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Jun 21 2011

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Big Coal buys access to 4th graders

By Jim Hightower

If some predator were stalking fourth graders in your community, there’d be a mighty uproar to make the predator get away and stay away from your schools.
But what if the stalker were the coal industry, dressed in an academic outfit in a gambit to brainwash fourth-graders? Unbeknownst to most Americans, grade school kids are being targeted by the American Coal Foundation with a propaganda package stealthily titled, “The United States of Energy.”
It’s not mentioned in the materials, but Big Coal paid big bucks to Scholastic Inc. to develop this shamelessly distorted promotion of the dirtiest fuel on Earth. The package fills little minds with the joys of having coal-fueled utilities generating electricity 24 hours a day. Not a peep is made about the toxic waste, air and water pollution, mine explosions, black lung deaths, destructive mountaintop removal mining, greenhouse gas emissions, political corruption, and other decidedly unfriendly aspects of what industry propagandists simply tout as “black gold.”
Big Coal distributed this “educational package” to 150,000 fourth grade teachers, potentially putting its perverted view into the heads of more than a million children. Of course, the coal giants couldn’t have entered so many schools on their own, so they bought access to our kids through Scholastic, a $2-billion-a-year corporation that places its materials in 90 percent of U.S. classrooms. Indeed Scholastic’s InSchool Marketing division brags of its ability to “promote client objectives” by targeting teachers and students with classroom packages that “make a difference by influencing attitudes and behavior.”
How sweet. To help stop this kind of predatory marketing, contact the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood: www.commercialfreechildhood.org.
Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.

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