Ready to Learn Gets HELP in Senate

The Ready to Learn (RTL) children's educational entertainment grant program under the Department of Education appears to have dodged the budget ax once again.

RTL provides curriculum-based media to boost math and reading skills for kids 2-8, with an emphasis on low-income families.

The Association of Public Television Stations is praising the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for including the program in the Every Child Achieves Act.

"The Association of Public Television Stations is deeply grateful to the HELP Committee for preserving Ready To Learn as a stand-alone program preparing America’s children for success in school and in life,” said APTS president and CEO Patrick Butler.

The President's budget, released in February, included a separate $26 million allocation for Ready to Learn.

RTL is frequently a subject of discussion at budget time, with Republicans calling for phasing it out and even the Obama administration proposing cuts last time around.

But Butler pointed out that RTL had bipartisan support, including from Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Ark.), Susan Collins (R-Me.), and Lamar Alexander (Tenn.).

“The fact that this amendment was accepted by voice vote, without opposition, is further evidence of the growing consensus in Congress that public television provides unique, highly successful and cost-effective responses to some of our nation’s most urgent challenges, especially in education and public safety,” Butler said in a statement.

Of course, the bill still has to pass the full Senate and then the House.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.