If some predator was 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 is the coal industry, dressed in an academic outfit in a gambit to brainwash fourth grade school kids? Unbeknownst to most Americans, grade schoolers 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, no longer being distributed, fills little minds with the joys of having 600 friendly, 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, mountaintop destruction, greenhouse gas emissions, political corruption, and other decidedly unfriendly aspects of what industry propagandists simply tout as "black gold."
This "educational package" has been distributed 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 could not 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 Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood: commercialfreechildhood.org.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.