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Selling Coal to Our Kids

The education of our children is a sacred trust that we give to our teachers. Yet, educators in Illinois are being asked to violate that trust for the economic gain and vested interests of the coal industry.  Starting today (June 14) and continuing through June 17, the State of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (IDCEO) will host its annual Coal Education Conference at Rend Lake Resort, a four-day, all expenses paid teachers’ immersion extolling the virtues of “clean coal”.

Attendees will  receive 27 Professional Development Units, as they learn how to teach children ages 5 to 18 from curriculum materials developed by…you guessed it…special interest groups such as the Knight Hawk Mining Company, Illinois Clean Coal Institute, Illinois Office of Coal Development and the Southern Illinois Power Cooperative.

Click here to read IDCEO’s brochure.

Illinois DCEO Coal Curriculum Fails to Make the Grade

State-Supported School Curriculum

This past April, Eco-Justice Collaborative obtained a copy of the curriculum materials entitled “From the Coal Mines to the Power Lines“. The state-supported curriculum includes hundreds of pages of material, maps, posters and CD-ROMs purporting to be an effective vehicle for meeting Illinois State Learning Standards teaching language arts, math, natural science and  social science in our schools.  Taken as a whole, it is a highly biased program aimed at casting coal and coal companies in the most positive light possible and encouraging public allegiance to the coal industry, beginning with our youngest and most impressionable citizens.

In lauding the attributes of coal, the curriculum skillfully ignores or glosses over issues such as:

  • The ravages to the landscape caused by strip mining and the massive land subsidence of longwall mining.
  • The widespread displacement of residents by the practice of strip mning and longwall mining.
  • Thousands of violations of safety and environmental regulations by coal companies.
  • The long-term storage of toxic coal sludge that results from processing coal. This toxic soup containing chemicals like lead, arsenic, cadmium and selenium is stored across our Illinois farmlands in unlined reservoirs over one hundred acres in size.
  • The current practice of injecting coal wastes back into the ground.
  • Surface and groundwater contamination that takes place both during and after mining.
  • The thousands of people who die prematurely or develop lung, heart and respiratory problems aggravated by emissions from coal-fired power plants.
  • The dramatic loss of union mining jobs within the state of Illinois (now only 200 statewide).
  • The millions of dollars of costs externalized to Illinois residents each year by the coal industry in the form of health and environmental damages.
  • The fact that our continued burning of fossil fuels is the single greatest contributor of carbon dioxide emissions to our atmosphere, and coal-fired power plants are accountable for nearly one third of these emissions in the U.S.

IDCEO Curriculum and Climate Change

Over 97% of all climate scientists and virtually every Academy of Science in the World are in consensus that global warming is real and that human activities such as the combustion of fossil fuels are contributing to it. Yet, in the Teachers Resource Section of the IDCEO curriculumn,  high school teachers are coached to respond to students questioning whether the evidence is clear that the combustion of fossil fuels has led to global warming and climate change with the reply:

“The evidence is very mixed and does not give a clear answer”.

At a time when these students are considering what could be the greatest threat to their entire generation, they are to be told that the evidence is unclear, that the issue is complex; essentially coal is not a problem.

Let’s Tell Our Kids the Truth!

If our young people are to be taught about coal, then let’s tell them the whole truth, not a one-sided, biased and self-serving story contrived for the benefit of Illinois economic interests.  Why else would an Illinois department charged with economic development and an industry seeking financial gain join forces to become “educators”.

Our children’s  trust should not be violated and their education should not be for sale.

Act Now!

Click here to find your state representative and senator

Will you contact your state representative and senator and ask, why is the Illinois DCEO in the business of education, and who is paying for it?

For a copy of the IDCEO curriculum contact Linda Dunbar at (217) 785-6055 or linda.dunbar@illinois.gov

For a view of the IDCEO perspective on land reclamation and environmental impacts related to coal, click here.

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Scholastic Publication
Called on the Carpet for Similar Ethics Slip

Last month Scholastic Inc. was the target of a New York Times expose revealing that the publisher of children’s reading materials had teamed with the American Coal Foundation to distribute curriculum materials that gave children a one-sided view of coal.

Days later, under pressure from national groups such as the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood and Rethinking Schools, the publisher stopped distribution of the curriculum acknowledging that there problems with its sponsorship policy that allowed corporate slanted materials to be provided to teachers.

Let your state representative and senator know how you feel about IDCEO’s curriculum!

For more information, contact: lrichart@ecojusticecollaborative.org.

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