Dear President Trump,
Last month, your team released a budget that proposes to cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the organization that funds PBS and NPR. You've commented before about what a pretty picture it is to see a woman on her knees, so here I am, begging you with hands clasped, for you to save the CPB.
Although I could be selfish and talk about how PBS is the most trusted source for news and how much NPR means to me, like everything else in my life, I'm going to focus on how PBS affects children, including my 2-year-old son.
For millions of kids around the world, my son included, Sesame Street is king. From stomping around the living room with Count Von Count to doing Elmo's "happy, happy, dance dance" song to learning about the letter of the day with Abby Cadabby, nothing gives my son such instant pleasure as watching his favorite muppets. Sesame Street has helped him progress with his speech and has even enabled him to recognize letters and the sounds that they make. However, the role of government isn't about serving an individual or just a select few, although you knew that already, didn't you? Let's talk about how this budget affects others.
Over the course of a year, PBS will be watched by 82 percent of households and 68 percent of all kids between the ages of 2 and 8. By watching Sesame Street and PBS KIDS, all children have a greater likelihood of being better prepared for school, being more empathetic to people who are different, and having a greater understanding of how to cooperate with others. That's not a bad bargain for the cost of a little more than two of those bombs that got dropped in Afghanistan to demonstrate how big your military prowess is.
PBS KIDS is especially effective for low-income and rural families. For decades there has been a growing achievement gap between families in low-income and middle-income households. Considering your background, this will come as no surprise to you or your children, but the largest indicator in a child's success is correlated with how much money their parents have. For far too long, your constituents in rural and low-income households have been falling behind due to inequitable funding for schools and support for families. Recent studies has shown that PBS KIDS can help close this widening gap and encourage parental involvement.
Of course, saving the CPB is about more than Sesame Street and PBS KIDS. By funding PBS stations, you are exposing the arts, music and literature, and historical programming to children who otherwise might not have access to those things. Experiencing the arts teaches children to think critically, express ideas in creative ways, and connect with the world around them. Considering that art programs in schools continue to be drastically cut or defunded, for many children PBS is their only opportunity to participate in the arts.
During your campaign, you frequently touted that the lives of the "average" Americans would be better with you. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why you won: you promised the return of the American Dream. Your previous policy write-up even stated that, "The American Dream remains an illusion for too many families and taxpayers." Since you're all about creating a deal, PBS KIDS is a relatively low-cost way to actually help the American people.
I live in Chicago, which has a thriving PBS station. Urban stations have more support from their viewership in the form of donations and grants, so it's likely that even with the funding cut from CPB, my family will still have access to the shows we know and love. Yet, since I was raised on PBS, I know that this is not about me. Stations in rural areas, which is largely where your voting public live, depend on the CPB to fund their PBS stations. If you take away support for CPB, this will directly and adversely affect the people who trusted that you would do what's best for them.
In case helping people isn't enough of an incentive, let's talk about how this will be beneficial for you, Donald Trump. Ever since you were elected, many of your constituents and your media surrogates like to tout that those of us who are doubtful and even scared of your presidency should "give you a chance" and that you might "pleasantly surprise" us. Since no part of your administration thus far has been a pleasure, here is your chance to prove all of your talking heads and my Republican relatives right.
Seventy-three percent of the voting public oppose eliminating federal funding for public broadcasting. Even more stark is the rate at which members of the GOP oppose the destruction of public broadcasting: a staggering two-to-one margin. Essentially, you are deciding to cut a remarkably popular program, even when faced with your drastically declining approval ratings.
Lastly, this budget, which will have a devastating effect on America's families, is ironically named America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again. Putting America first is about more than finding ways to fund an ill-conceived, costly wall, and it's certainly about more than continuing to funnel funds into an already strong military complex. Putting America first involves supporting organizations that help everyone. Defunding the CPB hurts America's children. Your budget hurts children.
So here I am, pleading with you to protect PBS. If you won't do it for me and you won't do it for the children and people of America, do it for yourself. I can't promise that by permanently funding PBS America will be made great, but I can promise that you will pleasantly surprise at least 73 percent of us.
Laurel Niedospial, a Midwestern Mom