Coal Industry Infiltrating Education with Propaganda

Below is a reaction to our presentation at Scott High School on March 26. KK Matthews is the brave teacher who invited us. You can send him some encouraging words at Maria Gunnoe is the OVEC organizer who lives in Boone County–send her good thoughts at
KK was my student at Duval and was elected to the Lincoln County Commission last election.

After the reaction is my email to Mr. Halley, the principal at Scott High School. His email address is and he should learn that giving the coal industry access to schools through their CEDAR program is not education. Please bcc me.

Citizens for Coal • 2,271 like this
Yesterday at 8:07am •
• Again if you have kids at Scott High I would like to suggest that each of you contact Mr. Halley at Scott High School tomorrow morning to voice your concerns about Maria Gunnoe being allowed to speak to your kids at school. You all know of her and what she stands for and you know the lifestyle she leads. Is this who you want to shape the minds and hearts of your children. After calling and speaking with Mr. Halley, please send him a follow up email stating what he told you in the conversation so that you have a paper trail that you in fact did contact him. You can call the school at 304-369-3011. Mr. Halley’s email address is
28Like • • Share
o 29 people like this.
Jacob Lori Stephens My daughter goes to scott who is this person? she hasnt spoke of this women to me
Yesterday at 8:28am • Like
Tommy Hager Shes One of the ring leaders against coal in this state…
Yesterday at 8:36am via mobile • Like
Chris Wilder She’s a tree hugger to put it nicely
Yesterday at 8:37am via mobile • Like
Lisa Boothe Mullens She is an environmentalist that has been in just about ever anti coal documentary made.
Yesterday at 8:37am via mobile • Like
Jacob Lori Stephens oh she is in a bad place to voice that my daughter is a daughter of a coal miner and she would probably tell her the way it is !!! lol
Yesterday at 8:42am • Like • 4
Chris Wilder Usually happens that way what they need to understand 75 percent of students at Scott are clothed and fed with coal miners money!
Yesterday at 8:45am via mobile • Like • 9
Peggy Paynter Adkins My daughter told us that she talked to the kids and teacher like they was trash the teacher asked if she would like to step in the hall and discuss things and she told the teacher to come talk to her when she wasnt on the clock and they would settle it like women
Yesterday at 8:46am via mobile • Like • 1
Jacob Lori Stephens Thats right and most of the kids will follow there parents footsteps and be coalminers its a family tradition at scott high school…
Yesterday at 8:46am • Like • 3
Debbie Thompson I guess Scott high school don’t know who butters their bread!!!
It sure not land taxes.!!!
23 hours ago via mobile • Like • 1
Debbie Thompson Wonder who worked that football field ??? Hmmm
Oh I think it was heavy equipment from Hobet !!!!!
23 hours ago via mobile • Like • 3
Jason Spears This is where parents need to go to the school who are pro coal and ask her to explain what are families going to do if coal mines shuts down. She’s taking care of, the sierra club pays her to birch and nag about coal miners sacrifice to provide for th…See More
23 hours ago via mobile • Like • 3
Robert Jennifer Dent She was there yesterday, it would have been nice to have known this beforehand.
22 hours ago • Like • 1
Citizens for Coal Didn’t get it until last night .. thought it was today
22 hours ago • Like
Citizens for Coal Marie is a environmentalist extremist ,she is not needed in our schools
21 hours ago • Like • 2
Shadora Lovejoy I sent my email to Mr Halley and voiced my concern, and I dont even have children, but I am a coal mining child and wife. this completely appalls me that she is allowed to do this!!
16 hours ago • Like
Lisa Estep Holstein Shaking my head. Never should have been allowed.
15 hours ago via mobile • Like • 1
Sam Watermelon Adkins the parents should have been allowed to attend this so the children would have been protected from her talking down to them i bet money that she has electric in her home that is not wnd or solar powered she alo probly didnt mention that her brother father and granfathe was all miners what a wasteof human flesh
14 hours ago via mobile • Like
Bo Browning What i would like to know is who in the hell invited her in the first place!!!….
13 hours ago • Like
Sam Watermelon Adkins one of the teachers who is for coal invited her and don blankenship is also comeing she wanted the kids to be able to see both sides and not just one but this b””ch talked to them like garbage

