One Fell Swoop: Right-Wing Media Use Green Ribbon Schools Program To Attack Education, Conservation, Gore, Obama

Following the Department of Education's announcement of the Green Ribbon Schools program, which recognizes schools for “engaging students on environmental issues” and “addressing environmental issues,” the right-wing media jumped on the campaign as an excuse to attack environmental literacy, the Department of Education, former Vice President Al Gore, and President Obama.

Green Ribbon Program Advocates Kids' Health And Connecting “What They're Learning In Science Class With The World Around Them”

Department Of Education Starts Award For “Green” Schools. A press release issued April 26 by the U.S. Department of Education introducing the Green Ribbon Schools program stated:

“The schools taking part in this initiative will help kids connect what they're learning in science class with the world around them, allowing them to envision solutions to tomorrow's challenges while living healthier lives today,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “By making green living a part of everyday learning, Green Ribbon Schools will prepare our children to win the future by leading our global green energy economy.”

The Green Ribbon Schools program reflects President Obama's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy efficiency, and preparing today's students for jobs in fields that provide clean energy solutions.


Through the Green Ribbon schools program, the Education Department, the EPA, and CEQ will recognize schools for energy conservation, creating healthy learning spaces, and teaching environmental literacy.

“Environmental literacy is an important part of a well-rounded, world-class education,” Secretary Duncan said. “Through the Green Ribbon Schools program, we'll be holding up schools that are leading the way in teaching science and in ways that show students the importance of developing clean energy sources and sustainable solutions for the environment.” [Department of Education, 4/26/11]

DOE Spokeswoman: Program Would Recognize Schools For “Engaging Students On Environmental Issues.” In an interview with, Jo Ann Webb, spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said the program would recognize schools for “engaging students on environmental issues and producing environmentally literate students; increasing energy efficiency and using renewable energy technologies; and creating healthy learning environments by addressing environmental issues in the schools.” [, 5/16/11]

“Let The Indoctrination Begin”: Right-Wing Media Attack Green Ribbon Schools Program

Limbaugh: “Preparing” Children “To Be Good Environmental Citizens ... Means Indoctrinating.” On the May 17 edition of his radio program, Rush Limbaugh stated: “I kid you not. They're not going to -- they're not going to reward or honor schools for math scores, science scores, or grammar. No, no, no, no. 'Preparing our children to be good environmental citizens is some of the most important work any of us can do,' said the U.S. Education Secretary. Preparing means indoctrinating ... all based on a hoax, all based on a fraud, all based on global warming, which, by the way, is a religion.” [Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, 5/17/11]

Hoft: “Let The Indoctrination Begin.” In a May 17 Gateway Pundit post titled, “It's an Obama World... Team O to Honor Nation's Best 'Green Schools' on Earth Day,” Jim Hoft wrote: “It's an Obama world. The kids can't read or write but at least they'll know about first-grader sex in bathrooms and EPA sponsored junk science. Let the Indoctrination Begin.” [Gateway Pundit, 5/17/11]

Powers: “The Only Thing 'Green Ribbon Schools' Will Prepare Students For Is The Unemployment Line.” In a May 17 post to, Doug Powers wrote: " 'Green Ribbon Schools' -- Because Al Gore deserves to head toward his twilight years with the comfort of knowing that the next generation is being trained to keep him in the lifestyle to which he's become accustomed." Powers later wrote: “If the Department of Labor's stimulus-driven 'Green Jobs Training Program' results are any indication, there's a good chance that the only thing 'Green Ribbon Schools' will prepare students for is the unemployment line.” [, 5/17/11]

Weasel Zippers: “Some Advice For The Obama Regime: Stay Away From Our Kids.” A May 17 Weasel Zippers post introduced an article on the Green Ribbon Schools program by stating, “Some advice for the Obama regime: Stay away from our kids.” [Weasel Zippers, 5/17/11]

Right-Wing Media Have Continuously Accused Schools, Obama Of Indoctrination

Right-Wing Finds New Evidence Of “Indoctrinat[ion]” In School Kids' WI Union Protest Participation." In March, right-wing media seized on a video of students protesting against Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker as evidence of children being “indoctrinate[d]” to support progressive causes. As Media Matters has noted, right-wing media have repeatedly seized on YouTube videos of children to accuse progressives of “indoctrination” of children. [Media Matters, 3/15/11]

Conservatives On Obama's Stay-In-School Speech: “Indoctrination,” “Brainwashing,” Communist China, Hitler Youth. Numerous conservatives claimed that Obama's September 8, 2009, speech about “persisting and succeeding in school,” along with classroom activities about the “importance of education,” would “indoctrinate” and “brainwash” schoolchildren. Conservatives compared Obama's address to Chinese communism and the Hitler Youth, while also calling for parents to “keep your kids home” from the “fascist in chief.” [Media Matters, 9/2/09]

Beck Spins Anecdotal Organizing For America Claim Into School “Indoctrination” Yarn. In February 2010, Glenn Beck ran with the right-wing claim that Obama -- through an Organizing for America internship program -- was attempting to use the public schools to “indoctrinate” students. Beck's claims were based on a series of distortions and false assertions. [Media Matters, 2/2/10]

Chuck Norris Continues Conservative Assault On Public Education. In a March 1 column, Chuck Norris compared teachers unions to the mafia and “gangsters,” writing:

[W]hen teachers unions muscle legislators like the Mafia and Democrats abandon their voting posts because they don't like projected outcomes, haven't we abandoned the very foundational principles of our republic?


The Wisconsin Education Association Council leads the pack of lobbyists, spending two times as much and five times the amount of time as its closest lobbying competitor in order to buy, bribe and bamboozle legislators to do as it wants.

What also chaps my hide is that a gigantic chunk of the WEAC's gangster money and time is used to lobby against alternative choices in schools (including charter schools) and against tuition tax credit programs, which aid parents in sending their children to private schools.


The fact is that teachers union-sponsored protests spreading the land are not primarily about the teachers or the students. They are about the unions and feds maintaining their Mafia-style rule over education and our kids and preventing people from choosing educational alternatives. [, 3/1/11; Media Matters, 3/1/11]

More “Indoctrination”: Conservative Media Attack Obama's Proposal For More School. In 2009, Beck and other conservative media figures attacked Obama's proposal to extend the length of school days and the school year by claiming that government mandates for longer school days would give the government more time to “indoctrinate” kids, and Michelle Malkin said Obama is acting as “school czar.” [Media Matters, 9/30/09]

Beck's Two Steps In “Che Indoctrination” Of School Kids -- First, The T-Shirt; Then, Read Them Saul Alinsky. On the February 1, 2010, edition of his Fox News program, Beck stated: “This is the second step in the Che indoctrination. First, you get the kids in the T-shirt, and then you read them Saul Alinsky in school, recommended by the president.” [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 2/1/10]

Beck: “We Have Been Setting Up Re-Education Camps. We Call Them Universities.” During the September 1, 2010, edition of his Fox News program, Beck stated: “We have been setting up re-education camps. We call them universities.” [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 9/1/10]