Let’s Make America Safe Again: Save PBS

“Public broadcasting makes our nation smarter, stronger and, yes, safer. It’s a small public investment that pays huge dividends for Americans. And it shouldn’t be pitted against spending more on improving our military. That’s a false choice.This might seem like an unlikely position for me, a 34-year combat veteran. But it’s a view that has been shaped by my career leading brave men and women who thrive and win when they are both strong and smart. My experience has taught me that education, trusted institutions and civil discourse are the lifeblood of a great nation.”  S.  McChrystal, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Sesame Street. image: wow.tribunnews

Excerpt: Save PBS. It Makes Us Safer By Stanley McChrystal, The New York Times

“Public broadcasting plays a special role with young children. According to the Pew Research Center, rising numbers of American children live with one parent or with two parents who both work.

My son and daughter-in-law are a two-income family with two children, and day care is a part of their lives. Many other parents must get by without day care services. These parents are busy in the morning and busy at night.

They want to protect their children from over-commercialized content. And they strive to prepare their children for school and lifelong learning. Having thoughtful television, games and other media that is not commercially driven is essential to good parenting.

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, more than half of all kids in our country do not have the opportunity to attend a preschool program. I’ve also seen research that PBS local stations reach more children ages 2 to 5 than any other children’s network, and the new dedicated PBS Kids channel is the only free national programming for children that is available anywhere and anytime.

I’ve seen articles that say PBS and its member stations are ranked first in public trust among nationally known institutions. Why then would we degrade or destroy an institution that binds us together?

We need a strong civil society where the connection between different people and groups is firm and vibrant, not brittle and divided.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the title of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. I like to say that leadership is a choice.
  2. Parents want to protect their children from over-commercialized content.
  3. Many children do not have the opportunity to attend a preschool program.
  4. Public, noncommercial broadcasting is also giving kids social skills.
  5. Stereotyping and prejudice have become substitutes for knowing and understanding one another as individuals.
  6. Why then would we degrade an institution that binds us together?
  7. We need public media that acts as our largest classroom.
  8. We need broadcasting that treats us as citizens.
  9. We are not just consumers but  also citizens of this great country.
  10. We need to defend against weaknesses within.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabualry chart


Reading Comprehension: Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

Public television/telephones works hardy/hard to engage /engagement young learners/leaners and build the schools/skills needed for a jump-start on life. We need our youngest to be curious/curiosity, resilient and telepathic/empathetic, and prepared for the jobs of the future.

 Grammar Focus: Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Prepositions:  in, for, of, with, by,  on, at, to, as, into, across, around, over,  through, from, during, up, off,

Many parents are busy___ the morning and busy___night. They want___protect their children___ commercialized content. The federal appropriation___the Corporation___Public Broadcasting — supports more ___a thousand television and radio stations___ a cost___ about $1.35 per citizen.

III. Post Reading Activities

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them  discuss the following statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Public, noncommercial broadcasting is also giving kids social-emotional skills like persistence and self-control. It pushes people by elevating them and their sights. It brings them into more thinking and understanding, and it brings us together.
  2. We need to defend against weaknesses within and enemies without, using the tools of civil society and hard power. We don’t have to pick one over the other.
  3. Explain why you are for or against public television.


Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.


Category: Social Issues