PBS Statement on President Obama's Fiscal Year 2011 Budget

Posted by PBS Publicity on

On February 1, President Obama submitted to Congress his Fiscal Year 2011 budget to Congress, which recommends a two-year advance appropriation of $460 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) in FY 2013, and for the upcoming fiscal year, included $36 million for public television and radio digital conversion, content and services.  PBS and our local stations are grateful for these recommended funds.  However, the budget also presents significant challenges to other programs vital to public media's ability to fulfill its critical mission of using technology for the benefit of the American people.

Ready To Learn, a proven means to help close the achievement gap and improve classroom learning, was consolidated under the proposed Effective Teaching and Learning for a Complete Education program with no specific funding level stipulation for public media.  Ready To Learn has focused on increasing literacy skills for children ages two to eight, with an emphasis on children from low-income families, and research confirms positive impact on student performance.  For example, children who watched SUPER WHY!, which is made possible through Ready To Learn, scored 46 percent better on standardized literacy tests than children who did not.  In addition, in a study commissioned by the department of Education, a pre-school literacy curriculum using Ready to Learn media is one of only three programs with any significant positive findings concerning reading.  We hope to work closely with the department to ensure that this proven approach, built after many years of its wise investment, will continue to bring these innovative solutions to more children and be applied to other subject areas, such as STEM, which the administration has named as a key priority.

Moreover, the Department of Education's move to consolidate Ready to Teach under Effective Teachers and Leaders State grants, under the Excellent Instructional Teams program, with no specific funding level stipulation threatens to deprive teachers of the professional development training and tools needed to be effective in the classroom.  This action could irreparably cripple or eliminate the online, facilitated graduate-credit teacher professional development courses and peer mentoring opportunities that programs like PBS Teacherline (55,000 courses completed) and eLearning for Educators distribute to educators in every state through Ready To Teach.  At a time when teachers are facing rapidly changing technologies and student demands for new engagement techniques, training in the use of media is critical to helping teachers innovate, motivate and be effective.

Beyond these critical education programs, there is no funding for the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP), an infrastructure program within the Department of Commerce, that supports local public television and radio stations; nor is there funding for the Department of Agriculture's Rural Digital program.  Both of these vital programs help ensure universal access to public media's innovative content and services.

We appreciate the trust President Obama has placed in our public service enterprise and we will continue to work with Congress and the administration to demonstrate how no other media enterprise serves children, teachers and families as effectively as PBS.