Buster the Rabbit (Arthur the Aardvark's friend, inexplicably described as "bionic" by the Washington Times) appears in a PBS show sponsored by the Ready-to-Learn program, a literacy effort initiated by Laura Bush. Buster is an animated character who meets live kids from different families around the country.
In her letter sent to the PBS CEO, with one day's experience as Education Secretary behind her, Margaret Spellings reminded Pat Mitchell that
... the unique mission of Ready-to-Learn is: "to use the television medium to help prepare preschool age children for school. The television programs that must fulfill this mission are to be specifically designed for this purpose, with the highest attention to production quality and validity of research-based educational objectives, content and materials."
Can you guess? Spellings warns that the Sugartime! episode, originally scheduled to air next week, "does not come within these purposes or within the intent of Congress and would undermine the overall objective of the Ready-To-Learn program -- to produce programming that reaches as many children and families as possible."
Here's why not.
Sure, Buster collects maple sugar with the kids. He visits a dairy and learns how cheese is made. But. BUT. BUT Buster's friends in this episode are kids with two moms.
As far as I can tell, the parents are way in the background of each Postcards from Buster show. The Washington Post gives an account of the moms' involvement in Sugartime!:
... Buster goes to Vermont and meets children from two families ...
At one of the homes, Buster is introduced to all of the children and to the two moms. One girl explains that one of the women is her "stepmom," whom she says she loves a lot.
One of the women asks the kids to get some maple syrup and some cheese for dinner, and to stop by the other home to borrow a big lasagna pan. In the other home, Buster is introduced to the whole family, including two more moms. Then the kids head off to get the ingredients, and Buster learns where syrup and cheese come from.
Program: SUGARTIME! (HINESBURG, VERMONT)
Series: POSTCARDS FROM BUSTER
Length: 28 min.
Air Times: 2/2/2005 at 3:00 PM
Determined to avoid last year's Mother's Day gift fiasco, Buster sets out to find Bitzi the perfect gift. Buster gets help from new friends Emma and Lily and finds the perfect Vermont gifts: cheese from a dairy and maple candy from a sugar shack. Before leaving town, Buster says goodbye to winter and hello to spring with the girls' families at their annual Christmas Tree bonfire.
Sure, the government needed to swoop in and stanch this flow of insidious indoctrination. Eagle-eyed Margaret Spellings is just doing her job. But what kind of feeble, mealymouthed foe is PBS? "Oh, I thought you knew we had already decided not to air the show! First we delayed it so people would have time to review it--because, as we all realize, there is definitely SOMETHING WRONG with these families. But then we decided not to air it, coincidentally on the same day you sent us a note. But we decided before you sent the note, see?" That's no Force of Evil that I can get behind.
WGBH, which produced the show and plans to air it (and offer it for distribution), gets my support. And I don't even watch kids' tv! Victoria and I just watch that cursèd Roly-Poly Olie tape. Over and over and over...