A teacher in Missoula, Montana, U.S., recently showed the film The Story of Stuff to her high school biology class. An irate parent complained to the school board, which late last month voted that showing the video violated district policy—in effect banning the film.
Fortuantely students, parents, and teachers in Missoula and elsewhere are voicing their concern to the school board. Please join them!
When Missoula, Montana high school teacher Kathleen Kennedy showed The Story of Stuff to students in her 12th grade biology classes last October she figured it would be a good conversation starter. Yet, one parent, Mr. Zuber, who wasn’t too pleased with the subject matter discussed in the Story of Stuff, launched a campaign against the teacher and the film that eventually reached the school board. As you recall, in February the board voted 4-3 (with 3 members absent) that Kennedy’s showing of the video violated the district’s policy on presentation of controversial issues.
This issue in Missoula was complicated by the fact that Mr. Zuber’s complaint against Kennedy’s showing of The Story of Stuff changed over time. His original complaint focused on the content of the film. Quoted in the Missoulian, Zuber said “This video is essentially a 20-minute infomercial supporting an extremely liberal agenda”.Zuber questioned the validity of showing The Story of Stuff in a wildlife biology class, citing climate change and other issues as being “inappropriate”. When he realized that these claims were not gaining traction, his claims morphed into issues around providing alternative viewpoints in the lesson plan, along with personal attacks on the teacher’s capacity to conduct discussions.
Even though many board members supported the teacher, a combination of miscommunications among board members and fluke absences during the board meeting lead to an outcome that was favorable to Mr. Zuber’s ambitions, at least in the short term. Due to a miscommunication, Ms. Kennedy did not present a lesson plan to the school board as she was instructed to do so. Moreover, three board members were absent that day, (one sick, one on a trip, one at the son’s basketball game), which gave Zumber’s supporters on the board, who are in the minority, a majority for that day, resulting in the vote in favor of Mr. Zuber’s complaint.
The Story of Stuff project spoke with Toni Rehbein, the School Board chair, who confirmed that the board’s intention was not to prevent use of The Story of Stuff in classrooms or to squelch much needed attention on environmental issues, as long as such discussions welcome diverse opinions. She told us that the emails of support for Story of Stuff which the Board received from around the world had made a big impact and she assured us that the Board planned to issue a statement clarifying their position. We look forward to seeing that statement.
Meanwhile, in School Board elections on May 4th, Missoula citizens removed incumbant Rick Johns, one of the School Board members who had supported Mr Zuber’s concerns, further securing the majority of those who welcome environmental discourse and promote academic freedom.
Thank you to all the Story of Stuff supporters who mobilized to support the showing of our film and the open discussion on the issues it raises in Kennedy’s classroom.
more at both links
btw i saw the first public showing of this at a great conference in dc 2007
I showed this little video (Annie Leonard's Story of Stuff) to all groups last year... and was surprised at the amount of "objections," (from the students) such as... it was "negative," "biased" "one-sided" and "liberal." No overt flack from the administration... because I reserve the right up-front to "direct the topic" that is the subject of the students' writing... including, but not limited to, the Three Little Pigs.... because I don't want to read the usual filler about "college sports" or abortion/ capital punishment... summer vacation. smoking on campus or video game violence... because they cop it off the net from cheat.com.
Some of the stoods... like their parents... react strongly to anything they don't want to hear. At the "private" colleges it;s no biggie... as long as we keep paying butts in the seats. At the State skool, the admin was wildly paranoid that somebody somewhere might object to something and sue... and then they would have to stop going to meetings and eating donuts to actually address the issue.
I didn't use it this sem. It just aint worth the fekkin trooble. I limit the topics to essays and fiction that is old enough to be in the canon... but not old enough to be on cheat.com.
Hannah-- I've seen this (not just the movie- the anger) and quit showing it on my own. "negative" "anti-capitalist" "biased" "left-wing" and so on. I want to make them a bit uncomfortable... but I don't want to piss them off. Then their brains slam shut like a steel sphincter.
To me, Annie Leonard was sweet and gentle... kind of like The Pinky Show (which doesn't seem to piss them off... for some reason... cartoon kitties, I suspect). "violated the district’s policy on presentation of controversial issues." That's wonk-talk for "don't talk about anything important."
Yeah... I'll send an email if I get the energy. Right now, I'm preparing to go before the "composition committee" and lie my ass off. Do I feel good about it? No. Am I going to do it anyway? You fukkin betcha.
"Because if you can't do it... we'll find somebody who can."
"Now, in its attempts to help Haiti, the IMF is pursuing the same kinds of policies that made Haiti a geography of precariousness even before the quake. To great fanfare, the IMF announced a new $100 million loan to Haiti on Thursday. In one crucial way, the loan is a good thing; Haiti is in dire straits and needs a massive cash infusion. But the new loan was made through the IMF's extended credit facility, to which Haiti already has $165 million in debt. Debt relief activists tell me that these loans came with conditions, including raising prices for electricity, refusing pay increases to all public employees except those making minimum wage and keeping inflation low. They say that the new loans would impose these same conditions. In other words, in the face of this latest tragedy, the IMF is still using crisis and debt as leverage to compel neoliberal reforms."
Hey, the approach works with US consumers too. Keep 'em indebted and they'll be your slaves forever.
Jeebers crap... I can't believe it. What we seem to have going on here is another flat-ass military invasion. Klein nailed it: "disaster capitalism." Reluctant as I am to provide clicks for Roob Kreep's site, Lendman lays it down in his long-ass tome right here... and so does our long-absent pal, Markie.
Whatwithall the domestic economic shitstorm happening right here, somehow the fatties manage to use the MIC to go to bumfuck nowhere and exploit tragedy to set up another NOL-style fucking Pottersville. I would like to lay this out for the Wee Spiders, but Peak Oil and Socialism have just now gone mainstream enough to avoid accusations of getting "off-subject."
I'm not sure who might be left calling Obwami a socialist outside of a few illiterates. Who else could confuse the term so completely. The right-wingers I know see him as just another washington crook--owned by wall street. Same with the lefties I know. In fact, there's never been a better time to join a militia. Most folks I know have become non-partisan in their hatred for the government. Maybe it's just taking a bit longer for the midwest to get with the program.
Haven't really heard much about Peak Oil lately. But then, I haven't exactly had the time to check the news. Are we peaking again? Peaking. What a curious term. I wanna peak like I did during in the summer of love.
Reminds me, have any of you seen Taking Woodstock yet? Best 'peaking' moment in a movie since Easy Rider. Made me want to drop acid again.