case study

miseducation: how climate change is taught in america

Our pri­ma­ry goal for the pub­lic­i­ty cam­paign was shar­ing Katie Worth’s excep­tion­al report­ing with as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble. If par­ents, activists, and stu­dents them­selves know who influ­ences cur­ric­u­la and how deci­sions are made about what kids learn, they can advo­cate for bet­ter cli­mate change edu­ca­tion in their communities. 

the book

Emmy-win­ning inves­tiga­tive reporter Katie Worth reviewed scores of text­books, built a fifty-state data­base, and trav­eled to a dozen com­mu­ni­ties to find out what is being taught about cli­mate change in America’s pub­lic schools.

In Mise­d­u­ca­tion, she con­nects the dots between fos­sil fuel lob­by­ists, flac­cid text­book com­pa­nies, think tanks, and the Amer­i­can polit­i­cal machine to expose a tan­gled web of mon­eyed inter­ests and entrenched ide­ol­o­gy. Each has played a role in the wide­spread, calami­tous, and in some cas­es, inten­tion­al mise­d­u­ca­tion of schoolchildren.

the strategy

To reach as wide an audi­ence as pos­si­ble, I took sev­er­al approach­es to pitch­ing Mise­d­u­ca­tion. To anchor the book launch with high-impact print cov­er­age, I draft­ed an adapt­ed excerpt and worked with Katie to shape it into an essay to pitch to major print out­lets. This ran as a 1,900-word cov­er fea­ture in the Wash­ing­ton Post’s ‘Out­look’ sec­tion. Katie also record­ed hours of audio dur­ing her report­ing for the book, and we iden­ti­fied a hand­ful of sig­nif­i­cant clips to include with pitch­es to nation­al pub­lic radio. As a result, these clips were includ­ed in an hour-long inter­view with Katie on WBUR’s On Point Radio on pub day.

By high­light­ing the impor­tance of cli­mate edu­ca­tion to cli­mate action in my pitch­es, I land­ed addi­tion­al cov­er­age in Sci­enceSci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can, SlatePop­u­lar Sci­ence, and The New Repub­lic.

regional media

Dur­ing the book’s launch week, I found out that the Texas State Board of Edu­ca­tion was meet­ing to deter­mine eighth grade sci­ence stan­dards. The Texas SBOE is a group with enor­mous impact because the state is one of the largest pur­chasers of text­books in the coun­try, there­by influ­enc­ing what con­tent pub­lish­ers include in text­books that end up in class­rooms nation­wide. I watched sev­er­al hours of the meet­ing livestream and helped Katie pitch an arti­cle that ran as a six-page report­ed fea­ture in the July 2022 issue of Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can

Because there’s no nation­al cur­ricu­lum in the US, aca­d­e­m­ic stan­dards vary wide­ly from state to state. I also lever­aged a map in Mise­d­u­ca­tion that grad­ed each state on the qual­i­ty of cli­mate change edu­ca­tion to pitch inter­views with region­al media outlets.

cal­i­for­nia

✽  Blue Dot (North State Pub­lic Radio)

Insight  (Sacra­men­to)

Your Call (KALW/Bay Area)

The Mark Thomp­son Show (KGO/Bay Area) 

Chico Enter­prise Record

✽  Sacra­men­to News & Review

texas

The Source (TPR) 

Texas Observ­er

Texas Sig­nal

col­orado 

Col­orado Pub­lic Radio

Cen­ter for West­ern Priorities

climate and education media

In addi­tion to reach­ing a gen­er­al audi­ence, it was impor­tant that the book be cov­ered by out­lets specif­i­cal­ly focused on cli­mate change and edu­ca­tion to reach pol­i­cy­mak­ers, teach­ers, activists, and oth­er deci­sion makers.