A bill proposed by Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin to expand “green” energy curriculum to middle and high schools deserves serious consideration in Congress.
The measure, touted by Baldwin during a visit to Lakeshore Technical College on Wednesday, would provide grant funding to colleges with green energy curriculum to expand their programs to middle and high schools. The goal, Baldwin said, is to get students interested in green jobs earlier than their post-high school years.
That is a good idea, regardless of where one stands on the controversial issue of expanding green energy in the future. It is not a given that wind, solar and other forms of alternative energy are the panacea advocates claim.
Baldwin’s legislation, however, will help broaden educational opportunities for middle school and high school students, which is what those schools are supposed to do. The bill asks for $100 million in nationwide funding for grants, which would be administered by the U.S. Department of Education.
The freshman senator is correct to label green energy “a big growth area in the future.”
It will become a balancing act for schools, however, if the legislation passes. It could prove difficult for schools to present green energy course material to young minds without the political trappings that often mar debate about the relative merits of fossil fuels and renewable energy sources. Many experts agree that a viable energy future will include a mix of energy sources, and that an extreme emphasis on one type over another endangers our energy future.
It is doubtful whether that balanced approach would be taught to young students learning from a curriculum dedicated strictly to green jobs. It is thus imperative that the schools make an attempt to strike that balance if Baldwin’s legislation passes and more money begins flowing to green energy education.
Lakeshore Technical College has a wind energy course that prepares students for futures in that field, and would receive money under Baldwin’s bill to expand its curriculum to middle and high schools in Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties. We hope Congress gives LTC and the other schools that opportunity because it expands elective course offerings for students.
The schools should resist the temptation to append a political agenda to the proposed course material, particularly at the secondary level. The schools should not, however, ignore in its educational offerings the other viable forms of energy that help fuel our world.
The legislation itself likely will face a partisan fight in the hallowed halls of Congress. That divide does not need to extend to the schools. Teach students about green energy if they want to learn; leave the political infighting to the “experts” in Washington, D.C.
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