Hey, I spend a lot of time in the classroom, so when I see a column entitled "Our Kids Deserve Balance in the Classroom" I perk up like an chemically stimulated prairie dog. All along I have been under the impression that Your Kids deserved to be given accurate information and taught how to process it. How wrong was I. It turns out that what kids really deserve is "balance"! You know, two sides to every story. Teach the Controversy.tm But I doubt that Steve Mroczkiewicz – scholar at the Independent Women's Foundation project Balanced Education for Everyone – would raise such an issue lightly; he's a goddamn expert on Balance. Move over, Flying Wallendas. Let's discover how Unbalanced our schools are with the ultimate goal of Balancing them like the scales of justice.
This FJM is made possible through a generous grant from the Steve, Shut The Fuck Up Foundation. SSTFUF: A Better Tomorrow is Possible if Steve Shuts His Piehole Today.tm
We as parents have a lot on our minds these days. Too many of us are out of work and struggling to pay the bills. While trying to pay our mortgage and prepare for retirement, we are also trying to save to help our kids go to college. Of course, we are also concerned about the quality of our children's schools, though few have the time to follow closely what goes on in those classrooms each day.
OK, Steve isn't a professional writer. This much will be abundantly clear. Regardless, there's something inherently dangerous about opening anything other than a letter to the Penthouse Forums with this many industrial strength platitudes. And don't worry, parents who lack the time to follow what goes on in the classroom each day – Steve's on it.
As a father of six—five of whom still attend Attica, Indiana public schools
Remember this. It's going to be relevant in a minute.
I know first-hand the difficulty of keeping up with all the responsibilities that parents face. Yet I also know how important it is to remain engaged in our children's schools to make sure that they get the education they need and deserve.
This passage was nominated for the 2010 Award for Redundancy Award of 2010.
It has been more than a month since Earth Day, and most of our children are finishing their studies for the year. One area that I would encourage all parents to pay extra attention to is what's happening at your school regarding climate change education. Ideally, it is supposed to encourage students to consider the importance of preserving our natural resources. Unfortunately, too often it's used as a platform to push a misleading, ideological brand of environmentalism.
Ideally…according to whom? This sounds an awful lot like a segue into the classic "My kids are not being told that my beliefs are correct, so it's time to change what they're taught" argument.
I’m a Ph.D. scientist
And yet you can't figure out how condoms work, according to the earlier admission.
I’m a Ph.D. scientist and work as a Field Research Scientist for a global crop protection company, so I have a special interest in how my kids are taught the subject.
Great. You have a biology Ph.D., proving that you have mastered titration and whatnot (I don't know if titration is relevant to what biologists do, but it's one of the most phonetically pleasing hard science-y words I know). This makes you an expert on many things, including global warming. I also have a Ph.D., Steve, so when I get done writing this I'm going to draw up architectural blueprints for a skyscraper and invent a new state of matter.
To me, teaching science properly means presenting all sides of scientific theories and helping kids develop their own critical thinking skills.
Teaching Science Properly by Steve Mroczkiewicz is apparently the least useful book ever written. It receives serious competition for that honor only from The Encyclopedia of Phrenology, Modern British Dentistry: A Practical Guide, and On Diplomacy by Ariel Sharon.
Steve, teaching science properly means presenting the "sides of scientific theories" that are either correct or have evidence to support them. Not "all" sides. We can, you know, skip the ones that are wrong or utterly devoid of merit. When we teach the shape of the planet, we generally do not give Round and Flat equal time.
Regrettably, it seems that too many in our public education system see their role differently.
Strangely and regrettably, most teachers don't see the value in teaching unsupported crackpot theories or industry-funded denialist claims. Baffling.
I first became concerned about how my children's school was teaching global warming last year when a group of teachers orchestrated a school-wide showing of An Inconvenient Truth during class in celebration of Earth Day.
They showed a multi-multi-award winning documentary by the former Vice President in a public school? My god. What country do we live in?
I was alarmed that parents weren't even able to pull their kids from this assignment (fortunately, with some work, I eventually got that policy changed).
Ooh, goodie. We're playing "I was alarmed by…" I love this game. OK Steve, I was alarmed by the suggestion that parents – parents who might be, and often are, dumber than a bag of hammers – should be able to decide what their kids are and are not exposed to.
OK, your turn.
The problem isn't just that the school shows An Inconvenient Truth, a movie found by a judge to be riddled with serious scientific errors and which grossly exaggerates the potential damage of man-made global warming. It also fails to provide any counterweight to this environmentalist propaganda.
