Education secretary condems PBS show.

  1. Education secretary condemns public show with gay characters






    WASHINGTON (AP) -- The nation's new education secretary denounced PBS on Tuesday for spending public money on a cartoon with lesbian characters, saying many parents would not want children exposed to such lifestyles.

    The not-yet-aired episode of "Postcards From Buster" shows the title character, an animated bunny named Buster, on a trip to Vermont -- a state known for recognizing same-sex civil unions. The episode features two lesbian couples, although the focus is on farm life and maple sugaring.

    A PBS spokesman said late Tuesday that the nonprofit network has decided not to distribute the episode, called "Sugartime!," to its 349 stations. She said the Education Department's objections were not a factor in that decision.

    "Ultimately, our decision was based on the fact that we recognize this is a sensitive issue, and we wanted to make sure that parents had an opportunity to introduce this subject to their children in their own time," said Lea Sloan, vice president of media relations at PBS.

    However, the Boston public television station that produces the show, WGBH, does plan to make the "Sugartime!" episode available to other stations. WGBH also plans to air the episode on March 23, Sloan said.

    PBS gets money for the "Postcards from Buster" series through the federal Ready-To-Learn program, one aimed at helping young children learn through television.

    Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said the "Sugartime!" episode does not fulfill the intent Congress had in mind for programming. By law, she said, any funded shows must give top attention to "research-based educational objectives, content and materials."

    "Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in the episode," Spellings wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to Pat Mitchell, president and chief executive officer of PBS.

    "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."

    She asked PBS to consider refunding the money it spent on the episode.

    Three requests

    With her letter, Spellings has made criticism of the publicly funded program's depiction of the gay lifestyle one of her first acts as secretary. She began on Monday, replacing Rod Paige as President Bush's education chief.

    Spellings issued three requests to PBS.

    She asked that her department's seal or any statement linking the department to the show be removed. She asked PBS to notify its member stations of the nature of the show so they could review it before airing it. And she asked for the refund "in the interest of avoiding embroiling the Ready-To-Learn program in a controversy that will only hurt" it.

    In closing, she warned: "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."

    The department has awarded nearly $100 million to PBS through the program over the last five years in a contract that expires in September, said department spokesman Susan Aspey. That money went to the production of "Postcards From Buster" and another animated children's show, and to promotion of those shows in local communities, she said.

    The show about Buster also gets funding from other sources.

    In the show, Buster carries a digital video camera and explores regions, activities and people of different backgrounds and religions.

    On the episode in question, "The fact that there is a family structure that is objectionable to the Department of Education is not at all the focus of the show, nor is it addressed in the show," said Sloan of PBS.

    But she also said: "The department's concerns align very closely with PBS' concerns, and for that reason, it was decided that PBS will not be providing the episode." Stations will receive a new episode, she said.




    Find this article at:
    http://www.cnn.com/2005/EDUCATION/01....ap/index.html
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    saying many parents would not want children exposed to such lifestyles.

    Ms. Spellings must be very gifted to know what's on the minds of "many parents".


    Seriously, if something is or isn't appropriate for children, shouldn't it be the child's own PARENT to decide this???
  4. by   URO-RN
    This is interesting because I just received a letter from my kids' school saying that " Girls and boys in grade four will be given presentations dealing with human growth and development. One presentation will cover general concepts relatee to emotional growth and hygiene. During the other presentation, a video will be shown and the children will have the opportunity to ask questions". The letter identifies the adults who will give the presentation: a public health nurse and the school counselor.

    The letter also states, " If you would like to preview the videos, please phone the secretary."

    "We certainly do not attempt to provide a complete sex education program or to replace the role of parents in teaching and guiding their children. Instead, we intend to provide students with reliable, factual information. The responsibility for extending this instruction and attaching family values and attitudes rests with you, the parents."

    The letter asks parents to sign and return the lower portion of the letter indicating whether or not the parent would like his/her child to participate in the human growth and development presentation.


    I will view the videos first and then decide.
    Last edit by Jo Anne on Jan 26, '05
  5. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Quote from Marie_LPN
    Ms. Spellings must be very gifted to know what's on the minds of "many parents".


    Seriously, if something is or isn't appropriate for children, shouldn't it be the child's own PARENT to decide this???
    thank you!
  6. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from Jo Anne
    This is interesting because I just received a letter from my kids' school saying that " Girls and boys in grade four will be given presentations dealing with human growth and development. One presentation will cover general concepts relatee to emotional growth and hygiene. During the other presentation, a video will be shown and the children will have the opportunity to ask questions". The letter identifies the adults who will give the presentation: a public health nurse and the school counselor.

