Among the forms of posturing by the political class is for its members to wrap themselves in a mantle of virtue by imposing the tenets of the latest trendy or politically correct social movement on students and others.* Nowhere is the sanctimony more evident than in propagating "green" orthodoxy. Sometimes this carries real economic consequences, such as recent laws imposing new recycling fees on computer makers, permit requirements for groundwater use and higher electricity rates to pay for mandated levels of "renewable" energy generation.
Other times the tool is pure indoctrination, such as bills introduced last week to authorize new levels of green-ness in an existing "green school" statute (including "emerald level" and "evergreen level" green-ness), and to require drivers-ed classes to indoctrinate students in — to quote the language of the proposed law — "the importance of carpooling and using public transportation."
Perhaps math and reading scores in public schools have stagnated because students spend too much time "dusting coils on cafeteria refrigerators" (existing "green schools" statute) or lobbying through "letter-writing, attending public hearings, raising funds, or community outreach" (proposed statute). (On the other hand, if the students were taught the alternative to green orthodoxy described by the former director of the Mackinac Center's Science, Environment and Technology initiative Diane Katz they might actually learn something useful and real.)
Here are the 36-0 Senate and 100-6 House roll calls on the original 2006 "green schools" bill.
- 2009 Senate Bill 904 (Revise "green schools" criteria)
Introduced by Sen. Valde Garcia (R) on October 15, 2009, to revise the criteria by which a school may be designated as a "green school" and establish new levels of "green-ness" for a school, including "emerald" and "evergreen." The new criteria specify in more detail various types of paper recycling, doing energy audits of the homes of students, engaging in letter writing or lobbying campaigns on environmental issues, offering classes in energy or environmental issues, creating a student environmental organization and "eco reading" program, and much more. Some criteria of the current "green school" statute are not included, such as hosting a Sierra Club spokesperson, students dusting coils on cafeteria refrigerators and checking bus tire pressure, etc.
- 2009 House Bill 5507 (Require drivers-ed propagate certain state-approved environmental doctrines)
Introduced by Rep. Bert Johnson (D) on October 13, 2009, to mandate that drivers education classes promote "the importance of carpooling and using public transportation," and include instruction in "identifying the attributes of fuel-efficient vehicles," maximizing vehicle economy through maintenance and driving techniques, and the recycling of fluids and parts.
*Other trendy or politically-correct hobbyhorses ridden by new bills last week including demonstrating dedication to motherhood and to anti-smoking zealotry.
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