Federal govt: hey, green jobs didn't work out, but maybe green education will

Yesterday, Obama’s Education Secretary Arne Duncan, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley gathered at a D.C. elementary school to announce the 78 winners of the Department of Education’s first-ever – I know, try to contain your excitement here – “Green Ribbon” Schools contest. Let the state-sponsored brainwashing commence! Said Secretary Duncan:

“Science, environmental and outdoor education play a central role in providing children with a well-rounded education, helping prepare them for the jobs of the future,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools demonstrate compelling examples of the ways schools can help children build real-world skillsets, cut school costs, and provide healthy learning environments.”

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is a federal recognition program that opened in September 2011. Honored schools exercise a comprehensive approach to creating “green” environments through reducing environmental impact, promoting health, and ensuring a high-quality environmental and outdoor education to prepare students with the 21st century skills and sustainability concepts needed in the growing global economy.

“Schools that take a green approach cut costs on their utility bills, foster healthy and productive classrooms, and prepare students to thrive in the 21st century economy,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “These Green Ribbon School award winners are taking outstanding steps to educate tomorrow’s environmental leaders, and demonstrating how sustainability and environmental awareness make sense for the health of our students and our country.”

Environmental quality is an issue most effectively and efficiently handled at the local level, and the federal government butting in to try and convert impressionable children with more top-down virtue to trust state power instead of their own brains is not going to help the planet. Perhaps there are some very marginal savings to be had in teaching kids how to cut down on their paper use, or whatever — but there are also serious opportunity costs in taking time and resources out of the limited school day to educate them about “outdoor education” instead of, oh, I don’t know, 2 + 2 = 4, or other such objective facts.

Real-world skill sets, cutting costs, healthy environments, and preparing to thrive in the new 21st century economy of the future — er, weren’t those the exact same goals that stimulating green jobs were supposed to achieve for adults in the workforce? And seeing as how all of those green jobs we were promised have failed to take in the productive, wealth-producing part of the economy not subsidized by the federal government with money we don’t have, why are we turning around and indoctrinating our kids with the pro-climate change eco-trends du jour? For very good reason, if you’re into nanny statism and central planning: because this isn’t about “winning the future.” It’s about nurturing the next generation of big-government liberals who’d rather have somebody take care of them than expend the energy it takes to think critically.

Honestly now, one of the “Green Ribbon” recipients is a Californian school called — wait for it — the Environmental Charter High School, which should tell us pretty much everything we need to know about the true nature of this taxpayer-funded program.