App of the week: Big Bird’s Words

bigbirdappName: Big Bird’s Words

What is it? The educational team at Sesame Street created Big Bird’s Words especially for young learners, to help build and expand vocabulary. The app’s goal is to get kids excited about learning to recognize and read written text, as they use Big Bird’s scope to look for a special group of high-interest, themed words. Big Bird’s word-o-scope recognizes all kinds of printed words in the real-world environment, using a phone’s own camera and new augmented-reality tech.

Best for: Young students…Read More

Debate thrusts ‘Sesame Street’ into presidential campaign

“We do not comment on campaigns, but we’re happy we can all agree that everyone likes Big Bird,” said a Sesame Workshop spokeswoman.

During his Oct. 3 debate with President Barack Obama, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called for cutting federal funding to PBS, despite saying, “I love Big Bird.” His comment renewed a long-running debate over subsidies to public broadcasting.

“I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS,” the former Massachusetts governor said during a deficit-cutting discussion. “I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too, Jim (Lehrer, PBS newsman and debate moderator). But I’m not going to … keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.”

PBS chief Paula Kerger said she “just about fell off the sofa” when the issue suddenly came up during the debate. She said that if the subsidy goes, so will some PBS stations.…Read More

Cuts to public TV funding put the squeeze on Big Bird

Facing huge budget deficits, a number of states across the nation are taking a hard look at whether they can continue to support public television, reports. Idaho Public Television already has seen its state funding cut by 61 percent since July 2008, necessitating layoffs, furloughs, and the frequent airing of reruns. Now, a new proposal from Gov. Butch Otter would force it to reduce or eliminate most of its local programming—and cease serving many rural parts of the state altogether. The challenges that Idaho Public Television is facing are emblematic of the decisions that public television stations around the country will have to make if states decide that public TV is no longer a business they can afford to be in. According to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, state and local funding for public TV stations nationwide declined by $36 million between 2008 and 2009. CPB forecasts an additional $45 to $49 million in state and local cuts for the upcoming fiscal year. States have cut back on funding during previous economic downturns, says Mark Erstling, a senior vice president at CPB, but this downturn poses a new threat. “The revenue sources [such as member donations] always made up the difference,” he says. “This time around, everything is basically down.”

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