The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

What kind of science in the classroom?

Dec 11, 2006

The National Science Teachers’ Association (NSTA) turned down an offer of 50,000 free copies of a DVD on global warming. The NSTA said they were concerned that other “special interests” might want to distribute materials to classrooms if the NSTA gave this DVD to science classes.

What was the movie? It was “An Inconvenient Truth,” by former Vice President Al Gore. Neither Gore, nor the producers, Participant Productions, get any money for the DVDs. So they thought it would be helpful to give it to science teachers to use on the topic of global warming, even if the narrator was the former vice president.

Is the NSTA overly concerned that politics could enter the science curriculum? Not at all. This teachers’ organization has accepted lesson plans about forests from Weyerhaeuser and International Paper; about oil and fuel from Shell and ExxonMobil; and about genetic engineering from Monsanto Company.

For instance, the NSTA has distributed to classrooms a video made by the American Petroleum Institute (API) called “You Can’t be Cool without Fuel.” The API clearly states it is trying to influence the science curricula in classrooms. ExxonMobil says on its web site that it will spend 40 million dollars this year to have an impact on how educational organizations teach science. It has funded 29 organizations devoted to denying that human activity causes global warming.

This corporate method of “educating” follows the path once taken by the Joe Camel ads. R.J. Reynolds designed the cartoon character to attract children to cigarettes. Of course, neither the ads nor the company warned the children about such deadly consequences of smoking as lung cancer or emphysema.

Evidently a more scientific DVD about global warming conflicts with the “special interests” of the NSTA’s corporate friends.