With barely contained glee and snark, the Marcellus Shale Drilling News (i.e. think Rush Limbaugh sans Cigar) broke the news with a screaming headline “Cabot to Teach Hazelton, PA 9th Graders How to Frack“. 

NOTE: Marcellus Drilling News (MDN) is a subscription site, unless you have a subscription links will not give you access to the entire article.   HOWEVER there is a back door which allows you to real the entire article.

 Following these easy steps: 

  1. Go to Google search
  2. Type in or copy/paste the headline title, in this case  enter or copy/paste Cabot to Teach Hazelton, PA 9th Graders How to Frack
  3. Hit search and select the first result. 

Ok back to the story.

Word spread about the Cabot classes pretty fast, and was a topic of dicussion at the Hazelton Area School Board on Thursday night (8/29/13).   The board “tabeled” the energy class decision.  This doesn’t mean it won’t happen at some point, but for now no decision one way or another has been made, but let’s take a closer look at information in the article. 

The agenda for the meeting said Cabot’s employees will teach three of the seven units, and pay for the materials, which Junior Achievement of Northeastern Pennsylvania provides. 

Superintendent Francis X. Antonelli clarified the agenda by saying volunteers from Junior Achievement will teach three courses. The district’s teachers will teach four classes and remain in the room when volunteers teach.

 So which is it?  Would Cabot employees teach or not?  And who are the Junior Achievement Volunteers?

 Bit further into the article:

 After reading an article published about the lessons in the Standard-Speaker on Wednesday, Melissa Turlip, the president of Junior Achievement of Northeastern Pennsylvania, said Junior Achievement’s chapter in Western Pennsylvania developed the lessons. 

Turlip, who did not attend the board member, said several schools used the lessons last year, and the unit is called Junior Achievement Careers in Energy.

 The website of Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania outlines the lessons.

 Apparantly the lessons have already been developed and in use by Junior Achievement’s chapter in Western Pennsylvania. 


The Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania homepage features a section at the bottom called “Our Champions”.


Note the Natural Gas Corporations listed, and by the way ECA is ECA Foundation-Energy Corporation of America.  

ECA Foundation states:

“Established in 1996, the mission of the ECA Foundation is to maximize the development and potential of youth academically, physically and spiritually. The primary agent to accomplish this goal is educational opportunity. Its performance in this mission is gauged by the improvement of individual lives, and therefore families, friends and the communities to which they belong. ECA commits two percent of its cash flow annually to the ECA Foundation, which to date has distributed more than $13 million to worthy non-profit organizations and communities across the United States.”

Let’s take a look at the lesson plan called “Junior Achievement Careers in Energy” 

The objective of the new Junior Achievement (JA) Careers in Energy Program is to teach middle school students about different types of energy, the economic and environmental impact of each, and careers in the industry and related fields. The curriculum supports JA’s three pillars of financial literacy, workforce readiness, and entrepreneurship, while introducing concepts in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). 

It’s essentially a very sketchy overview, but leans heavily towards a favorable promotion of natural gas.

 Sessions 6 & 7 are interesting:

session 6-7


So that’s the general overview, what about the actual lesson plan?   There is a “guide” entitled JA Careers in Energy – Guide for Volunteers and Teachers. 

First thing that jumps out is a big splashy display of Corporate Logos on page 2, complete with “levels” called Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze.  Presumably the more a corporation paid the higher the level.

corporate page 2

So this is not just Cabot, it’s the major players in the marcellus shale, including Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association (PIOGA) and the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC), both of which are industry funded groups. 

Scrolling to Page 4 is a list of “Consultants”.

corporate page 4

Does it seem to be heavy on industry “consultants” to you? 

Take some time and read the “guide”, take note they are not shy about providing instructions for teachers and volunteers.  These instructions are called “Volunteer Scripts”.


The last session is #7.  It is suppose to simulate a town meeting.

session 7

Read the  Guide, the “Character Profile Cards” start on page 79.  Note the reports and studies cited, and informational sources the characters supposedly used. 

cap crunchAlso note in the character profiles how the discussion is slanted in favor of the natural gas industry.  Barely mentioned is any of the hazards and risks.   Where is it is mentioned, the “character” is suppose to assure people that you can minimize the risks by stipulating conditions in the lease contract. 

The most disturbing part of this is not that the natural gas industry is attempting to present lessons to school children, but rather the attempt of corporations to promote their agenda under the guise of  “education”.

Will Cap’n Crunch be teaching the benefits of having a good breakfast and nutrition next?

 This is being spun as a “balanced” educational activity.  It’s not.  It’s an infomercial for the natural gas industry, and the school board would be providing a captive audience.


(C) 2013 by Dory Hippauf



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