Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Saturday, August 15, 2015

I learned to read from 'Sesame Street' by the time I was three

I didn't attend preschool. Like many kids of my generation (the first to even watch 'Sesame Street'), we didn't have STEM daycares or preschools or the like. What we had was PBS, with 'Sesame Street' and 'Electric Company' and 'Romper Room' and 'Captain Kangaroo'. Television was a teacher, as well as babysitter. These, along with some books we found in an attic, were the reasons I learned to read early. Even now, I don't have HBO. I don't even have cable TV. I can't afford it. Neither can a lot of people, and that includes a lot of people with kids that don't have the wherewithal to have the 'perks' of their wealthier peers, such as early childhood education--something that should be universally available, rather than a perk. So it saddens me that this has come to pass:

Why Sesame Street’s Move to HBO Is Both Great and Extremely Depressing
In short, Sesame Street was founded to help low-income kids keep up with their more affluent peers. That is literally why it exists. It succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations. And now it is becoming the property of a premium cable network, so that a program launched to help poor kids keep up with rich kids is now being paywalled so that rich kids can watch it before poor kids can.

That in itself is not a tragedy or an injustice. Tragedy is the devastating funding cuts that Head Start has suffered in recent years, affecting tens of thousands of young children. Injustice is the nationwide lack of subsidized high-quality child care and universal pre-K. In this context, relocating Sesame Street to the gated community of HBO—even if that community's gates swing wide at nine-month intervals—is only to be expected. There could be no more cruelly perfect metaphor for the ultra-efficient sorting processes of socioeconomic privilege.

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