Schoolroom Climate Change Indoctrination

Dear Friends,

A very informative and timely article writing by Paul H. Tice.  Mr. Tice works in investment management and is a former Wall Street energy research analyst.

Schoolroom Climate Change Indoctrination

While many American parents are angry about the Common Core educational standards and related student assessments in math and English, less attention is being paid to the federally driven green Common Core that is now being rolled out across the country. Under the guise of the first new K-12 science curriculum to be introduced in 15 years, the real goal seems to be to expose students to politically correct climate-change orthodoxy during their formative learning years.

In one assignment, students measure the size of their

family’s carbon footprint and suggest ways to shrink it.

 

The Next Generation of Science Standards were released in April 2013. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have adopted them, including my state of New Jersey, which signed on in July 2014 and plans to phase in the new curriculum beginning with the 2016-2017 school year. The standards were designed to provide students with an internationally benchmarked science education.

While publicly billed as the result of a state-led process, the new science standards rely on a framework developed by the Washington, D.C.-based National Research Council. That is the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences that works closely with the federal government on most scientific matters.

All of the National Research Council’s work around global warming proceeds from the initial premise of its 2011 report, “America’s Climate Choices” which states that “climate change is already occurring, is based largely on human activities, and is supported by multiple lines of scientific evidence.” From the council’s perspective, the science of climate change has already been settled. Not surprisingly, global climate change is one of the disciplinary core ideas embedded in the Next Generation of Science Standards, making it required learning for students in grade, middle and high school.

The National Research Council framework for K-12 science education recommends that by the end of Grade 5, students should appreciate that rising average global temperatures will affect the lives of all humans and other organisms on the planet. By Grade 8, students should understand that the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels is a major factor in global warming. And by Grade 12, students should know that global climate models are very effective in modeling, predicting and managing the current and future impact of climate change. To give one example of the council’s reach, these climate-change learning concepts have been incorporated almost verbatim into the New Jersey Department of Education model science curriculum.

Many of the background materials and classroom resources used by instructors in teaching the new curriculum are sourced from government agencies. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency has an array of ready-to-download climate-change primers for classroom use by teachers, including handouts on the link between carbon dioxide and average global temperatures and tear sheets on the causal relationship between greenhouse-gas emissions and rising sea levels.

Similarly, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Energy Department have their own Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness Network, or Clean, which serves as an online portal for the distribution of digital resources to help educators teach about climate change. One such learning module requires students to measure the size of their family’s carbon footprint and come up with ways to shrink it.

Relying on a climate-change curriculum and teaching materials largely sourced from federal agencies—particularly those of the current ideologically driven administration—raises a number of issues. Along with the undue authoritative weight that such government-produced documents carry in the classroom, most of the work is one-sided and presented in categorical terms, leaving no room for a balanced discussion. Moreover, too much blind trust is placed in the predictive power of long-range computer simulations, despite the weak forecasting track record of most climate models to date.

This is unfortunate because the topic of man-made global warming, properly taught, would present many teachable moments and provide an example of the scientific method in action. Precisely because the science of climate change is still just a theory, discussion would help to build student skills in critical thinking, argumentation and reasoning, which is the stated objective of the new K-12 science standards.

For instance: Why has the planet inconveniently stopped warming since the late 1990s even as carbon dioxide levels have continued to rise? How reliable are historical measurements of average global temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels when, before the 1950s, much of the data are interpolated from such diverse sources as weather balloons, kites, cloud observations, primordial tree rings and Antarctic ice bubbles?

How statistically significant is a 1.4-degree Fahrenheit increase in average global surface temperatures since 1880 for a 4.6 billion-year-old planet with multiple ecosystems and a surface area of some 200 million square miles? How dangerous is the current level of carbon dioxide in the world’s atmosphere, when 400 parts per million expressed as a percentage of the volume of the atmosphere would equate to only 0.04% or approximately zero?

Employing such a Socratic approach to teaching climate change would likely lead to a rational and thought-provoking classroom debate on the merits of the case. However, that is not the point of this academic exercise—which seems to be to indoctrinate young people by using K-12 educators to establish the same positive political feedback loop around global warming that has existed between the federal government and the nation’s colleges and universities for the past two decades.

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE District 12

www.tincymiller.com

tincymiller35@gmial.com

Pearson Loses Bulk of Texas Student Testing Contract

 

Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by Morgan Smith. Smith reports on politics and education for the Tribune, which she joined in November 2009. She writes about the effects of the state budget, school finance reform, accountability and testing in Texas public schools. Her political coverage has included congressional and legislative races, as well as Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign, which she followed to Iowa and New Hampshire. In 2013, she received a National Education Writers Association award for “Death of a District,” a series on school closures. After earning a bachelor’s degree in English from Wellesley College, she moved to Austin in 2008 to enter law school at the University of Texas. A San Antonio native, her work has also appeared in Slate, where she spent a year as an editorial intern in Washington D.C.

 Pearson Loses Bulk of Texas Student Testing Contract

For the first time in three decades, a new company is poised to develop and administer the state-required exams Texas students begin taking in the third grade. 

The state is in negotiations with Educational Testing Service, or ETS, to take over the bulk of the four-year, $340 million student assessment contract, the Texas Education Agency announced Monday. Company Vice President John Oswald said ETS is “privileged and honored” to land the work. Final contracts are still being negotiated.

The London-based Pearson Education has held the state’s largest education-related contract — most recently, a five-year, $468 million deal to provide state exams through 2015 — since Texas began requiring state student assessments in the 1980s. Under the new agreement, the company would still develop the state’s assessments designed for special needs and foreign students. That portion of the contract is worth about $60 million.  

As the Legislature moved to reduce the state’s standardized testing program in response to widespread outcry from parents and school leaders in 2013, the state’s contract with Pearson became the focus of much criticism. Many lawmakers, including former Senate Education Committee Chairman and now Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, attacked what they viewed as the company’s excessive influence in the policy-making process and called for greater scrutiny of testing contracts. 

In 2013, the state auditor concluded that the state education agency did not adequately oversee the contract with Pearson. At the time, Education Commissioner Michael Williams thanked the auditor’s office for its recommendations, which he said would be put into effect immediately.

Disclosure: Pearson is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

 Comment from Donna Garner

“Now that new tests are to be developed for Texas by Educational Testing Service, the TEA staffers will really have to monitor the development of these new tests carefully. They must follow the Type #1 TEKS adopted by the elected members of the SBOE. Part of the reason why Texas dumped Pearson is because of its very close ties to Common Core which has become a “dirty name” all across America, including in Texas. Hopefully when ETS produces its new set of Texas tests, the test writers will stay completely clear of Common Core.”  

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

www.tincymiller.com

tincymiller35@gmail.com