How important is Sesame Street to our nation? Before cable television and satellite, I would argue that most preschool-aged children in America tuned into Sesame Street on a semi-regular or regular basis.
How many of us loved to count with Count Dracula, anticipating when the confetti and streamers would fly for the number of the day? How exciting was it when we found out the letter of the day– literally shouting at the television every time the letter appeared! “C! I see C!” The characters were lovable, and the segments were structured in such a way to hold our attention. I myself can attest that Sesame Street helped reinforce my learning, and I believe it has had this same effect on millions upon millions of children in all socio-economic classes. Sesame Street is timeless television.
So is it nostalgia that makes me cringe at the thought of it being cancelled after 43 years on the air? I do know that cutting the funding to the Public Broadcasting System would not put a dent into the deficit. I heard an NBC analysist say that it would be like someone who makes $40,000 a year cutting $.56 from his/her annual budget. However, if it does happen, if federal funding is halted to PBS, surely, Sesame Street would find ways to fund itself through donations. And if it folded, if it truly went away, cable television now offers numerous preschool programs that utilize the educational objective model initiated by Sesame Street. Children would find other programs as a substitute.
It may be time for Big Bird to think about looking into a career change. He’s not too old. When Big Bird appeared in 1969, he was six years old. By my calculations, he is 49. I know many adults who have switched careers in their late forties and early fifties. Maybe he can call in a favor from a few of his friends: David Beckham, Diane Sawyer, and Michelle Obama have all spent time with the bird, maybe they can make some phone calls and get him dutifully employed. Nothing wrong with a little nepotism.
Until the funding is actually cut, however, Big Bird and his posse have some words for Mr. Romney.