Endangered Education

WASHINGTON, DC -- Far from a broad-based backlash led by outraged parents, recent attacks on environmental education in the classroom are part of a sophisticated media effort aimed at de-funding environmental education at the state and federal levels, according to a major report released today. "This effort is being funded by corporate polluters with a vested interest in overturning environmental education," states the report, Endangered Education, produced by the Center for Commercial-Free Public Education, an Oakland, CA-based advocacy group.The report was produced in response to recent media articles and Facts Not Fear, the December 1996 book which painted the movement against environmental education as a broad-based effort to eliminate bias in the classroom. "These attacks have been falsely presented as a grassroots movement concerned about the health of our kids," said Marianne Manilov, director of the Center. "In fact, they are carefully masterminded ploys by industries with an anti-environmental agenda."The report finds that the Heritage Foundation, the George C. Marshall Institute, the Political Economy Research Center, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, among others, are behind the attacks on environmental education. All these organizations are funded by corporate polluters such as Amoco, Dow Chemical and Shell. Their ultimate aim, critics say, is to derail the National Environment Education Act, and de-fund environmental education in the U.S..The report traces the genesis of recent stories slamming environmental education and finds a trail of distorted facts and misrepresented sources. One New York mother was dismayed to discover that her story about her daughter's concerns over the origins of her maple bed has been misrepresented by the anti-environmental lobby and appropriated as an argument against environmental education. "I never suggested backing down from teaching kids what is happening in our environment," said Nancy Bray Cordozo. "In fact, [environmental education] should be expanded."But even as they denounce the so-called bias of environmental education, polluting corporations produce their own skewed materials for use in schools. "Talk about double-talk," says Manilov. "While Dow Chemical is funding these right-wing think tanks, it distributes "Chemapalooza," a music video which tells children 'everything is made of chemicals', as if there's no difference between water and bleach. It's the lessons planned by corporations, not environmental education, that parents should fear." The Center for Commercial-Free Public Education, home of the UNPLUG campaign 360 Grand Avenue, #385 Oakland, CA 94610 phone: (510) 268-1100 fax: (510) 268-1277 email: unplug@igc.orgContacts: Rachel Swain, 415-255-1946 Marianne Manilov, Tamara Schwarz, Center for Commercial-Free Public Education, 510-268-1100

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