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Education Books The Almighty Buck

Reading Rainbow Kickstarter Earns One Million Dollars In Less Than a Day 164

An anonymous reader writes "LeVar Burton and the rest of the Reading Rainbow crew opened a Kickstarter campaign to bring back Reading Rainbow yesterday, with the ambitious goal of collecting a million dollars for their cause. They are now at almost two million dollars, with over a month left to go. 'This Kickstarter campaign is about reaching every web-connected child. Universal access. Thousands of more books than what we have now. And hundreds of more video field trips,' Burton said."
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Reading Rainbow Kickstarter Earns One Million Dollars In Less Than a Day

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    • I just donated. LeVar seems like a cool dude to me.
      • What a great project! All please consider supporting the new Reading Rainbow!
        • by frisket ( 149522 )
          Presumably "everywhere" means "everywhere in the USA". Which is fair enough, seeing as the literacy rate needs improving. I've never heard of "Reading Rainbow" unless it refers to atmospheric conditions over Slough. But LeVar Burton is a dude, and if he supports it, it's OK by me.
  • Two Problems (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @07:42PM (#47124799) Homepage

    As much as I loved Reading Rainbow growing up, I have two problems with this:

    1. If you go to their website, nothing indicates this is a non-profit corporation.
    2. None of the people involved has a background in education, child development, psychology, etc.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 29, 2014 @07:46PM (#47124847)

      But LeVar has a really cool visor.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      1. In my experience non-profits rarely are. Does not being a non-profit corporation make it difficult for them to deliver on their goals?
      2. Was a background in education, child development, and psychology critical to the original's success?

      Are they actual problems, or just your preferences?

    • Re:Two Problems (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @07:48PM (#47124885)

      Beyond that, it's following the typical blockbuster kickstarter pattern of asking for some palatable/marketable amount $X, with no real plan on how to use / why they need $X specifically. Then they hit $X and start asking for $Y more for "stretch goals" before they even figure out what to do with $X.

      People who have to use their own money / satisfy investors / secure a loan tend to plan ahead and think about how much they need and why.
      People who have their hand out tend to ask for whatever they can get and think about how to spend it later.

      • It's not that I don't hope all is well and on the up and up with this seemingly charitable fundraiser.

        I certainly do.

        But, there is a reason Madison Avenue uses celebrity spokespersons to sell you cheerios and adult diapers.

      • > People who have to use their own money / satisfy investors / secure a loan tend to plan ahead and think about how much they need and why.
        People who have their hand out tend to ask for whatever they can get and think about how to spend it later.

        Sure. Clever phrasing. The first group is satisfying self interests. The second is hoping to do something charitable or somehow beneficial to others, and still be able to buy groceries. We have different spreadsheets. For instance everyone who's not Levar B

      • Except with a kick starter campaign you actually get something.

        You're not an investor. You're a customer doing a preorder. Sure there's usually a $1 feel good about yourself donation, but the vast majority of the cash on successful kickstarter campaigns come from people BUYING something.

    • 1. If you go to their website, nothing indicates this is a non-profit corporation.

      And so what??? Were you hoping for a tax break? The only question at hand is, will they do what they promise to do. If so, good enough.

      2. None of the people involved has a background in education, child development, psychology, etc.

      You know, the same was true when he was on Reading Rainbow the TV show. Do you think that show (a) helped kids of (b) destroyed lives.

      In fact I would place his being on Reading Rainbow as having

      • by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @08:39PM (#47125277) Homepage

        It wasn't true when he was on the TV Show. The original Reading Rainbow was created and produced by Dr. Twila Liggett who had a PhD in education and was supported by the college of education at the University of Nebraska.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      >> 2. None of the people involved has a background in education, child development, psychology, etc.

      Maybe that's a good thing? Maybe our education systems are broken due to the type of people educating our children. I'm optimistic these people have their heart in the right place and are going to be committed to their cause.

      • If I'm building a bridge, I better hire some engineers, because it's not going to stay up just because my heart is in the right place.

        • Re: Two Problems (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gnu-sucks ( 561404 ) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @10:47PM (#47126043) Journal

          Unless, of course, all the bridges built by engineers have fallen way below specification.

          You don't need a PhD to raise children, even though there are plenty of schools with developmental psychology PhD programs...

