Green Education = Environmental Religion?

by Richard T. Stuebi

In a recent article in USA Today, a spokesperson of the Competitive Enterprise Institute was quoted as asserting that schools and teachers educating children about eco-friendly actions was tantamount to “environmental religion” and should be stopped.

Angela Logomasini of CEI went on to state “Let the parents teach the kids the values and the lifestyles….If [a child] is going to be ostracized for legitimate choices that people can make in a free world, that’s not right.”

According to their website, CEI is “a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government”, which believes “that individuals are best helped not by government intervention, but by making their own choices in a free marketplace.”

That all sounds well and good, but how does this mission coincide with concerns about what kids are being taught in schools? Oh, yes, I see: according to SourceWatch’s profile of CEI, the organization has a long history of being opposed to government action on most environmental issues, with a particularly strident focus on thwarting any action to mitigate climate change.

By the logic of CEI, children should be similarly shielded from concepts such as fiscal responsibility (“don’t spend more than you have”) or ethical behavior (“don’t lie or take actions that can benefit you while seriously harming other people”), as they place restraints on an individual’s free will.

I don’t know about you, but when someone criticizes teachers for exposing children to ideas and concepts that have considerable benefit without much downside, it’s hard for me to take their side of the issue. In my eyes, CEI looks really bad on this one.

Richard T. Stuebi is the BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation, and is also the Founder and President of NextWave Energy, Inc. Later in 2009, he will also become a Managing Director at Early Stage Partners.

8 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    While that group likely has an ulterior motive, I will say that it would probably be best for K-12 education in these United States if we take the special interest meddling out of it and focus on not turning out functionally illiterate blobs of humanity.

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Good points. Along with the arguments you make wouldn’t this viewpoint also mean that schools shouldn’t teach students about free enterprise and values that the Competitive Enterprise Institute supports? Maybe they should tell that to my High School economics teacher who tried to explain that, “Only communists should support a minimum wage.”

  3. a better energy plan
    a better energy plan says:

    its ridiculous to connect environmental fervor with religious morality. Its a fabricated connection. We need to start living in a more responsible manner sorry CEI.

  4. Brennan
    Brennan says:

    It just comes down to the group not wanting the schools to educate kids on what is happening in their environment. Their case isn't made very well because if you challenge this as religious then you have to take a real look at history class since most events in history have some reference to religion somewhere. The argument with protecting the environment is kind of stupid, so they are for pollution I am guessing?

  5. Anxiety Cures
    Anxiety Cures says:

    Good points. Along with the arguments you make wouldn't this viewpoint also mean that schools shouldn't teach students about free enterprise and values that the Competitive Enterprise Institute supports?

  6. Jim
    Jim says:

    We need to educate young and old about "green" living. I've been studying solar, wind and hydro power generation methods for several months now and I just don't understand why those renewable methods aren't in wide use already. Makes no sense.

  7. PCTV Software
    PCTV Software says:

    We need to change our entire perspective on energy and resources, and teach children not just at scholl, but in the home, about the consequences who ever greater use of limited resources, that also happen to be sources of pollution.

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