A federal grant that helps finance several educational television programs for young children on public television, including “Sesame Street” and the recently controversial “Postcards from Buster,” will be split among at least two grantees in its next five-year administration, the Department of Education announced last week.
The department’s office of innovation and improvement announced in the Federal Register’s March 14 edition that two or even three separate Ready to Learn grants would be awarded, including one or two grants of $10 million to $20 million each for programming, and one grant of $2 million to $4 million for outreach to parents and educators.
Since its inception in 1995, the program has been run, in turn, by one of two major entities in public TV: the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Public Broadcasting Service, which has administered the grant for the last five years. The program gained attention recently when Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings objected to an episode of “Postcards from Buster” that featured two lesbian couples. (“Federal Grant Boosts Educational Television, Faces Fresh Scrutiny,” Feb. 9, 2005.)
Under the grant’s guidelines, the money can only go to a public-television entity. PBS spokeswoman Tia Gordon said the broadcasting service would apply for both the programming and outreach grants before the May deadline.