NSTA II: The Educator Strikes Back

The NSTA has posted their response to Laura David’s Op-Ed which I (and lots of others) blogged about yesterday. First off, the executive director Dr. Gerald Wheeler clarified the NSTA position on what he feels happened during the discussions with the production company.

During conversations with Ms. David’s representative we suggested making the DVD available via alternative means of distribution (e.g. by providing a mailing list of our members to producers, announcing its availability in our publications, etc.). It appears that these alternative distribution mechanisms were unsatisfactory.

It was not the intent of the NSTA to restrict “An Inconvenient Truth” from its members and we are currently pursuing options to make the DVD available to teachers.

While I didn’t read ‘restrict’ in any of Ms. David’s comments, which would entail forbidding NSTA members from showing the film, the rest comment does make sense. Publishing the availability of the video would have been an excellent alternative to a direct distribution of the film by the NSTA. (It might have also saved the NSTA money, but that’s beside the point.)

Dr. Wheeler goes on to outline the involvement of the oil and gas companies, specifically ExxonMobil, The Shell Oil Company as well as the partnership with API the company with produced the “You Can’t Be Cool Without Fuel” video. His explanations are both reasonable and understandable.

In today’s political climate, lobbying organisations, to which I would include the NSTA, need money to propagate their message. Note, I don’t mean lobbying in the negative sense in which the word is usually used today, but in the more traditional manner, trying to get appropriate information into the hearts and minds of those in a position to help. The reality of the situation is that corporate money is important and oil and gas corporations do have both a relationship to science and loads of cash. Thus, this ‘involvement’ was probably inevitable.

It is possible that this was an unlucky constellation of personalities. Several people involved in discussions about the same thing with both sides understanding the language but not the meaning the other was trying to convey. I’ve sat in on meetings like that.

Thus, in an attempt to rebalance my Karma, I finish this post with the final words used by Dr. Wheeler in his Press Release. They are like an Irish lie – if it isn’t true, it should be.

The mission of the NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all, and for over 50 years NSTA has been a staunch supporter of quality science education. We are very proud of the work we do on behalf of science education.

(Hat Tip: Bad Astronomer Note: His excellent follow-up post  is a MUST READ.)


2 comments so far

  1. Darmok on

    I don’t know how well known this little controversy was outside people who are already familiar with the issue, but perhaps at the very least, it will serve to publicize An Inconvenient Truth and get more people to watch it.

  2. blc303 on


    The problem is the damage already done to the NSTA reputation. That will take time to rebuild. An Inconvenient Truth is an important film. The issue is even more important. Everyone who takes this issue seriously needs to understand what is going on and try to work toward solutions.
    The fact that a number of mayors and governors took it upon themselves to try to improve the situation shows the disconnect at the national level. Citizens are becoming more and more aware and even the religious right is coming around.

    Last summer there was the rather strange juxtaposition of Bono going around talking to church leaders pushing the idea that global climate change is an issue. Even they are starting to ‘get it.’ The Washington Post ran an article this morning saying that the planned leadership change of the very conservative Christian Coalition will not take place. Partially because the new President wanted to include climate change in the platform.

    The Rev. Joel Hunter, pastor of a nondenominational megachurch in Longwood, Fla., said he resigned as the coalition’s incoming president because its board of directors disagreed with his plan to broaden the organization’s agenda. In addition to opposing abortion and same-sex marriage, Hunter, 58, wanted to take on such issues as poverty, global warming and HIV/AIDS.

    The NSTA issue was really just a tempest in a teacup in comparison

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