Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Spellings Report: The New Education Chief Is Not Happy

Margaret Spellings
Joanne Jacobs is telling us about a curious little cartoon rabbit named Buster that visits the State of Vermont. Buster the bunny takes a look at farms, sugar maples, and lesbians. The show, called "Postcards From Buster," was made by the Public Broadcasting Service with partial funding from the federal "Ready-To-Learn" program.

The episode, called "Sugartime!" concentrates more on the making of sugar than it does on the two real-life lesbian couples that are included in the yet-to-be-aired show.

Buster's Vermont visit does not amuse Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings.

In a move sure to cause concern among Vermonters, rabbit fanciers, and segments of the gay community, Spellings has sent PBS a letter "requesting," that they refund (to the Department of Education) the monies that were spent on this particular episode of "Postcards From Buster."

This is because federally funded shows must give attention to "research-based educational objectives, content and materials." In her letter, Spellings writes:

"Many parents would not want their children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in the episode. Congress and the Department's purpose in funding this programming certainly was not to introduce this kind of subject matter to children, particularly through the powerful and intimate medium of television."
Secretary Spellings made two additional requests in the letter:

  1. The show's producers remove the seal of the Department of Education from the show's credits.
  2. PBS notify member stations about the show's content before any scheduled airing.

Spellings also warned PBS:

"You can be assured that in the future the department will be more clear as to its expectations for any future programming that it funds."
We here at The Education Wonks hope that Secretary Spellings moves this quickly when it comes to continuing the process of implementing positive reforms of public education system.

Our nation's children cannot afford the delay.

Update: (1/27/05) has an idea what may have motivated Spellings to make this decision.

Main Page