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Posted at 10:44 AM ET, 05/ 2/2010

Education Department changes the music

By Valerie Strauss

Elevator music is out at the Department of Education. “Schoolhouse Rock!” is in.

Callers to the department who are put on hold will now hear “Conjunction Junction,” a little ditty on, you guessed it, conjunctions, one of the songs that make up the “Grammar Rock” section of Schoolhouse Rock!

"Fun at the department is back," Deputy Chief of Staff Matthew Yale was quoted as saying by ABC News. "We’re doing everything we can to enhance the culture of the Department of Education. It needs to be a place of innovation and where we’re constantly reminded of our work for students."

The old stuff, he said, “was awful, awful, just awful.”

Schoolhouse Rock, for those who don’t know, is actually a series of animated musical educational films that aired on ABC on Saturday morning for 26 years starting in 1973.

Dozens of subjects including grammar, science, economics, history, mathematics, and civics, are animated and set to song with the hope of making the topics more appealing to kids.

The first episode was called “Three Is a Magic Number,” inaugurating a season of “Multiplication Rock,” part of Schoolhouse Rock. That song was covered by a number of artists, and became known to a somewhat older audience in the movie “School of Rock,” when Jack Black, pretending to be a teacher, sings a version, but uses “9” instead of “3.”

“Conjunction Junction” is one of the series’ most iconic songs, starting:

"Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?
Hooking up words and phrases and clauses.....

"Conjunction Junction, what’s their function?
I got "and", "but", and "or",
They’ll get you pretty far. "

According to ABC News, Disney, which owns ABC, and, therefore, the rights to Schoolhouse Rock!, agreed after negotiations to allow the department to use Conjunction Junction for free -- but, ABC reported, for a year.

I don’t know if this means that Disney will start charging the federal government for using the songs a year from now.

Some kind of fun!


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By Valerie Strauss  | May 2, 2010; 10:44 AM ET
Tags:  Conjunction Junction, Department of Education, disney and conjunction junction, new music at ed department, schoolhouse rock, schoolhouse rock and education department  
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I was born in 1967, so Schoolhouse Rock was a big part of my childhood. If it were not for the ditty about the Constitution, I would never be able to remember the preamble.

Posted by: ZF-MD | May 2, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't it be nice if real music were actually used? Not stuff written for the purpose of teaching something ELSE? Music that was composed for its own artistic sake? Music with some real value and historical or cultural significance, instead of lightweight pap?

Never happen.

Posted by: nunovyerbizness | May 3, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Schoolhouse was after my time, but I know the preamble to the Constitution. All I had to do was read it an memorize it. Of course, when we were in primary school, we played a lot of memory games, where we had to listen to a string of directions or listen to a list of items, repeat them and add another. We also played a lot of games where we had to listen for code words before doing something. We were able to do this because we didn't have to spend first grade getting ready for standardized tests or learning enough math that we could take algebra in grade school, so we were learned to listen and remember--and that is of a lot more use than algebra. (We also weren't told that reading was so boring that someone had to make up rhymes so we would remember what we read. I will admit, though, that if I need to spell "encyclopedia," the song about it from the Micky Mouse Club runs through my head every time!)

Posted by: sideswiththekids | May 6, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

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