October 24th, 2020

Opinion: Education, UCP style

By Medicine Hat News Opinion on February 4, 2020.

jappel@medicinehatnews.com@MHNJeremyAppel

It should go without saying that education is more than a mere commodity, but not in in the UCP’s Alberta.

The K-12 curriculum review panel convened by Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, in which any teachers are conspicuously absent, released its recommendations for the future of education in this province.

On the one hand, most of its report consists of pablum that suggests the NDP draft curriculum that Premier Jason Kenney slammed as “ideological” indoctrination on the campaign trail isn’t so bad after all.

The New Democrats, namely education critic Sarah Hoffman, were quick to declare victory on that front.

However, where its recommendations are more specific, freethinking Albertans have cause for concern, particularly when combined with the rhetoric of the UCP – not least the education minister herself – and its allies in the press.

There’s repeated references throughout the recommendations to incorporating “the needs of Alberta’s employers into the curriculum development process,” treating education as simply a means to the end of students growing into well-behaved, obedient workers, preferably in the oilsands.

True, industry has long been involved in the education system, but this ought to be something that’s kept to a minimum, not actively promoted.

The 25th recommendation in particular, that the curriculum must guarantee “a balance of perspectives with respect to the importance of Alberta’s resource-rich economic base in relation to the impact on the economy, families, service and government” – strikes a particularly ominous tone by explicitly injecting petro politics into K-12 education.

In her press conference announcing the recommendations and consultation phase, LaGrange acknowledged the reality of climate change, although she didn’t specify whether it’s anthropogenic or simply caused by the sun, as the laughably-named Friends of Science contend.

But, she insists, it must be taught in a “balanced” fashion, presumably by giving equal weight to the scientific consensus and industry-funded conspiracy theories.

Responding to questions from the press, she elaborated in a way that provides a clear indication of her motives – we must put a stop to “extremist views” being taught in schools, such as the notion that ours is the final generation to combat climate change. Never mind that this is precisely what the scientific consensus tells us.

This message was then relayed by the UCP’s dutiful mouthpiece at the Edmonton Journal, David Staples, attacking the “extremist indoctrination” occurring in public schools, due to the City Hall School Program having the audacity to invite Edmonton climate justice campaigner Chris Gusen to share his perspective with Grade 6 students.

Staples didn’t bother reaching out to Gusen for his perspective, so I did.

His appearances at the regular event is just one selection in a “menu” of various perspectives the students hear regarding the value of civic engagement, he explained.

“I have a really positive message for them. It’s about the fact that climate change is real, it’s serious, we need adults to step up and do something, but we can actually create a really great world – a more just world, a more beautiful world, and better, greener cities in the process,” Gusen said.

When the oilsands come up, he says he’s sure to speak about it in a nuanced manner that emphasizes respect for those whose livelihoods depend on extraction, which is particularly crucial since many of the students’ parents work in the industry, many of whom have received his talks with enthusiasm.

“I’m not there to demonize oil and gas,” said Gusen. “I think it’s important that when we talk about this in Alberta, we differentiate between oil and gas workers, and the CEOs of those companies and politicians who are delaying climate action.”

So Gusen is being demonized for encouraging students to think about the long-term interests of society at large and be responsible citizens, which is precisely education’s intrinsic value. He should be applauded.

But the government is hell bent on politicizing education in the name of short-term economic gain, which doesn’t at all bode well for our collective future.

(Jeremy Appel is a News reporter. You can contact him by email at jappel@medicinehatnews.com)

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Michelle Stirling
Michelle Stirling
8 months ago

Henrik Svensmark of the Sun-Climate Research Institute of Denmark’s DTU Space program offers a plain language discussion of the sun’s influence on climate. https://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2019/03/SvensmarkSolar2019-1.pdf Schools have been indoctrinating children for years. https://friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/Teachers_journal_Michelle.pdf Now the program is much more elaborate and international – but shameful child exploitation. Schools Betray Parents’ Trust with Greta-Inspired Climate Scare – Duped by Green Billionaires https://blog.friendsofscience.org/2019/12/21/schools-betray-parents-trust-with-greta-inspired-climate-scare-duped-by-green-billionaires/ (I am the Communications Manager for Friends of Science Society. We agree that humans and CO2 affect climate change, but this is nominal compared to natural variability). Dr. Judith Curry explains that CO2 is not the control knob that can fine tune climate. https://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/curry-senatetestimony-2014-final.pdf She also does not think there is any emergency, contrary to climate ‘justice’ activists who are not scientists.

