Puppets and Politics

In the first presidential debate this election season Governor Mitt Romney captured our entire families attention. His future plans for the presidency became very personal to us when he singled out public broadcasting as one of the first areas to lose government funding. Honestly he couldn’t have made a better statement to get our kids interested in the upcoming election. Even though they don’t watch TV very often the younger Fives are huge fans of PBS Kids programming. They love spelling along with Super Why, laughing at Curious George and discovering with The Cat In The Hat. Visits to hotels are just that much sweeter to them because of the chance to watch a few episodes of their favorite PBS shows. Fortunately as parents we are huge fans of PBS programming as well and feel comfortable with the kids using some of their screen time on these quality programs.

After the debate the kids had many questions about what Governor Romney was saying. Fighting back smiles of glee as we put on our teacher hats we began to examine the details behind Romney’s statement. What is public television? Why was it started? Why does the government fund some public programs? What is the argument for and against this? What do other political candidates think about the subject? The issue of PBS was the perfect catalyst to get our kids super interested in the election and the road to the presidency . We watched the debates, checked out books from the library, visited the candidates websites, and looked at the political process.

In the end none of the Fives agreed with cutting government funding from public media. We all agreed that to have a great society you need to invest in the public. Programs need to be available to ensure a country of educated and healthy citizens. Public broadcasting is one of these worthy programs. It provides equal access to quality, educational programming for all ages. People of all walks of life can turn to PBS or NPR for unbiased news coverage, exposure to history, science, and the arts, as well as non-violent, educational programming geared towards children. Of course as parents we had our opinions on the matter. However, as teachers it was great to watch our students form their own opinions and find a connection to the political process.

Shortly after starting our investigation we read about a march being planned in support of public media. The Million Puppet March was started by two men just after Mitt Romney pledged his intentions to stop the subsidy to PBS. Using the puppets that are often associated with PBS programming (Sesame Street, Between The Lions, etc.) as a rallying point they planned a march in Washington D.C. As a family we looked at how the public can influence political change through marches, rallies, and protests. The kids were excited and wanted to know if we could show our support by joining the march. What a better way to give them a first hand view of part of the political process and visit the nations capitol at the same time. So once again the Fives are heading back down the East Coast. We will make a couple of fun side trips along the way and eventually end up in D.C. in time for the march on November 3rd. However, this time we will be a group of 10 with our new puppet friends ready to take to the streets along with us and declare the importance of government funded public media for an engaged, informed and educated society.

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