'Avant-Garde Sustainability Curriculum' to Replace Three R's at Nation's Oldest High School

A recent Boston Globe story reveals the destructive effects that Al Gore and global warming activists are having on American education. According to the story,

[A]fter a screening of "An Inconvenient Truth'' three years ago, [students in the Youth Climate Action Network] started brainstorming ideas for transforming the nation's oldest public school into an energy-efficient building with an avant-garde sustainability curriculum.

Boston Latin is not some radical alternative private school; it is the city's preeminent public high school and the nation's oldest school, founded in 1635, one year before Harvard, with an all-star list of former pupils that includes Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock. BLS is consistently ranked one of the nation's best high schools, with a mission to "ground its students in a contemporary classical education." Admission to BLS is based solely on academic performance: standardized test results plus grade point average.

The Youth Climate Action Network is likewise not some obscure student club. Founded at BLS, "Youth CAN" has expanded to eight schools in Massachusetts, with an uncompromising vision: "Imagine many youth climate action groups speaking with one voice, insisting that legislators make the necessary changes pertaining to global warming."

It is common for school administrators to support student activism through school clubs and student councils -- on the scale of, for example, responding to student demands to serve organic milk in the cafeteria. Youth CAN, however, has more ambitious goals; Boston Latin students have dreamed up a new 70,000-square-foot, $6.2-million green roof project for their school, where they can, among other things, grow "local food" in the rooftop greenhouse.  

Headmaster Lynne Mooney Teta and faculty are fully on board with the "student-driven" building project and are moving forward with the sustainability curriculum:

Under this fall's pilot program, all students will be exposed to sustainability issues in a wide range of courses.

"It's not an add-on to what teachers are already doing; it's simply a shift in perspective,'' Teta said. "Teachers from across the building of all disciplines will play a role.''

"Simply a shift in perspective"? How reassuring.

A physics teacher comments that "he envisions sustainability issues as the 'backbone of the curriculum,' integrated in many subject areas."

Outside environmental activists have come in to "help," notes the Globe:

In a series of workshops this summer, Boston area teachers of all subjects are developing lesson plans integrating sustainability ideas, with the help of the Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation.

Many universities have recently instituted sustainability departments, which offer an elective course of study to young adults who theoretically have received a strong educational foundation in their K-12 years. This is insufficient for groups like CELF, which candidly describes its mission on its website:

At the college level, many traditional fields of study have evolved to offer students the knowledge they'll need to become part of the sustainability revolution. CELF believes sustainability education must begin earlier in students' academic life. We focus on K-12 as formative years for shaping thinking, attitudes, values and behaviors.

We believe that it is as important for students to recognize the interconnectedness of natural and human-built systems as to learn reading, writing and arithmetic. Once students grasp the connections between a stable economy, a healthy environment and equitable social systems, and their role as global citizens, they are successfully launched into an already more sustainable world -- a world that they are empowered to protect and enjoy. [Emphasis added.]

I'm sure that the people at CELF feel good about what they're doing, and they might even admit their program is radical -- necessarily so because of the ecological Armageddon they believe we face. But to me, this sounds very dangerous. Totalitarians throughout history have understood the power of co-opting youth, and here is an organization advocating what can only be called the indoctrination of a generation of students in our country's public schools, beginning in kindergarten, into radical environmentalism and advocacy for "equitable social systems" -- at the expense of reading, writing and arithmetic! Similarly, the physics teacher quoted above states: "Our goal as educators is to help students understand how to get to a sustainable world." Isn't your goal as a physics teacher teaching physics? The disregard for the essential purpose of education -- -imparting knowledge -- is aggressively blatant.

The current Youth CAN students have not even been subjected to the new sustainability curriculum pushed by CELF, and in the coming years, Boston Latin will turn out students who will be among the leaders of the nation. Imagine putting activists like this in charge of the public fisc.

Gail Sullivan, an architect working with the students, has enthusiastic praise for the students' plans: "'[T]he students said yes, yes, and yes to all the different features.' ... Unfazed by the hefty price tag, students ... have been raising money and applying for grants over the past year to make their green wonderland a reality, piece by piece."

Want to build an expensive "green wonderland"? Get a grant. Yes, yes and yes. The mentality these students have already learned is that when you are in the planet-saving business, you pay for your schemes with someone else's money, just as the Obama administration pays for its current spending sprees. Just as all government pays for anything.  "Unfazed by the hefty price tag." Indeed.

Or imagine Sullivan as Energy Secretary. She observed, "If the only goal were reducing energy costs, it might make the most sense to cover the roof with solar panels." In other words, if you need to reduce energy costs, the solution is to install the world's most expensive, least efficient energy source in a northern city with limited sunshine. Need to lower health care costs? Expand coverage. And on and on, ad nauseam. 

Of course, they may be a glimmer of hope. The green rooftop will offer students the opportunity to "measure the wind velocity from the rooftop turbines or test how much energy the solar panels generate."