          You don't have to be a chef to cook great food, not an ASE certified mechanic to change your own transmission. Been there, done that.

          In my view, there couldn't be any worse qualification to teach children than a degree, of all things. If you think a wall of diplomas or a long list of publications qualifies you to teach, you're out of your mind and clearly do not understand what this and similar efforts are really about.

          • Holy Generalization Batman!

            Seriously, where does this anti-intellectualism come from? Do you seriously think that you can teach your children, say, Physics or Chemistry without actually having studied Physics or Chemistry? And with that, I don't mean the basic stuff (which, by the way, can be quite a problem later on if you introduce certain topics in the wrong way).

            Just one example: Take the chemical term "oxidization". Do you actually introduce that term when it comes to reactions with oxygen? If you do y

            • This is where the "anti-intellectualism" comes from. A person on slashdot thinks I am unqualified to teach children if I don't understand that oxidation is loosing electrons. WTF. Can you see just how "out of it" you are?

              What on earth does fundamentals of chemistry have to do with my qualifications as part of an educational system for a child? If I were home schooling my kids, and I didn't know what a term meant, I would ask someone that does. Or get a textbook. Or look online. I've never heard such ignoran

              • Read again. I think that you're unqualified to teach children about Chemistry if you don't know the basics of Chemistry. Pretty simple concept. And if you're unable to understand such simple concepts, then, yes, I'd severely doubt your teaching abilities in other areas.

                I was talking pretty specifically about science. And, yes, your abilities to teach science are hampered if you haven't had contact with the subjects beyond highschool.

                Again: Teaching kids the basic stuff like letters and basic arithmetic may

                • Rhywden,

                  I have to reply to you because I feel you really don't get it. I understand, you're probably a grade-school teacher. And that's a hard job. And I think if the qualifications are set high, that's fine, they should be. After all, you are entrusted with the official education of, as you say, +20 kids. I don't mean to trivialize this.

                  You mentioned that I am trying to "retract my statement" by narrowing it down to lower grades. I'm not though, my argument isn't about college or high school. I know there'

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What you see as problem #2, I see as feature #1.

      Look at the crap being peddled in schools today. Think any of that makes kids want to read? Maybe it takes people outside the broken system to accomplish a goal the system cannot.

    • why so many problems, my friend? what's wrong with making a profit? somebody told me pyschology is a psuedo science. what do you think of that?
      • Nothing wrong with making a profit. There is something wrong with asking me for a handout to do so. So kickstarters accept all the risk if it fails, but Levar Burton gets all the money if it succeeds?

        • What's Kickstarter's risk? It seems to me it's our risk to take as contributors and if you can get hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of people to contribute than the risk is spread pretty thin. I donated, if it fails than I will certainly be disappointed, but I won't be that upset over losing a few bucks.

          • Re:Two Problems (Score:4, Insightful)

            by just_another_sean ( 919159 ) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @09:05PM (#47125499) Journal

            Sorry, misunderstood your comment. After re-reading I guess you meant kickstarters as referring to the contributors, not the site. But, my point about low risk by spreading it thin still stands. After all, this isn't being funded by tax payers, no one is forcing anyone to jump on board.

            • Considering their business plan appears to be based around getting schools to pay for access to this new online version of Reading Rainbow, it may very well end up being funded by tax payers.

              • by Flozzin ( 626330 ) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @10:10PM (#47125853)
                How dare they charge for learning material they create. Hopefully it won't catch on, and the rest of the materials and curriculum's schools use will remain free, as it always has been.
                • As an active member of my son's school's PTO, I find it infuriating how many of the really good programs are funded 100% through PTO fundraisers. Every field trip, First in Math, Accelerated Reader, the entire science lab, most of the computers, even a portion of the substitute teaching budget. And of course the money raised in the fundraisers come from primarily the parents and businesses in the area. If I were in a less affluent part of the school district, that would mean my child would probably not have

    • As much as I loved Reading Rainbow growing up, I have two problems with this:

      1. If you go to their website, nothing indicates this is a non-profit corporation.
      2. None of the people involved has a background in education, child development, psychology, etc.

      You also have no reason to believe that being non-profit or having a background in education will in any way further their goals.

    • I don't have a background in education, child development, or psychology, yet I read to my son every night.
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        Yeah, and I'm not donating money to you either.

