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[GreenYes] Re: NSTA takes a "pass" on science

This is interesting and important.

I haven't had any dealings with the NSTA, but in a general sense I
see the public schools as loaded with industrial propaganda and
programmed to avoid materials associated with what are dismissively
called "advocacy groups."

Another example is something called "Newspapers in Education"
( These are tabloids loaded with more-or-less
subtly packaged industrial propaganda and sent into the schools
gratis for use in classes. I reviewed one a few years ago that had a
global-warming-isn't-real theme.

The constant discussions of "education" that I hear in Delaware are
usually about building, salaries, and all that, but seldom is there
anything said about the *integrity* of the process.


At 03:41 PM 11/30/2006 -0600, Stephan Pollard wrote:
>Now, here is what the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has to say.
>Warm Regards,
>At 03:05 PM 11/30/2006, you wrote:
>>Science a la Joe Camel
>>By Laurie David
>>Washington Post
>>Sunday, November 26, 2006; B01
>>At hundreds of screenings this year of "An Inconvenient Truth," the
>>first thing many viewers said after the lights came up was that
>>every student in every school in the United States needed to see this movie.
>>The producers of former vice president Al Gore's film about global
>>warming, myself included, certainly agreed. So the company that
>>made the documentary decided to offer 50,000 free DVDs to the
>>National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) for educators to use
>>in their classrooms. It seemed like a no-brainer.
>>The teachers had a different idea: Thanks but no thanks, they said.
>>In their e-mail rejection, they expressed concern that other
>>"special interests" might ask to distribute materials, too; they
>>said they didn't want to offer "political" endorsement of the film;
>>and they saw "little, if any, benefit to NSTA or its members" in
>>accepting the free DVDs.
>>Gore, however, is not running for office, and the film's theatrical
>>run is long since over. As for classroom benefits, the movie has
>>been enthusiastically endorsed by leading climate scientists
>>worldwide, and is required viewing for all students in Norway and Sweden.
>>Still, maybe the NSTA just being extra cautious. But there was one
>>more curious argument in the e-mail: Accepting the DVDs, they
>>wrote, would place "unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital
>>campaign, especially certain targeted supporters." One of those
>>supporters, it turns out, is the Exxon Mobil Corp.
>>That's the same Exxon Mobil that for more than a decade has done
>>everything possible to muddle public understanding of global
>>warming and stifle any serious effort to solve it. It has run ads
>>in leading newspapers (including this one) questioning the role of
>>manmade emissions in global warming, and financed the work of a
>>small band of scientific skeptics who have tried to challenge the
>>consensus that heat-trapping pollution is drastically altering our
>>atmosphere. The company spends millions to support groups such as
>>the Competitive Enterprise Institute that aggressively pressure
>>lawmakers to oppose emission limits.
>>It's bad enough when a company tries to sell junk science to a
>>bunch of grown-ups. But, like a tobacco company using cartoons to
>>peddle cigarettes, Exxon Mobil is going after our kids, too.
>>And it has been doing so for longer than you may think. NSTA says
>>it has received $6 million from the company since 1996, mostly for
>>the association's "Building a Presence for Science" program, an
>>electronic networking initiative intended to "bring standards-based
>>teaching and learning" into schools, according to the NSTA Web
>>site. Exxon Mobil has a representative on the group's corporate
>>advisory board. And in 2003, NSTA gave the company an award for its
>>commitment to science education.
>>So much for special interests and implicit endorsements.
>>In the past year alone, according to its Web site, Exxon Mobil's
>>foundation gave $42 million to key organizations that influence the
>>way children learn about science, from kindergarten until they
>>graduate from high school.
>>And Exxon Mobil isn't the only one getting in on the action.
>>Through textbooks, classroom posters and teacher seminars, the oil
>>industry, the coal industry and other corporate interests are
>>exploiting shortfalls in education funding by using a small slice
>>of their record profits to buy themselves a classroom soapbox.
>>NSTA's list of corporate donors also includes Shell Oil and the
>>American Petroleum Institute (API), which funds NSTA's Web site on
>>the science of energy. There, students can find a section called
>>"Running on Oil" and read a page that touts the industry's
>>environmental track record -- citing improvements mostly
>>attributable to laws that the companies fought tooth and nail, by
>>the way -- but makes only vague references to spills or pollution.
>>NSTA has distributed a video produced by API called "You Can't Be
>>Cool Without Fuel," a shameless pitch for oil dependence.
>>The education organization also hosts an annual convention -- which
>>is described on Exxon Mobil's Web site as featuring "more than 450
>>companies and organizations displaying the most current textbooks,
>>lab equipment, computer hardware and software, and teaching
>>enhancements." The company "regularly displays" its "many . . .
>>education materials" at the exhibition. John Borowski, a science
>>teacher at North Salem High School in Salem, Ore., was dismayed by
>>NSTA's partnerships with industrial polluters when he attended the
>>association's annual convention this year and witnessed hundreds of
>>teachers and school administrators walk away with armloads of free
>>corporate lesson plans.
>>Along with propaganda challenging global warming from Exxon Mobil,
>>the curricular offerings included lessons on forestry provided by
>>Weyerhaeuser and International Paper, Borowski says, and the
>>benefits of genetic engineering courtesy of biotech giant Monsanto.
>>"The materials from the American Petroleum Institute and the other
>>corporate interests are the worst form of a lie: omission,"
>>Borowski says. "The oil and coal guys won't address global warming,
>>and the timber industry papers over clear-cuts."
>>An API memo leaked to the media as long ago as 1998 succinctly
>>explains why the association is angling to infiltrate the
>>classroom: "Informing teachers/students about uncertainties in
>>climate science will begin to erect barriers against further
>>efforts to impose Kyoto-like measures in the future."
>>So, how is any of this different from showing Gore's movie in the
>>classroom? The answer is that neither Gore nor Participant
>>Productions, which made the movie, stands to profit a nickel from
>>giving away DVDs, and we aren't facing millions of dollars in lost
>>business from limits on global-warming pollution and a shift to
>>cleaner, renewable energy.
>>It's hard to say whether NSTA is a bad guy here or just a sorry
>>victim of tight education budgets. And we don't pretend that a
>>two-hour movie is a substitute for a rigorous science curriculum.
>>Students should expect, and parents should demand, that educators
>>present an honest and unbiased look at the true state of knowledge
>>about the challenges of the day.
>>As for Exxon Mobil -- which just began a fuzzy advertising campaign
>>that trumpets clean energy and low emissions -- this story shows
>>that slapping green stripes on a corporate tiger doesn't change the
>>beast within. The company is still playing the same cynical game it
>>has for years.
>>While NSTA and Exxon Mobil ponder the moral lesson they're teaching
>>with all this, there are 50,000 DVDs sitting in a Los Angeles
>>warehouse, waiting to be distributed. In the meantime, Mom and Dad
>>may want to keep a sharp eye on their kids' science homework.
>>Laurie David, a producer of "An Inconvenient Truth," is a Natural
>>Resources Defense Council trustee and founder of

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