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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Florida Board of Education hates Big Bird

From the St. Petersburg Times

by Jeff Solochek

Akshay Desai has heard the complaint: Conservatives don't support public broadcasting because they view it as too liberal.

But that didn't stop Desai, a Florida Board of Education member and known Republican bundler, from calling upon his fellow board members today to ask Gov. Rick Scott to put state money back into public radio and television as part of the BOE's education budget.

The 26 outlets of Florida public broadcasting "are not only involved in education but also in emergency management and economic development," Desai explained. Sure, Scott vetoed funding this year. "Perhaps we can see if we can convince him there is a usefulness of purpose."

His colleagues did not jump on board.

"What do they do for education?" chairwoman Kathleen Shanahan asked pointedly, saying this would not be her priority.

"Big Bird, of course," Desai responded bluntly. "Kids in poor communities watch and learn from the characters who are well known to the entire nation."

He said he understood the political nature of the discussion. "But my feeling is we don't lose anything by including it in the legislative budget request. At least that would keep the conversation going."

One by one the others shot down his proposal, although a couple said they'd be willing to reconsider with more information.

"Thanks for listening," Desai said.

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