AFT President Minces No Words on Biased Classroom Materials

In a letter yesterday to Scholastic Inc., AFT President Randi Weingarten expressed her disappointment that the company has partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to produce classroom materials that purport to teach about energy.

The Chamber of Commerce, Weingarten wrote, “has a long record of opposing efforts to protect children from dangerous chemicals and pollutants like mercury, smog and phthalates; instead, it regularly sides with the manufacturers of dangerous chemicals. The Chamber’s position against tighter standards to reduce pollution would, if successful, result in increased respiratory problems for the population at large, but especially for children, who already experience the highest rates of asthma.”

The series of materials, called “Shedding Light on Energy,” also leaves many unanswered questions about the consequences of our country’s policy decisions on energy production and consumption. “At a time when schools should be doing even more to challenge students—to help them build the skills they need to be problem solvers and creative thinkers—these materials are woefully inadequate and biased,” Weingarten noted.

There are many excellent organizations that would be willing to partner with Scholastic, which bills itself as the world’s largest producer and distributor of publications for children, to produce environmental education materials that are both educational and objective, she wrote. “I urge you to rethink the ‘Shedding Light on Energy’ materials, and produce environmental materials that are both educational and objective. In the meantime, I urge you to recall and recycle all existing materials printed and distributed as a result of this particular Chamber partnership.”