It concerns me greatly, both as a student and as a citizen, that our so-called “public education” isn't quite living up to its name.
Public education, in my opinion, means education that is funded and run entirely by the government, rather than outside organizations. The moment that changes, we must start questioning who is getting involved in our education system, and what their motives are for doing so. A few months ago, an example of our education becoming not-so-public came to the attention of myself and my friend, Sophie Yamauchi.
This October, a new curriculum based program called Energy IQ was made available to teachers in schools all across Canada. This program was created by Canadian Geographic, and funded by none other than CAPP, or the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. CAPP is Canada's largest lobbyist group for the oil and gas industry. Energy IQ is an online resource for teachers to teach their students about the story of Canada's energy, and as you can imagine, it certainly doesn't do a very good job of including the whole story. A few things here and there are focused on renewable energy, but of course, they were added simply to cover up the gaping hole of missing information. This program can be used anywhere from grades 1 through 12. It is incredibly concerning to me that CAPP feels the need to move into schools to target extremely young children with their propaganda. How desperate are they, that they are willing to fund an entire program to get little kids excited about the fossil fuel industry?
In response to this, Sophie and I wrote an open letter to CAPP and Canadian Geographic, opposing the program being used in our own school. It was released a couple of weeks ago. Over 600 people signed on to it before we sent it off , and since then, we have created a petition to go along with it, which can be found here: (http://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/keep-big-oil-out-of-our-schools). Our goal is to get as many students as possible across the country opposing the program in their home schools.
About a week ago, we sent out a press release, which has given us some significant media attention. We have been on CBC news and radio, were given an 8 minute segment on Global's show “Unfiltered”, and have had several stories printed in various newspapers. We have definitely succeeded in getting the attention of both CAPP and Canadian Geographic.
Our end goal is not to destroy the program altogether. We believe that Canadian Geographic has a huge opportunity here to make the public decision to drop CAPP as a sponsor, and find ways to continue the program with more ethical sponsors and more well rounded information. Our future is in jeopardy right now, and teaching the youngest generations information that will give them the wrong idea about energy is only going to throw us even farther backward.