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'Mister Rogers' vs. Richard Nixon in the Fight for Young Minds

May 15, 2017 | 49 videos
Video by The Atlantic

It wasn’t always so obvious that young children are like sponges soaking up everything around them. Not until the 1960s did academic consensus emerge around childhood experiences having a powerful impact on adult life. This new understanding lead to government funding for nutrition and education programs for kids, and the advent of public television programs like Sesame Street and ‘Mister Rogers’’ Neighborhood.

Despite academic consensus, these programs quickly became controversial. In 1969, Fred Rodgers defended shows like his in the face of President Nixon’s budget cuts. Today, President Trump has proposed slashing funding for public broadcasting and arts programs to zero.


This short animation by Nadja Oertelt is part of The Atlantic’s Next America: Early Childhood project, which is supported by grants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Heising-Simons Foundation.

Author: Nicolas Pollock

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