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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND PBS CO-HOST EDUCATION SUMMIT ON CHILDREN, MEDIA AND LITERACY

Featuring Renowned Early Childhood Education Experts on the
Impact of Media on Children's Learning and Literacy Skills

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Alexandria, VA - January 19, 2005 - The U.S. Department of Education and PBS are hosting a Ready To Learn summit titled "A Child's Life: Learning, Literacy and the Role of the Media," to be held on Feb. 3-4, 2005 at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Baltimore, MD. Aiming to examine the impact of media on children's literacy skills, the invitation-only event offers participants an opportunity to learn about and exchange information on current research, insights and future projections as well as lay a foundation to forge new partnerships among the public broadcasting, reading research, technology and entertainment fields.

Summit attendees will hear from nationally renowned education experts who will consider how media - television, video games, computers and the Internet - shape and influence children's abilities to process and retain information in their preschool and early elementary years. Keynote speaker Dr. Reid Lyon, chief of the child development and behavior branch at the National Institutes of Health, will specifically outline current information about how children learn and the impact of using scientific evidence to influence the development of educationally-oriented television shows.

The summit also offers several sessions featuring other highly acclaimed educational and children's media experts to address the complexity of today's media, such as its contributions, current role and position, trends and potential obligation in facilitating language and literacy development for young children.

"Our children are continually bombarded with different media influences that may shape the way they learn and perceive the world around them," said Nina Shokraii Rees, assistant deputy secretary, Office of Innovation and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education. "We think this seminar is a wonderful opportunity to pull together the best and the brightest in the early learning, media and technology fields to address the important questions facing educators, parents and caregivers. It is a pivotal time in this country to measure and analyze the impact of our changing media landscape on children and literacy, and it is essential to set the right course for the future."

Additionally, the summit will be moderated by prominent education researcher Dr. Michael Cohen, president of The Michael Cohen Group based in New York City. Cohen will present innovative market and public opinion research to help identify potential solutions.

"Knowing that children spend more time watching television than anything else, it is critical to understand media's impact on children's learning," said Pat Mitchell, President and CEO of PBS. "Studies have shown that media can be a powerful teaching tool, specifically that carefully constructed, educational programs improve pre-reading skills. By bringing together the best minds studying media and education, public television's Ready to Learn team from around the country, as well as representatives of others engaged in children's media, we hope to build on that learning and work together with the U.S. Department of Education to ensure that parents and children have choices in media that will strengthen children's learning skills and enrich their minds."

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Ready To Learn service is a national effort to improve the school readiness of young children through quality educational children's television programming combined with extensive outreach services and materials offered by public television stations in local areas throughout the country. The services and materials include local workshops for parents and teachers, free children's books, television programming, related newsletters and innovative Web sites for parents, teachers and children. Through PBS Ready To Learn, nearly one million parents and teachers have helped prepare eight million children for success in school.

About the U.S. Department of Education
Under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by No Child Left Behind, the U.S. Secretary of Education is authorized to award grants to develop, produce, and distribute educational and instructional video programming for preschool and elementary school children and their parents in order to facilitate student academic achievement. Programs supported by Ready-to-Learn include ARTHUR, CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG, DRAGON TALES, and BETWEEN THE LIONS, which are broadcast via the PBS. Ready to Learn Television grants are administered by the Office of Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education.

About PBS
PBS is a private, nonprofit media enterprise that serves the nation's 349 public noncommercial television stations, reaching nearly 90 million people each week through on-air and online content. Bringing diverse viewpoints to television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award competitions. PBS is the leading provider of educational materials for K-12 teachers, and offers a broad array of educational services for adult learners. PBS' premier kids' TV programming and Web site, PBS KIDS Online (pbskids.org), continue to be parents' and teachers' most trusted learning environments for children. More information about PBS is available at pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet, averaging more than 30 million unique visits and 380 million page views per month in 2004. PBS is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia.

Contact:

Tia Gordon; PBS; 703-739-5183; ttgordon@pbs.org

Joseph Caliguro; U.S. Department of Education; 202-205-5449; joseph.caliguro@ed.gov

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