Cal-EPA Indoctrinates School Children

APRIL 8, 2011


Californian’s school children might be performing 49th of 50 states on standardized tests. And they might graduate at only a 44 percent rate, as in Los Angeles.

But they’re going to get the best environmental indoctrination in the country.

This year, California began “implementing the State’s first-in-the-nation environmental curriculum,” as described by a California Environmental Protection Agency press release. It explained how Cal-EPA, not the California Department of Education or local school boards, was put in charge of developing environmental education in all public schools in California:

The California Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for the implementation of EEI [Environmental Education Initiative] pursuant to AB 1548 [in 2003] and AB 1721 [in 2005].  These landmark laws mandate the development of a unified education strategy to bring education about the environment into California’s primary and secondary schools. The 2003 law was sponsored by Heal the Bay, a non-profit environmental organization in Southern California, which has been an active partner in the EEI curriculum’s development.  Other current key partners include the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education and the California Natural Resources Agency.

So Heal the Bay sponsored legislation from which it now benefits. That’s an increasingly common occurrence in California and one which has made worse the state’s endemic budget problems.

The press release noted that Cal-EPA’s environmental curriculum first is being implemented in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. It quoted actor-environmental activist Ed Begley Jr., who joined Cal-EPA, schools and other officials at a kick-off event for the curriculum:

As air quality, dependence on foreign oil and safe drinking water become issues of great importance in our lives, it’s essential that our students have some level of environmental literacy so they can have a chance of dealing  with them. The EEI Curriculum provides the tools to tackle those weighty matters. We need it now, more than ever.

At the same event, new Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said:

With this innovative curriculum, California is leading in the greening of the future. We are also giving our students a head start in the new green jobs of tomorrow.

The statements show that the curriculum is not intended to teach students about the environment and science, but as indoctrination into environmentalism. It’s the pedagogical counterpart to AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, and other environmental legislation.

Scientific method and falsification

One of mankind’s highest achievements is scientific method. Developed over the last millennium, it replaced guessing and superstition in science. Scientific method is crucial to any true scientific curriculum. Failing to include a proper scientific method in any science education, especially such a politicized field as environmental education, is a return to superstition.

Wikipedia explains:

A scientific theory hinges on empirical findings, and remains subject to falsification if new evidence is presented. That is, no theory is ever considered certain. Theories very rarely result in vast changes in human understanding.

“Falsification” is a key component. It means:

Falsifiability or refutability is the logical possibility that an assertion could be shown false by a particular observation or physical experiment. That something is “falsifiable” does not mean it is false; rather, it means that if the statement were false, then its falsehood could be demonstrated.

The claim “No human lives forever” is not falsifiable since it does not seem possible to prove wrong. In theory, one would have to observe a human living forever to falsify that claim. On the other hand, “All humans live forever” is falsifiable since the presentation of just one dead human could prove the statement wrong

Curriculum of Indoctrination

Cal-EPA’s new curriculum has been placed online. The Earth Science curriculum is here. In it, I found nothing about falsifiability. That is, I found nothing that said something like, If earth’s temperatures don’t increase to X degrees by the year 2020, then the theory of global warming is wrong.

Instead, the curriculum is pure indoctrination in environmental extremists’ alarmism about global warming and man-caused “climate change.”

Some examples from the Earth Sciences curriculum, “The Greenhouse Effect on Natural Systems,” Final Student Edition:

The global temperature has risen almost 2 degrees F (1.1 degrees C) in the last century. And the rate of warming is increasing.

Observing Climate Change in California

Changes in California’s own climate are in line with the warming trend in many other places. Our winter and spring temperatures have risen steadily in the last 50 years. [p.3]

Effects of Climate Change in California

…. If climate change continues, California could experience severe drought. Many fruit and nut trees would not produce good crops if they were exposed to extreme heat. [p. 4]

Page 5 shows a picture of trees burning brightly yellow and red. The words:

Earth’s warming trend could spark intense firestorms from the underbrush, destroying property and habitat. These fires also could cause the disappearance of plant and animal species in ecosystems already affected by human activity.

Overall, the curriculum depicts humans, especially Californians, as a blight upon the planet.

No footnotes are provided to any of the above statements. No “falsification” criteria are established. Opposing theories are not offered. Global-warming skeptics are not referenced. Nothing is provided so that students could Google the information and check things out for themselves.

One Point of View

“Any kind of new curriculum, including that on the environment, needs to include a balanced view representing all points,” Lance Izumi told me; he’s Koret Senior Fellow in Education Studies at the Pacific Research Institute,’s parent institute. He added:

It should include all research, not just one point of view. Most green curricula emphasizes only one point of view. Think how this affects the school day. Many students, although not proficient in English and math, are taking this curriculum. Does it make sense to shoehorn an ideological agenda into the school day?

Unfortunately, when talking about environmental issues, environmental bureaucrats are not into including various points of view. But unless other points of view are included, it will be a detriment to our children, not a benefit.

Tom Tanton is president of T2 & Associates and former principal advisor to the California Energy Commission. When I showed him the new environmental curriculum, he told me:

The lack of real science in the global warming curriculum is a travesty to kids everywhere because it reinforces a faux fatalism and fear mongering, and reduces individuals’ commitment to progress and optimism. Perhaps the worst parts are that the very essence of science is diminished by reliance on “consensus,” rather than disprovable hypothesis, and constant ad-hominen attacks on anybody who provides analyses that disprove the “accepted” hypothesis.

Science is not a popularity contest. Students need critical thinking skills to excel in science. Dispassionate evaluation of alternative theories should be encouraged, not prohibited. Students should learn that science is a living evolving thing, central to tripling of life spans and eliminating hunger and disease. They should not be taught that their contributions to science will place them in company of mankind’s enemies.

Stonewalled by Cal-EPA

For the month that I researched this article, I repeatedly called Cal-EPA’s press office. No one ever called me back, even though I pointed out that I worked for the Pacific Research Institute, the premier think tank on California policy.

However, someone in the Cal-EPA’s press office named Dominique — I never could get her full name — did make some comments in the course of taking my name down several times. She never said her comments were off the record, so I’m including them here. Apparently a low-level staffer, Dominique told me, “Obviously we are uninterested in what naysayers would say contrary to our method.”

Global-Warming Naysayers

It’s not the purpose of this investigation to go into the pros and cons of global warming.  However, the Climategate scandal broke in the fall of 2009.

As Andrew Bolt summarized the leaked emails in Climategate:

So the 1079 emails and 72 documents seem indeed evidence of a scandal involving most of the most prominent scientists pushing the man-made warming theory — a scandal that is one of the greatest in modern science. I’ve been adding some of the most astonishing in updates below — emails suggesting conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more.

Except for the possible illegalities of the climategate scientists — there was no illegality by Cal-EPA in devising this curriculum — the mentality is the same groupthink, the same fear of being questioned by citizens, parents and students.

California Lysenkoism

The Cal-EPA’s indoctrination resembles Lysenkoism in the old Soviet Union. According to Wikipedia:

Lysenkoism is used colloquially to describe the manipulation or distortion of the scientific process as a way to reach a predetermined conclusion as dictated by an ideological bias, often related to social or political objectives….[1]

The word is derived from a set of political and social campaigns in science and agriculture by the director of the Soviet Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural SciencesTrofim Denisovich Lysenko and his followers, which began in the late 1920s and formally ended in 1964.

With California’s budget problems only getting worse, a good place to start cutting would be the California Lysenkoism of Cal-EPA’s Education and the Environment Initiative.

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