In the mountains of southwestern Virginia, Gequetta Bright Laney taught public high school students this spring about a subject of keen interest to the region’s biggest employer: the economics of coal mining.
“Where there’s coal, there’s opportunity,” Bright Laney told her class at Coeburn High School in Wise County.
Her lessons, like others in dozens of public schools across the country, were approved and funded by the coal industry. Such efforts reflect a broader pattern of private-sector attempts to influence what gets taught in public schools.
We already have corporations controlling our political system - increased immeasurably by last year's Supreme Court decision legalizing unlimited, anonymous corporate contributions to political campaigns. Now corporations are moving into our schools, too.
Well, with the constant mantra of tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts, and the disinterest of Americans in actually paying for their children's education - or anything else, apparently - money talks louder than ever. And since Republicans are actually proud that corporations hold their strings, politicians in many states are actually eager to see children taught the corporate message.
I guess we shouldn't be surprised by this, although it does surprise me that anyone still votes for the GOP. Jeebus, why?
“We’re talking about catering our public school curriculum to those who can pay for it,” said Josh Golin, program manager at the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, based in Boston. “It raises questions about the foundation of our public education system.” ...
... critics say the energy industry often goes much further than the typical school donations. Groups with a stake in oil, gas or coal frequently train teachers and shape lesson plans on controversial subjects.
In the Appalachian mining communities of Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia, the Coal Education Development and Resources foundation, known as CEDAR, offers small grants to teachers whose lessons dovetail with its industry-driven mission.
Jeff Perry, the Wise County superintendent, gave teachers permission to apply for the grants.
“With our ever-dwindling revenue, we’re very appreciative of the coal industry’s contribution,” Perry said. “They’re providing opportunities for teachers that would otherwise never exist.”
This is scary stuff. We've already got corporations dominating our political system, as well as spending a fortune on TV advertising. Now, we've got them teaching our children the corporate line in our public schools. What's next, corporate religions?