My email to the principal–
Dear Mr. Halley
I am an eighth generation West Virginian to be born in the Big Coal River Valley. My dad’s eye was put out in an underground coal mine accident, my grandfather and his brother fought on the side of the United Mine Workers at the Battle of Blair Mountain. My uncles, brother-in-law and son worked underground. I have the utmost respect for coal miners and their families.
As a retired teacher of chemistry, physics, environmental earth science, physical science and principles of technology during my twenty-two years at Duval High School, Mr. Matthews invited me to speak to his and Mrs. Woodruff’s classes.
Part of my presentation was about mountain top removal strip mining. As I understand it Mrs. Woodruff was teaching a unit on coal in which at least four presenters she invited were coal company representatives or industries that favored mountain top removal strip mining. I suppose to balance the presentation Mrs. Woodruff asked Mr. Matthews to invite speakers for one day to present opposing views of mountain top removal. A four to one ratio in favor of the coal industry was not a balanced presentation of the issues.
Mr. Matthews did a comprehensive presentation on the history of the environmental movement and the impact of population growth on natural resources. The first block went well with no interruptions. During the second block Mrs. Woodruff interrupted the presentation with arguments that the coal industry must have already presented to her students. I asked her to quit interrupting our presentation.
During the fourth block Mrs. Woodruff started interrupting again. I asked her if she spoke up for our side of the issues when the coal industry was making its presentations. She claimed she did but her answer didn’t make any sense—she claimed that she told her students to be respectful. I asked her again and got the same answer. I think it is reasonable to assume that she did not argue with the coal industry presenters like she did with me, Mr. Matthews and the other presenter Ms. Gunnoe.
Student comments were welcome but for the teacher to speak on behalf of the coal industry during our presentation was unfair since there was no one to speak the opposing views during the coal industry presentations.
Mrs. Woodruff was unprofessional, disrespectful and unfair to us and it was an imbalanced presentation to invite four days of coal industry speakers and only one day of speakers on the opposing side of the controversial mountain top removal issue.
As I understand it Mrs. Woodruff was implementing parts of the coal industry’s CEDAR program. CEDAR stands for Coal Education Development and Resource of Southern West Virginia, Inc. The mission as stated on their web site: “CEDAR’s mission is to facilitate the increase of knowledge and understanding of the many benefits the coal industry provides in daily lives by providing financial resources and coal education materials to implement its study in the school curriculum.”
There are many benefits that the coal industry provides. But it is not education nor is it part of the curriculum to extol the “many benefits” of any industry without presenting the other side of the story. That is a one sided mission. And it is not a balance to have four times as many speakers on the benefits of the coal industry as those presenting the other side.

A few years ago I wrote the following about the CEDAR program:

“The many benefits the coal industry provides…” are key words in CEDAR’s mission statement. Learning outcomes for West Virginia Schools don’t include promoting the many benefits of any industry. Just promoting the many benefits qualifies CEDAR as one-sided propaganda, not education.
The many benefits the coal industry provides couldn’t possibly include: Flooding caused by mountain top removal–The selenium from valley fills producing fish with eyes on one side and curved spins. Recent studies of hatchlings from below valley fills show 10 % have abnormalities as compared to trace numbers in normal streams–Heavy metals in coal sludge impoundments–Acid mine drainage–Acid rain–Injecting coal sludge into the ground water and out into people’s sinks–Miners coughing to death with black lung– The Buffalo Creek disaster—The massive sludge disaster in Martin County, Kentucky—The coal ash dam collapse in Tennessee–Coal mine accidents at Farmington, Mannington, Sago and the many, many others–The destruction of habitat for migrating song birds. 44 bird species were counted in the wooded area that Larry Gibson saved on Kayford Mountain while only 3 species were counted at the edge with the mountain top removal strip mine– The effect of blasting on people’s homes and their health–The research of Dr. Michael Hendryx of the WVU Department of Community Medicine documented that as coal production increased rates of cardiopulmonary disease, lung disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and kidney disease increased.
It is not likely that the many “benefits” of the coal industry would include the miners march on Blair Mountain–the Black Lung Movement–Miners for Democracy–The so-called Matewan Massacre and subsequent murder of Sid Hatfield–The “Bull Moose Special” and murder of Cesco Estep—Child labor in coal mines. CEDAR is not holding back, they have the coal industry money to seep into every crook and cranny. “CEDAR awards cash prizes to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place for each grade level of K-4, 5-8 and 9-12.” There is a regional coal fair where students enter coal projects in Science, Math, English-Literature, Art, Music, Technology-Multi Media and Social Studies.
The Friends of Coal Ladies Auxiliary are also ambitious. They exclaim that “We’d really like this to be statewide, that it be mandatory in the schools that they learn about coal.” Aw, yes, that’s the ticket, the coal industry mandating the school curriculum from top to bottom.

Sincerely yours,

Julian Martin, B.S.Chemical Engineering, WVU
Retired vice-president of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy
and the Kanawha State Forest Foundation.
A director of the West Virginia Environmental Education Association, the West Virginia Labor History Association and the American Civil Liberties Union.

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (, and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation ( I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
This entry was posted in Education and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s