Boy, it’s a good thing some people are paying attention to what’s actually happening in Wyoming schools, so they can keep the liberals from warping the young minds we naively send them to educate.

Take Park County School District No. 6 in Cody. Last week parents and some conservative school board members kept the district from approving textbooks whose authors came right out and declared climate change is real. We’d better do something about it now, they added, providing there’s still time to set the record straight for school students.

Talk about jumping the gun. Doesn’t anyone in the school administration realize many of us are still debating whether global warming exists?

Fortunately, Trustee Sam Weber helped stop the whole process in its tracks by calling the notion of global warming exactly what it is: “junk science.”

Who have the members of the textbook committee been listening to for the past two years, as they scrutinized the lessons they planned to sneak into Cody classrooms? Al Gore, that’s who. Plus 97 percent of the world’s leading scientists who agree climate change is absolutely true because the earth is warming at an alarming rate and it’s having devastating environmental impacts worldwide.

Didn’t they see it snow the other day? What more proof do they need that this is all part of a vast conspiracy to stop using fossil fuels that pollute the planet in favor of renewable resources like solar and wind power?

According to the Casper Star-Tribune’s excellent account of what happened at the seven-hour school board meeting in Cody, Weber said as a board member he will not authorize any of the $300,000 for the book purchase to include supplemental books about “global whining.”

“Our Wyoming schools are largely funded by coal, oil, natural gas, mining, ranching, etc.,” Weber noted. “This junk science is against community and state standards.”

Weber knows who pays the freight in our state and doesn’t care that if his side is successful in its fight against liberal fanatics Cody schools will send graduates into the world who won’t be able to pass a basic college science course.

Former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, a Cody high school graduate, was at the meeting and said, “If anyone believes that there isn’t climate change and global warming, they’re wrong. I think it’s critically important that nobody leaves this school district thinking global warming isn’t real.”

Another trustee, William Struemke, wasn’t buying anything supporters like the well-known leftist Simpson had to say. Struemke said the proposed material presents “a very liberal, very slanted view of the world.”

And it’s not just climate change that some parents and board members object to, either. It’s the way the United States is portrayed in these objectionable books as a villain just because it has bombed a few enemy cities back to the Stone Age.

Just like the lack of “settled science” opponents claim about the existence of global warming, there’s apparently a great deal of unsettled history that needs to be reinterpreted through the Tea Party filter before it can make its way into the brains of impressionable students and be labeled as “facts.”

A total of nine parents filed 42 complaints against proposed textbooks at the meeting, the Star-Tribune noted, necessitating another committee be appointed by the board next month to investigate the matter.

I must admit, the strength of their complaints surprised me, shaking my core beliefs about aspects of American history that I had never questioned.

Take the legacy of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who led the nation’s investigation of the infiltration of communists into the halls of American government at the highest levels. I didn’t learn much about the McCarthy era in school, because I always seemed to be sick that day. But based on what I read later, I always thought of him as a scumbag right-wing idealogue who disgraced his nation and ruined the lives and reputations of many good citizens.

But a Cody parent’s complaint about McCarthy’s so-called “witch hunts” opened up another possibility. What if the senator wasn’t the bad guy school textbooks claim, but just a misunderstood patriot?

The complaint pointed out the textbook didn’t favorably compare McCarthy’s “worst excesses to the gulag system in the USSR or suppression of dissent elsewhere in the world.”

In other words, there were victims of McCarthy’s vicious, relentless attacks against fellow Americans he helped blacklist and ruin, but at least he wasn’t a godless commie.

Another complaint was lodged against a fourth-grade textbook containing biographies of Langston Hughes, Cesar Chavez, Sacagawea and Martin Luther King. A parent claimed they all displayed a left-wing political bias and that highlighting them ignored “hundreds of deserving Americans.”

Given the color of the skin of that particular historic quartet, I gather this parent was referring to the race and gender always left out whenever American history is discussed — white guys.

That was a common theme in other complaints, voiced this way by a  parent: “Students will be indoctrinated in the ‘politically correct’ intellectual focus on minority racial and ethnic groups while the ethnic background of the majority of them is ignored or demeaned.”

