In praise of Big Bird

This is an archived article that was published on in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

One can't argue with Pamela Atkinson's reasoned plea for the necessity of pre-school education in Utah ("Impact of mentoring in education," Opinion, Feb. 28). The case she makes for Utah's kids is irrefutable.

However, her list of "essential elements" who make this happen — committed teachers, dedicated parents and passionate volunteers — had one glaring omission. By broadcasting the best educational resources into every Utah home and classroom, KUED and PBS play a proud and essential role in the education of our state's youngest citizenry.

And we provide this every day, free of charge, as we have for more than a half-century.

Nowhere has that been more critical than among our most vulnerable audience — low-income and underserved families. Nearly half of America's children are not prepared to be successful in school by the time they enter kindergarten. Children living in poverty are at an even bigger disadvantage.

Thanks to PBS children's programming, head-turning results are being demonstrated in reading, science and math-oriented pre-school media.

Of course, none of this could be accomplished without our amazing parents and teachers. But let's never forget the vital role that Big Bird, his friends and public media play with pre-schoolers.

Michael A. Dunn General Manager, KUED

Salt Lake City