Hoover High School

Opinion: We must protect public broadcasting

To say that public broadcasting has changed my life would be a complete understatement.

Even before I started pre-school, I could recite the entire alphabet, count to 50, and tell you who Yo Yo Ma was. I have Elmo, Count Dracula and Arthur to thank for this. Although I had cable, my parents were adamant about keeping the television for me on one channel: Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Kids.

Often times, I won’t pick up on cultural references to television shows that most of my peers grew up with.

“You never watched Hannah Montana? Did you even have a childhood?” people ask.

I am thankful to have grown up with the shows and character that I did because they molded me into the person I am today. I was made aware of broader topics like operas, music, and the arts at a much younger age.

Not only are public broadcasting stations greatly underappreciated, they are equally underfunded by the government.

In his recent budget proposal, President Trump calls for a complete cut of funds for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Most of CPB funds support local TV and radio stations, and National Public Radio (NPR) also receives a small amount of its funding from CPB.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, who supports the cut, said in an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, “Can we really continue to ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for these programs? The answer was no.”

The future of our country is incredibly important to invest in. Years of public polling shows that the American people consider support for public broadcasting to be among the most important uses of their tax dollars. Also, public media only costs each citizen about $1.35 per year.

The examples Mulvaney gave are exactly the types of families who need public broadcasting the most; working class, low-income families who may not have access to cable.

“PBS and our nearly 350 member stations, along with our viewers, continue to remind Congress of our strong support among Republican and Democratic voters, in rural and urban areas across every region of the country,” PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger said in a statement.

“The cost of public broadcasting is small and the benefits are tangible,” Kerger continued, “increasing school readiness for kids 2-8, support for teachers and homeschoolers, lifelong learning, public safety communications and civil discourse.”

In a speech made to the Senate in 1969, Fred Rogers, the man behind “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood,” delivered one of the most iconic arguments for saving public media. President Richard Nixon had proposed slashing funding for programming such as Rogers’ in half as the war in Vietnam raged on. Rogers again proved his humanity and kindness.

“This is what I give. I give an expression of care every day to each child, to help him realize that he is unique. I end the program by saying, ‘You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you, just the way you are.’ And I feel that if we in public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health. I think that it’s much more dramatic that two men could be working out their feelings of anger ― much more dramatic than showing something of gunfire.”

PBS is the bedrock in our society that has provided valuable educational programming to generations of children. It has increased school readiness and prepared children who may otherwise not had the opportunity to gain access to educational material.

No other children’s television station sets such a heavy emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). No other children’s television station has put so much effort into introducing art and humanities to raise a generation of more cultured and aware people. No other children’s television station has such a commitment to planting seeds that will make each child bloom with a love for learning.