Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sugar Daddies

Sara Robinson

It appears as though the National Science Teachers Association has abandoned its search for truth and is now looking for a good sugar daddy.

Laurie David, one of the producers of An Inconvenient Truth, wrote a piece for today's Washington Post describing her efforts to make 50,000 DVD copies of that movie available to America's science teachers through NSTA.

They said no. And, more weirdly, they explained why. First, they said, they were afraid that if they started taking information from "special interests" like David, they'd have to take them from other groups, too. As though a private organization is obligated to accept and distribute any fool thing the Flat Earth Society may send them? As though they're not scientists, capable of sussing out the factual truth and relative educational value of any given piece of would-be curriculum? As though (as David points out) An Inconvenient Truth isn't already part of the required science curriculum in other countries, including Sweden and Norway?

That was bizarre enough, but then they got to their second reason: It might jeopardize their capital campaign. It turns out that NSTA gets millions each year from groups like Exxon-Mobil and the American Petroleum Institute -- who, in turn, are given access to American science classrooms to promote anti-global-warming propaganda with titles like "You Can't Be Cool Without Fuel." If they started telling kids the truth about global warming, they whined, that money might go away. And then how would that fine organization continue to support America's science teachers in their quest to instill their students with a passion for empirical truth, and teach the rigors of the scientific method to the country's next generation of technology leaders?

Memo to the Christian Coalition: The NSTA is for sale. For a mere million bucks a year, I'll bet you could get them on board with Intelligent Design, too.

Memo to parents: It might be time to find out if your kids' science teachers are members of this group, and have a word with them about it. If you -- or the teachers -- want to complain directly to the NSTA, the complaint form is here. They need to hear from everyone who still thinks that scientific truth shouldn't be auctioned off to the highest donor.

Updated with corrections

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