New Jersey Schools Get Climate Education In Your Peanut Butter, Or At Least In Kids’ Hydroponic Lettuce

It’s entirely understandable that thinking about climate change can be incredibly depressing. There’s so much that should have been done sooner, and the crisis has gotten so much worse than it would have been if the world had taken action 30 or 40 years ago. We’re finally doing some of what’s going to be needed to prevent the absolute worst of the worst case scenarios from happening, probably, as David Wallace-Wells wrote last fall (New York Times gift link), but the job is so much more urgent and we’re long past the point where everything could have been just fine. But nearly every time I write about climate, I’m also impressed that there are so many extremely smart people doing extremely cool things that will genuinely help the world transition to clean energy and keep the planet more or less habitable for big dumb mammals like humans and even writers of Twilight fan fiction.

Now, if you’re teaching about climate science to elementary school kids, you don’t want to bum them out and make them lose hope, in part because that’s what middle school is for, but mostly because it’s not going to get them enthusiastic about learning. Which is why we were so delighted by this New York Times article (another gift link) about creative things teachers in New Jersey are doing to fulfill the state’s mandate that climate education be included in every grade. The goal is to get kids thinking about problem-solving and understanding that what humans do affects the world around them — in good ways, too:

Tammy Murphy, the wife of Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, was the driving force behind the new standards. She said climate change education was vital to help students attune to the planet’s health, prepare for a new economy based on green energy and adapt to climate shifts that promise to intensify as this generation of children reaches adulthood.

But the state’s method of teaching its youngest learners about climate change arguably does something more profound: Instead of focusing on the doom and gloom, the standards are designed to help children connect with what’s going on in the natural world around them, and, crucially, learn how to solve problems.

In a lovely introduction, we see a class of first-graders brainstorming ideas about what might be done to help penguins in Antarctica adapt to a warming continent. The kids are very into it, suggesting things like helping the penguins migrate someplace colder, or giving them floaties, or maybe offering to let some penguins live in the kids’ refrigerator. And by golly, the kids really do give it serious thought, like the little science fiends small humans can be:

One boy said the birds could cool off in the water, but reconsidered after remembering all the hungry orcas awaiting them there.

Now, obviously, none of these measures is going to be adopted by the UN’s Ministry for the Future, especially since it’s as fictional as the penguin-filled Frigidaire. But the goal is to promote inventive thinking and to get kids engaged in science. In another more real demonstration, the first graders’ teacher, Michelle Liwacz, is growing hydroponic lettuce and spinach in the classroom, which the kids will have for a nice green salad. Here’s a tweet from the school’s principal, Jeanne Muzi, who also gets a mention in the Times story.

Currently, the Times reports, New Jersey requires that climate be taught in

seven out of nine subject areas, including social studies and world languages. The board is expected to vote this summer on whether to require that climate change be expanded to the two remaining subject areas, English language arts and math.

And that’s all to the good, considering that climate change is going to be a part of all our lives going forward. Yes, some grumpy climate denialists are unhappy about the idea, because learning anything at all is “indoctrination,” but the heck with them, they’re not simply wrong, they’re also not representative of New Jerseyans in general, 70 percent of whom said in a recent poll that they support climate education. National polling also shows overwhelming support for climate education.

The really important thing, says elementary science education professor Lauren Madden of the College of New Jersey, is to help kids learn about climate change in a way that’s empowering for them, which means not putting it off until they’re older:

“When we shield them from so much, they’re not ready to unpack it when they learn about it, and it becomes more scary than when they understand they’re in a position where they can actively think about solutions,” Dr. Madden said. “When you take kids seriously that way, and trust them with that information, you can allow them to feel empowered to make locally relevant solutions.”

The curriculum even includes very simple lessons for kindergarteners, who learn that everything is connected, like pollinating insects and the food we eat, or even, in a lesson the first graders clearly loved, how to think about cause and effect: Sharks seem scary, but if they disappeared, one little girl exclaimed, other fish would go hungry because many fish eat shark poop!

And by Crom, if learning about fish that eat shark poop gets kids thinking about the world and their place in it, we should all be excited that kids are learning about shark poop.

It’s such a good story. Go read the whole thing!

And don’t forget to join us this afternoon for the fifth installment of our Wonkette Book Club; we’re about three quarters of the way through Kim Stanley Robinson’s epic 2020 climate novel The Ministry for the Future, and — not really a spoiler — the War for Planet Earth is finally going in some cautiously optimistic directions. We’ll be back with that in a bit, so be ready to join the conversation, yes even if you haven’t done the reading, because damn it, the news is grim but there’s also a lot to be hopeful about.