Yes, how are white kids supposed to feel good about themselves and their heritage if all they read about in school are stories about heroic, principled people who don’t look anything like them?

Other textbooks were criticized for their portrayal of other classes besides race. Recounting how the Titanic sank in the Atlantic, one historian had the audacity not to mention how many wealthy people saved vagrants and tramps on board the doomed ship. “Being blessed with wealth is not bad or a sin,” a parent wrote. “Character matters!”

Another complaint focused on a textbook that went on at length about Polynesians living in Hawaii, to the point it ignored American citizens who also call the island their home.

You may ask, is there anything irate people can do to stem this crazy tide of unwanted multiculturalism and the teaching of real science in Wyoming schools?

Yes, there is. For starters, if they want to participate in the process of selecting textbooks and other materials for classes, they can let the school administration know it. That way, no matter how off-the-wall others may consider their beliefs, a district can reach a decision with plenty of time to order textbooks, rather than starting the process all over again.

Second, if there isn’t a private school in their area (or one they feel comfortable sending their children to) they can join other like-minded parents and start a charter school. They could create their own curriculum, so if they want to display statues of Joe McCarthy, burn Al Gore in effigy every day or celebrate the contributions of random historic white people they consider worthy of honoring, they can go for it.

Finally, they can try homeschooling. The kids may miss the interaction with other students, but at least Tea Party parents won’t have to worry about their offspring being exposed to any public school’s liberal agenda. We all know how highly thought of liberals are in Wyoming, so it’s no surprise to learn they have total control of the public educational system.

The nice thing about homeschooling is parents no longer have to listen to the demands of progressives who insist on buying textbooks that consider climate change an established fact. These misinformed people don’t understand everyone has an opinion about science, but no one wants to hear theories that might upset the energy industry, which could move away and stop depleting our finite mineral resources for their own outrageous profits.

Best of all, choosing textbooks doesn’t have to be a two-year process that stirs everybody up. Parents can look at the latest bestseller list, buy copies of the new Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly books, and start teaching that very day.

— Columns are the signed perspective of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of WyoFile’s staff, board of directors or its supporters. WyoFile welcomes guest columns and op-ed pieces from all points of view. If you’d like to write a guest column for WyoFile, please contact WyoFile editor-in-chief Dustin Bleizeffer at dustin@wyofile.com.

Kerry Drake

Veteran Wyoming journalist Kerry Drake has covered Wyoming for more than four decades, previously as a reporter and editor for the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle and Casper Star-Tribune. He lives in Cheyenne and...

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15 Comments

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  1. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” George Orwell, Animal Farm….need I say more.

    Sarah Uptain

  2. Some opinion is more worthy than others, clearly. However, opinion that is based on elitist attitudes and second-hand inaccurate knowledge of the subject matter, and that is delivered with calculated dismissive rudeness, earns a response; and not a kind one.

    Bill Tallen

  3. It appears that some of the commenters are reading Mr. Drake’s piece as an article — it’s a column, an opinion piece.

    Yancy Bonner

  4. There’s a set of argumentative skills that people like Drake absolutely excel at: smugness, misdirection, exaggeration, sarcasm, ridicule, and insult. Classic in-group/out-group communication and “Othering” – the social science description for a process that turns political foes into non-beings who can be mocked, discounted, or ignored. Sure is more fun than arguing issues, which would require thought, discourse with the dreaded Other, and – the horror! – open-mindedness.

    No, folks like Drake and his hangers-on are sheep following the bellwether – the sheep with the bell that others in the herd follow. Political bellwethers like Obama or Gore indicate the position that their followers should take in their everyday conversations, normalizing their own beliefs while they mock and shame the out-group. Pathetic.

    However, it can certainly be cathartic, so why don’t all of you go off and have a good cry and laugh session together and leave the debate to the grownups. There are substantive stories and comment threads on this issue elsewhere in local and regional media, and a lively conversation in our community among people who respect others’ viewpoints.

