Department of Education Changes Tune to 'Schoolhouse Rock'

Photo: The Education Department Changes Its Tune: Callers greeted with ?Schoolhouse Rock? while they hold

Being placed on hold is boring and oftentimes frustrating. But the Education Department is rocking the hold line -- entertaining and educating callers one call at a time.

Gone is the boring old elevator music that used to play. In its place, callers hear the tunes of "Schoolhouse Rock" while they wait -- "Conjunction Junction" to be exact.

"Fun at the department is back," Deputy Chief of Staff Matthew Yale told 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 department noted that the hold music is just one of several measures it has taken to liven the spirit of the agency and make it more inclusive, such as a reading series last summer that invited local students to the department to hear stories read by government officials.

Almost everyone can relate to having suffered through boring music while waiting on hold.

"It was awful, awful, just awful," Yale said of the previous tunes.

But of all the educational music out there, why "Schoolhouse Rock"?

"Because it sort of strikes at some of the most basic lessons that so many people remember," Yale said. "It's very friendly and a fun way to think about learning. ... Everyone who grew up watching it can sing it in their head."

Bob Dorough, who wrote "Conjunction Junction," said, "I think it's right on. I think it's a very good song. The whole idea is: What are you up to? What's your function? What are you seeking?"

Ever since the series of short educational films originally aired on ABC from 1973 to 1986, "Schoolhouse Rock" songs have often been used by teachers to liven up lessons on basic grammar, civics and history.

"If you approach any person on the street and say, 'Conjunction junction,' that person is apt to say, 'What's your function?'" Dorough said.

Education Department Got to Use 'Schoolhouse Rock' Tunes for Free

The idea to change the music at the department originally came from a special assistant in the secretary's office. Yale said it took a few months to negotiate a deal with Disney, the parent company of ABC News. Disney owns the rights to "Schoolhouse Rock."

"It hasn't exactly been a top priority issue," Yale said.

Ultimately, Disney agreed to give the department the rights to use the music free for a year as a gift.

"At the end of the day, it's fun, it cost the department nothing and it's a neat way to remind people who call and our internal staff about basic learning," Yale said.

It's unclear whether any other agencies are considering making a similar switch, but Yale hopes "if nothing else, it makes them jealous."

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