News · 01/14/2010

Julie Babcock on 2009

Contributor Julie Babcock (author of “Over Easy”) writes in response to our recent question about what sparked imaginations in 2009.

I was devastated when Reading Rainbow’s contract was not renewed after 26 years on public television. Sure, shows get cancelled all the time. Get the DVDs and keep your nice memories of the butterfly tune. It’s just TV, right? But, it was clear from the PBS and the Department of Education’s response, that it’s not just tv. The Department of Education no longer wants us to have shows that teach a love for reading. Reading Rainbow is seen as a luxury program in hard times. Love for reading is no longer promoted. What remains are a glut of scientific studies and a toting to the Bush Administration’s 2002 No Child Left Behind Act and “Reading First” programs where instructional methods have no place unless they are “scientifically proven” to make a child “proficient.”

What kind of world is a “proficient” one? It certainly isn’t one where, as the famous Reading Rainbow song goes, “I can go anywhere” or “be anything.” It certainly isn’t a world where awesome children get to go on TV and do their own book reviews or enter a contest to design their own books.

What is it like to live a life where you don’t get to set a single standard for yourself?