to Environmental Education: Drop Dead
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
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
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
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
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.