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Playing politics, with students as pawns - BCTF defends anti-pipeline teaching materials

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Calling itself a “social justice union,” the B.C. Teachers’ Federation defended its promotion of anti-pipeline teaching resources on Wednesday, fueling a national debate about whether teachers should tout their own views in the classroom.

The poster features wildlife — a soaring eagle, a bear, seals and killer whales — enjoying a pristine ocean scene, but the bottom-right corner shows a wide-eyed fish lying dead amid black oily sludge along with the faint image of a skull and crossbones. The headline for the poster, published on the federation’s website as part of its “social justice” resources for teachers, is this: “What we stand to lose with pipelines and oil tankers.”

As the controversy percolated on Twitter, Canada’s Natural Resources minister, Joe Oliver, told reporters Wednesday he is concerned that B.C. youth are being subjected to just one side of a critical public issue.

“My understanding is [the education resource is] somewhat unbalanced and I think that’s regrettable,” he said.

Vancouver School Board trustee Ken Denicke likened the poster, which comes amid debate over the Northern Gateway Pipeline, to propaganda; he called it “very much one-sided” and deemed it “totally inappropriate to present to young kids.”

The teachers’ union sought to clarify the poster is not part of a lesson plan — as was initially reported and discussed on Twitter — but the teachers’ federation’s website appears murkier on that question: The site has a page dedicated to “‘What We Stand to Lose’ poster resources,’” and among them is a downloadable document containing links to a dozen lesson plans that teachers can choose to use in their classrooms. That document, called “‘What We Stand to Lose’ Poster Lesson Plans,’” lists plans that hinge on the importance of protecting ocean ecosystems, the impacts of a pipeline, information about the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill and an exercise described as a “short lesson” that “illustrates the effects of mixing oil, water and bird feathers.”

“We have to start thinking about the environment, and that means that you have to start thinking about the consequences,” federation president Susan Lambert said Wednesday, adding that the resources are optional, promote critical thinking and can be paired with any number of other lesson plans at a teacher’s behest.

“There’s a probability of an oil spill if you increase tanker traffic. That’s a question that these students, and very shortly as adults, will be grappling with. It’s our responsibility in schools to give them the tools they need to grapple with that issue.”

She said the teaching resources include a link to the official Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline website, but that link is not listed in the “‘What We Stand to Lose’ Poster Lesson Plans” and is instead found in an entirely separate document called “Quick Facts” — a one-page explainer that highlights Enbridges “60 spills a year” and says “a spill could cause irreversible harm to the livelihoods of many coastal and aboriginal communities and the area’s unique marine ecosystems.”

Jordan Bateman, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s B.C. director, took to Twitter to square off against the teachers’ union, accusing it of promoting anti-pipeline materials without similarly promoting pro-pipeline materials.

“A web link isn’t balance,” Mr. Bateman tweeted in response to a union tweet pointing to the Enbridge link.

In a telephone interview, Mr. Bateman said “pipeline education is not a curriculum target” set by the province’s education ministry, and said the federation is “flexing its muscles in individual classrooms, trying to get its point of view across.”

The federation did not craft the actual lessons plans, but the union’s Environmental Justice Action Group — comprised of teachers — determined which plans would be listed as part of its social justice resources. It also decided to promote the poster on its website and on the federation’s Facebook page.

“I ordered one for my classroom and it was delivered in 2 days,” Sue Brown, who according to her Facebook page is a Greater Victoria School District teacher, commented beneath the image of the poster. “The kids like looking at it.”

Annie Kidder, executive director of Ontario’s People for Education, said if teachers portray only one side of a debate in the classroom, they risk leaving students with the impression that a different perspective is erroneous.

“I don’t think it’s wrong for teachers to tell kids what their views are, but the danger comes when those views are presented as fact,” she said.

http://news.national...hing-materials/

Once again, this leftist-charged union rears its ugly head in BC politics, and uses its students to showcase their support for a political party (in this case, the NDP who is opposed to the pipeline). Sadly, some teachers are using only this as curriculum as opposed to bringing in both sides of the pipeline debate.

I don't like the idea of having a pipeline run by a company known for its shaky record, but I am absolutely disgusted by the BCTF and its constant vile attempts to spread its propaganda, all while using schoolchildren to spread its message and lying through their teeth (saying "it's all for the children")

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Good on the teachers in the face of right-wing dirty oil supporting policies. Hopefully students will learn something about the risks of this environmental timebomb of a pipeline.

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Let them go ahead and do that. But at the same time they should have to teach the students about the positives of the plan as well.

