Reading Rainbow Ditches Government
Reading Rainbow was an iconic children’s show with a long run on PBS that ended in 2006. As one of millions who grew up watching the show – it aired for the first time just days before I was born – I’m happy to see it returning to encourage new generations to read. LeVar Burton, long time host and a major force behind the show, announced on Kickstarter plans to revive the program as a web-based program and get it into classrooms for free. The campaign quickly blew through its $1 million goal, which was hit in less than 24 hours. The revival is not a return of the TV show, though, but rather an evolution appropriate for reaching new generations.
It is also a testament to the fact that government is not a necessary ingredient for the provision of educational content, especially in the age of Kickstarter and ubiquitous crowdsourcing. Proponents of public television will no doubt argue that the campaign would not have caught fire if it weren’t for the decades of exposure the program already had on government subsidized television. This is a far point. But even accepting this particular project might not have gotten precisely as much support as it did, and as quickly as it did, if not for its previous exposure, does mean that: 1) such exposure could not have come without government or, 2) that it or similar worthy causes could not thrive otherwise.
So for fellow fans of Reading Rainbow, celebrate not just its return, but also that it is doing so through voluntary support instead of government force.