Less than two weeks after Sonoma County Office of Education passed their Commitment to Climate Change Action, the Trustees of the Sonoma Valley Unified School District unanimously passed the same resolution.
This is the fourth local school district in three months to speak up for climate action to protect current and future students. Sonoma County educational leaders are blazing a trail for districts across the country to follow. Please spread the word widely by sharing this resolution and the meme that adults can speak up in respectful, non-partisan ways for fair and effective climate action. Speaking up in this manner is a patriotic act.
Silence on the matter of climate change may undermine the values, the relationships, and the institutions we educators hold most dear.
A big thank you to the SVSD board members (Nicole Abate Ducarroz, Salvador Picate Chavez, Dan Gustafson, John Kelly, and Britta Johnson) and to the Superintendent Charles Young who put the resolution on the agenda and to Associate Superintendent Bruce Abbott who presented it. Below is the resolution from their board packet (without signatures), but I just confirmed this morning that it passed unanimously.
This happened with very little outside advocacy. Tom Conlon told me last night that he had shown up at the SVSD Board meeting on 2.13 to speak for a climate action resolution during Open Comment period. Unbeknowst to him, the Superintendent had already put the resolution on the agenda that evening with a recommendation to pass.
This is further evidence that the educational sector has a latent desire to speak up to protect our students and future generations. It makes sense that this impulse to speak up to protect children and future generations is most apparent in the educational sector. Adults in education are mandated reporters---it is built into our institutional norms, codes, and culture. We are bound by law to report when we suspect abuse or neglect of a child. Our current climate trajectory and current national inaction is at the very best a case of intergenerational neglect on a massive scale. The educational sector may be able to be energized (more easily than other sectors such as the business sector) to sound a non-partisan, respectful, patriotic, and strong call for climate action.
I think we need to focus on taking this movement within the educational sector to scale and doing so quickly, so that an activated and assertive educational sector can make a stronger case and move the national climate needle as quickly as possible. As a 6th grade teacher, the timeline and the ticking clock is very apparent to me. Some scientists suggest that we've got to bend the emissions curve by the time my 6th graders graduate from middle school to avoid non-trivial risks of catastrophic climate change!
I have some ideas about how to prioritize our outreach efforts so that we can achieve resonance between different scales of the educational sector (local districts, county boards of education, state boards, California School Board Association, National School Board Association), between stakeholder groups (students and student councils, parents and PTA's, teachers and teacher's unions, etc.), and between the educational sector and non-partisan, respectful climate advocacy networks like CCL and Put A Price On It.
Please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to join an upcoming "Taking it to Scale Strategy Talk". I have some hunches and I'd love to talk them over with more folks and hear what ideas other people have about taking this to scale.
Also, please consider signing up for our March 11th Working Summit.
I think 2,000 school board resolutions within the next year may feasible (with a lot of luck, of course). I think it would have a big impact on the national needle. I think if everyone who is reading this right now, took some coordinated actions towards this goal, there's a realistic chance we could hit it.
Thanks for reading everyone. Again, please email me if you want to participate in a strategy chat about how to get these networks resonating and to take this to scale.
Please spread the word about this exciting news.
Kai Guthrie is a ninth grade student at Credo High in Rohnert Park, a Citizens' Climate Lobby volunteer, and one of the founders of Schools for Climate Action campaign.