Dear HISD Superintendent Grier

by Robert Nagle on 2/1/2013

in global warming,Texas/Regional

Hi, there. I read from the HISD superintendent’s speech that there are plans to start a
small magnet high school for energy and technology.

This is interesting news because that’s where most of the jobs and exciting new research will be over the next few decades. I realize that this magnet school may still be in the planning stages, but I was wondering. Would this be a good place to send a child who wanted to learn about renewable energy?

As you know, Houston is in a unique position because many fossil fuel companies are located here; these companies are very wealthy and have large philanthropic budgets. I would be concerned that if HISD opened this school, the fossil fuel companies would have inappropriate influence over faculty and choice of teaching material.

I am an environmental writer who writes often about climate change; for example, did you know that
electric plants in Texas (population 25 million) emit as much CO2  as electric plants in the COMBINED states of   New York, California, Florida, Massachusetts and Oregon (population: 86 million)

I hope that the charter of any such magnet school will contain the aim of avoiding fossil fuels and promoting renewable solutions.  I would also hope that any school will have sufficient oversight and controls  to prevent fossil fuel companies from exerting too much influence over the curriculum. There are already several well-known examples of fossil fuel companies "infiltrating" school curricula with educational material sympathetic to oil and gas.

I have 2 nephews and 2 nieces in HISD elementary and middle schools now. If this magnet school provided good preparation for a career in renewable energy, I would certainly encourage them to attend it.

One economic analysis of renewable energy  jobs found that "clean-energy investments generate roughly three times more jobs than an equivalent amount of money spent on carbon-based fuels."  Therefore, investing in education for renewable energy jobs would provide more bang for the buck than investing in education  for fossil fuel jobs.

On the other hand, if such a school were merely "neutral" about fossil fuels (translation: propagating the viewpoint that fossil fuels are still a valid solution in today’s world), then such a magnet school would be flawed at its core.

Ultimately, the current generation of students will experience more of the pernicious effects from climate change than people of our generation. It would be a shame if we equipped them with flawed tools of learning which only ensured that these kinds of problems get worse.

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