(Karri Bragg) – When most of us were in grade school, we thought of Earth Day as a fun break from the classroom. Our teachers would take us outside to “enjoy the earth”- or simply participate in outdoor activities such as competitive races, planting flowers, and even learning about how to recycle. That was all before big, bad global warming came on the scene.
Since Al Gore presented his alarmist theories on global warming a few years back, the innocence of Earth Day may have been replaced with more menacing lessons for young children. Parents share stories of teachers warning children that leaving lights on too long or running water to brush your teeth is killing baby polar bears in the North Pole.
The documentary “Not Evil, Just Wrong” shows British school children who bring home crayon drawings of the Earth as it is being destroyed by humans – bleeding animals and a flaming globe – are among the images that young children are dreaming up. It’s hard to believe that type of fear-stricken behavior is the result of mild and balanced teaching practices in the classroom.
Some people won’t read any further because they’ll think – “yeah, so what if my kids learn that? That’s the truth and they need to know what human activities are doing to our planet!”
Simply, the jury is still out on the theories of man-made global warming. There is evidence piling up on a daily basis that creates large cracks and holes in Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. So, what about the rest of us who believe there is more to the story? What are we supposed to think about fear mongering and bully-pulpit preaching in the classroom?
A local activist by the name of Heather took particular interest when she heard about a new campaign, called Balanced Education for Everyone (balanced-ed.org). It is a campaign sponsored by the Independent Women’s Forum in Washington, D.C. and the filmmakers of the documentary Not Evil, Just Wrong to bring a more balanced approach to what is being taught about global warming in the public school system. The campaign does not accuse anyone of wrongdoing, but simply encourages parents to ask the questions of their children’s schools about current curriculum and additional resources available on the subject.
Heather decided that since Earth Day was around the corner, she would like to know what our local Clark County schools are teaching children on this most-Green day of the year. In a matter of days, Heather contacted and spoke with representatives from 90 schools in the Clark County School District, from elementary to high school s. What type of response did she get from the ever-transparent and always-the-model-of-excellent-education schools in our county?
A great deal of stonewall responses and unreturned calls.
Representatives at Beatty Elementary & Allen Elementary both responded simply that they had no need for any outside information about global warming. Basic High School and Chaparral High School were among many of the schools which chose to not even respond to Heather’s inquiry. The number one response reported among the schools that chose to answer the question or call back said that they were unaware what was taking place in individual classrooms and that teachers had individual reign over the curriculum.
There were a few diamonds in the rough. Cully Paul Elementary & Cox Clyde Elementary both accepted educational resources to share with their faculty. A representative from Cimarron High School reported that she emphasized the difference between man-made and natural global warming.
What does this response mean for the taxpayers, parents, and concerned citizens who are anxious to know what is going on inside the walls of Clark County School District? Many administrators seem to think that “none of your business” is an appropriate response to questions about curriculum. Given that CCSD is frequently ranked very low in national education reports, and Nevada’s education system continues to lag behind other states, this should cause even greater alarm for Nevada parents.
There is something that can be done to shed some light on what’s happening in our schools. Parents, you must ask questions. Concerned grandparents, aunts & uncles, that goes for you too. If we want to know what our children are being told, we must call our kids teachers and simply say, “What is it that goes on in your classroom?” You do have a right to know.
In a recently released March 2010 Gallup poll, 48 percent of Americans said they felt that the science of global warming is exaggerated. More than 30 percent of respondents said they felt the supposed effects of global warming would never occur in their lifetime. There must be many skeptical parents in Nevada who feel that alarmism should not be the message shared in our schools. You must be prepared to step up and share additional resources and information to help educate your children about the other side of the story.
The BEE campaign and efforts are not about causing an uprising or telling children that recycling a plastic bottle is evil. It’s about getting parents involved. It’s about ensuring that our children, who enjoy the fruits of a free society, have access to ALL of the information and research available so that they might make an educated decision about what effect they believe mommy’s SUV to have on melting ice caps. It’s about being responsible with the malleable and innocent minds of young children. It’s what we as adults must do to protect them from nonsense.
(Ms. Bragg is executive vice president of Citizen Outreach Foundation and the Nevada State Director for the BEE Campaign. For more information about the campaign, please visit www.balanced-ed.org)