    Bill Tallen

  5. I would challenge Mr. Drake and commenters to read the texts and note what the U.S.A. has done that was bad versus good. I read the common core AP history standards and there is no way a student who is taught just that could come away with any love of this country. They continually disparage our history with very, very little good mentioned Where are the sacrifices the founders made? How many lost all they had, lost their lives or their sons? Where would Great Britain or France, etc, be today if the U.S.A. had not stepped into WWII? What country usually steps in first and the most after disasters such as earthquakes?

    Half of Wyoming’s budget comes from our energy sector taxes. Many people are employed by coal and the trains that carry it, along with other energy. When this industry is destroyed by current federal administration and when many of our neighbors are out of work and if global warming is proved wrong (as much science has changed through the years, just ask George Washington whose death was sped along by blood letting) then, what will we say to those unemployed friends and how will we support these schools?

    Jan Loftus

  6. Kerry, your article was very confusingly written. Are you a global warming advocate or not? I did somewhat agree with one comment you made, that “Al Simpson is a leftist”. Although I consider Al a friend, I (as well as a number in the WY Senate and other Wyomingites) do not agree with his often liberal agenda/views on many issues and he often does not agree with me on my predominately conservative agenda/views which tend to be based upon common sense, logic and (real) scientifically backed data, not junk science.

    Regarding the teachers in Park 6 school systems with their BS, MS and PHD teaching degrees that several teachers boasted about at a recent board meeting, I am not sure why teachers with those kinds of credentials could not understand what the “issue” was that they spent so many hours objecting to. It seemed quite clear to many of us “ignorant buffoons” with lowly engineering degrees and “concerned parents” with or without degrees, that the objection was to ERRONEOUS, LIBERALLY SLANTED, and RACIALLY BIASED reading materials that were proposed for our
    impressionable youth. Those teachers will hopefully agree with the “objectors” once actually read the objections and they realize that the parents were NOT objecting to the teachers or their qualifications… just the erroneous and slanted material.

    Glen Schultz

  7. Let me get this straight: Those liberals who believe in “global whining” or “climate change” (or whatever it is this week) believe that MAN did most of this “damage” – let us image that is correct for one insane moment. So with this mindset, accept that exhaust from cars as well as the drilling for the oil that feeds them, by-products (“pollution” – now there’s an old term we don’t hear much anymore) from factories, fossil fuel residuals from coal-fired electric plants and agricultural fumes/chemicals (meat production, field preparation, etc.) ALL contribute to “warming up our planet” (whatever that means) and altering (somehow – no one has ever been able to explain this to me, but what the hell) the climate. So, if these liberals TRULY believed in this nonsense, WHY would they go out and start up vehicles, flip a light switch of a coal-fired plant, jump on planes/jets, eat meat and push computer buttons of a machine that came from factories all over the world that spew out “pollutants”? In my book, they must NOT believe in this “global whining” or “climate change” because they are killing the planet EVERY DAY with their lifestyle. Or not? I would say that writing that “global whining” is real, placing it in textbooks as truth or professing it to anyone who will listen while these liberals CONTRIBUTE to the very thing they fear most is akin to a liberal parent warning their minor children about the evils of drug use while smoking a joint or huffing on a crack pipe. It’s hypocritical, it’s anti-intellectual and it is flat dishonest and unethical to espouse virtues that you do NOT live up to. I don’t get it. Someone help me here…

    Scott Weber

  8. What a suprise this article was! Once again a commentary that picks and chooses instead of actually looking at the whole of what was being said. And using ridicule to put down those with a different viewpoint. .. genius! Thanks so much Kerry for your insight! By the way, in this lenghty article I didn’t catch exactly how long you spent actually reviewing those materials you so staunchly support…?

    Sherri Richardson

  9. Mr. Drake,

    I appreciate your opinion apparently based upon your reading of an article. I would propose however, that before you continue any propaganda, you reach out to those of us that you are writing about. I at least am easy to get a hold of and would be happy to discuss this issue with you.

