I can’t be the only Generation X-er thrilled to hear about the return of The Electric Company, right? I was primarily a Sesame Street gal, but I remember many a leisurely afternoon hanging out with Rita Moreno and Morgan “Easy Reader” Freeman.
I honestly didn’t know at the time that these shows were intended to help me learn to read; I just thought it was fun with letters and numbers. But this incarnation of The Electric Company, just like the groovy 1970s version, is intended in part to help kids get past the “fourth grade slump.”
The producers said that they hoped the show would help head off a vexing problem: the wall that struggling students hit in fourth grade, the turning point at which school is no longer about learning to read, but reading to learn. As it was for the first incarnation of “The Electric Company,” the target audience this time is the economically disadvantaged child. “Lower-income kids are already behind the eight ball by the time they reach kindergarten,” said Karen Fowler, the show’s executive producer. “By second grade language is flying by them, and they have no reference for it. That’s devastating.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.