Ready to Compete Act Introduced in Congress

Bill would expand scope, funding of noncommercial TV's educational efforts.

A bill was introduced in Congress that would expand the scope and funding of noncommercial TV's educational efforts for both kids and adults.

H.R. 6856, dubbed the Ready to Compete Act, would expand the Department of Education-backed Ready to Learn and Ready to Teach initiatives, as well as adding two more. Ready to Achieve would be an on-demand digital service that would let teachers tap into public TV's archives of educational programming, while Ready to Earn would target adult learning in a "changing economy."

Money would be available to both stations and producers.

The DOE several years ago refocused the Ready to Learn program and added Ready to Teach (professional development) to put more of a premium on basic education, particularly reading skills for poorer and urban preschoolers. That was, in part, a reaction to the flap over content in PBS' Postcards from Buster, a series once funded by the Ready to Learn grant from the DOE.

The bill was introduced this week by Reps. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) and Ray LaHood (R-Ill.).

"We greatly appreciate the efforts of Congressmen Yarmuth and LaHood and their recognition of the important role stations play in educating their communities nationwide," acting Association for Public Television Stations president Mark Erstling said in a statement reacting to the bill's introduction. "We look forward to working with them.”