “Just the way I am”.  I grew up inspired by PBS to bring learning, respect & a voice to kids everywhere.  If TV is a window into the world, then a world without PBS is one that I worry about.

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  1. avatar fariha says:

    I am teaching from this post. great job

  2. avatar Monica J says:

    A world without PBS? I couldn’t even imagine it. I was born in the late 70’s and I grew up watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and Sesame street. I sat in front of the television waiting for Mr. Roger’s to walk through his door, change his shoes and transport me to the land of make believe. I loved it so much. It made me use my imagination, think outside the box and of course I learned in the process and didn’t even know it. That’s just it, kids learn from everything around them, whether good or bad. So, PBS is exactly the media platform I would want my children to learn from. There’s so much I want to say to the visionaries behind PBS. I’m just so thankful that it was a part of my childhood and now my adulthood as a teacher, an auntie and blogger. I will always be a big supporter of PBS and all positive Media for children. Let’s make all children’s media fun and educational. Cheers to PBS! 🙂

  3. avatar raine says:

    PBS is so important. It is truly educational Television. I always loved it and now my son does 🙂

  4. One of the great things about PBS Kids is that as a parent I don’t have to worry about what my kids are watching. This is SO valuable! We limit our kids to 1 hour/day of tv and to prosocial/educational programming during the week. I love that I can turn to PBS Kids and know that any show they select from that menu will be okay with me – which goes back to the mission you described. I truly hope you can keep up the great work. I too would hate to see a world without PBS! (ps – visiting from Bonbon Break)

    • Thanks for commenting Ellie. Love your thinking! I guess the PBS funding is here to stay (for the next 4yrs at least). Enjoy your day!

      p.s. Love those smart Bonbon Break women!!

  5. avatar Amanda says:


  6. avatar Amanda says:

    My daughter is 18 months old. When she was about 7 months old, we stumbled upon Super Why. She loved it, even at a young age. Now she loves Word World and Daniel Tiger. At her 18 month check up, the doctor said she speaks like a 3 year old. She knows her ABC’s, shapes, colors, and can count to 10. Of course, Dad and I teacher her, but I know these PBS shows have taught her more than we even know. She surprises us everyday.

    • She sounds like a smarty alright! I’m so happy to hear that between her parents at home & PBS Kids, she’s getting what she needs. I hope that the road ahead is just as fruitfull as the past 18 months for her. Thanks so much for your note Amanda!!