Oh, and be sure to let the penguins out of the fridge now and then. They need the exercise.

[New York Times (gift link) / NYT (also gift link) / Photo: Ted Eytan, Creative Commons License 2.0]

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Why, O Why, Won’t Liberal Professors Please Save Republican Party From Itself?

In one of the strangest calls for bipartisan — or maybe transpartisan? — unity we’ve ever seen, the New York Times (gift link) yesterday offered an op-ed by Jon Shields, a history prof at the very very conservative Claremont McKenna College, arguing that if liberals in academe would like to help save America, then liberal professors should “rescue the GOP” — by becoming mentors to bright young conservative students and by teaching courses on conservative thought. This, Shields argues, would be good not only for the students and for conservatism, but also for universities and American politics.

Honestly, it’s such a naive argument, and so utterly divorced from modern political reality, that I kind of want to pat the essay on the head and say “goodness, you mean well, don’t you? Have you looked outside, though?” It’s as if David Brooks were huffing the concentrated vapors of uncut Kumbayah juice.

The are you kidding me? You’ve got to be kidding me! vibes start with the first sentence and continue throughout the whole mess:

When conservative undergraduates look around for mentors these days, who do they find? Not conservative professors, at least not very often. Our ranks have been slowly vanishing since the 1980s. Instead, those students find organizers from the MAGA-verse who teach them how to own the libs. That’s who is instructing the next generation of Republican leaders, modeling how to act and think like good conservatives. It’s a squalid education, one that deepens their alienation from the university and guarantees that the next generation of elected officials will make Ron DeSantis’s war against higher education look tame.

Who will mentor these poor wandering conservatives? All they have is the poisonous MAGA people, and they aren’t conservatives, they’re wild people!

Shields doesn’t exactly say why conservative professors are so hard to find in universities these days, although there’s certainly an implication that liberals drove them out because that’s how progressives just do things. Nor does Shields give even a moment’s discussion to how it is that conservative intellectuals have become so rare, much less why the MAGA folks have driven all the sensible smart conservatives from the GOP. (The abbreviation “RINO” appears nowhere in the essay, even though it’s key to understanding how the wild-eyed crazies have ejected whatever intellectuals were still in the party.)

Still, Shields thinks it would really be a great thing if all the liberals who now make up the bulk of academe could help out and nurture conservative thought on campus, like a captive breeding program would help restore a species that’s on the verge of extinction. Liberal professors can fix this sorry situation and teach conservative students

how to become thoughtful and knowledgeable partisans — by exposing them to a rich conservative intellectual tradition that stretches back to Enlightenment thinkers like Edmund Burke, David Hume and Adam Smith. They could mentor their conservative students, set up reading groups, help vet speakers and create courses on the conservative intellectual tradition.

Conservative academics are apparently now so rare in the wild that they can’t do any of that themselves, so perhaps liberal profs can hand-feed the fragile conservative nestlings, like how the San Diego Zoo fed California Condor chicks by using puppets that looked like adult condors — you wouldn’t want the young conservatives imprinting on a liberal prof who might infect them with postmodernism.

On and on it goes, with suggestions for how liberal profs could be trained in summer seminars on how to teach the great conservative thinkers, and a recommendation for “the uninformed and skeptical alike” to read at least the intro to Jerry Z. Muller’s Conservatism: An Anthology of Social and Political Thought From David Hume to the Present, just to understand why conservative ideas are important for liberals to understand, because shouldn’t we conserve the best things of our culture and institutions?

These systems of social control are complex, easy to dismantle and difficult to rebuild. For these reasons, conservatives are leery of campaigns that promise to liberate us from a host of norms and institutions that the left sometimes sees as unjust, like marriage, religion, gender roles, the police and sexual repression.

Mmm-hmmm, sure. Liberals want to completely throw all that away, don’t we? By way of further example, Shields says he always has his students, “most of whom are quite liberal” (and they chose Claremont McKenna?), read books by conservative thinkers with companion books by liberals, so they can appreciate the value of the Old Ways. Like marriage, for instance, which in its traditional form

builds wealth, softens men and creates an ideal environment for privileged children to flourish, while for most everyone else, the expansion of sexual and romantic freedom has undermined family life, deepening inequality in its wake.

Look, you knew we were going to get to the “unmarried commitment-free fucking leaves you empty and unfulfilled” part eventually, right?

