Learning First Alliance

Strengthening public schools for every child

What's at the End of the Reading Rainbow?

vonzastrowc's picture

I just saw the shocking news! Reading Rainbow, a staple of PBS children's programming for 26 years, is coming to an end.

According to one of the show's representatives,

[T]he funding crunch is partially to blame, but the decision to end Reading Rainbow can also be traced to a shift in the philosophy of educational television programming. The change started with the Department of Education under the Bush administration..., which wanted to see a much heavier focus on the basic tools of reading — like phonics and spelling.

Reading Rainbow fosters the joy of reading in children who have already mastered basic reading skills. These days, funders want television shows that teach students how to read.

I have a few questions: Can't we sustain both kinds of children's programming? Isn't there still a need for programming that nourishes the enthusiasm of children who already know how to read? Is this more evidence that we're allowing an exclusive focus on basic skills to crowd out so many other things that inspire intellectual curiosity?

Don't get me wrong. Basic reading skills are critical, and PBS programs that focus on these skills are indispensable. I just worry that we in education will suffer for our single-mindedness.

(Hat tip to Amy Fagan)

This is really unfortunate.

This is really unfortunate. While Reading Rainbow didn't teach me basic reading skills, it encouraged me to consider a wider variety of books that challenged me to learn these skills myself (much more effective in my opinion).

I'm going to predict a significant negative response from the public on this one. Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, and Reading Rainbow were staples for me, my friends, and many parents. With the influx of child programming pregnant with non sequiturs, loud and annoying sound effects, and other fluff, PBS is the last safe haven for anyone with an appetite for educational programing and an attention span lasting more than 5 seconds.

Oh, PBS, say it ain't so!

I saw this at Joanne Jacobs'.

I saw this at Joanne Jacobs'. How sad!!