Jordan Peterson, a worldwide pop-culture self-help phenomenon and University of Toronto psychology professor, has repeatedly warned that “Liberal colleges aren’t about education; they’re about political activism.” It is widely believed and experienced by conservatives that our universities are doing more to indoctrinate our students than truly educate. What many people do not realize is the same thing is being done in our public K-12 schools.
I am one of nine elected directors on the school board in the Hollidaysburg Area School District in central Pennsylvania. Among other responsibilities, school boards are charged with approving their districts’ textbooks and curricula. In most cases, the books are rubber-stamped “yes” by the boards.
What is the point of voting to approve books if you don’t read them? You can get monkeys to do that. So, I try my best to read the books.
When my board placed approval of the Exploring Environmental Science for A.P book on the agenda for our meeting, I knew the voters in my district would want me to know what I was voting for, so I went into the administration office to look at the book. (There is a sheet in the book that you have to sign before you look at it. A day before the board meeting, my name was the only one on the list, even though it had been on display for the required 30 days.)
Since I didn’t have time to read a 500-page book in one afternoon, I went to the sections I knew could be the most problematic — that is, ideologically biased.
What did I find?
“Passive solar power is extremely efficient.” Well, yes, technically that is true. But it’s not the whole “efficiency” story, is it? What about the draining of tax resources through tax credits offered to direct consumer behavior to buy solar panels? That isn’t mentioned, because that is an economic and political question, which was not addressed (more on that later!)
What about nuclear power? A very clean and efficient source of energy? One recommendation in the book for the teacher to “educate” the class about nuclear was for the students to watch a YouTube video on the Chernobyl disaster. What better way to scare students regarding the development and use of nuclear energy? Does this put the use of nuclear power properly in perspective? Yet this is an advanced placement science book.
The book’s description of hydraulic fracturing — commonly referred to as “fracking” — was also charged with descriptors meant to frighten the reader, explaining the dangerous nature of the chemicals used in the fracking fluids. There was no balanced, equally emotive language used to describe the revolutionary development of this process, which a hundred years ago was not even imagined.
We have been told repeatedly over the past 100 years that we would run out of fossil fuels by the end of our or our children’s lifetimes. Fracking has enabled the world to have access to a whole new reserve of abundant and cleaner energy. I would think reasonable people would want to celebrate this instead of scare people about a made-up nightmare scenario about fracking fluids.
In one section of the teacher’s edition, it states that the goals of the section are to make the students understand that “humans play a significant role in the changing climate” and that “what is now inevitable climate change can be slowed by implementing drastic greenhouse gas reductions.” (Emphasis mine.) Of course, there is no mention of the untold millions who will suffer by a significant decline in their disposable income due to rising energy costs and the necessary increases in taxes.
The beginning of one chapter starts with this quote: “Coal plant smokestacks that dirty the air and alter the climate will be replaced by solar panels on our rooftops and wind turbines turning gracefully in the distance.” (emphasis mine.) Does that sound like something that belongs in a science book?
The facts, ma’am, only the facts!
The book discusses the high cost of converting to renewable energy as our primary resource and recommends raising taxes as a solution! Remember, this is a science book, not a public policy or economics book! The book does not discuss the downside or opportunity cost of raising taxes to achieve objectives that many reasonable people deem to be of dubious value. The impression is clear: renewables = good; fossil fuels = bad. How about the opposite view that renewables = limited value; fossil fuels = unprecedented prosperity and the best human health in the history of the world.
This is not science. This is propaganda disguised as facts for impressionable teenage minds.
Board Director, Hollidaysburg Area School District
Post script: Lois was an incumbent school board director running to hold her position in the recent June election. The local newspaper ran a front page story on her opposition to the AP textbook two days before the election, apparently to dissuade normal folk from voting for her. She was re-elected with the highest vote count of all contenders.