ALEC At It Again, Now Pushing Climate Change Denial in Schools
One of our favorite super villains is at it again.
The American Legislative Exchange Council is behind a new set of model bills currently being codified into legislation in some Southern states, DeSmogBlog.com recently revealed.
It’s another war on science, not on evolution this time, but on climate change.
State legislators introducing the bills are looking to mandate that public schools give a seat at the table to climate change deniers, suggesting that they are a valid alternative to the over-arching scientific consensus about the human causes of climate change as adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
In March 2011, Campus Progress revealed that one of ALEC’s model bills was for Voter ID laws, which threaten to disenfranchise millions of Americans, particularly the elderly, young Americans and students, and poor persons. In These Times first uncloaked the inner-workings of ALEC in July, and shortly after the Center for Media and Democracy published more than 800 model bills authored by both representatives and corporations as members of ALEC in their groundbreaking project ALEC Exposed.
The American Legislative Exchange Council crafts ‘model’ legislation in the interest of the overwhelming majority of the organization—the more than 2,000 corporations and right-wing legislators who serve as its registered membership. To ALEC, corporations are people who write and vote on model bills alongside state legislators.
These state representatives take the nicely wrapped legislative packages home to give to their congressional houses as gifts, with their own names on the tag.
ALEC operates through nine task forces, including their Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force which authored the Environmental Literacy Improvement Act [PDF] which, as you might have guessed, likely would not improve the environmental literacy of students.
The model bill declares that public schools’ and universities’ environmental educational programs should “be presented in language appropriate for education rather than for propagandizing,” and “not include instruction in political actions skills nor encourage political action activities,” among other things.
Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Tennessee and Oklahoma have introduced legislation or standards allowing climate change denial in classrooms. South Dakota and Utah have passed resolutions that deny climate change outright.
In Texas, the State Board of Education actually passed the climate change denial amendment, rather than the state legislature, saying the board, “adopted standards on the teaching of global warming that appear to both question its existence and prod students to explore its implications.”
That’s bold, seeing as how most climate change skeptics have changed their tune about the existence of rising temperatures in the face of that certain reality. The strategic focus of the denier camp has been centered on the causes of climate phenomenon, but not for the Texas School Board, which also passed the starkly conservative text book curriculum that made national news in 2010.
As the urgency of the climate crisis will only continue to grow, the problem, at least in the young minds of many across the south, will simultaneously shrink.Schools will begin to posit human-caused climate change “as only a theory” without the more fuller comprehension and objective reasoning skills to understand that a scientific theory is qualitatively different than what the term normally means in the common parlance—namely that it is backed up with all the evidence and rigor that the scientific method requires.
Candice Bernd is a reporter with Campus Progress. Follow her on Twitter @CandiceBernd.