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.