Millard Public Schools will stop using a children’s book about global warming — but only until the district can obtain copies with a factual error corrected.
A review committee, convened after parents complained, concluded that author Laurie David’s book, “The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming,” contained “a major factual error” in a graphic about rising temperatures and carbon dioxide levels.
Mark Feldhausen, associate superintendent for educational services, this week sent a letter to parents who complained, including the wife of U.S. Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska, outlining the committee’s findings.
“Although the authors have pledged to correct the graph in subsequent editions, the committee recommends that this correction be made to all MPS-owned texts before using it with students in the future,” Feldhausen wrote.
Corrected versions will continue to be used in Millard’s sixth-grade language arts curriculum, he wrote.
However, the district will cease to use a companion video about global warming, narrated by actor Leonardo DiCaprio, he wrote.
The committee found the video “without merit” and recommended that it not be used.
Robyn Terry, the congressman’s wife, had described the video as a “political commercial.”
Lee and Robyn Terry released a statement saying they were pleased with the decision and “impressed” by the district’s handling of the case.
“We are pleased with their decision not to use the politically natured global warming video as a classroom instruction tool and that they have set a standard that information-based texts must be factually correct to be put in front of our children,” they wrote.
A committee of five middle school parents, three teachers and one administrator met to determine whether the book and video served a proper purpose within the curriculum.
The book, new to the Millard curriculum this year, was part of “Plugged in to Non-Fiction,” a collection of books on a variety of subjects. Parts of the book were required reading for sixth-graders in Millard reading and language-arts classes.
Three parents, including Robyn Terry, complained to the district. The Terrys’ 12-year-old son attended Beadle Middle School last year. Mrs. Terry said that the materials used in his class portrayed global warming as fact when scientists disagree.
In the video, DiCaprio attributes global warming to mankind’s “destructive addiction” to oil. He says “big corporations” and politicians gained too much money and power “on our addiction,” making them “dangerously resistant to change.”
In the letter to parents, Feldhausen said the committee recognized there are “multiple viewpoints” on global warming. The committee recommended that all teachers using the book “make students aware of both sides of the global warming theory,” he said.