    I understand that you have your opinions about the way things are. You have your political leanings, as do each of your readers. You, and they, are entitled to those opinions. But do understand the other side is entitled to theirs as well.

    First let me dispel one of your….. Let’s say oversights. You continue this narrative that there was some lengthy process to select these resources. I would expect more from a “veteran Wyoming journalist”. Do the simple research. Look at the minutes that are posted online. See that the resources in question were reviewed by the committee for about a month.

    i find it interesting that your article suggests people home school if they may have opinions different than yours. Would you deny these families their right to actively engage in their children’s public education. Seemingly your other option is perhaps these parents leave their children in public school as long as they shut up, and go with the flow. You quickly cite McCarthy. I find some irony in that you use that point in Americans history. We can all see that McCarthy used the fears of a Cold War era American society to further his own political goals. History gives us that prospective. However, at the time many people agreed with him. It was fashionable to find that great red horde behind every bush. You see that clearly. It is interesting that you don’t see the possible comparisons to global warming.

    Point in fact: I don’t say global warming isn’t real. I also don’t think global cooling isn’t real either. Most people I know accept these phenomenons as actual events. The real debate stems from what is causing it, and how much of a role man has. And that’s the point. It is a debate. I see your 97% number. And it is one that is fun to toss around. Here is a WSJ article debunking that number.
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303480304579578462813553136
    i can give you even more articles about the MANY environmental catastrophes that were supposed to have happened by now. But I guess those fools in the 40s…… well.

    The other thing that should be addressed is this issue of race as located in your piece. Now, you didn’t flat out call anyone a racist as did some of the people that seem to be agreeing with you. (Note this was done by them not here but in other venues) However you make some interesting assertions. You call people out for implying that the book is unfair to leave out white males, but others have celebrated that fact. In one board meeting a supporter of these resources stated she was glad that it had more women and less men. No one has said these resources have the best of the best. Just that they are more culturally fair.

    Cultural fairness is an interesting thing. I bought a box of chalk for my kids the other day. It it were all the colors of the rainbow, including white. I did not toss that white bugger out and breath a sigh of relief. No I saw the value in them all. While this type of analogy has been used time and time again it is a fair one. But the reality is it is incomplete. The fact is, we don’t live in a box of chalk. We live in the real world. We all know the gist of Dr. Martin Luther Kings vision: that we should not judge by the color of someone’s skin but by the content of their character. This is truly a righteous vision, and it is where some of these books fail. It seems that in an attempt to show how multicultural they could be, they focused too much on the color of the skin, and not enough on the content of the writings.

    Intelligent people can disagree on what makes quality writings. And that disagreement is what we have seen in the Cody community. I welcome those who want to discuss their issues with the resources. That is what the public comment period is about. No one questions the teachers found books that teach language arts. In fact as you so aptly pointed out, the main question seems to be if they agree with the readings that are used to do it. If different readings had been chosen In theses books, I dare say that some others may have had issues with them. Regardless of how good an speaker Hitler may have been we would not want a book full of his speeches handed to impressionable middle schoolers. That is why we put these books out for public comment. That is why I value the publics input so much.

    I see you have at least some history background. I ask you to use that background and see what happens when a people’s voice is silenced because the state knows best. And if you have any questions about what I or others on the board may think or feel about a topic, I welcome you to reach out us. Don’t just rehash those things that were reported to you. Sometimes the red scare, is just a scare.

    William Struemke

  10. I wonder if 97 out of 100 doctors told the deniers they had cancer if instead they would listen to the 3 that said it was their imagination.

    Jim Phillips

  11. Al Simpson is absolutely right . The climate has always been changing. Climatology is barely a frontier science, and so little data has been collected up to this point that in reality nothing can be proven or disproven. Lets give our teachers and students more respect than having their textbooks written by “doomers” or “deniers”

    Paul Cook

  12. Terrifying concept actually. . .. . I guess our democratic way of doing things does allow outer fringe ideas to take over if they have enough backing.

    Carolyn Bing

  13. My emotions connect with those of Pat Keller with some frustration stirred in.

    Tim Solon