Monday, June 12, 2017

DeVos is Questioned About Campaign to Influence Climate Change Education | FRONTLINE | PBS

DeVos is Questioned About Campaign to Influence Climate Change Education | FRONTLINE | PBS:

DeVos is Questioned About Campaign to Influence Climate Change Education

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Four Democratic senators are sharply criticizing a conservative think tank’s efforts to bring climate change skepticism into the nation’s public schools as “industry funded” and “possibly fraudulent” and demanding to know whether federal education officials have been in contact with the group.
The Heartland Institute has been sending books, DVDs and pamphlets to science teachers across the country promoting its stance that climate change is caused by natural phenomena rather than human activities — a view rejected by nearly all climate scientists. Heartland’s campaign to influence how climate science is taught in public schools was first reported by FRONTLINE and The GroundTruth Project in March.
The Illinois-based non-profit vows to continue its efforts, saying it has already sent more than 300,000 packages to K-12 and college-level science teachers since the launch of the campaign earlier this year. Mailings have wrapped up for the summer break, according to Heartland spokesman Jim Lakely. He added, however, “This is not the end of Heartland’s efforts to bring balance to the climate debate in our schools, but just the beginning.”
In a letter sent to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday, Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — all of whom have been outspoken on climate change issues — described the campaign as an effort “to disseminate fossil-fuel industry talking points as curriculum for science teachers.”
The senators asked DeVos whether any Education Department officials have had contact with individuals associated with the Heartland Institute “on climate, science, or science education issues,” and whether any informational resources put out by the department have been created in collaboration with Heartland.
The senators also asked DeVos whether she was aware of any discussions between the White House staff and Heartland. In March, the group’s president and CEO, Joseph Bast, told FRONTLINE and GroundTruth, “We’re getting a lot of requests for expert opinion from the White House … That’s very new.”
Heartland was founded in 1984 and has a history of promoting causes that align with the interests of industry. In the 1990s, for instance, the organization lobbied against smoking bans, for which it was rewardedwith donations from tobacco company Philip Morris. Today, the group DeVos is Questioned About Campaign to Influence Climate Change Education | FRONTLINE | PBS:
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