[column width=”46%” padding=”6%”]Vote to End Publicly-Funded Coal Curriculum for Kids Falls Short Illinois Legislators Fear “War on Coal”

HB 5660, a bill before the Illinois House that would have ended a mandate for the state to prepare and provide coal education materials for kids met sharp resistance this week from downstate legislators fearful that it represented the first step in a “War on Coal”.

Showing the powerful grip of the coal lobby on Illinois lawmakers, floor debate quickly moved from the merits of lifting the requirement for the state to educate school children on coal, to a series of oratories linking the measure to an effort to undermine the Illinois’ coal industry and ultimately lead to a loss of jobs. The bill failed to pass by a vote of 61-54.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is required by law to prepare, market and distribute education materials targeted for grades K-12. The initiative is taxpayer funded through utility user fees, and has been highly criticized by environmental groups for being a thinly veiled marketing program for the coal industry. The program consists of a compre-hensive teaching curriculum; a kids website; an annual coal calendar coloring contest; and a four-day, all-expense paid retreat for teachers wishing to earn professional development credits while learning about coal.

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In 2013 an independent consultant hired by IDCEO to evaluate the coal education program acknowledged that “science content experts, teachers and stakeholders found the scientific content to be outdated, biased toward a positive image of coal, light on natural science content, and lacking discussion of potential environmental and social impacts of coal use”. The report rec-ommended that the current Coal Curriculum be retired.

The bill’s sponsor Rep. Deborah Conroy (D-Elmhurst) has requested postponed consideration of the measure pending possible amendment.

Lan Richart, EJC, April 4, 2014 .  Click here for more


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