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Bush to Environmental Education: Drop Dead
February 6, 2002
by John Borowski

In a released 2003 White House budget, environmental education (EE) has been labeled, "ineffective." The budget calls for a reorganization of EPA, with EE funds being allocated to the National Science Foundation. Page three of the report is most telling: "This program has supported environmental advocacy rather than environmental education. The budget transfers funding to the National Science Foundation (NSF) math and science programs so that a consolidated program can better serve educators and students." Forty years ago we called "advocacy" in schools "civics," now we prefer a numb, materialistic generation fluent in standardized tests that basically reveille in semantics and put critical thinking, problem solving, and citizen participation on the endangered species list. (Students might ask, what is that endangered species list, in a few years in this new world of non-science according to the Bush Administration.)

Protecting God's creation is a form of advocacy that we must encourage. Instead, environmental concerns are treated like inconsequential data, mostly exaggerated and, according to President Bush, meaningless. Imagine the discussion we will have with our grandchildren's grandchildren about this "Cro-Magnon administration" which mocks science to protect ecosystem integrity and worships at the alter of the almighty dollar, even when their economic deities like Enron have gone extinct.

The champagne bottles must be popping at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, George Marshall Foundation, and a number of other "think tanks" that have seen environmental education as their nemesis, spending millions of dollars to discredit it.

EE takes tangible scientific principles, as diverse as physics, chemistry, biology, and math, and constructs a road map to this planet's sustainability. But, it also gives insight into the massive abuse of natural resources and the industries that leave a legacy of pillage on national forest land. It exposes the current extinction rate and asks students to utilize their education as knowledgeable citizens. And that rattles the despoilers of nature to the bone.

Turn to the Office of Management and Budget Report www.whitehouse.gov/om/budget/fy/2003 and click on the Environmental Protection Agency section. In terms of environmental protection, the Bush folks advocate "systems must become efficient and 'low cost' as possible while at the same time maintaining environmental progress." This must sound reassuring to those who live by 40% of the nation's water that is undrinkable and unswimmable. And it must confound those who see pork barrel stimulus packages that loot Fort Knox for the friends of Bush as many of our environmental needs go neglected. Just the repair of the nation's infrastructure could create billions of dollars of jobs and employ millions.

Page four contains the knock-out punches. Under "program listings" Environmental Education's assessment is recorded in big red letters: INEFFECTIVE.

Here is where the plot will thicken: Will industries that have joined as partners with certain environmental groups scream in protest? Or worse yet, will negotiations restore a neutered form on environmental education, one signed and sealed by industry itself? What will the big environmental groups do? Will they seize on this moment of true "homeland security"? Will they put Mr. Bush on the hot seat, and ask, "Doesn't your education program leave no children behind?"

As Sam Smith so eloquently states, "Bush is destroying our Constitution, bringing disgrace to our history, and endangering the entire planet." We, a nation of proud liberty-loving patriots, are allowing arrogant corporations, and greedy intellectuals to attack an area of knowledge, called ecology, and dismember it.

To cast away environmental education is more than a tragedy, it is a form of theft. Aldo Leopold's son, Luna, says it best. "Of all the causes that attract the attention of these young people, the plight of nature is one which may be truly a last call. Things wild and free are being destroyed by the impersonality of our attitude toward the land. What better way to fight the destruction of nature than to place in the hands of the young this powerful plea for a land ethic?" Mr. Bush, teach the children well. Parents scream loud and clear for restored EE funding. And to our cherished press, now is the time for those pens to write freely and defend education about our living earth.

 
Teacher of environmental science for 23 years, Mr. Borowski's articles have appeared in the
NY Times, UTNE Reader, Z Magazine, Liberal Slant and PR Watch. He is environmental advisor to the the Native Forest Council.

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