By Kyle Olson
PORTLAND, Ore. – Social justice activist teachers see natural disasters like the recent Hurricane Sandy as opportunities to bring their political agendas into the classroom.
And they rarely miss an opportunity.
“Hurricane Sandy, and the superstorms that will follow, are not just acts of nature—they are products of a massive theft of the atmospheric commons shared by all life on the planet. Every dollar of profit made by fossil fuel companies relies on polluting our shared atmosphere with harmful greenhouse gases, stealing what belongs to us all. But if we don’t teach students the history of the commons, they’ll have a hard time recognizing what—and who—is responsible for today’s climate crisis.”
He goes on to blame the “massive theft” on private companies that pollute the environment, and complains that textbooks have a bias toward treating the buying and selling of land as “normal” and even “inevitable.” In other words, private ownership is bad. Do you see where this is going?
So what is his solution? To begin teaching students that there needs to be a renewed effort to reclaim “the commons” for the collective benefit of all and drive a stake through the heart of those that profit from the earth and its atmosphere.
Because of that profit-making – or “theft” – we’re now experiencing global warming, melting ice caps and more destructive storms like Sandy, according to Swinehart. So students should learn about “the culmination of hundreds of years of privatizing and commodifying the natural world,” he believes.
Another radical education organization, Rethinking Schools, wrote that the “climate crisis” is an “education crisis” and teachers must take action in the classroom and school districts must lend full support.
“We can do a lot in our individual classrooms—but not everything. We need our professional organizations and school districts to provide professional development that is cross-disciplinary and that deals forthrightly with the climate crisis. We need administrators and educational policy makers to recognize that ‘skills’ that can and must be taught in the context of a curriculum about things that matter, including the climate. We need our districts to demand curriculum materials, including textbooks, that are honest and that equip students to understand what’s at stake. …
“For education activists this work is part of a broader struggle to critique and oppose the equation of academic achievement with scoring well on tests. That schools seem to be sleepwalking through the climate crisis is one indication of the overall lunacy of the data-chase that became institutionalized in No Child Left Behind and embraced with gusto by the Obama administration. …
“The fight for a climate-relevant education is part of the broader fight for a critical, humane, challenging, and socially responsive curriculum. It’s work that belongs to us all.”
So they’re telling us that schools should ignore the academic development of students (as measured by comprehensive testing), and should instead focus on teachers leading students into the freaky and drug-stained world of left-wing protest on behalf of Marxist causes.
Never mind that their theory of global environmental change is not accepted by everyone, and their proposed solution – the banning of private enterprise – is largely rejected in the United States. They want the right to ram their ideas down our children’s throats.
Be on the lookout, parents, because the organizations that peddle these bizarre ideas have national reach, and they work to influence K-12 classroom teachers across the nation. Don’t let your unsuspecting child fall into their trap.