What others are saying

January 30, 2007

If a middle-school science teacher wanted to introduce the subject of global warming to students, she could do worse than to show the Al Gore documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Unless, that is, she lived in the Seattle suburb Federal Way, where some parents recently objected to having their children see it. One father agreed that the planet is warming, but said it is caused by God, not man, and is a sign that Judgment Day is approaching.

The school board knuckled under to the pressure, initially banning the movie and then requiring that teachers planning to show it first get written approval from their principals. The teachers also would have to "balance" the movie with alternate views approved by both the principal and superintendent of schools. The teacher who first tried to show the film, Kay Walls, said she was told she would receive a disciplinary letter for not following a school board rule requiring permission before using "controversial" material in class.

Federal Way has thus joined school districts around the country that refuse to stand up for teachers whose duty is to educate students about basic elements of biology, evolution, or what virtually all climate scientists believe is the greatest environmental threat: global warming. We hope the unfavorable publicity the Federal Way district has received will keep other school boards from caving in so readily to manufactured controversies.

- The Boston Globe

In just about 10 weeks, $37 million was raised to help keep the Thomas Eakins painting "The Gross Clinic" in Philadelphia. The artwork was, city and civic leaders deemed, a local treasure that needed to be cherished - not abandoned.

They were right. But apparently, the same value isn't attached to Philadelphia's sexually abused children. Their plight can't fetch one-fourteenth of that amount.

For nearly a year, a plan to have the city Department of Human Services' child sex-abuse investigations unit and the nonprofit Children's Alliance move into the same building has been stuck because they lack $2.7 million needed to renovate office space.

The alliance helps to coordinate the different agencies and workers involved in investigating cases of children being sexually abused.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to prevent a masterpiece so closely connected to Philadelphia from moving out of town. There is something terribly wrong with letting a far smaller sum stop a project that will help some of the city's most vulnerable children.

- The Philadelphia Inquirer

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