Students should at least be able to have the resources to both sides of the argument so they will be able to make their own informed decision on where they stand.

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It is not the duty of teachers to spread propaganda. If they want students to develop a critical thought process they need to provide both sides of the argument. ie. the jobs and the revenue produced by the oil pipelines.

Teachers are tax payer funded and and must represent ALL of the public not just the leftwing .

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The negatives outweigh the positives. It's a stupid plan made by greedy people. The fact that Harper and Romney and Palin are pushing for it ought to tell you something.

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Doesn't matter what I or anyone else think about it.

At least if they were educated about the positives and the negatives they could be able to see that the negatives outweigh the positives for themselves and not just believe they do because their teachers told them so.

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Doesn't matter what I or anyone else think about it. It's about the fact that students should at least be given the ability to choose where they stand on issues for themselves.

At least if they were educated about the positives as well as the negatives they could decide for themselves whether the negatives outweigh the positives or not, and not just believe they do because their teachers told them so.

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Sure it matter.

Would you also want Creationism to be taught in Biology class or Alchemy to be taught in Chemistry class?

If you want kids to have that particular kind of Fair & Balanced education of oil pipelines, that run the risk of decimating our coastal environment as well as jobs in those regions, then pay for their subscription to Fox Noise.

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It's not propaganda. The jobs are short term and the revenue isn't much for B.C.

The monetary risk for B.C. taxpayer is significant and it won't be covered by Enbridge should there be a spill, as there has been at other of its pipeline, most notably in Michigan.

That ain't propaganda, that's the truth. What bullcrap the company and the Harper and the oil backed Ambrose gov't is feeding you, that's propaganda on behalf of the oil industry.

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Religious and Political views should stay out of the classroom.

Simple as that.

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Isn't the point of being a teacher to inform the student of all the information available, good and bad, so the student can form their own educated opinion?

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This Oil pipeline will be built. cry all you want. brainwash all you want. The world runs on fossil fuels get used to it. otherwise stop doing everything you do because whatever it is it involves Oil.

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"There is a huge difference between teaching scientific facts and political issues."

Scientific fact is that a ruptured pipeline will harm the environment and pose a threat to the wildlife shown.

I do think the comments here are valid and that both pros and cons need to be presented so students can decide for themselves. I also see nothing wrong with bringing current issues and events into the classroom for discussion and commend teachers who go beyond the books to do so. This is a pretty sensitive issue in BC and there's a lot more at stake here than politics and money. To ONLY focus on those aspects in a bid to keep this out of classrooms is equally wrong, as there are environmental issues that tie in to classroom learning.

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" If they want students to develop a critical thought process they need to provide both sides of the argument. ie. the jobs and the revenue produced by the oil pipeline"

In my view "the system" does not want people to develop a critical thought process, because if more people did they would realize just what a pile of crap most things are.

Critical thinkers are harder to manipulate.

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"There is a huge difference between teaching scientific facts and political issues."

Scientific fact is that a ruptured pipeline will harm the environment and pose a threat to wildlife.

li-spill-michigan-01022464.jpg

I do think the comments here are valid and that both pros and cons need to be presented so students can decide for themselves. I also see nothing wrong with bringing current issues and events into the classroom for discussion and commend teachers who go beyond the books to do so. This is a pretty sensitive issue in BC and there's a lot more at stake here than politics and money. To ONLY focus on those aspects in a bid to keep this out of classrooms is equally wrong, as there are environmental issues that tie in to classroom learning.

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Let them go ahead and do that. But at the same time they should have to teach the students about the positives of the plan as well.

Students should at least be able to have the resources to both sides of the argument so they will be able to make their own informed decision on where they stand.

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Did you seriously just compare somebody teaching potential benefits of an oil pipeline to Creationism or Alchemy?

There is a huge difference between teaching scientific facts and political issues. One is a fact, the other is simply an opinion.

There is no wrong or right answer in a political issue, somebody is always going to benefit, and somebody is always going to lose out. Perhaps some of these students or somebody close to them may have some sort of direct benefit from the pipeline. They should at least be able to see what kind of benefits it could bring.

If the students are going to be taught about the pipeline they should be given all the info in order for them to make the decisions for themselves. What would be the harm in that?

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So? Most of those students will likely grow up to work on the oil sands anyway. In the meantime, the students 'being warped into rabid environmentalists' are able to what, exactly? Recycle more?

The BCTF's actions are nothing but self-serving, as usual. 'Look at us! We're grrrrreat for kids! Gimme moar monee!'

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