Perhaps when they see the pitiful amount of energy generated by their hefty price tag, they will recognize the importance of nuclear power and fossil fuels. Then again, reality is no impediment to those who believe their cause is just.
A recent Boston Globe story reveals the destructive effects that Al Gore and global warming activists are having on American education. According to the story,

[A]fter a screening of "An Inconvenient Truth'' three years ago, [students in the Youth Climate Action Network] started brainstorming ideas for transforming the nation's oldest public school into an energy-efficient building with an avant-garde sustainability curriculum.

Boston Latin is not some radical alternative private school; it is the city's preeminent public high school and the nation's oldest school, founded in 1635, one year before Harvard, with an all-star list of former pupils that includes Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock. BLS is consistently ranked one of the nation's best high schools, with a mission to "ground its students in a contemporary classical education." Admission to BLS is based solely on academic performance: standardized test results plus grade point average.

The Youth Climate Action Network is likewise not some obscure student club. Founded at BLS, "Youth CAN" has expanded to eight schools in Massachusetts, with an uncompromising vision: "Imagine many youth climate action groups speaking with one voice, insisting that legislators make the necessary changes pertaining to global warming."

It is common for school administrators to support student activism through school clubs and student councils -- on the scale of, for example, responding to student demands to serve organic milk in the cafeteria. Youth CAN, however, has more ambitious goals; Boston Latin students have dreamed up a new 70,000-square-foot, $6.2-million green roof project for their school, where they can, among other things, grow "local food" in the rooftop greenhouse.  

Headmaster Lynne Mooney Teta and faculty are fully on board with the "student-driven" building project and are moving forward with the sustainability curriculum:

Under this fall's pilot program, all students will be exposed to sustainability issues in a wide range of courses.

"It's not an add-on to what teachers are already doing; it's simply a shift in perspective,'' Teta said. "Teachers from across the building of all disciplines will play a role.''

"Simply a shift in perspective"? How reassuring.

A physics teacher comments that "he envisions sustainability issues as the 'backbone of the curriculum,' integrated in many subject areas."

Outside environmental activists have come in to "help," notes the Globe:

In a series of workshops this summer, Boston area teachers of all subjects are developing lesson plans integrating sustainability ideas, with the help of the Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation.

Many universities have recently instituted sustainability departments, which offer an elective course of study to young adults who theoretically have received a strong educational foundation in their K-12 years. This is insufficient for groups like CELF, which candidly describes its mission on its website:

At the college level, many traditional fields of study have evolved to offer students the knowledge they'll need to become part of the sustainability revolution. CELF believes sustainability education must begin earlier in students' academic life. We focus on K-12 as formative years for shaping thinking, attitudes, values and behaviors.

We believe that it is as important for students to recognize the interconnectedness of natural and human-built systems as to learn reading, writing and arithmetic. Once students grasp the connections between a stable economy, a healthy environment and equitable social systems, and their role as global citizens, they are successfully launched into an already more sustainable world -- a world that they are empowered to protect and enjoy. [Emphasis added.]

I'm sure that the people at CELF feel good about what they're doing, and they might even admit their program is radical -- necessarily so because of the ecological Armageddon they believe we face. But to me, this sounds very dangerous. Totalitarians throughout history have understood the power of co-opting youth, and here is an organization advocating what can only be called the indoctrination of a generation of students in our country's public schools, beginning in kindergarten, into radical environmentalism and advocacy for "equitable social systems" -- at the expense of reading, writing and arithmetic! Similarly, the physics teacher quoted above states: "Our goal as educators is to help students understand how to get to a sustainable world." Isn't your goal as a physics teacher teaching physics? The disregard for the essential purpose of education -- -imparting knowledge -- is aggressively blatant.

The current Youth CAN students have not even been subjected to the new sustainability curriculum pushed by CELF, and in the coming years, Boston Latin will turn out students who will be among the leaders of the nation. Imagine putting activists like this in charge of the public fisc.

Gail Sullivan, an architect working with the students, has enthusiastic praise for the students' plans: "'[T]he students said yes, yes, and yes to all the different features.' ... Unfazed by the hefty price tag, students ... have been raising money and applying for grants over the past year to make their green wonderland a reality, piece by piece."

Want to build an expensive "green wonderland"? Get a grant. Yes, yes and yes. The mentality these students have already learned is that when you are in the planet-saving business, you pay for your schemes with someone else's money, just as the Obama administration pays for its current spending sprees. Just as all government pays for anything.  "Unfazed by the hefty price tag." Indeed.

Or imagine Sullivan as Energy Secretary. She observed, "If the only goal were reducing energy costs, it might make the most sense to cover the roof with solar panels." In other words, if you need to reduce energy costs, the solution is to install the world's most expensive, least efficient energy source in a northern city with limited sunshine. Need to lower health care costs? Expand coverage. And on and on, ad nauseam. 

Of course, they may be a glimmer of hope. The green rooftop will offer students the opportunity to "measure the wind velocity from the rooftop turbines or test how much energy the solar panels generate."

Perhaps when they see the pitiful amount of energy generated by their hefty price tag, they will recognize the importance of nuclear power and fossil fuels. Then again, reality is no impediment to those who believe their cause is just.