In any case, we liberals need to promote thoughtful conservatism for the good of America, and to call attention to “the wisdom it still has to offer us in an age in which the G.O.P. has descended into madness.” Why, one student who read a book on marriage even told Shields, “I think I need to rethink my life.”

Powerful. Then, no doubt the student went home and stopped selling death sticks.

Shields really wants liberal profs to help him, though, as if they were his only hope. Just look how terrible the role models for tender young conservatives have become!

The people now teaching them to think and act like conservatives mostly belong to Trumpist outfits like Turning Point USA, which recruits and trains young conservatives to be campus activists. (Turning Point has taken to hosting deliberate provocations like affirmative action bake sales, in which students are charged different prices, depending on their race.)

The point of these stunts isn’t just to provoke liberal outrage on campus; it’s to alienate conservative kids from their surroundings. Turning Point’s bombastic founder, Charlie Kirk, a college dropout, wants his young protégés to feel every bit as contemptuous of higher education as he does. As he told Fox News, “Anything but college.”

Conservative students, though, might start saying “Anything but Trumpism” if they learn about a more enlightened alternative.

Hmm. We do hope Professor Shields is aware that rightwing students started getting hilarious mocking larffs with “affirmative action bake sales” as far back as 2003, a decade and a half before Charlie Kirk was in diapers (at least the second time), yes? And that rightwing contempt for higher education is probably older than William F. Buckley’s attempts to bring some erudition to segregation?

Even if Shields comes off as a daffy naif in his essay, his idea does have at least this much to recommend it: If liberal profs actually did start teaching today’s young conservative students about the beauties of the conservative intellectual tradition, the young righties might decide to reject conservatism altogether, since clearly Burke and Hume are nothing more than commie indoctrination.

[NYT (gift link) / Wonkette photoshoop made using DreamStudio v1.5 AI]

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Oliver Willis goes corncob in fight with Jesse Singal over NYT’s ‘bigoted coverage’ of trans issues

As we told you, New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzburger told employees yesterday that last month, one employee was allegedly spat on by a passerby angry about the Times’ coverage of trans issues, which, in including perspectives from people critical of things like transitioning children, somehow renders the paper transphobic.

That’s complete BS, of course, but plenty of tolerant lefties out there are either dismissing the alleged incident as no big deal or outright defending it. And it’s only natural that Oliver Willis would be one of them:

Journalist and podcaster Jesse Singal, who is very much a liberal, has nonetheless done a great deal of research on the dangers — physical, emotional, mental, and psychological — of “gender-affirming care” for children. And he took issue with Willis’ insinuation that the New York Times’ skirt was too short. So, like any good and reasonable journalist, he asked Willis to provide some supporting evidence:

And you’ll never guess what happened next! OK, you will. Because this is Oliver Willis we’re dealing with and he literally cannot help himself.

Uh-oh … Oliver’s projecting again.

Challenge accepted, Jesse:

Wait … that’s it? That’s the proof that the New York Times hates trans people?

Not that you needed any further proof that Oliver Willis is not a serious person, but that right there is further proof that Oliver Willis is not a serious person.

Uh-oh, Oliver … looks like that swipe at Jesse Singal didn’t work, either. Singal’s clearly no right-wing radical by any stretch of the imagination. So.

Apparently Oliver is unfamiliar with the old adage “quit while you’re behind.”

Oliver Willis has only one setting, and it’s “GLUTTON FOR PUNISHMENT.”

Come on, Oliver. If the New York Times is pushing so much anti-trans propaganda, it shouldn’t take you any time to find numerous examples. Just answer the question, Oliver.

Media Matters? Yeah, OK. We’re officially done here.

Wonder why that is.



‘Transphobic grifter’ Jesse Singal outed as a proponent of ‘trans genocide’

Jesse Singal: Libs just can’t imagine anyone objecting to gender-affirming care for kids


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Dear Shitferbrains: As Any Fool Knows, College Is Not For Encouraging Freethinking

It’s been a long darn while since I last did one of these Dear Shitferbrains things, in part because for much of the Trump administration the quality of our trolls declined sharply, but largely because I used to do those on Sundays until Rebecca made me take “weekends” seriously and I just got out of the habit.

I hope I can remember the format. Lessee … Copy-paste a really dumb wingnut comment, make fun of it, the end. OK, I can handle that!

