Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Solar energy School Propaganda 101

The Obama administration's crony green subsidy scandal is erupting like a solar flare in Washington. But do you know what your kids are learning in their environmental education classes about this red-hot taxpayer eco-scam? Chances are: not much. Instead, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Democratic apparatchiks at the National Education Association are disseminating solar power propaganda masquerading as math and science curricula.

Titled "Solar Power and Me: The Inherent Advantages," the lesson plan for middle-school and high-school students directs them to "take note of how solar energy is incorporated into the infrastructure of various cities nationwide and write a short essay about how they would encourage solar energy use in their own town."

A worksheet labeled "All About Solar!" makes the blanket assertion that solar technologies are "a sound economical choice as they can reduce or eliminate exposure to rising electricity rates, or even eliminate one's need to pay an electrical bill! In addition, solar panels can be a smart long-term investment, with many solar vendors offering 20-30 year warranties on their products."

The only warranties worth anything from bankrupt, half-billion-dollar solar company Solyndra Inc. are the warranties on the Disney whistling robots and saunas that adorned its Taj Mahal headquarters. But I digress.

Another worksheet cheerleads the "financial savings" of "solar power and me" and coaches students to "imagine you live in amazing and sunny Anaheim, CA, where the combination of local and federal rebates covers 74 percent of your total cost of a solar panel system!" The exercise then entices the student to take out a 20-year loan on a new solar panel system to produce even greater illusory savings.

Yet another question-and-answer key reads: "How would switching to solar energy affect energy use at your home and school?" Answer: "In general, switching to solar energy would lower your home's electrical costs and reduce your emissions, thus saving money and improving the environment."

But as Brian McGraw of the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute points out: "There might be a small niche market, but solar energy is still largely incapable of producing reliable electricity at rates that are even in the ballpark of cost competitiveness compared to coal or natural gas." Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the force behind billions of dollars' worth of rushed green energy loans overseen by deep-pocketed Obama bundlers, himself acknowledged that solar tech will need to improve five-fold before it even begins to have a cost-competitive shot.

After examining decades' worth of failed subsidized solar efforts at home and around the world, the Institute for Energy Research concludes: "Although stand-alone solar power has a certain free-market niche and does not need government favor, using solar power for grid electricity has been and will be an economic loser for ratepayers and a burden to taxpayers."

The DOE/NEA curriculum encourages students to pressure politicians to pour more money into supposedly underfunded green energy schemes. But the House Budget Committee reported last week: "The president's stimulus law alone included tens of billions in new government subsidies for politically favored renewable-energy interests: $6 billion in loan guarantees for renewable energy investments; $17 billion for the Department of Energy's energy efficiency and renewable energy programs; $2 billion for energy-efficient battery manufacturing; and billions more on other 'clean-energy' programs for a total of $80 billion. Two years later, the president's promise of millions of jobs stands in stark contrast with reality."

A more useful homework assignment would be to have these future taxpayers calculate how much their moms and dads are spending to prop up Obama's green jobs industry and its elite Democratic campaign finance donors/investors. The White House projected 65,000 new jobs from nearly $40 billion in green job stimulus spending. Instead, fewer than 3,600 jobs were created. Get out your calculators, kids: That's $4.85 million per job. Investor's Business Daily crunches the numbers further on the taxpayers' return on its DOE green loan guarantee "investments" and finds that the program will cost a whopping $23 million per job.

A separate NEA solar energy lesson plan marketed with Dow Corning teaches 5th- through 8th-graders "how solar panels work." A more apt, real-world lesson would teach them how they don't work. The myth that this alternative energy source "pays for itself" is busted with just a cursory glance at the Denver Museum of Science and Nature.

President Obama staged a photo-op on the facility's solar panel roof in 2009 when he signed the green jobs goodie-stuffed stimulus law. The museum refused to disclose electric bills before and after installation of the solar array. But after digging into the lavishly taxpayer-funded project, the Colorado-based Independence Institute discovered that the panels -- which only last 25 years -- wouldn't "pay for themselves" until the year 2118, more than a century from now.

It's elementary. The government shouldn't be in the business of picking any eco-winners or losers. "Too Green To Fail" redistributes wealth from viable private projects to pipe dreams, forces higher taxes and energy costs on everyone, and rewards partisan funders at public expense. Teach your children well. They're inheriting the bill.


London's ghettoes 'are sleepwalking towards a schools apartheid'

London has become divided into ethnic ghettoes that are ‘sleepwalking towards Johannesburg’ under apartheid, according to a leading independent school head teacher.

David Levin, head of City of London School for boys, has spoken of his ‘increasing alarm’ at the way communities in London are split along race lines, with youngsters of different ethnicity rarely or never mixing and the inevitable tensions that causes.

At one school, Stepney Green Maths and Computing College, in Tower Hamlets, East London, 97 per cent of pupils are Bangladeshi. And at another, in Peckham, South London, pupils are ‘overwhelmingly’ West African.

South African Mr Levin, whose school routinely tops GCSE and A-level league tables, suggested the worsening situation could lead to racial tension as people ‘fear those they do not know’. He said: ‘I think London is sleepwalking towards Johannesburg – the ghettoisation of the community. It means they are not mixing with people from other faiths, different races and different socio-economic backgrounds.

‘One of the things I have learned pre and post – particularly post – apartheid is that your imagination is much stronger than the reality. ‘You may not like someone, but if you know them then you do not fear them.’

He claimed there are parts of London where ethnic minority youngsters never leave their council estate let alone their borough. He called on private schools to send mentors and teachers into the ‘ghettoes’ to ensure that disadvantaged pupils mix with youngsters of ‘different races and socio-economic backgrounds’.

Mr Levin, whose school has pupils from 41 countries, has set up outreach projects with some schools, such as Stepney Green, to teach maths and science. City of London also offers scholarships to talented pupils.

Children from white families are in the minority in both Birmingham and Leicester, as well as most London boroughs.

Stepney Green, a boys’ school, has almost 900 pupils aged 11 to 16. It was rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted this year. Despite being in a deprived part of London, some 82 per cent of its pupils got A* to C in English and maths GCSE in 2010.

Mr Levin, who is vice-chairman of the association of leading independent schools, the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, was speaking yesterday at its annual conference. He is leading an initiative to encourage private primary schools to help sponsor academies [charters].


Australian private schools say Leftist education "Review" wrong, prejudiced

THE private school sector has criticised the quality and assumptions of the key research projects commissioned by the Gonski review of education, while questioning the independence and accuracy of the work.

In their final submissions to the review of school funding, the Independent Schools Council of Australia, the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia, the NSW Parents Council and the Independent Education Union all rounded on work released last month by the Gonski review.

The NSW Parents Council criticised what it termed a "shameful attempt to develop class war debate". Instead of recognising that parents make radical financial decisions in order to choose schools that support their philosophical approach to raising their children, the tenor of the reports was that they chose to go private merely because they "are blessed with greater, wealth, income, power or possessions".

Allowing only one month to respond to 700 pages of commissioned research was "disgraceful", the Parents Council said.

Responding to calls for accountability in the use of taxpayer funds, the council also said non-government school parents are subsidising parents of children in government schools and are entitled to greater insights into the "inefficient allocation and deployment of government funding for schools".

The funding review, headed by David Gonski, is scheduled to report to the federal government by the end of the year. Apart from releasing four commissioned reports - which it did not endorse - it has given little insight into its thoughts and directions.

But the private school lobby has seen enough to be on its guard about what the Independent Schools Council terms a "high stakes" funding review. "A number of reports strongly reflect an inherent bias against non-government schools," the council submitted.

"That these reports were allowed to be released without these overt and covert biases being addressed undermines the credibility of the research informing the Panel's deliberations," it said. The council accused the authors of the Nous Group report of making "inflammatory and inaccurate statements" and relying on opinion not research.

A key proposal in a report by Allen Consulting is for the establishment of an education resource standard, the amount of money needed for a student to reach minimum educational benchmarks.

It is a proposal that concerns the independent schools sector, which said the data on which it would be built is inadequate.

The report also provided no details about how it might be implemented making it impossible to assess the impact on individual independent schools.

The independent teachers union is also worried about the data, particularly an apparent reliance on Naplan test results, an approach it said "is seriously flawed". "Overseas experience clearly points to evidence of test coaching, widespread cheating or fraudulent behaviour when school funding or resourcing is tied to high-stakes literacy and numeracy tests," it wrote.

Independent school principals are also worried by the lack of detail about how such a standard might work in practice, as well as how other funding ideas scoped by the reports might function.

"AHISA would be concerned if the Review panel were to recommend any of these proposals without further intensive consultation with school sector representatives," it said. And the headmasters' association repeats the accusation of prejudice.

"The inherent bias against non-government schooling evident in the research papers shows that non-government schools, particularly independent schools, are still struggling to be deemed legitimate providers of school education in Australia," it submitted.


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