We as parents have a lot on our minds these days. Too many of us are out of work and struggling to pay the bills. While trying to pay our mortgage and prepare for retirement, we are also trying to save to help our kids go to college. Of course, we are also concerned about the quality of our children's schools, though few have the time to follow closely what goes on in those classrooms each day.
As a father of six—five of whom still attend Attica, Indiana public schools—I know first-hand the difficulty of keeping up with all the responsibilities that parents face. Yet I also know how important it is to remain engaged in our children's schools to make sure that they get the education they need and deserve.
It has been more than a month since Earth Day, and most of our children are finishing their studies for the year. One area that I would encourage all parents to pay extra attention to is what's happening at your school regarding climate change education. Ideally, it is supposed to encourage students to consider the importance of preserving our natural resources. Unfortunately, too often it's used as a platform to push a misleading, ideological brand of environmentalism.
I’m a Ph.D. scientist and work as a Field Research Scientist for a global crop protection company, so I have a special interest in how my kids are taught the subject. To me, teaching science properly means presenting all sides of scientific theories and helping kids develop their own critical thinking skills. Regrettably, it seems that too many in our public education system see their role differently.
I first became concerned about how my children's school was teaching global warming last year when a group of teachers orchestrated a school-wide showing of An Inconvenient Truth during class in celebration of Earth Day. I was alarmed that parents weren't even able to pull their kids from this assignment (fortunately, with some work, I eventually got that policy changed). This was also at least the third time An Inconvenient Truth was shown at our school. Surely teachers could find a better use of our children's valuable learning time.
The problem isn't just that the school shows An Inconvenient Truth, a movie found by a judge to be riddled with serious scientific errors and which grossly exaggerates the potential damage of man-made global warming. It also fails to provide any counterweight to this environmentalist propaganda.
Schools do have options. For more than a year now, I've been trying to get another film, Not Evil, Just Wrong, shown in our school to provide some balance. Not Evil, Just Wrong thoroughly reviews the flawed science of global warming, specifically addressing the many errors and gross exaggerations in An Inconvenient Truth. Our children deserve to hear this information so they don't believe that there's only one truth about this important issue.
Unfortunately, getting balance into my children's school has been an uphill battle. I’ve spoken to teachers, the principal, the superintendent and the school board. I’ve loaned copies of the film so teachers could see it and make an informed decision. Yet only two teachers in the whole school bothered to view the film, and none of them would show it. I made my case publicly during the open session of a school board meeting. The only result was that a group of teachers publicly complained to the board for giving me a hearing.
Most recently, the superintendent declared Not Evil, Just Wrong isn’t suitable because it lacks the endorsement of the National Earth Day Foundation. You can see what I’m up against. This isn’t just ignorance of the science behind climate change, this is an ideological position.
I will continue to fight for our students to be taught rather than indoctrinated. I haven't been able to change the curriculum so far, but I have succeeded in raising awareness of the problem. I would urge other parent to do the same. Ask questions about how global warming is being presented in your school. Find out if movies like An Inconvenient Truth are being used on Earth Day or as pillars of the science curriculum. Make sure that your kids are hearing the other side of the story. We should encourage our schools and teachers to address this imbalance during the summer break.
I realize many of us are busy, but our children's education starts at home. You shouldn't trust that your local school is providing the balanced education your children deserve.