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Public Broadcasting: An Indispensable Public Good

Politico recently posted an article that caught my eye – “Can Big Bird survive Trump?”

As a child raised in rural North Florida during the 1970s, PBS (Public Broadcasting System) was a staple of my TV viewing.

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In fact, it was the only thing I was allowed to watch as a small child. For me, Sesame Street was preschool; it provided a mechanism to learn the alphabet, numbers, and even some Spanish language, prior to beginning kindergarten. As an only child until age four, living in an area somewhat isolated from other children, Grover, Kermit, Cookie Monster, and Big Bird were my friends and daily companions for an hour or more.

And I know it wasn’t just me. Millions of children, especially those in rural or low income communities with a lack of access to affordable preschool, have benefitted from quality public programming for decades. In fact, a 2015 study from the University of Maryland found that Sesame Street has helped children – especially boys, African Americans, and low income children – dramatically reduce their likelihood of falling behind academically in school.

The latest generation of PBS programming – including Arthur, Curious George, Bob the Builder and a host of others – continues to help uplift children in a variety of communities today, especially those who are disadvantaged. The elimination of federal funding for public broadcasting threatens the development and well-being of these children.

The role of public broadcasting is vital to our nation’s children, particularly in rural areas, which form the base of President Trump’s voters. The fact that the President’s first budget document proposes the elimination of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (both NPR and PBS) is both surprising and telling.

The Administration’s Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, referring to coal miners, (a.k.a. rural Americans) said, “We can ask them to pay for defense, and we will, but we can’t ask them to continue to pay for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.” Respectfully, he couldn’t be more misguided – or just plain wrong. Our children, both rural and urban, benefit immensely from the programming provided by PBS. Using federal funding to support public broadcasting is an investment in our children and our collective future.

This may seem like an unlikely issue for a national bank to speak out on, but here at Amalgamated Bank, we are committed at every level to help those who do good, do better. Public broadcasting has, since its creation in 1967, been a shining example of that uncompromised public good – one we cannot afford to lose for future generations. That’s why we’re calling on Congress to stop playing politics, and continue federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

We are more than just a bank. We are concerned citizens just like you. Only by speaking truth to power, even when it’s about defending Big Bird, will we ensure a brighter future for all.