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DOE Official Joins CPB

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has tapped Dr. Jayne W. James, an official from the Department of Education who has been heading a No Child Left Behind offshoot to head Ready To Learn (RTL).

“Jayne James brings hands-on experience as an educator, a firm understanding of technology, and a rigorous academic background to the job of developing educational materials that will result in measurabley improvement in the  reading performance of for low-income children,” said CPB President/CEO Patricia Harrison.

Ready To Learn is the majority DOE-funded programming effort that caught flak from the department for not being sufficiently curriculum-based. That criticism was driven by the flap over a "two mommies" episode of animated show from major noncom producer WGBH, Postcards From Buster.

Buster featured a lesbian couple in one episode, sparking protests from some Hill Republicans and, eventually, to a move in Congress to zero out its funding. While the Buster backlash was seen by some as a case of the administration's values vs. those of the noncoms, PBS said officially at the time that the concerns of DOE Secretary Margaret Spellings about whether it was the right venue to introduce the sensitive topic "dovetailed" with that of PBS, which chose not to distribute the show.

Privately, some noncom officials also agreed that the show might not have quite fit the early education mandate of the RTL program.The congressional cuts were eventually rescinded after protests from the other side of the aisle, including such big names as Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who led a public protest to battle the cuts.

In 2005, DOE awarded $72 million for five year's worth of curriculum-based Ready To Learn progarmming and online content for schools and childcare providers.

James has been "Team Leader" for the Enhancing Education Through Technology program under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Before that, she was associate director of the Advanced Learning Technologies in Education Consortia at the University of Kansas.