Pennsylvania and Public Television
Just over 60 years ago, the nation’s very first community-sponsored television station went on the air here in Pennsylvania. The Greater Pittsburgh area PTAs and school districts who built that station believed that, as good as programs like Howdy Doody, Make Room for Daddy, and Love of Life were, television had more to offer. They believed that television could become the country’s largest classroom.
In the years since, Pennsylvania Public Television stations have created entertaining programs and series based on science, math, history, and language arts. These programs transformed curricula and ultimately changed American education. Consider the impact Sesame Street (which first aired in Pennsylvania) has had on how children learn. Before the program premiered in 1969, children went to school to learn how to read. But after Sesame Street, children went to school able to read. Educators scrambled to keep up.
Keeping this educational service commercial-free is costly, and the same year that Sesame Street premiered, Pennsylvania lawmakers voted to partially fund the Commonwealth’s eight public television stations. They referred to the broadcasters in Erie, Harrisburg, the Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, State College, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton as a low cost educational alternative for learners of all ages.
This partnership lasted for 40 years, ending in 2009, but today the nonpartisan Pennsylvania Public Television Caucus is working to restore that partnership. They recognize that Pennsylvania’s public television stations are leaders in delivering innovative educational content. From children to teachers & caregivers and from career training to lifelong learning, public television in Pennsylvania is harnessing new technologies to offer hundreds of local initiatives for improved education in all stages of life.