California textbooks drop pro-plastic bag messages

October 30, 2012

The California Environmental Protection Agency revised a controversial K-12 curriculum, removing some positive messages about plastic bags that an interest group lobbied to include. [California Watch]

In August 2011, school officials rewrote part of a new environmental curriculum to include the advantages of shopping with plastic bags following a lobbying effort by the American Chemistry Council on behalf of the plastics industry. Although the curriculum included the environmental hazards of plastic bags, consultants added a five-point question asking students to list advantages of shopping with plastic. One such advantage stated that plastic bags require 70 percent less energy to manufacture than paper.

The textbook change drew sharp criticism from environmental groups and politicians. Following a state investigation into the matter, CalEPA announced Friday that it had revised the textbooks again, replacing statistics offered by the American Chemistry Council with ones more favorable to environmental groups.

While the old text said that 12 percent of Americans recycle plastic shopping bags, the new one says “recycling rates specific to plastic shopping bags are not currently calculated by state or federal agencies.”

Likewise the revised textbooks include a CalRecycle estimate that recycling rates may be as low as 3 percent.

CalEPA assumed responsibility for creating the textbooks on waste and recycling when a 2003 law legislated environmental studies into California K-12 public schools. The agency then outsourced the curriculum design to the nonprofit State Education and Environmental Roundtable (SEER), which departments of education in 16 states created to bolster environmental education in public schools.

Assistant secretary of education and quality programs at CalEPA, Bryan Ehlers, told California Watch that he is very satisfied with SEER’s latest round of curriculum revisions.

“We think the curriculum is excellent, and this process gave us the opportunity to go through it with a fine-toothed comb, getting as the same goal of producing a thoughtful and reasoned discussion about the consequences of consumption,” Ehlers said.

Ellers added that the new curriculum will likely reach about 60,000 students across more than 100 school districts.



  1. Anthony V. Toscano says:

    Question for Mr. Bryan Ehlers: Considering all the time, money and head-spinning effort spent by people who produce this politicized “curriculum” (is it a booklet or yet another dust-gathering binder?), that you say will reach 60,000 students, have you commissioned a research project to determine how many of the 60,000 students will be able to READ your curriculum materials? How about another study to determine how many students will even WANT to read your materials? Sheesh, what a bunch of wasted money, your salary included.

    (12) 16 Total Votes - 14 up - 2 down
  2. Jorge Estrada says:

    The EAST COAST is flushing the sewers into the streams and rivers thence the ATLANTIC. Yes, they too have power outages and malfunctions that enough money may have prevented. Maybe our California Regulators can harvest a big commission from the EAST COAST sewer farms? All things being scientific, the Wallace Group issue is just a teensy grain of sand compared to the beaches on EAST COAST doing business as usual. I’m not advocating this is right or wrong, just pointing out the diffrences within the same country and the same science. Everyone know that shit happens but in California, if a job can be funded, you pay. I say ARGO to CWQCB.

    (-2) 2 Total Votes - 0 up - 2 down
  3. CommonSenseMama says:

    Public Education is clouded with social/political influence. To keep up with social issues, text books must be revised and reprinted more often, which comes at a great cost.

    Parents… rather than just looking at the grades your children are getting, look at what they are being taught. Examine their textbooks and you may be surprised at what you find (I know I was!)

    Schools should teach our kids how to think critically. But then again, our federal, state and local governments seem to think we adults (as a mass) are incapable of doing just that. If you can’t think for yourself, they will. If you can’t take care of yourself, they will.

    Big Brother knows best!

    (19) 19 Total Votes - 19 up - 0 down
  4. easymoney says:

    Anyone wonder where our school money goes?

    CalEPA, CalRecycle, SEER, how many different agencies are really needed to come up with a school book on the three Rs?

    (15) 19 Total Votes - 17 up - 2 down
    • SLOBIRD says:

      UNIONS, UNIONS, UNIONS, UNIONS…. NO on 30 – NO on 30 – NO on 30 It is all a waste. I read an article today where 65 percent of the kids in LA school district drop out of high school. Also, they turned down a $40 million grant that wanted to grade the teachers on scores. UNIONS SAID ABSOLUTELY NOT,NEVER WILL HAPPEN IN CALIFORNIA…WE ARE NOT CHICAGO – RIGHT!

      (13) 21 Total Votes - 17 up - 4 down

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