Industry is using our public school system to make sure society stays addicted to fossil fuels for generations to come.
Our children are the ones who will pay for our excesses. They will be left with the consequences of our fossil fuel use. For that reason, young people seem to be more concerned about global warming and the causes.
Big Gas has a new marketing tool to pollute the minds of any youth who might be thinking about a cleaner environment. Get ’em early.
Southwest Academy of Petroleum Engineering & Technology program at Southwest High School in Fort Worth
Here’s a report from Jerry Lobdill:
I attended the opening ceremony of the new Southwest Academy of Petroleum Engineering & Technology program at Southwest High School in Fort Worth that is being funded by IPAA, Independent Petroleum Association of America. This organization is headquartered in Washington, DC. It is a lobbying organization. Here’s a brief excerpt from the IPAA web site.
A key purpose of IPAA is advocacy for federal policies that promote the development and use of domestic petroleum and natural gas. IPAA interacts with both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government on issues affecting independent producers. This section presents information in the form of testimony, fact sheets, and comments on federal proposals. These documents provide IPAA’s advocacy positions.
The list of speakers for this gala opening ceremony included Doris Richardson, IPAA Director (from D. C.), Dr. Melody Johnson, Superintendent of the FWISD (who is paid $328,950 per year, the highest paid super in the state), Ray Dickerson, Chairman of the FWISD Board, Mayor Mike Moncrief, Barry Russell, President/CEO of IPAA (from D. C.), Julie Wilson VP of Public Affairs, Chesapeake Energy, Randal Mays, President, Junior Achievement, Ben Voigt, President, TCU Energy Club, Ms. Yassmin Lee, Principal, Southwest High School.
The Principal of the school, Yassmin Lee, couldn’t say enough good things about Doris Richardson, the director of IPAA, who had sold this program to Dr. Melody Johnson of FWISD. Funny thing, though, all of the speakers spent most of their time praising the Barnett Shale, IPAA, each other, etc. All this, while we sweltered in the noonday heat. Equally strange, nobody mentioned how much money IPAA put into this and who got it all.
Moncrief had some quotable quotes, similar to his now standard, “Fort Worth is going to be drilled whether we like it or not and it’s going to get tougher as the drilling approaches the densely populated areas.” He also spoke about the recession and how it has adversely affected drilling. (Don Young clapped at this.) He praised industry and the school district for forming this partnership and spoke of all the young people who were going to have job opportunities as a result. He said he, himself, had worked in the “oil patch”, which I believe Charlie Moncrief would dispute.
There is now a “TCU Energy Club”, and the president of it, now a sophomore at TCU, spoke about what a great opportunity this program is. There also was a TCU faculty member there who is a booster. We know that TCU has leased their mineral rights to CHK and schemed with CHK to put the drilling pad on the NW edge of the campus where it would be seldom seen by students and in the back yard of several high dollar homes on Colonial Parkway. They also didn’t mind dooming the people South of the campus to living with a dangerous gas gathering pipeline in their front yards (ROW taken by eminent domain if necessary). TCU evidently exhibits the theology of the Disciples of Christ church. I’m sure Jesus would have something to say about it.
TCU does not have an engineering school, so I don’t quite understand why they need an Energy Club or an administrative arm that focuses on energy. Also, this is the first time I have ever heard of a high school Petroleum Engineering program. That is, everywhere else, college material. The physics teacher at Southwest, a man with 19 years experience as a physics teacher, told me that he had not been asked to be one of the teachers in this new engineering program. Yet, Ms. Lee said it was a math and science program. The program will be required to structure its lesson plans around IPAA-provided lecturers who will come to the school from out of town to speak.
Dr. Melody Johnson said that she had been talking to IPAA about this program for over a year. The public only learned of it three days ago when Moncrief’s schedule for this week was published. In fairness, I did find today an article about the program at http://www.pegasusnews.com/news/2009/mar/11/fort-worth-isd-unveils-southwest-academy-petroleum/ dated March 11, 2009. This article seems not to have gotten much local distribution in Fort Worth, because all local civic minded people who I heard from had never heard of this new program.
This entire IPAA program is about lobbying–that is, selling urban gas drilling to Fort Worthians. This industry has to propagandize or else they would be forced to go back to the research lab and develop safer methods and safer chemicals to use. They are experts at fomenting greed, lying, and greasing the skids with lots of money.
What does it say about public education when it is pushing the agenda of the gas drilling industry to place dangerous heavy industrial installations as close as possible to human habitat? What does it say when the school district gladly accepts lobbyists’ money in return for this alteration of education with its heavy influence by corporate interests?
I would have thought that the school district, especially the superintendent, would have been keenly aware of the long history of attempts by private commercial interests to infuse education with their political and economic philosophy, which is clearly about greed and not about true education. I would have expected the superintendent to turn this lobbying money down. How sad for education!