DOE, Media Meet Over Kids

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The Department of Education is getting together with PBS to hold a seminar on ways to improve literacy education.

The invite-only summit, over two days in Baltimore Feb. 3-4, will take a look at the impact of the media on literacy, both pro and con.

Among those who have agreed to attend are representatives of Jim Henson Co., Kaiser Foundation, Nickelodeon, Sesame Workshop, Disney/ABC Cable Networks, MTV, and Cartoon Network. Broadcasters were invited too, but PBS didn't have any RSVP's from them at press time.

A PBS spokeswoman said the noncom's goal is not to get money out of DOE or develop new programs, but to improve existing shows, including the Ready to Learn initiative that is already funded through a DOE grant, by finding more creative and effective ways to promote literacy.

The invitees will hear from a variety of experts, including from the National Institutes of Health, on how television, video games, computers and the Internet "shape and influence children's abilities to process and retain information," and on the media's "potential obligation in facilitating language and literacy development for young children.

One goal of the summit is to create new partnerships among the participants to improve childhood literacy.

A goal of the commercial side could be to use those partnerships to develop some more FCC-friendly shows for the ramped-up kids TV obligations the FCC is requiring.

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