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STATEMENT OF PAT MITCHELL, PBS PRESIDENT AND CEO
This is a very exciting day for PBS to be at the White House and take part in the President's initiative to
highlight efforts to improve early childhood education and literacy.
PBS and its local stations are
committed to helping the nation meet its top education goals. We offer
significant and comprehensive on-air, online, and off-air services providing
training and curricula for America’s
teachers; literacy and job skills for America’s
workers; and higher education for all, anytime, any place.
Together, PBS and its local
stations are America’s
largest educational institution.
But perhaps no mission matters
more than our commitment to early childhood education. Public broadcasters
across the country enthusiastically endorse President Bush’s goal that every
child should arrive at school ready to learn, and that every child should learn
Public broadcasters also stand with Mrs. Bush in her mission to uplift
every American child through the priceless gift of reading. PBS is proud that
Mrs. Bush will serve as the Honorary Chairperson for the PBS Designated Reader
Campaign, which will help millions of children become better readers by
inspiring adults to read to them daily. I can think of no better voice to call
on parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians, childcare providers, neighbors,
retirees, students, and others to change a life by reading to a child. We are
very grateful to Mrs. Bush for her gracious support.
We also support
comprehensive approach to early learning by enlisting parents, child care
providers, and teachers to ensure that no child is left behind. Through our
partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, called PBS Ready To Learn, public broadcasters deliver integrated, early
education services at low cost to millions of American families.
Our strengths put public
broadcasting in a unique position to make a difference.
Education is at the core of
public broadcasting’s mission.
PBS unites the nation’s top experts in early education with television’s
most creative minds, continually breaking new ground with powerfully
effective educational television.
PBS helps to "level the playing field" by using television as a tool to
beam free educational programming into every home, childcare center, and
classroom with access to a television.
PBS uses our award-winning Web sites to provide thousands of free lessons
and educational activities that reinforce key concepts taught on the air.
Local public television stations provide direct training, support, and
resources to families with children at risk of illiteracy.
With the strong support of the
U.S. Department of Education, public broadcasters are making a difference.
- Almost 140 Ready
To Learn stations broadcast six-and-one-half
hours per day of programs like SESAME STREET, READING RAINBOW,and BETWEEN THE LIONS,
reaching 37 million children each week with nonviolent, noncommercial,
- Web users view a pbskids.org
page more than 100 million times each month.
- Almost 700,000 adults caring for 7 million children
have benefited from Ready To Learn workshops at local stations.
- PBS stations have distributed more than two million
free books to children in their communities.
And, we know it is working. A
1999 study by the University of Alabama
found that Ready To
Learn workshops in local communities have lasting impact. Parents who
attend our workshops read to their preschool children more often, and for
longer periods, than similar parents who did not attend. Their children watch
40 percent less TV, and what they do watch is more educational. And Ready To Learn
families make more frequent visits to libraries and bookstores than families
who have not been touched by the service. These simple, significant changes
offer every family the opportunity to better prepare their children for school
Our programs make a difference,
too. SESAME STREET has been the
leader in educational TV for preschoolers for three decades. The program
continues to evolve based on the latest research to provide more gateways to
learning. The reformatted series now employs innovative new segments that teach
letter sounds, math, and even Spanish.
BETWEEN THE LIONS has pioneered the use of television as a tool to
teach reading. The nation’s top literacy experts and the TV industry’s leading
artists have created an integrated approach to reading instruction that
seamlessly blends the benefits of whole language and phonics. The result is
what TV critics call the best kids program on television today. In a 2000 study
by the University of Kansas,
kindergartners who watched just 8.5 hours of BETWEEN THE LIONS saw significant gains in their reading skills and
scores. Students who watched BETWEEN THE
LIONS outperformed other students by 4:1 on key reading skills emphasized
on the program. In the key skill of matching letters and sounds, learning was
so accelerated that kindergartners who watched the program exceeded the
benchmark for first grade.
PBS is proud to partner with the
Department of Education to offer Ready To Learn services to millions of America’s
children. We applaud the President and Mrs. Bush for their unwavering
commitment to early childhood learning and universal children’s literacy. PBS
and local public television stations across the country pledge our continued
commitment to ensure that no child in America
is left behind.