Boy Bagged For Taking Eco-Unfriendly Ziploc to School


"Things haven't changed," he said. "Here we have the same sort of pattern we documented in the book -- teachers are becoming activists and training their kids to be activists. Secondly, they are latching on to environmental dogma and teaching that as science to kids. Who is to say that kids don't wash out the baggies and re-use them? Why is the Ziploc a problem?"

The chemicals involved in paper production are more harmful to the environment than thinner, modern plastics, according to Sanera, who is director of research and local government studies for the libertarian John Locke Foundation.

"The key problem is we've got a teacher that is on a political crusade and thinks it's her responsibility to indoctrinate kids and not teach sound science," Sanera said. "They should teach the science and economics and let the kids decide on their own -- after seeing the pros and cons of both sides of the issue.

Sean S. Miller, director of education for the Earth Day Network said the United States could do much more to train teachers in environmental education.

He, too, was critical of the teacher's approach.

"First and foremost, any school setting should be a place of inclusivity," Miller said. "No matter the subject being taught or the contest being offered, students should always feel welcomed in their school environment. The Laval incident is unfortunate in this regard.

"Environmental education, like nature, is readily accessible to all," he said. "The teachable moment here surrounds creating an accessible learning environment for all, not another debate about plastic bags. Proper environmental education builds such a learning process in the student, school and community."

No formal environmental education programs exist in the youngest grades, but "there's a ton" of informal education, such as visiting zoos, parks and nature programs, according to Miller. But once-a-year visits are not enough.

Environmental education is more popular than ever, he said.

"There has been a flood of interest that we have never seen before in this field," Miller said. "I have been in this position for five years, and the e-mails and phone calls have quadrupled. It's taking off and it's in vogue."

The primary message that teachers should convey to younger students about the environment should not be disciplinary, he said.

"There are three words: It is fun," Miller said. "In this age range there is no need to be talking about climate change. They need to be outside exploring and engaging in nature and having a good time. They get exercise, they learn exciting new things and can spend time with their parents learning new activities."

As for Lanciault, he said he understands the importance of teaching about the environment, but said, "There's a better way than to penalize kids."

"The goal wasn't achieved anyway," he told the Post. "At the end of the day my son doesn't know why he shouldn't use a Ziploc bag. It's not only the bag, it's the whole idea that we're being brainwashed from everywhere. They told us Ziploc bags are bad, so we've stopped thinking about it and just started applying the rule."

ABC's information specialist Melissa Lenderman contributed to this report.

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