Benchmarks for Rainbows

Although NCTE’s newsletter linked to a story regarding LeVar Burton’s departure from Reading Rainbow, there isn’t much information:

After 25 years as the executive producer and host of “Reading Rainbow,” actor LeVar Burton has announced that he is leaving the popular children’s television series. Burton says one of the reasons he is leaving is because the “Reading Rainbow” brand was sold to an education company, and the new leadership does not align with his work. Burton is the 1994 winner of the NCTE Literacy Award for his work on “Reading Rainbow.”

A quick search brought up interesting but unrelated stories from the Onion, as well as a CNN story offering some background. The core of the linked story was this:

One reason for his exit involves the sale of the “Reading Rainbow” brand to an education business, he said, gesticulating to write mock quotation marks around “education.”

Burton said the new leadership does not align with his work.

But he sounded confident in his decision to leave, saying that the time had arrived. For 25 years, Burton said, the program has been “a home for a spark … about imagination.”

Educate Inc., an educational-services company that runs the Sylvan Learning Center and Hooked on Phonics, established a co-production agreement last year with WNED-TV. The Buffalo, N.Y.-based station is a co-founder of the series.

The current distributor of the program, GPN, seems completely aligned with the “No Child Left Untested” playbook though its connection with the consulting firm McREL. This, apparently, did not trouble Burton.

GPN educational products support national standards as identified by McREL. For specific standards correlated to each product, visit the GPN Web site and look for the standards logo on the individual video page and click on the link.

McREL outlines 255 standards and nearly 4,000 benchmarks which guide educators nationwide.

Sounds like McEducation to me. GPN has been distributing Reading Rainbow for quite some time. McREL promotes better motivated administrators as the key to a good education—the superintendent has an important impact on student learning, according to their homepage. I didn’t search out their benchmarks for rainbows. Another account of Burton’s speech can be found in the campus newspaper, including his concluding remarks:

“Be gentle with yourselves, and party on,” Burton said in his closing remarks. “Seriously, party on.”