It might be argued that Joan Ganz Cooney has had more of an impact and influence on the way children receive their first taste of education than any other person in history. One might be tempted to ask "How?"
Well, in the early 1960's, she was producing and creating public affairs documentaries for New York City's public television station, WNET. While also working as a consultant for the nonprofit Carnegie Corporation she authored a study titled "The Potential Uses of Television in Preschool Education". During the same year, she petitioned funding from various charitable foundations and federal agencies and wound up raising over 8 million dollars. One might now ask "What did she with the money?"
She was the brains behind the Children's Television Workshop which eventually let to the creation of Sesame Street for pre-schoolers, The Electric Company, for older kids, and other shows such as the science based 3-2-1 Contact and the mathematics based Square One TV.
While its true that some critics of these shows often blame them for fostering short attention spans in children, there can be no argument about the success of the shows. Sesame Street alone has versions in over 80 countries and is sometimes the only access that children have in developing their learning skills. Besides learning the basic skills such as reading and math, these shows also help children to appreciate different cultures and the world that they live in.
Joan Ganz Cooney was elected to the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Television Hall of Fame in 1993.
Sources - www.hollywood.com and www.greatwomen.org