        • We all know you have no intention of donating money to this either. You just want to bitch about someone doing something good to make yourself feel better, because you are likely a loser in real life.
    • 2. None of the people involved has a background in education, child development, psychology, etc.

      Like the jackasses who have been steadily ruining education for decades? Children have been learning to read from non-education-specialists for hundreds (if not thousands) of years.

      • And yet, as soon as you go beyond the two-maybe-three-children-in-a-kitchen-setting, you'll find that even way back at the Roman empire, you'd find professional teacher and schools.

        It's easy to bash things if you don't know anything about what it actually involves. And, no, attending school doesn't count as experience. Just because you've used a bridge doesn't mean that you know how to actually build one. Yes, you know the basics and what a bridge should look like. But the devil is in the details.

        • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

          I don't need to know how to build a bridge to know when one has been built badly.

          It's like your piss poor argument. Probably a product of the teacher indoctrination apparatus.

          Your elitism is hardly convincing.

          • Oh, you're one of those armchair generals with 20/20 hindsight. Listen, there's a reason why you have to study structural mechanics at university. Because flaws and problems may not be readily apparent, contrary to your illusions of grandeur you're displaying here.

    • by Flozzin ( 626330 )
      I agree.
      If you don't have some sort of degree in education, child development, psychology, ect, you are incapable of teaching anyone anything, ever. Only those with the proper certificates, and have spent thousands of dollars towards their education in said areas, have any possible hope of someone learning something from them. I never learned anything from my parents, who didn't have degrees in any field, or my grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, friend's parents, ect. Anyone that has taught me anything
    • As much as I loved Reading Rainbow growing up, I have two problems with this:

      1. If you go to their website, nothing indicates this is a non-profit corporation. 2. None of the people involved has a background in education, child development, psychology, etc.

      I just graduated with a Masters degree in education. I can tell you that, having met and worked with many Ph.D.s , that the degree does not necessarily mean that you know what you're doing. Case in point, have you LOOKED at the current Common Core standards? The curriculum? The test questions? Whoever created that mess will be primarily responsible for our increasing illiteracy in this country for the next decade.

      Personally, I think Mr. Burton's efforts will me much more effective than much of the tripe c

    • Neither the headline or OP bothers to give the slightest hint to what "Reading Rainbow" is/was. I therefore find myself underwhelmed as to the significance.

      I'm also struck by the incongruity of "every web-connected child" and "Universal access". Particularly when I suspect both are also missing the key word "American".

    • by jelwell ( 2152 )

      Indeed, if you read the Kickstarter, there is no mention of "Universal Access". Instead you're helping fund a private company to build a product they want to sell to kids and schools. Sure, they'll give away some free copies to some people. But there are over 98 thousand schools in the United States alone and they want to give away 1,500 copies to classrooms (not even schools) at the million dollar level. Their stretch goal is "free access" to 7,500 classrooms. How many classrooms are in a school?!
      Joseph El

  • ... for those of us who didn't grow up with it, what is it? I presume it has something to do with reading, and that it was around a while ago, but not TOO long ago (as the same people who were part of it are part of it again). Google helps, but this is the stuff that should be in TFS -- not just a link to the kickstarter.

    IOW, there's not enough material in TFS to comment on the topic without first doing actual research. Is this a trick?

    • Really not trolling. I grew up with Reading Rainbow but I had no idea what it was until I figured out that Geordi LaForge was the Reading Rainbow guy. Like I said, not trying to be snobby or dickish about this but did you not watch Star Trek TNG? Before he was Geordi he was the Reading Rainbow Guy!

      Oh, and he was in Roots too, which is probably a bigger cultural accomplishment for him than the rest, but again, Geordi LaForge [wordpress.com]!

    • Reading Rainbow was a children's show hosted by LeVar Burton, starting in 1983 and running for 23 years. Each episode was themed (e.g. "construction"), and different segments that fit that theme would be included. That might be something like LeVar going to a construction site and talking to the foreman about how he helps build a building. There was usually a section where a minor celebrity would read a children's book aloud, and the show ends with shots of children, one at a time, doing a couple-line revie
  • Reading what now? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lost Race ( 681080 ) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @07:48PM (#47124875)
    Would it kill you to put a short explanation or link in the summary for those of us who never heard of it before?