Our study text today comes from one “Clarence,” who is probably neither an associate justice of the Supreme Court nor a bumbling angel trying to earn his wings by convincing Jimmy Stewart that he should go on living, if only so he can later star in Strategic Air Command with a lot of file footage of B-36 Peacemaker bombers. Clarence did not care for our article Wednesday in which we took the New York Times to task for treating Ron DeSantis’s war on education as if it were just one more bit of political “branding.”

Hey, Remember This? New York Times *Loves It* Some Goose-Stepping Dictator Ron DeSantis!

Clarence didn’t really seem to get the article at all, because he thought I was mocking Ron DeSantis, when in fact I was mocking the New York Times for treating DeSantis’s nigh-fascism as if he were simply marketing a new political flavor of the week. Why, Clarence even missed the chance to praise DeSantis for his success by exclaiming “Let’s go brandin’!”

That said, at least Clarence read my little author bio just enough to put me in my place:

It’s good to know you have PHD in rhetoric (aka bullshit and lying). That would explain this hit piece masquerading as reporting.

Well that hurt, even if he didn’t recognize that I was complaining about the Times puff piece masquerading as reporting. Clarence explained that clearly we dumb libs don’t understand what education is about, because we are hateful. Hang on. It’s a bit of a ride.

State funded schools (even “Institutes of Higher Learning”) are responsible to the State. This is esp true at the Elementary and High School level where the ostensible goal (unlike colleges where it is currently merely a bad joke) is NOT to ‘turn out freethinkers’ or ‘celebrate diversity’ or any of that BS. It’s to learn basic CIVICS and life skills not to be taught that any one Race has ‘inherent privilege’ and not to ‘critique’ Western Civilization or the United States or any of that. In fact, FEDERAL LAW and F EDERAL COURT cases and most State Constitutions require public institutions to be downright ‘colorblind’ when it comes to race, and allow no discrimination (‘positive’ or otherwise) when it comes to sex, disability and any other ‘protected class’. To the extent that ANY public funding went to any Institution that had ANY program that did not follow that dictate, then De Santis’s actions were not only necessary but they were morally and ethically laudible.

Here we must apologize for out headline, because honestly Clarence isn’t interested in college at all, even though that’s what both the Times article and my critique were about. The only things children should learn in elementary and high school are basic CIVICS and life skills — but perhaps CIVICS and life skills include getting along with one’s fellow citizens of other creeds and colors, and to know the history of why that is necessary, which might possibly include a ‘critique’ of things that aren’t now perfect or weren’t perfect in a past era?

No, that can’t be right.

Clarence goes on to explain that if you go teaching about American history in a way that discusses things that make Clarence feel bad, then bigot, bigot, Clarence isn’t the bigot, you are the bigot.

Also all education at the college level is a bad joke, this is just so obvious that it doesn’t need to be mentioned, and certainly not in the context of an article that was about college, mostly.

We ran Clarence’s assertions about F EDERAL COURT past Wonkette legal correspondent Liz Dye, who replied, and I quote: “hmmmm.”

Clarence did hang around a little longer yesterday; in reply to a Wonkette reader’s question about who even buys the Times anymore, since it’s hated by both the Left and the Right, Clarence offered this:

“Hard” lefties might hate the NYT, but soft lefties and any of the Trump Deranged downright love it.

I do think the vast majority of its subscriber base is aged hippies who still think the paper reports the news, or , at least “All The News That’s Fit To Print”

So that’s something: Clarence is no Trumper, although he sort of sounds like one in his commenting history at other sites; he griped about how Trump never had the chance to drain the swamp because for his entire time in office, Congress was controlled by the “uniparty,” so we guess Clarence is a true independent who sees no difference between Democrats and Republicans, even now. He also likes guns a lot and hates open borders, and wishes people would stop saying “gender” instead of “sex,” because the former doesn’t exist?

Update/Mea Big Gulpa: As astute commenters have pointed out, I misread our visitor. He is absolutely a Trumper, and “Trump Deranged” refers to all those lefties who have Trump Derangement Syndrome, because those people are crazy. Wonkette regrets the error.

