With a new report being released by The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change–an organization of scientists from 130 nations around the world–the debate over man’s role in the warming of our planet is over.
Based on the best peer reviewed studies available, scientists report that the likelihood that human actions have sped up global warming is greater than 90 percent. These results shouldn’t surprise us. As far back as 2002, even the pro-industry administration of George Bush admitted man was responsible for climate change here on earth.
That’s what makes the decision of the Federal Way, Washington’s school board so remarkable. They’ve restricted the showing of Al Gore’s Oscar nominated documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, forcing teachers interested in showing the video to receive permission from their building principal and requiring that any showing be "balanced with an adequate opposing viewpoint."
As board member Dave Larson says, "We have to ensure that our schools are not being used to politically indoctrinate anyone."
What’s ironic in this entire conversation is that none of the board members have ever seen Gore’s documentary and the "concerns of the community" used as reasoning for the decision boiled down to "about a half-dozen complaints from parents" in a district of over 20,000 students.
To restrict teachers from showing a well-made, factually supported and widely respected video introducing a challenging topic in an approachable way created by a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize is unfortunate. As a science teacher required to cover the impact of human actions on the environment, I have found no better resource.
To suggest that teachers are using that same video to politically "indoctrinate" students borders on the hysterical. I’ve often heard conservative critics of education claim that there is a broad liberal conspiracy in public schools and am offended every time. Honestly, I don’t have the time for indoctrination—unless that includes drill and kill activities necessary to prepare my kids for standardized testing.
But to make all of these decisions based on the complaints of a handful of parents without ever taking the time to view the video in question is nothing short of horribly irresponsible. Perhaps the Inconvenient Truth is that the decisions made by school boards like those in Federal Way are far more politically driven than they care to admit.