Schoolhouse Rock! Election Collection
September 18, 2008

It’s important for everyone to vote, but it’s even more important that voters be educated about facts and issues. This release of selected Schoolhouse Rock! segments related to politics is a great way to bone up on some of the basics. You have to make sure that those you’re watching with don’t mind you singing along, though.

Schoolhouse Rock! Election Collection cover
Schoolhouse Rock! Election Collection
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The DVD, released September 23, contains fifteen segments grouped in four categories:

The Campaign (covering positions and issues)

  • Energy Blues
  • Tax Man Max
  • Walkin’ on Wall Street — in which, astoundingly, a pigeon teaches kids about doller-cost averaging when buying stocks, a pretty complex concept for a singing cartoon.
  • Tyrannosaurus Debt — about why the government should have a balanced budget. That and the previous two were from the “Money Rock” series, created in the 1990s, so I hadn’t previously seen them.
  • I’m Gonna Send Your Vote to College — created in 2002 for the 30th Anniversary DVD release, it explains how the electoral college works.

Our History

  • No More Kings — the gross-looking king with too much blush is such a memorable image, while electing a president to do what the people want and build a “free country” is a powerful goal to live up to.
  • The Shot Heard ‘Round the World — one of my all-time favorites, “it was the start of the revolution”, even if it does talk about the misnamed Battle of Bunker Hill and the probably misattributed quote from it.
  • Fireworks — about the birth of the country and the Declaration of Independence. Jazzy!
  • Mother Necessity — covering important inventions; if redone today, it’d have to cover Europe (wasn’t the web started in Switzerland?) and Japan (for all that technology).
  • The Great American Melting Pot — immigration used to be a good thing!

How Government Works

  • The Preamble — to the Constitution, natch. I like the miniskirted mom voting with her daughter!
  • Three-Ring Government
  • I’m Just a Bill — everyone’s favorite! How could you not include this one?
  • Sufferin’ ’til Suffrage — women get the vote!

Extra Credit — The new song “Presidential Minute” encourages people to vote. For some strange reason, they use red for democrats and blue for republicans (well, donkeys and elephants, anyway). In the debate scene, there’s a man and a woman, but we couldn’t figure out if the woman was supposed to be a candidate or someone asking him questions. But there are two endings, and one of them answers that question. Way cool!

The DVD also comes with an Election Tracking Kit, a US map with the states marked with their number of electoral votes and stickers to track progress. There’s almost an hour’s worth of material, but the rewatch value is immense.

It’s a shame that packages like this tend to be stocked in kids’ sections (because they’re cartoons, don’t’cha know), because they’re really cool. I learn something every time I watch the Schoolhouse Rock! series, and there’s no better way to educate people, no matter their age, than catchy songs and memorable images.

There’s also an ad included for the upcoming Schoolhouse Rock! Earth, which promises “new songs with new characters for a new generation.” Still, I was pleased to see Interplanet Janet flying by as part of the promo.

(A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the studio.)

16 Responses  
Phil writes:  

For some strange reason, they use red for democrats and blue for republicans

Well, practically everywhere in the world except the US uses red to represent vaguely left-wing parties.

Johanna writes:  

Oh! I didn’t know that, but it makes sense. Thanks for enlightening me!

Chris G. writes:  

Also, it wasn’t until after the 2000 recount fiasco that red was associated with Republicans and blue with Democrats — even on election night, some networks had the Dems in red and the Reps in Blue. Each network used to decide the colors on their own, and fairly arbitrarily, with the incumbent party in one color each election night and the challenger in the other. So you could have red for Republicans in 1988 and 1992, and red for Democrats in 1996 and 2000.

I suspect that Republicans grabbed onto the color notion after 2000 because it was a way to deflect attention from the fact that Bush had lost the popular vote; the reason we kept seeing the election map with all that red was an attempt to make it look like Republican support was much greater than the Democrats’. That only works, though, if you ignore the fact that many of those red states have very few people living in them relative to many of the blue states, as a visit to this site makes clear.

Richard Marcej writes:  

“The Preamble — to the Constitution, natch. I like the miniskirted mom voting with her daughter!

Thanks to Schoolhouse Rock, when I was but a lad in the late 1970’s, I aced an essay question on a 9th grade Economics class test.

We had to write the Preamble to the Constitution and I had that song in my head!

Ed Sizemore writes:  

I have the 30th anniversary DVD set and love it. The fun part is looking at how US history was presented in the 70’s when the myth of America was still alive and well. You couldn’t get anything like this done today.

When I was in 5th grade, everyone had to stand in front of the class are recite the Preamble to the Constitution. All the kids did the same thing. They would say a few words, look up at the ceiling, start tapping their foot, and bobbing their head before saying the next phrase. After the third student did this, the teacher asked, “What are you all doing?” In unison the class responded, “Singing the song.” “What song?” “Schoolhouse Rock.” He exasperatedly replied, “Whatever, just be quicker about it.” Good times, good times.

My favorite of the new cartoons is Three-Ring Government which works well as education and satire at the same time.

Johanna writes:  

What a great story! I can see those kids doing that.

Anthony writes:  

Would today’s kids even have *heard* of “Schoolhouse Rock”? I suspect (like various older cartoons—the Flintstones, Looney Tunes, etc.—that rarely get widespread airplay these days) more of them have probably seen parodies of Schoolhouse Rock on various current-day TV shows than an actual Schoolhouse Rock short…

Johanna writes:  

You may sadly be right — but maybe their parents are sharing it with them?

Chris G. writes:  

I mentioned Schoolhouse Rock to my class (mostly college first-years) last week and most of them were at least familiar with it. Maybe they were re-aired sometime in the late 90s?

Dave Rose writes:  

I have all four seasons. Even at my age, I enjoy them not only for the nostalgia but also for the catchy tunes and wealth of information icluded in each cartoon.

As a teacher, I have valued them for their educational aspects and, as a student I learned quite a bit from them.

I’m Just a Bill remains a favorite and (like many other people) I memorized the Preamble to the Constution by having that song in my head. It got me through an 8th grade U.S. history quiz!

That these cartoons are still available for the kids of today thrills me to no end.

Dennis West writes:  

I really love Schoolhouse Rock! I was growing up in the 70s when these were new and they were always the highlight of my Saturday mornings. When the 30th anniversary edition came out on DVD a few years back, I snatched it up and watched them over and over with my kids–and they love them too! They are a great educational tool and wonderful entertainment!

Johanna writes:  

Chris G., I think they aired up until the mid-90s, at least.

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