That infamous Bush "misunderestimation" of our public educational system becomes a crucial question indeed when the educational publishing house -- Scholastic, Inc. - climbs into a bunk-bed with the coal industry to publish propaganda aimed at 4th-graders about the glories of one of the most toxic substances on Earth.
Got to mold those little minds early, teach them to love the dirtiest corporations that will ultimately destroy them. Gotta churn out good little car-driving capitalist consumers, right?
I always looked forward to the day when my teacher sent home the little newspaper Scholastic order form. I would pour over the colorful images and descriptions of each book option, carefully circling my preferences and handing the sheet to my mother to complete the order. I was always extra-excited when the books arrived at my classroom and my teacher handed me my personal sack of new-smelling, glossy-covered reading material and I would spend the next several days selecting my new favorites, reading about the solar system one day -- the trials and dramas of being a first grader the next.
The New York Times reports it this way:
"Scholastic has partnered with the American Coal Foundation (ACF, www.teachcoal.org), the nonprofit arm of the coal industry, to publish a slick, full-color packet of elementary teaching materials designed to paste a smiley face on the dirtiest form of energy in the world. Why would the coal industry want to partner with Scholastic? In a November 2010 blog, Alma Hale Paty, executive director of the ACF, celebrates the coal-Scholastic connection: 'Over 90 percent of America's K-12 classrooms use Scholastic products. Four out of five parents know and trust the Scholastic brand.' Paty writes that Scholastic mailed its 4th-grade coal/energy curriculum to 50,000 teachers in nine states, another 16,000 copies to classroom subscribers to Scholastic News magazine for grade 4, and sent an email with a link to the curriculum to 82,000 teachers. In recent phone messages to me, Paty says that she hopes the curriculum can be expanded to 5th grade.
"Scholastic's coal industry cheerleading becomes even more blatant on the Related Resources section of its United States of Energy website. The list reads like a coal industry convention: the American Coal Foundation, Women in Mining, the National Mining Association ('the official voice of the American mining industry in Washington, D.C.'), along with government sites that offer similarly uncritical approaches to coal, such as the U.S. Energy Information Administration. An additional list of 30 'helpful organizations' continues Scholastic's obvious bias, featuring groups like the American Coal Ash Association, the American Coal Council, and the World Coal Institute. Of the almost 40 organizations that Scholastic recommends for teachers, there is not one single environmental organization."
Read all about it, kids, in "The United States of Energy!" Acid rain is GOOD! Greenhouse gasses are GREAT! Mountain top removal is COOL! Coal mining is EXCITING! Driving a gas-powered car is FUN! Vroom-vroom-VROOM!
Almost makes me want to home-school.