Coal Mountain Elementary by ProQuest


AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL currriculum designed by the American Coal Foundation suggests that students learn about the costs and benefits of coal mining by using toothpicks and paper clips to "mine" chocolate chips out of cookies. They also go about "reclaiming" the "land" damaged in the process by tracing the cookies' outline on graph paper. Costs are to be calculated by the amount of time spent per chip and the expanse of graph paper that needs to be reclaimed."Every time you go to the Family Dollar or Wal-Mart, probably 70 percent of the stuff" there was made in China," [Mark Nowak] says. "A lot of people know about the terrible working conditions, but most people are so removed from the fact that those plants are powered through electricity from coal. We are ourselves attached to each and every one of these (mining) disasters through the clothes we wear, the things we purchase."Explicitly in the curriculum and implicitly in the testimony and news reports included in the book are cost-benefit analyses. One page quotes the curriculum "assessment" of the cookie mining: costs or possibilities for profit were not included in this exercise?" The facing page quotes a Sago rescuer who, shaking the dead miners, says he tries "to holler at them, tell them to wake up." He remembers they had taken the time to lay out a curtain on the floor of what became their death chamber.

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