The fourth grade curriculum from Scholastic is all about educating the kids about coal. Sounds like a good idea, right? Wrong.
Coal Curriculum Supplied By The American Coal Foundation?
It turns out that the fourth-grade curriculum materials about coal were created by Scholastic Inc., but the American Coal Foundation paid Scholastic to develop them.
According to The New York Times:
The Scholastic materials say that coal is produced in half of the 50 states, that America has 27 percent of the world’s coal resources, and that it is the source of half the electricity produced in the nation, with about 600 coal-powered plants operating around the clock to provide electricity.
What they do not mention are the negative effects of mining and burning coal: the removal of Appalachian mountaintops; the release of sulfur dioxide, mercury and arsenic; the toxic wastes; the mining accidents; the lung disease.
“The curriculum pretends that it’s going to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of different energy choices, to align with national learning standards, but it doesn’t,” Mr. Bigelow said.
“The fact that coal is the major source of greenhouse gases in the United States is entirely left out,” he said. “There’s no hint that coal has any disadvantages.”
66,000 Fourth-Grade Teachers Received This Curriculum
According to an article by Alma Hale Paty, the executive director of the American Coal Foundation, and posted on Coalblog, “The United States of Energy” went to 66,000 fourth-grade teachers in 2009.
Which in turn means that it went to untold numbers of fourth-graders.
Scholastic Unavailable For Comment
According to The New York Times, Kyle Good, Scholastic’s vice president for corporate communications, was traveling for much of Wednesday and said she could not comment until she had all the “United States of Energy” materials in hand.
Others at the company said Ms. Good was the only one who could discuss the matter. The company would not comment on how much it was paid for its partnership with the coal foundation.
Scholastic’s InSchool Marketing division, which produced the coal curriculum in partnership with the coal foundation, often works with groups like the American Society of Hematology, the Federal Trade Commission and the Census Bureau to create curriculum materials.
A One-Sided View Of Coal — No Negative Effects?
Meanwhile, three groups: Rethinking Schools, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and Friends of the Earth, say that Scholastic’s “United States of Energy” package gives children a one-sided view coal, failing to mention its negative effects on the environment and human health.
Scholastic, who did so much good by introducing Harry Potter to young people, has fallen down here. Let’s hope the company will do something to regain its reputation.
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