    Reading Rainbow is an American children's television series that aired on PBS from June 6, 1983, until November 10, 2006, that encouraged reading by children. As of 2012, it is an iPad and Kindle Fire educational interactive book reading and video field trip app.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • First of all, if you follow the Kickstarter link, I think you could figure it out. Second, this is Slashdot. It has a lot of topics that not everybody knows about. If you can't figure out Ctrl+T, Ctrl+L, Tab, "Reading Rainbow", Enter, you're going to have a hard time making it through just about any article. On the front right now are several topics people might not know about that do not have a Wikipedia link: hydraulic power steering, trademark infringement, sleep, Donald Sterling. I daresay more /. reade
  • Awesome (Score:5, Interesting)

    by m.dillon ( 147925 ) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @07:57PM (#47124977) Homepage

    Reading Rainbow was a wonderful show on PBS that ran for a long long time, and LeVar Burton has been involved with it and with kids education for decades (even before playing his role in Star Trek TNG). Even though it has reached its goal, I'm throwing in a hundred or two myself. My opinion: Anything donated will be well spent, LeVar Burton is just that type of person, who you know you can depend on.


  • by Beck_Neard ( 3612467 ) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @08:08PM (#47125065)

    it kind of makes me sad that DPF fusion energy hasn't even be able to reach half its measly $200,000 goal on indiegogo: https://www.indiegogo.com/proj... [indiegogo.com]

    Why are our priorities so back-asswards.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, kids reading vs some pseudo-science fantasy. Idiot.

    • Who knows? Maybe given enough encouragement these kids will make the breakthroughs you're talking about. I don't see these two projects as being mutually exclusive...

    • possibly, and while i haven't read much into that project is 200k even going to come close to making fusion a reality? Seems like 200k would be a drop in a 10000 litre bucket.

      • Actually, it would. This isn't intended to be a power generator, just a physics demonstrator. People have been really hesitant to fund DPF because it uses plasma instabilities and there hasn't been much research on the detailed dynamics of these instabilities. They are really hard to model and hard to simulate on the computer. We know very little about them. This project aims to fix that.

        The idea hinges around the creation of a 'plasmoid' and its rapid implosion. Critics agree that the plasmoid can be produ

  • feel the love (Score:4, Interesting)

    by troll -1 ( 956834 ) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @08:12PM (#47125083)
    I wonder what implications being able to raise money for a common cause like this will have on the future of business. Will the top corporations of tomorrow be crowdfunded by people commonly wanting a particular good or service? What happens if you add virtual currency and 3D printers into the mix? Is this what Alan Watts was talking about when he referred to money as being an illusion? It's all in your head, man. Da future.
    • Will the top corporations of tomorrow be crowdfunded by people commonly wanting a particular good or service?

      I hope so, at least optionally.

      I know people claim that something just being open source would solve this problem, but there are various features/bug fixes (sometimes there are differing opinions on whether something is one or the other) I'd pay a relatively small one time amount for, e.g. on a Tivo. I already expect the basic guide data and recording functionality to be included in the (lifetime)

  • Let's see why... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Above ( 100351 ) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @08:13PM (#47125085)
    1. Well known Celebrity, check.
    2. Celebrity actually cares about, and is involved in the cause, check.
    3. The cause is to help children, puppies, or other small cute things everyone likes, check.
    4. The cause promises to make the future a better place, check.
    5. Makes a large group of people sentimental for the past, check.
    6. Rewards appeal to people with money, check. [Come on, geeks like Star Trek, geeks make good money.]
    7. Kick off carefully coordinated to multiple popular internet web sites, check.
    8. Asked for a modest amount of money compared to what they actually want to accomplish, check.

    It was a kick-starter wet dream. When I saw the initial post I said "He'll have the money in 48 hours tops". Apparently I overestimated by about 4x!

    • It was a kick-starter wet dream.

      I would agree, and I am once again very grateful that Kickstarter exists. I've seen lots of things on Kickstarter that I wanted that never would have come about if there hadn't been a way to crowd source the project because it was so niche or because ROI was such that nobody would have invested in it. Now these things can happen by people who directly want them to happen. Sure, some things fail. Some projects end up going in ways people might not like. I think the world is better for it that these projects

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 29, 2014 @10:08PM (#47125845)

    My Living Nightmare Of Encouraging Kids To Read Is Over

    By LeVar Burton

    Thank god.

