Coal in classrooms outdated and biased: report

AN ANALYSIS of Illinois’ coal education program has recommended that the state-wide curriculum be overhauled to provide a more balanced initiative based in science.

Staff Reporter

The Illinois Coal Technology Development Assistance Act calls for the promotion of coal in the state’s schools from kindergarten to year 12 and had been responsible for the development of a 2004 curriculum that involves coal in various lesson plans, including math, economics and even art.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity contracted the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to review the coal education program, looking at whether the initiative was based in science, whether it promoted “a balance of perspectives” and how it could be improved.

A 400-page evaluation of the coal education program was recently released and is available online courtesy of Midwest Energy News.

The report recommends that the “DCEO should utilize existing resources that provide high-quality scientific content and a balance of perspectives” and “the current coal curriculum should be retired and new or existing curriculum should be utilized”

“This curriculum should provide high-quality scientific content, a balance of perspectives and present coal as part of an energy portfolio in national and global contexts,” the report’s authors said.

The evaluation concluded that: “Science content experts, teachers and stakeholders found the (curriculum’s) scientific content to be outdated, biased towards a positive image of coal, light on natural science content and lacking discussion of potential environmental and social impacts of coal use.”

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