For more than 30 years, children across the country have grown up with Elmo, Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, and their friends. These characters have helped more than 75 million children learn critical cognitive and social skills that prepare them for schooling and the future. Sadly, this wildly effective program that hosts these Muppets is on the Republican chopping block.
Congress has until March 18th to act or the federal government will shut down. Republicans are using this short timetable to pressure Democrats into budget cuts that will derail America’s economic recovery and undercut some of our most valued assets – including education, generally, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, specifically.
President Obama has been clear that any budget must include smart investments and reduce the federal deficit. And there is no smarter investment we can make than preparing the next generation. From the cradle through college, America should offer students the best education the world has to offer.
The Republican budget would slash public education. It would cut billions aimed at improving education for low-income children, harming 2,400 schools that serve 1 million disadvantaged children. Roughly 9,000 teachers and aides would lose their jobs.
It would make massive cuts to Head Start, a program that provides health and education services to low-income children and families. Most children enrolled in the program are younger than four years old, which studies show is a crucial period of development for children. The Republican plan would drop 218,000 children from Head Start, and 55,000 teachers, teacher assistants, and other staff would be laid off as well.
And then there are the cuts to PBS.
Sesame Street, in particular, has been a fixture in American households for decades. Its educational model captivates children and teaches them to read and count, increases self-esteem and competency, and instills critical-thinking skills so important to a child’s early development.
Investments like PBS and Sesame Street may not yield immediate dividends – but they go a long way toward educating and preparing children for preschool, elementary and high school, college, and the workforce. It’s an investment that helps increase America’s competitiveness in the long run.
If PBS goes under, maybe Cookie Monster could get a job with the Keebler Elves. But Oscar might be out of luck. Grouchiness won’t get him far in a 21st century economy.