Finally, in reply to a comment about the College Board’s revisions of the AP African American Studies course, Clarence had a LOT to say, which we will reproduce in full for its brilliant rantiness, which builds from one grievance to another like John Belushi (Crom rest his soul) doing one of his editorial replies on “Weekend Update.” When Clarence gets to the last sentence, you can nearly hear the thud as he flings himself off his chair:

Oh, Waaaaaah Waaaaaah Wahhhhhhhh. I bet you don’t say a Goddamn thing about “Academic Freedom” when it comes to Conservative Professors being fired or otherwise “canceled”. I haven’t seen a single Academic Leader (as opposed to the occasional professor ) who has had any balls in literally decades. They’ve caved on everything, (Hell, I’ve watched videos in which students bullied the Prefects and Directors and Presidents and whatever other Title around. The students TELL them what they are going to do, and give them no respect whatsoever.) which is why most colleges now have faculties that vote 90 to 99 percent plus Democratic, and Cancel Culture is a ‘thing’. And African American Studies or Black Studies or whatever you want to call it, just like “Gender Studies” aka feminism has been trash for decades, mostly concerned with turning out increasingly radical activists. Where do you think the 1619 project came from or the idea that “colorblindness” is just racism, or that “White People” and ONLY “White People” have ‘implicit bias’ , and other such BS? These programs are pretty much BEYOND critique on modern college campuses. So cry some more because of the ‘damage’ that DeSantis has done. Far as I’m concerned both the Higher Education system and the Public Education system in this country need to be burned down and rebuilt from the ground up as education, esp classical education is not their concern any more.

I sort of wanted to hear about all these conservative professors being fired, but that “or otherwise ‘canceled'” suggested he wouldn’t be too likely to deal with specifics. I also don’t know anything about “prefects” in American schools, and suspect he may be thinking of Hogwarts.

The end.

Hey, I’ve still got it!

And you filthy fuckaducks have got yourselves an OPEN THREAD.

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College Board’s changes to APAAS course give woke progs a headache and Ron DeSantis another huge win

Have you heard the great news? The College Board has put down their social justice swords and kneeled before Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, handing DeSantis yet another huge political victory (we’re kinda losing count at this point).

More from National Review:

The updated syllabus removes several authors whom Florida officials identified as problematic, including those associated with critical race theory, the “queer experience,” and black feminism. It also removed required teachings on Black Lives Matter and the case for reparations from the curriculum, though both subjects are present on a list of options for a required research project. The new framework adds “black conservatism” as an idea for a research project. The list of suggested topics “can be refined by local states and districts.”

College Board CEO David Coleman told the New York Times that the changes were not made in response to political pressure.

“At the College Board, we can’t look to statements of political leaders,” he said, suggesting instead that the changes came from “the input of professors” and “longstanding A.P. principles.”

Coleman told the paper that the board received feedback during an initial test of the course this school year that students connected more with primary sources than the secondary, more theoretical sources in the curriculum which they found to be “quite dense.”

Well, speaking of the New York Times, the New York Times sounds pretty pissed about this new development:

Maybe they figured that would be a good step toward atoning for this other headline about Ron DeSantis, which was apparently extremely offensive to people who firmly believe that Ron DeSantis is Ron DeSatan:

Be angrier, New York Times! Take a page from this guy Robert Maguire, research director at Citizens for Ethics. He’s fuming:

Note: African American Studies is not the same as African American History, but Robert doesn’t have time to make distinctions. He’s too busy ragin’.

Could there be anything more offensive than black conservatism to Robert Maguire? He’s finna go postal over the idea that students could learn more about black conservatism in an African American Studies course. Everyone knows that black conservatives don’t count, right, Robert?

Robert’s seething, y’all. But he’s not coping terribly well.

Who’s really manufacturing the outrage, though? Is it Ron DeSantis, whose concerns about the course have been proven well founded? Or is it woke progressive activists like Robert Maguire who insist that conservatives are upset over nothingburgers while complaining about the loss of those nothingburgers?

We’re so old, we remember when progressives called conservatives paranoid conspiracy theorists for believing that Critical Race Theory was part of some K-12 curricula. Now Maguire and the New York Times, clearly, are lamenting the fact that the College Board has agreed to take Critical Race Theory out of the APAAS course.

So again, we ask: who’s manufacturing the outrage?

There’s plenty more where that came from. Looks like Robert is manufacturing the hell out of the outrage, huh? Get those clicks, buddy! Truth be damned.

But the activists who are foaming at the mouth over this don’t want balance. They want Critical Race Theory. They want Queer Theory. They want social justice. They don’t want no education. They just want thought control.

Now there’s an idea!

Anyway, while Robert et al. are out there getting bent out of shape over the prospect of an AP course curriculum that won’t traffic exclusively in far-leftist theory and propaganda, Ron DeSantis is over here throwing more wins on the pile.

All Ron DeSantis needs to do is keep his head down and push forward. It seems to be working out pretty well for him — and, as in this particular case, for the country.



Ron DeSantis is ready to yank funding for DEI bureaucracies at Fla. public colleges and universities


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