End Kids Coal Education in Illinois

End IDCEO’s Kids Coal Curriculum
Ask Your State Rep. to Support HB5660
This bill removes the legal mandate requiring the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (IDCEO) to provide coal education for Illinois children.  Contact your state representative today and ask him or her to support HB 5660.

EJC Delivers sign on letter asking IDCEO to stop subsidizing kids coal curriculum. Photo by Pam Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative

EJC Delivers sign on letter asking IDCEO to stop subsidizing kids coal curriculum. Photo by Pam Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative

Did You Know
Illinois state law currently requires the development of a coal education program for our state’s children!  Hard to believe, but at a time when our state is under severe financial pressure and science is telling us that we need to move away from fossil fuels, a little-known law called the “Illinois Coal Technology Development and Assistance Act” requires the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to use tax dollars to produce and distribute coal educational materials  for our kids.

Background
In 2011 environmental organizations began a campaign to call for an end to the program, which included:

  1. An extensive curriculum called “From the Coalfields to the Power Lines” developed for children in grades K-12.
  2. A kids page on the IDCEO website, explaining the importance of coal and the effectiveness of environmental regulations in protecting lands impacted by coal mining.
  3. A yearly art and essay contest in which 5th–8th grade students in Illinois are invited to submit posters and essays on coal-related topics to compete for a spot in that year’s Coal Calendar.
  4. An annual all expenses paid four-day retreat to Rend Lake Resort for teachers wishing to learn more about coal.

Taken as a whole, this has been a highly-biased program aimed at casting coal and coal companies in an artificially positive light and encouraging public allegiance to the coal industry, beginning with the youngest and most impressionable members of society﹣ our children.

In 2012-2013 the DCEO paid $116,000 for a professional evaluation of the coal education program that concluded the program needs to be revised and updated.  We have a better idea.  Let’s put an end to the program now.  We think that there are better uses for our public funds.

Act Now
State Representative Deborah Conroy (46th District) is sponsoring HB5660 that will amend the Coal Technology Development and Assistance Act, eliminating the mandate for “coal education”.

Click here to contact YOUR state legislator today and ask him or her to co-sponsor and/or support HB5660.  It’s easy.  Scroll to the bottom of the action alert, fill in your zip code, read the letter and click submit.

The Facts:

  • The Coal Education Program is required by (30 ILCS 730) the “Illinois Coal Technology Development Assistance Act” and funded by revenue from three ratepayer taxes and fees: the electricity excise tax; the gas revenue tax; and the Renewable Energy Resources and Coal Technology Development Assistance Charge.
  • Between 2006 and 2012 the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (IDCEO) spent nearly $1 million on coal education.
  • During that same period the IDCEO distributed approximately 700 copies of “From the Coal Mines to the Power Lines” its educational curriculum for children in grades K-12.
  • Within the curriculum, children are taught that environmental regulations would significantly raise the cost of producing electricity, and that the evidence was not clear that the combustion of fossil fuels had led to a warming climate. They also are encouraged to use what they have learned to create commercials promoting coal.
  • Each year up to 1,500 students in fifth through eighth grade participate in the Illinois Coal Calendar Contest, producing art and essays promoting the coal industry.
  • Each year the IDCEO spends approximately $25,000 on its four-day, all-expense paid retreat for teachers held at Rend Lake Resort in Whittington, Illinois.  Teachers are taken on tours of coal mines by industry representatives, provided information on the merits of coal and encouraged to teach about coal in their classrooms.
  • In 2012-2013 IDCEO spent $116,000 on a consultant’s evaluation providing recommendations for revising the coal education program.
  • The consultant’s 2013 Coal Education Program Evaluation Report determined that the coal curriculum first developed in 2004 was outdated and should be immediately retired.
  • Revising and updating the coal education program will require a significant commitment of new public funds, funds that could be put to much better uses.
  • Educational professionals have no need for a state-funded coal education program.  High-quality educational materials on coal and energy are already easily accessible to teachers.  The 2013 Coal Education Program Evaluation Report acknowledges “…state and national level educational materials on coal, coal and the environment, energy, and energy literacy are readily available.”
  • Education is not the mission of the IDCEO. The stated mission of the IDCEO is “To raise Illinois’ profile as a premier global business destination; and to provide a foundation for the economic prosperity of all Illinoisans, through coordination of business recruitment and retention, provision of essential capital to small businesses, investment in infrastructure and job training for a 21st century economy, and administration of state and federal grant programs”.

Click here to contact YOUR state legislator today and ask them to co-sponsor and/or support HB5660!

Need more information?  Contact Lan Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative, at 773.556.3417.

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