As host of the now defunct Reading Rainbow, LeVar Burton evoked a love of reading among scores of children for nearly 25 years. It featured celebrities just… reading books to children, and a real-world documentary-style portion where Burton talked to the audience about the episode’s theme. Most compellingly, it showed actual children reviewing books they liked.
But if you thought LeVar Burton was just going to sit back after No Child Left Behind gutted public education in this country and forced curriculum around a rigid set of meaningless standards, you have not tasted the scorn of LeVar Burton!
When PBS took ‘Reading Rainbow’ off the air in 2009, primarily as a result of No Child Left Behind. That’s the story that a lot of folks don’t get. No Child Left Behind is doing exactly that, and so the mandate is to teach kids how to read, the rudiments of reading, and there was no money in the budget to foster a love of reading.
Look, we have spent so much money on the machinery of war in the last 10-12 years, we are having to make really ridiculous choices. And we’re sacrificing our kids, literally sacrificing our kids.
All snark aside, LeVar Burton is an innovator, and the show was groundbreaking—and not just in format. Like much of PBS children’s programming, Reading Rainbow took great care to portray working class life without stigma, and was conscious that their young viewership often came from homes where parents didn’t always have time to read to their kids. (And as one of those kids who was raised by the TV, Burton and ‘Reading Rainbow’ were an extremely positive presence in my life.)
I couldn’t be happier that the show lives on in app form, though my hate is pure for those responsible for its cancellation. So help me, they are evil, evil people, and they will be dealt with in the revolution.