NSTA's 'Inconvenient' Controversy
While Al Gore’s documentary on global warming “An Inconvenient Truth” is required viewing for science students in Norway and Sweden, so far American students will still have to head to Blockbuster on their own to rent the film. According to this Washington Post opinion piece, the producers of the movie wanted to give 50,000 free DVDs to the National Science Teachers Association for distribution to schools as an educational tool, but their offer was turned down. The big reason, according to Laurie David, who wrote the article and is one of the movie’s producers, is the NSTA’s connection with Exxon Mobil, which has given the group $6 million since 1996 and puts out lesson plans and other material Ms. David says are aimed at manipulating the science information that students get. The NSTA, however, disputes Ms. David's suggestions. In a statement released today, Gerald Wheeler, the group’s executive director says the science group’s policies prohibit it from endorsing any product and thus passing out a DVD. The NSTA statement also points out that Ms. David didn’t mention the association's efforts to find other ways to distribute the movie. In addition, Mr. Wheeler takes exception with the characterization that the NSTA is spreading corporate messages for Exxon and other companies like Shell Oil, which provide funding for conferences and other NSTA activities.