Retired sixth grade teacher Jim McCargar made impassioned remarks to the Dexter Community Schools Board of Education and Superintendent Chris Timmis this week calling for the district to adopt global climate change science into the curriculum.
MacCargar, a former Environmental Protection Agency scientist and policy expert with twenty years served at the federal agency, transitioned to education from a University of Michigan program designed to bring experienced professionals into public education.
He recently retired with the last chapter in his professional life involving educating sixth graders at Creekside Intermediate School, where he sat Monday night during this week’s regular Board of Education meeting to plead his case during public comments.
“I’m making a proposal — a challenge to this school board, to the superintendent, to every building administrator, to every teacher in this district who used to be a colleague of mine and the ones who have been hired since,” McCargar said. “You have some degrees of freedom. Your constrained by the state on what your curriculum is, but you have some freedom. You have some leeway. I know it – I used it. Use it. Make global climate change a part of the Dexter curriculum.”
McCargar was motivated to make this case before district officials due to recent actions by the newly situated Donald Trump administration, which has wasted no time in following up words leveled during the 2016 election at the credibility of the entire concept of global climate change with actions: the removal of landing pages on whitehouse.gov dedicated to educating and informing site visitors on the topic of climate change.
While the metadata for these pages still exists in search engines like Google and Bing, those links now take visitors to a landing page promoting a “Make America Great Again” promo video.
While the links and information on the page can easily be retrieved, since everything on the Internet, once published, is archived and accessible forever, it’s the symbolism of the action and the zeal with which it was executed that McCargar took issue with.
“The deleted material included a host of scientifically accurate and educationally appropriate links and education sources,” McCargar said.
McCargar recalled one classroom experience in 2009 where one of his students noticed low grade earthquake activity in an odd place, particularly one without any nearby fault lines : Oklahoma. His students broke off into groups and started digging into the matter online, revealing some anecdotal reports of homes damaged by quakes in which some homeowners suspected nearby fracking oil recovery operations might be to blame.
His students pulled Oklahoma oil and gas drilling permits and the yellow dots on the earthquake map overlaid nicely with the permit locations. Seven years later this past September and official action was starting to be brought against fracking in the state as thousands of small earthquakes have been reported there in the years since McCargar’s students made their observation.
McCargar said he was proud of his students for making that connection through critical scientific thinking years before those in positions of power had faced enough scientific evidence to take real action on the matter.
Reading between the lines of McCargar’s presentation a bit, it’s clear that he believes that Dexter’s schools should attempt to counter the national pullback from global climate change policy with a local acknowledgement of the science’s validity, up to and including teaching it to Dexter children, some of who might one day be in a position to make a difference against climate change.
“It’s not a belief, it’s a fact, and it’s going to affect everyone’s children and grandchildren in this room and we have an obligation to teach about it now because it’s disappearing from our national agenda,” McCargar said. “I challenge you as a school board to do something about it where it’s going to matter and that’s in our children’s education.
“If our sixth graders can discover the relationship between earthquakes and deep well injection, they can bloody well understand climate change and then they’ll be ready to do something about it.”
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