    After 26 long years, I can finally rest easy. Twenty-six years I spent standing in front of a camera, gritting my teeth, and shilling the latest works of every hack children's book author imaginable. For 26 years, I've told kids they could open a magical door to another world just by reading a book, when the only door it ever opened for me led to a soul-sucking career in the horrifying abyss of public television.

    But now, at last, it is over. I don't have to lie anymore. I don't have to live that nightmare.

    When the news came that Reading Rainbow would be canceled due to a lack of funding, I felt—well, to use a cliché like you'd find in one of the hundreds of books I pimped endlessly—like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Every day I went to work hoping that maybe the studio had burned down, that maybe the program had been cut, that maybe PBS would finally stop squeezing the life from me drop by drop. Now that it's over, I feel the relief a bruised and broken soldier must feel when he is rescued after rotting away for decades in some dank, forgotten POW camp.

    May that godforsaken show burn in hell.

    At long last, I can pick up a book and read for pleasure! Haven't read one in ages. You know what I was reading during those 26 insufferable years? Scripts. Scripts for roles that went to actors who weren't stigmatized by their association with a TV show occupying the time slot right after Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

    I happen to be an accomplished actor. I starred in Roots, which was the most-watched show in American television history. My stirring portrayal of Kunta Kinte got me an Emmy nomination. But you know what? At 25 years old, when the opportunity to earn a regular paycheck working on a children's show came along, it seemed like a pretty damn good idea.

    I was dead, dead wrong.

    Little did I know the next quarter century of my life would be an unrelenting blur of excruciating trips to some of the most boring places on earth. Apiaries, steam trains, old mills—every week they sent me to a fresh hellhole, and every week I had to interview the dullest people imaginable.

    And those humiliating books. Maebelle's Suitcase and The Jolly Postman. These were not the classics. Anyone who could glue paper between two pieces of cardboard and hire a publicist could get a book on that show. And there I was, in sheer agony, trying to keep a smile on my face while talking up Germs Make Me Sick!

    Before long, people began recognizing me on the street, and inevitably they'd come over and start singing this awful, cloying tune. When I finally asked somebody what the hell it was, I was sickened to learn that it was the show's theme. I'd never heard it. They didn't play it on the set, and Lord knows I never saw one episode of that garbage when it aired.

    Hoping to escape Reading Rainbow's clutches, I started taking any role I could get. I'm proud of some of them: I played Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Martin Luther King in Ali. But you know what the most challenging role of my career was? Hosting Reading Rainbow and acting like I gave a shit about getting kids interested in books.

    Fact is, I couldn't care less whether kids learn to read. There, I said it.

    Look, Reading Rainbow was a television program. That should tell you something right there. What I should have done is hosted a show that taught children how to watch more television. I bet they would have come up with the funding to renew that show.

    All I've done for 26 years is drive to work, clock in, read my lines, clock out, go home, and cry myself to sleep. Now I'm much older, a broken man, but I've reached the end of my terrifying journey. And do you know what's at the end? Do you what's at the end of the "Reading Rainbow"? A giant crock of shit, that's what.

    But you don't have to take my word for it.


  • I'm not sure this will really meet the ambitions of the previous series. If we want to get all kids to read more, we really need the medium that reaches the most children. The web is great and all, but public television is available to far more people for far less money. Kids that are in the most critical target audience for this likely won't have their own devices to watch this online and will have to convince their parents to let them watch it instead of letting Daddy continue with his half-life 7 mara
  • I wonder how much advantage of the medium a PC version of a TV series will be able to take... I''ve been homeschooling my kids whilst we've been travelling so I've tried a number of these online reading tools. Some are just a mess of unindexed content, or just libraries to wonder in and pick out books to read or subject videos to watch. The best for my 5 yr old has been ReadingEggs [readingeggs.co.nz] which has heaps of interactive mini games joined together into an overall programme that the child can follow through them

  • That America does not have funding for education and that there are schools in need. It is tremendously sad that 1 in 4 children in the USA grow up illitertate (as per the Kickstarter website). I wish the USA public infrastructure had funding to serve and educate their citizenry. Too bad they have to rely on private donors for this sort of thing. I guess the USA is really a poor country.

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson