CEDAR Brings Coal Propaganda to the Schools

It’s Not Just a Tree Any More

By Julian Martin

A year ago, at the WV Environmental Education Association conference, I asked Dr. Steven L. Paine why CEDAR was being allowed to spread its pro-mountain top removal propaganda in the schools of southern West Virginia. He claimed he had never heard of it and said he would look into it. Dr. Paine is superintendent of West Virginia Schools. He had never heard of a program that bragged three years ago about being in sixteen southern West Virginia schools. A year later, after hearing the testimony of Janice Nease, Lorelei Scarbro and me, Dr. Paine was instructed by the president of the state board of education to do what he had promised me a year earlier. He said he would look into it and that he would meet with us. We hope to be meeting with him fairly soon.

Dr. Paine is to include the Friends of Coal Ladies Auxiliary in his investigation. The Ladies Auxiliary tried to take their pitch into Stratton Middle School in Beckley. Lorelei Scarbro of Coal River Mountain Watch met with the superintendent of Raleigh County schools and the program was cancelled. The Superintendent said that the students had already missed too many snow days to include anything else in the school day. Watch out for the Ladies Auxiliary to try again next year.

CEDAR (which stands for Coal Education Development and Resource of Southern West Virginia, Inc.) is a coal industry invention. “CEDAR’s mission is to facilitate the increase of knowledge and understanding of the many benefits the coal industry provides in daily lives by providing financial resources and coal education materials to implement its study in the school curriculum. CEDAR’s target group is grades K-12 in Mingo, Logan, Boone, McDowell and Wyoming counties in southern West Virginia.”

“The many benefits the coal industry provides.” are key words in CEDAR’s mission statement. Learning outcomes for West Virginia Schools don’t include promoting the many benefits of any industry. Just promoting the many benefits qualifies CEDAR as one-sided propaganda, not education.

The many benefits the coal industry provides couldn’t possibly include: Flooding caused by mountain top removal-The selenium from valley fills producing fish with eyes on one side and curved spines. Recent studies of hatchlings from below valley fills show 10 % have abnormalities as compared to trace numbers in normal streams-Heavy metals in coal sludge impoundments-Acid mine drainage-Acid rain- Injecting coal sludge into the ground water and out into people’s sinks- Miners coughing to death with black lung- The Buffalo Creek disaster- The massive sludge disaster in Martin County, Kentucky-The coal ash dam collapse in Tennessee-Coal mine accidents at Farmington, Mannington, Sago and the many, many others-The destruction of habitat for migrating song birds. 44 bird species were counted in the wooded area that Larry Gibson saved on Kayford Mountain while only 3 species were counted at the edge with the mountain top removal strip mine- The effect of blasting on people’s homes and their health.

The research of Dr. Michael Hendryx of the WVU Department of Community Medicine documented that as coal production increased rates of cardiopulmonary disease, lung disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and kidney disease increased.

It is not likely that the many “benefits” of the coal industry would include the miners march on Blair Mountain-the Black Lung Movement- Miners for Democracy-The so-called Matewan Massacre and subsequent murder of Sid Hatfield-The “Bull Moose Special” and murder of Cesco Estep-Child labor in coal mines.

CEDAR is not holding back; they have the coal industry money to seep into every crook and cranny. “CEDAR awards cash prizes to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place for each grade level of K-4, 5-8 and 9-12.” There is a regional coal fair where students enter coal projects in Science, Math, English-Literature, Art, Music, Technology-Multi Media and Social Studies.

The Friends of Coal Ladies Auxiliary are also ambitious. They exclaim that “We’d really like this to be statewide, that it be mandatory in the schools that they learn about coal.” Aw, yes, that’s the ticket, the coal industry mandating the school curriculum from top to bottom.

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