    The letter also states, " If you would like to preview the videos, please phone the secretary."

    "We certainly do not attempt to provide a complete sex education program or to replace the role of parents in teaching and guiding their children. Instead, we intend to provide students with reliable, factual information. The responsibility for extending this instruction and attaching family values and attitudes rests with you, the parents."

    The letter asks parents to sign and return the lower portion of the letter indicating whether or not the parent would like his/her child to participate in the human growth and development presentation.


    I will view the videos first and then decide.
    I appreciate it when, as a parent, I get the chance to preview anything my kids do at school. There truth is there is a "keep the parents in the dark" attitude that is truly frustrating. They don't like it when you show up on campus unannounced and they discourage parents from attending a class with their student.

    My daughter's health teacher started her class on Monday, the first day, with the following:

    "We are going to talk about hormones. We all have hormones, even dogs have hormones. But we are different, we don't hump everything that comes along." And then she proceeded to pantomime a dog in heat . . .sigh.

    Of course I'm furious - you can certainly get that point across without resorting to the above.

    In my opinion anyway.

    steph
    Last edit by Spidey's mom on Jan 26, '05
  7. by   Roy Fokker
    I know I'm not a parent.

    BUT...

    My father always told me that the main function of school is to instill discipline in students. THAT and to teach the science and the arts.

    NOTHING ELSE!

    I'd like to think that my Father is a wise, learned man. And I also think that he's right.

    It is NOT the duty of the school to teach morals. That's the job of the parent. Anytime the school is going to be going near such matter, they better inform me or else I'm (if I were the parent) pulling the kid out...

    That said, I DO agree with marie about how Ms. Spellings might be a mind-reader....
  8. by   URO-RN
    I am appreciative of the secretary, in this case. If any tape with even a hint of religion was being presented to students, many would be upset about that.
  9. by   BeachNurse
    Quote from Roy Fokker
    I know I'm not a parent.

    BUT...

    My father always told me that the main function of school is to instill discipline in students. THAT and to teach the science and the arts.

    NOTHING ELSE!

    I'd like to think that my Father is a wise, learned man. And I also think that he's right.

    It is NOT the duty of the school to teach morals. That's the job of the parent. Anytime the school is going to be going near such matter, they better inform me or else I'm (if I were the parent) pulling the kid out...

    That said, I DO agree with marie about how Ms. Spellings might be a mind-reader....
    I agree with your statements 100%!
  10. by   BeachNurse
    My 11 year old son saw a news item about this last night. Apparently the clip he saw involved the "Arthur" (a wholesome PBS cartoon) characters taking videotapes of "what other families do". It showed two female bunnies kissing. My son seemed to be shocked and surprised and so I had some explaining to do.
  11. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I think that is going a bit far. I don't see why CARTOONS should be used to raise social awareness and consciousness at all. I guess I prefer to do the 'splaining at the time and place of my choosing. This really does disturb me.
  12. by   eltrip
    Quote from BeachNurse
    Apparently the clip he saw involved the "Arthur" (a wholesome PBS cartoon) characters taking videotapes of "what other families do". It showed two female bunnies kissing.
    ARTHUR?!?!?! My 7 y/o loves this show. We've already started discussing homosexuality but by golly, NO WAY do I want her to watch two female bunnies kissing. Nor do I want her to watch male & female bunnies kissing either! This is out of line.
  13. by   Spidey's mom
    I think "they" need to trust parents more . . most of us are not raising bigots. Really.

    steph
  14. by   smk1
    Just to clarify the episode wasn't on Arthur, but was on the new spinoff show called "Postcards from Buster" (you know how on "Arthur", Buster leaves for visitation with his dad around the world sometimes because his parents have joint custody.) Anyway I personally would like some notice over an episode such as this because my little one is only 4 and we haven't gone into such things with her and i don't want to address this issue with her at such a young age, because i doubt she could understand it. However, I don't think a HUGE DEAL needs to be made out of it. Honestly we could be walking down the street and see two Gay people kissing and the same conversation might have to be had, so it's not like this episode would have been so "shocking" or anything. By the way I feel this way with anything to do with sex ed, right now because i have a small little one and I don't feel she needs to know more than she can understand at this age, so for us that means very simplistic explanations right now.

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