‘Largest classroom’

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Public television, which started life as “educational television” in the 1950s, is now providing emergency at-home learning services to assist students, families, teachers, administrators and school systems across Indiana now closed in response to COVID-19.

The state’s eight public television stations, including PBS Fort Wayne, are partnering with the Indiana Department of Education to offer at-home learning experiences for students in grades K-12 that align with Indiana curriculum standards. This crisis response builds on years of public television’s success in education.

PBS reaches 66% of all children 2-8 years old, and, because PBS is a free over-the-air service, PBS is America’s largest classroom. PBS stations reach more preschool-aged children and children in low-income homes than any kids TV network.

All public TV members of Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations have published PBS Kids programming schedules and corresponding curriculum focusing on math, science, social studies, literacy and other subjects.

Families can find PBS Fort Wayne’s schedules with information about grade-level appropriateness, subject area focus and learning objectives at pbsfortwayne.org/athomelearning.

Further, PBS LearningMedia offers free access to thousands of resources sorted by grade level and subject area. Developed with the input of educators, PBS LearningMedia includes grab-and-go activities, lesson plans, interactive lessons and media illustrating specific themes.

Working with Indiana’s Department of Education helps ensure that at least some of the established K-12 curriculum is covered in these unprecedented circumstances.

“Providing our students with access to high-quality and evidence-based materials is critical during this extended time of out-of-school learning,” said Indiana state Superintendent Jennifer McCormick. “I am grateful for IPBS and their local television affiliates for partnering with us to create engaging educational experiences for Indiana’s children.”

From high-quality children’s programming to a vast array of cultural, historical, scientific and public affairs programming and tools, the broadcast and digital programming offerings of PBS are designed to help enable learning anywhere at any time.

Education Development Center, Inc., a nonprofit research and evaluation company, reviewed 146 research studies from 2000 to 2015 that covered a range of content areas (English language arts, mathematics, science). The center’s work revealed that 90% or more of the studies with measurable outcomes showed that PBS assets have significant positive impacts.

The research provides comprehensive evidence that PBS content makes a difference for all age groups and across commonly studied subjects and all delivery platforms.

Public television stations in every state are pursuing similar at-home learning initiatives that best serve their communities during this national crisis. It’s educational television when America needs it most, and it’s an important return on the investments the federal government and dozens of state governments have been making in our work for decades.

PBS Fort Wayne is honored to support children and families with the educational resources and the programming we offer to help fill a critical need, especially now when schools, teachers, parents, caregivers and students may be struggling to build a routine that encourages learning.

This article first appeared in The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette on April 18, 2020.