Tuesday, April 10, 2007

March 2007 Issue of California Educator

The cover reads: "Environmental Education, Safeguarding Our Future". Here we go.

Long-time readers of this blog know that I completely support environmentalism. The devil, however, is in the details, and those details get creepy when liberals (e.g., teachers union magazines) start identifying the details. I'll only highlight one of the stories on the topic, which comes, as you might expect, from my favorite (cough cough) city of San Francisco.

The title of that story is "JUSTICE motivates student activists". Do I need to read any further than this statement:

As the semester progressed, students quickly figured out that environmental injustice was rampant in their own backyard. In fact, they decided it could be considered a form of "environmental racism."

That doesn't mean that they consider cutting down a tree to be lynching. These teachers and their students complain that there's more pollution and toxicity in their poor neighborhood than in a "white neighborhood", which they identify as having more money. Which is a more plausible explanation: racism, or cost of disposal? If poorer people live in cheaper areas, and those poorer people are predominantly minorities, the color of their skin doesn't explain business practices--money does. Of course, it's more fun--and intellectually lighter lifting--just to play the race card and move on. These teachers aren't teaching their students about so-called social justice, they're teaching them to view life through the prism of race and class. They're setting these students up for the very failures they're lamenting.

I would have laughed at another article if I thought for a moment that the authors weren't dead serious. "The political divide can disrupt equilibrium in rural communties" was the lengthy title.

Another rural chapter member said that the Republicans vs. Democrats mindset was causing Republicans to drop out of her local association. She suggested that maybe it's time for members to seek common ground rather than to emphasize their differences.

"To me, it's not about Democratic or Republican issues," said lakeport Teachers Association member Paul Larrea. "To me, it's about kids. What No Child Left Behind has done to the education system is not a Republican or Democratic issue; it's an issue about kids."

Sounds like Paul and I wouldn't even agree on NCLB. How do you find common ground in such politicized areas? But let's continue:

Conference participants agreed that the best solution was not to "shut up and teach." Instead, they encouraged each other to reach out to community members--in good times and bad.

I'm curious--why does this only apply to rural schools? Why does the CTA not recognize and admit its starring role in creating this divide?

When the CTA stops being a reliable PAC for the Democrat Party, then they might have some credibility on this issue. My guess is the only reason they put that article in this issue is so they can convince their choir that they're "reaching out" to Republicans, when in fact the opposite is true.

I swear that if this magazine claimed there were 24 hours in a day, I'd be skeptical and would seek independent corroboration. That's how little trust I have in them.


Dan Edwards said...

Is CTA wasting my dues money sending their magazine to "Non-members" such as yourself? :-)

One thing I am noticing about CTA's magazine, is aside from the expected PC'ness, liberal/leftist/socialist/communist slant, their "reporters/writers" rarely seem to go far away from the center of California.....where is a story about the struggling teachers in the San Pasqual School District ? (located in Winterhaven, California, across the Colorado River from Yuma, AZ.)
Where are the articles helping teachers in places like south-central LA about helping them do their job and not have to worry about personal saftey?

IMO, they do a poor journalistic job of reporting/addressing issues facing their membership. As does the crappy NEA rag, but you haven't commented on NEA TODAY, so I won't either.

Darren said...

To answer your first question: yes, they are. Probably trying to lure me back into the fold or something.

The cover story was about students and teachers in my own district--they don't usually venture up to Northern California for more than a sidebar, but I agree with you nonetheless.

If you're concerned about their spending *your* money on sending *me* a magazine, I could recommend to you a couple ways to recoup that money. Just click on my "CTEN" label at the left =)

Hanley Family said...

Interesting...my first guess on environmental racism or whatever would be that the population per square foot is much higher than in richer areas. In my little area of the world, we do not have densely populated "white" areas...most of us live in the suburbs or the nicer more spacious parts of Lincoln. Out here, the new housing developments sport 3 acres per home.

That and if you dump your oil in your drive and leave your car up on blocks for however long, the neighborhood association will come after you. I don't believe there are such things in the poorer areas of town. I question whether the landlord has much to do with some of the properties.

That isn't racism...its just money, like you said.

Anonymous said...

When you use the term "environmentalism" do you mean fascism disguised as concern for the environment as practiced by Greenpeace, the EPA and other fascist organizations?

Or, do you mean using science to create ways of doing things which are both best for the environment and best for the economy?

Or, do you mean something else?

I have studied this issue a great deal, and when full lifecycle accounting is used, the best business policies are almost always the best environmental policies. The problems arise when one actor in the life cycle is allowed to ignore the economic consequences of their actions.

For example, there are several family owned forestry companies in the southeast united states who both own their land and control the full life cycle of harvesting the trees from planting through recycling waste by products of their milling operations. These companies reserve 20% of the trees that can never be cut, and cut 20% of the remaining trees every 15 or 20 years. None of these companies use clear cutting, they all cut 1 tree out of 5 from within a stand of trees. They all also plant 2 trees for every 1 tree they cut.

Contrast that business policy with the way many governments "manage" forests on government owned land. Companies are allowed to come onto government land and clear cut vast areas and then they are not required to plant new trees. Since these companies do not own the land they have no financial stake in following a policy which is best for the environment. If these companies had to pay the full life cycle costs for the trees they remove then they would not behave in this manner.

For pretty much any issue you look at, using a complete life cycle accounting method will make business practices and good environmental practices coincide.

What I have against most self proclaimed environmentalists, is that they are not interested in promoting practices that make economic sense and at the same time protect the environment, they are only interested in "punishing" businesses and rabble rousing zero or negative growth economic policies.

The EPA is probably one of the worst offenders of this. Instead of helping businesses adapt the best science and the best practices so that the environment is protected, the EPA uses bullying tactics like fines and lawsuits to "punish" businesses.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Are you kidding me? Somehow racism is now linked with the environment? I missed it! So I get it, when the globe warms enough to flood us, the water will somehow find its way only into "low income" neighborhoods. Those of us who live in rich neighborhoods will not be flooded. That's comforting. Let the poor people die first. After all, they have nothing to offer society but crime, out of wedlock births, and high school dropouts. Ah, social darwinism. Thanks, Barack.

Darren said...

I agree with the three immediately prior comments.

Curious, to answer your question, I am an environmentalist of the 2nd type you described. Unfortunately, too many environmentalist activists and organizations are of the first type mentioned--fascists.

I also agree with your comments that private ownership of property is the best way to ensure the continued health of that property. Ask any landlord.

Ellen K said...

The whole environmentalism as racism issue appears to be right out of the lectures in my daughters' college economics class. It seems rather than balancing budgets and creating spreadsheets, Economics now involved creating "real and fair solutions for society." Whose society? And while they are at it, have them define "fair" because from what I have seen it means "give me what I want regardless of my lifestyle and personal choices or I will go to the media and have Al Sharpton rant in the street for me." What I find ironic is that our neighborhood is relatively clean and most people recycle, but the home we used to live in, where the people that used to live there did those things, is now largely Hispanic and illegal. They pack the houses full of more families than zoning allows, they tear down trees, do not maintain the homes and throw trash in the front yard. And this was a house that had been complete redone seven years ago and it's about to be condemned. So some of it has to do with cultural norms. And if you don't throw your trash away and allow your home to deteriorate, is it really the fault of the white guy in the next town?