Teaching Coal: Giving Kids a Fighting Chance

Teaching Coal:  Giving Kids a Fighting Chance  

A People’s Curriculum for the Earth; Teaching Climate Change and the Environmental Crisis is an indispensable 410-page collection of articles, role plays, simulations, stories, poems, and graphics to help breathe life into teaching about the environmental crisis. The book features some of the best articles from Rethinking Schools magazine alongside classroom-friendly readings on climate change, energy, water, food, and pollution—as well as on people who are working to make things better. Among the dozens of articles are a number that deal specifically with teaching about coal:  Coal, Chocolate Cookies, and Mountaintop Removal; An Insult to the Moon; “They Can Bury Me in These Hills but I Ain’t Leavin;’” Coal at the Movies; Exporting Coal and Climate Change; and This Much Mercury.




  Rethinking Schools is a must-read for everyone involved in critical education. Crammed with innovative teaching ideas, valuable resources, and analyses of important issues and organizing, Rethinking Schools is a priceless source for educators who want to enlist students in thinking deeply and critically about the world today.  Published quarterly.  The Rethinking Schools website is a rich online resource center.






Radical Teacher is a socialist, feminist, anti-racist academic journal dedicated to issues of education.  It is published triannually by the University Library System at the University of Pittsburgh. The summer 2015 issue was dedicated to teaching about climate change.




Youth are making a big impact in the climate justice movement.  Their story is told in

Jeremy Brecher’s Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life, Why ‘Climate Kids’ vs. Trump is no ordinary lawsuit. 




No Coal in Oakland has a vibrant website with lots of information about developer Phil Tagami’s plan to build a terminal near the Bay Bridge to ship millions of tons of Utah coal through Oakland and off to foreign markets each year.  There is a calendar of events in which No Coal in Oakland will be participating.  Kids are welcome at all of them.  Youth have been speakers at City Council meetings, press conferences, and rallies.  No Coal in Oakland is happy to provide speakers for classroom presentations or school assemblies.

Website:  http://nocoalinoakland.org   Email:  nocoalinoakland@gmail.com
An electronic version of this resource sheet can be found at http://nocoalinoakland.org/teaching-coal/


Catch it while it lasts.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) operates a website providing “science and information for climate-smart nation.”  The NOAA is a target for defunding by the Trump Administration.


One of the biggest questions confronting coal activists is how do we get from the old world to the new.  What do we do about the jobs that will be lost?  Movement Generation/Climate Workers’ Strategic Framework for a Just Transition Zine addresses that question in plain language.  Offered in English and Spanish, it is a 32-page long training tool that proposes a framework for a fair shift to an economy that is ecologically sustainable, equitable and just for all its members.  From Bank and Tanks to Cooperation and Caring is full of visuals, stand-alone sections, and curriculum ideas.




Misteaching Coal: Disinformation for Free

  Want to take your class on a “COAL FACT SAFARI”?  It’s easy with free materials available from the American Coal Foundation. The coal industry’s educational front produces extensive coal curriculum for children.  Unfortunately, they were out-of-stock on the free samples of coal the last time we checked, one of the few items that might be useful in a teaching environment.




The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy.gov website also publishes coal-friendly propaganda for children that Rick Perry, the Trump Administration’s new Secretary of Energy, will have no trouble embracing.  In response to concerns about CO2, DOE tells children:  “It is expected that coal and other fossil fuels will remain a major energy source for years to come. Many environmentalists believe that capturing and storing CO2 from power plants, combined with other efforts, could help fight climate change.” In fact, most environmentalists and scientists say there is no proof that economically viable capture and storage of CO2 will ever exist.




The Heartland Institute is a leading tax-exempt industry-funded “think tank” that questions the reality and import of climate change.  Heartland has received money from the coal industry and Heartland recently sent out a packet of pro-fossil fuel propaganda disguised as a scientific report to 200,000 teachers across the U.S. Pro-coal propaganda works.  A survey of 1,500 teachers published in Science last year found that while more half teach climate science as settled, 40 percent tell their students it’s controversial, or deny it outright. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/351/6274/664

Climate Change Skeptic Group Seeks to Influence 200,000 Teachers by Katie Worth, Frontline, Mar 28, 2017 http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/climate-change-skeptic-group-seeks-to-influence-200000-teachers/

Climate Change Deniers ‘Spam’ Thousands Of Teachers With Anti-Global Warming Packages by Nick Visser, Huffington Post US, Mar 30, 2017 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/heartland-institute-climate-pack_us_58db4c63e4b05463706323d4

How climate skeptics are trying to influence 200,000 science teachers by Charlie Wood, Christian Science Monitor, Mar 30, 2017  https://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2017/0330/How-climate-skeptics-are-trying-to-influence-200-000-science-teachers

Déjà vu all over again: Heartland Institute Peddling Misinformation to Teachers about Climate Change by Brenda Ekwurzel, Union of Concerned Scientists, Apr 7, 2017 http://blog.ucsusa.org/brenda-ekwurzel/deja-vu-all-over-again-heartland-institute-peddling-misinformation-to-teachers-about-climate-change?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=fb

Educators Decry Conservative Group’s Climate ‘Propaganda’ Sent to Schoolteachers by Phil McKenna, InsideClimate News, Apr 10, 2017 https://insideclimatenews.org/news/07042017/heartland-institute-climate-change-denial-science-education