Aww, I thought we were playing. Anyway, Steve, no judge accused the film of scientific errors or "gross" exaggerations. A British judge in a civil trial agreed with an attorney's claim that the film exaggerates the potential damage of human-induced climate change – which is a pretty strange argument, by the way, given that both the judge's and the filmmaker's exercises are inherently speculative. But like any documentary, I won't argue that the film in question is strongly argued and probably includes some exaggerations by zealous True Believers. Documentaries are never "fair."
Schools do have options. For more than a year now, I've been trying to get another film, Not Evil, Just Wrong, shown in our school to provide some balance.
Awesome. Schools have options, like showing a straight-to-video piece of shit (funded by a wealthy Irish nutcase) that repackages every tired global warming denialism argument of the past 30 years. Do you understand how bad a movie has to be before it can't secure a theatrical release? For christ's sake, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed opened on 1000 screens and it was so bad that most people who paid to see it shot themselves.
Maybe part of the problem is that the film begins with the tale of how hysterical environmentalists got DDT banned and caused 40 million people to die of mosquito-borne illnesses – ah, the perils of scientific Chicken Little-ism – which is a great point except that DDT is still used to kill mosquitoes and always has been. And it's uphill from there!
Not Evil, Just Wrong thoroughly reviews the flawed science of global warming, specifically addressing the many errors and gross exaggerations in An Inconvenient Truth. Our children deserve to hear this information so they don't believe that there's only one truth about this important issue.
Read that again. "…so they don't believe that there's only one truth about this important issue." Our goal, of course, is to have them believe that there are many, equally valid "truths" about important issues! Why, that just sounds great. What a great world we would live in if everyone thought that opposing sides of objective issues were equally valid.
Unfortunately, getting balance into my children's school has been an uphill battle. I’ve spoken to teachers, the principal, the superintendent and the school board. I’ve loaned copies of the film so teachers could see it and make an informed decision.
Are you getting the sense that Steve is "That Guy" in his school district? The one who harasses the administrators to an extent that verges on stalking and who rises at every board meeting to deliver the same harangue about Communist water fluoridation or free energy suppression or Noah's Ark or whatever his idiotic pet issue happens to be? I bet he's quite popular in his community.
Yet only two teachers in the whole school bothered to view the film, and none of them would show it.
I made my case publicly during the open session of a school board meeting.
I bet you did, Cubby.
The only result was that a group of teachers publicly complained to the board for giving me a hearing.
Well that could mean a few things. You've been at this for a full year, so let's assume they understand your argument. Either they are closed-minded, ideologically narrow bigots hell-bent on suppressing your Truth, or your argument is entirely without merit and no amount of explanation is sufficient to make you understand that.
Most recently, the superintendent declared Not Evil, Just Wrong isn’t suitable because it lacks the endorsement of the National Earth Day Foundation. You can see what I’m up against.
I more clearly see what the school district is up against, but yeah, I feel for you. Going up against reality and facts is hard.
This isn’t just ignorance of the science behind climate change, this is an ideological position. I will continue to fight for our students to be taught rather than indoctrinated.
Steve, your point of view as expressed here makes clear that you loathe indoctrination. You just have the very reasonable and open-minded view that your children should only be taught what you want them to be taught irrespective of its accuracy.
I haven't been able to change the curriculum so far, but I have succeeded in raising awareness of the problem. I would urge other parent to do the same.
"No one is listening to me. It's lonely here at the helm of the USS Batshit. I need 30 stout men for a voyage to where there be dragons."
Ask questions about how global warming is being presented in your school. Find out if movies like An Inconvenient Truth are being used on Earth Day or as pillars of the science curriculum. Make sure that your kids are hearing the other side of the story.
(The one with no evidence to support it.)
We should encourage our schools and teachers to address this imbalance during the summer break.
Once again Steve shows his keen understanding of reality by stressing that the best time to get the attention of educators is during the summer.
I realize many of us are busy, but our children's education starts at home. You shouldn't trust that your local school is providing the balanced education your children deserve.
"Just homeschool your kids already. That's the only way to keep them Pure of influences other than the voices in Mom and Dad's head. Isn't it about time you took dictatorial control of every piece of information that reaches your child? How else can we ensure that they will grow up creationist, heavily armed, and utterly unable to function socially?"
Thanks Steve, whoever the hell you are, for taking the idea of scientific inquiry out behind an abandoned warehouse and fingering it. I can think of no one I'd rather have in control of the future of our educational system. Being lectured on objectivity and balance by Steve Mroczkiewicz is like having Bible study with the Pope himself.