Wednesday, January 24, 2007

An Inconvenient Movie for Washington Schools


A couple of weeks ago the Federal Way Public Schools that were having a fit over An Inconvenient Truth, a situation which is hopefully over now, according to the Seattle Times. Towards the end of the article, though, there's one of those awkward little quotes that shows you they still don't get it:
Board members have said they hope this controversy will start a healthy debate about global warming.

I had a little bit of empathy for Federal Way's case, because there we were talking about what was going on in the classroom. The news out of Yakima, though, seems a bit ridiculous:
Eisenhower High School principal Stacey Locke has halted an after-school screening of Al Gore's Oscar-nominated documentary on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," insisting the decision was based in process, not politics.

The school's Environmental Club's plan to show the film last week seemed to be in line with its mission: "To promote current environmental ideas throughout the school." But when club adviser Nancy Lust mentioned the plan to Locke in passing, the principal hit the brakes.

"That is not how we handle any supplemental materials. That usually goes to committee to determine the educational value," Locke explained this week.

Now, a recommendation on whether the movie will be shown at Eisenhower lies with the school's instructional materials committee, which includes administrative, teacher and parent representatives. Locke, who has not seen the movie yet, has the final say.

...............

"In Federal Way, they were trying to use it in the instructional process in the school day," Locke said. "They (Ike's Environmental Club) were trying to show it after school but under the umbrella of Eisenhower High School. The perception is that they have school support."


Really, is that the perception? I think most teenagers are sophisticated enough to distinguish between an official school message and one that comes from a club within the school. And let's repeat: this is the Environmental Club we're talking about, which takes this next clip into the absurd:

"We have a school board policy that very clearly outlines a process for use of supplemental materials," said Jack Irion, deputy superintendent of Yakima Public Schools.

"We need to have folks review that film and if there is another side, have that presented. If what we are showing is an issue, we need to make sure we are reviewing both sides," he said.

But that means more work for club members if they want to continue their plan to view the movie. After meeting Tuesday morning with Locke, they now have to come up with an opposite view to present -- "So we don't give the audience only one view," said Ike senior José Vazquez, president of the Environmental Club.
Roll that around your head for a minute. The environmental club might be told that, to show An Inconvenient Truth, they also need to present materials opposed to the movie. The Environmental Club could be put in a position where they have to present the case of the polluters.

While I'm having fun with logical fallacies, let's hop on a slippery slope! Should the Religion Club have to show Saved! right along side The Passion of the Christ? The Young Republicans forced into Fahrenheit 9/11 before they can watch tonight's O'Reilly Factor? Can a school work too hard to achieve a neutral mien, and in the process become irrelevant?

4 Comments:

Blogger Mrs. T said...

Very well said. I'd LOVE to have the FCA group watch Saved!. Excellent film

7:39 PM  
Blogger NYC Educator said...

I'd love to see it too, though you may need to show both sides of that preacher, and it wouldn't be a pretty sight. From what I've read, the other side to "An Inconvenient Truth" is almost the exclusive province of Exxon-Mobil.

It's kind of incredible this is so controversial to a school administrator. Maybe he too gets his news from O'Reilly.

11:05 AM  
Blogger NYC Educator said...

I'd love to see it too, though you may need to show both sides of that preacher, and it wouldn't be a pretty sight. From what I've read, the other side to "An Inconvenient Truth" is almost the exclusive province of Exxon-Mobil.

It's kind of incredible this is so controversial to a school administrator. Maybe he too gets his news from O'Reilly.

11:05 AM  
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5:17 AM  

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