Michelle Stirling
Michelle Stirling
8 months ago

This is a personal comment. Here’s the op-ed I sent the MedHatNews over the holidays but they didn’t publish it.
Anti-War Room Reporter Needs to do Some Research

By Michelle Stirling

In Jeremy Appel’s op-ed of Dec. 14, 2019, he calls the Alberta ‘war room’ an expensive joke. Appel fails to look at the history of the Tar Sands Campaign or the openly stated facts about it which can easily be found on-line. Michael Marx of Corporate Ethics in the US proudly states that as strategic advisor: “Michael advised the International Tar Sands Oil Campaign, which included over 100 groups working in the U.S., Europe and Canada.” In the 2010 report of the International Funders for Indigenous Peoples, Marx was a speaker and stated that the Rethink Alberta campaign to drive investment and tourism away from Alberta was to ultimately shut down the Keystone XL pipeline.

“We think it will have implications not just for tourism but also for the willingness of companies to do business there and to establish headquarters or affiliates there,” Marx said. A number of U.S. groups are backing the effort, including Rainforest Action Network, Forest Ethics, Global Community Monitor and Friends of the Earth. In Canada, Marx said the campaign would have mostly “silent” supporters, suggesting that was for their protection. “We’re expecting a lot of backlash from Alberta,” Marx said. According to Marx, the campaign’s “big goal” is to end expansion of the oil sands. Key to that, he said, is blocking approval of a $7 billion pipeline under review by the U.S. Department of State.”
http://internationalfunders.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/IFIPConferenceReport2010.pdf

The left-wing “Counterpunch” explains the North American Tar Sands Campaign and its actors. Andrew Frank’s sworn affidavit of 2012 explains that the tax-payer subsidized TIDES Canada was the sponsor and funder of ForestEthics, an organization cofounded by Michael Marx, which was engaged in pipeline blockades and the Tar Sands Campaign.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2013/10/16/how-tides-canada-controls-the-secret-north-american-tar-sands-coalition/

Thus, the war room is not about preventing freedom of speech or thwarting one’s ability to question oil sands or environmental issues.

Clearly there has been a concerted, foreign managed campaign of economic destruction waged against Alberta, using Canadian tax-payer subsidized, federally registered charities as a front. Since a bevy of ENGOs have proudly declared they have blocked $19 billion in pipeline development in Canada, a paltry $30 million investment by the Alberta government to counter these foreign-funded, highly coordinated attacks that ride on wild rhetoric about our industry would seem to be a worthy investment. Now over 100,000 people are out of work based on smears and misinformation on the oil sands, and Appel mocks the nascent war room as ‘an expensive joke.’

None of the jobless are laughing, Mr. Appel. Some are committing suicide. Excellent, skilled professionals are leaving Alberta for work elsewhere.

Canadians are generally ignorant of geopolitics and are mostly energy illiterate. Appel appears to be unaware that the world runs on more than 80% fossil fuels; that Canada is in the top 6 competitor nations and Alberta in the top 7th or 8th oil producers on that same list. Who could benefit from blocking a supplier like us, with a reputation for high quality production, high environmental standards, excellent labour codes and standards and pay grade…who? Well, any or all of our competitors.

Who else could benefit? Green billionaires intent on establishing global cap and trade, carbon pricing and putting trillions of dollars of their vested interest renewables on the grid. One of the easiest ways to make people think they want ‘clean’ unreliable, expensive wind and solar is to demonize the reliable, affordable, portable and powerful forms of fossil fuels that power society. And that’s what the ClimateWorks Foundation partners have done, as reported in peer-reviewed work by Matthew Nisbet, Ph.D., who has been following their activity for over a decade. Obviously, the Alberta oil sands, with its vast exposed surface mines, became a convenient poster child for ‘dirty oil’ and the ‘carbon bomb’ for James Hansen’s climate diatribes, part of the climate street theatre, right from the global warming get-go in 1988.
https://web.northeastern.edu/matthewnisbet/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Nisbet2018_ClimatePhilanthropy_WIREsClimateChange_Final.pdf

We are sitting on vast riches in Alberta, but they are being demarketed as these international tire-kickers denigrate us and our product for sale.

It’s time we had someone speak up for us and for the facts. Mr. Appel won’t.

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Michelle is author of “My Tar Sands Tipping Point with CBC” – a compilation of letters written in 2011 to CBC challenging the misinformation and lack of context in CBC co-production of “The Tipping Point:Age of the Oil Sands” documentary. https://www.amazon.ca/Tar-Sands-Tipping-Point-CBC-ebook/dp/B00ZVCQ826