Thank you parent advocate Elizabeth Caballero, retired staff advocate Molly Whitely, Superintendent Scott Turnbull, and Trustees Sandra Wallace, Ted Donnelly, Sira Taylor, Amanda Jackson Miller, and Phil Rodriguez for speaking up for climate action!
Soquel Elementary Union School District in Santa Cruz County has become the 10th school board since December, 2017 to pass a resolution calling climate change a children's or human rights issue and demonstrating the political will for common-sense national climate policy. These adults have acted to protect their students and future generations.
As the only elected leaders with a singular focus on the well-being and future success of children, we believe all 90,000 school board members in the country have standing to speak up for climate action, just like Soquel UESD have done.
The actions, distractions, and silence of a minority of national politicians are currently stifling the development common-sense national climate policies. This endangers our children and future generations. We believe that at least some of the 180-or-so Members of Congress currently responsible for preventing or delaying meaningful national action on climate change may hear an organized and respectful outcry from thousands of members of school boards, student councils, PTA's, and teacher's unions. Thank you, Soquel UESD for raising your voices to protect children and future generations.
Thank you, Telluride School Board and Mr. Hubbard for speaking up for climate action! 1st Out-of-State. The groundswell is coming. . .
Telluride, Colorado---Commitment to Climate Change Action Resolution
More later, but for now let me just say that at some point we should expect a groundswell. Educators across Sonoma County, and now the country, know that we cannot remain silent while our lack of common-sense national climate policies threatens the well-being and future success of generations of children.
Educators can speak up with an organized, non-partisan, respectful, and forceful voice to help break the logjam in DC. We do not expect anyone to abandon liberal or conservative values or philosophies. We do expect our leaders to be guided by the same foundations upon which school institutions are built: science, critical thought, belief in objective truth, a coherent moral system, and progress towards justice. We have enough imagination, pride, dignity, and patriotism to see the benefits of American leadership on the issue of climate change.
Students, parents, and educators, we can use resolutions---student council, school board, PTA, and teacher's union---to clearly assert our expectation that all leaders at every level should embrace common-sense American values and attitudes towards climate change.
It is totally appropriate for there to be robust debates about the best policies and solutions to climate change. It is totally inappropriate and inexcusable that such debates are not taking place in our most important public forum---the halls of Congress.
Educators, we should hold our leaders, at every level, to the same high standards we hold our students and ourselves. As educators, we believe in people's ability to learn and grow if they are held to high expectations and given honest feedback. We are in the business of helping people become their better selves.
We can apply this principle to leaders at every level. A small minority of leaders is currently leading our nation down a path that endangers our students and future generations. Here in Sonoma county, we have already seen firsthand the connection between climate disengaged leaders and harm to our children. Our kids have already suffered and the longer we abide climate disengaged leaders at any level, the greater and the more pervasive the harm will grow. Fortunately, by speaking up and sending clear, unambiguous social and political signals, we can help leaders evolve. We can speak up---through resolutions---to provide this feedback for the good of the country, the climate, our leaders, and our children.
On Wednesday, 3.14.18 Credo High School Governing Board passed the groundbreaking "Commitment to Climate Change Action Resolution"
This may be the strongest climate change action resolution by any school board in all of human history!
5 important reasons:
#1. This is the first time (to my knowledge) that any school board has described climate change as an "generational justice and human rights issue". Previous resolutions have hinted at that ("children's issue" and "human issue") but the CREDO resolution is the first to state it outright. As more schools pass these resolutions, not only is the threshold for future schools lower, but the language can grow bolder.
We are introducing climate common sense into the commons; of course, climate change is an generational justice and human rights issue. Embracing this self-evident perspective and speaking freely about it in places of power and public discourse will allow us as a society to see it and then reflect on it. We can then decide that we don't want to be the people/nation to transfer this enormous burden to our own children and grandchildren. I think most Americans have not yet considered the difficult the generational justice implications of climate change because institutional and social silence and individual perceptual filters prevent them from seeing it. (See Jane Hirshfield's poem Global Warming for a poetic analogy of this---we are the natives unable to even see the "global warming moral crisis ship".) However, when schools like CREDO redraw the boundaries of mainstream public discourse, so that we can speak clearly and openly about the deep moral and spiritual crisis of our current national climate stance, they help shift paradigms in a way that lays the groundwork for rational climate policies.
Paradigms, like memes, are mostly a social phenomena. Resolutions and statements at school board meetings actually do help change change paradigms. Most Americans would happily and enthusiastically choose climate action rather than turning their backs on future generations. They just haven't yet been able to "see" this choice and their role in it. Credo has highlighted this for us. Thank you CREDO board for having the heart to speak clearly, compassionately, and respectfully in a politically powerful and non-partisan way about this very important topic. You remind us that we do not have to be the people to place this burden on our future generations.
#2. This is the first school board resolution passed after a student council formally requested that their board pass a resolution. The youth led on this one, not just in speaking but in writing. Their initial resolution can move up the scales.
#3.This is the first resolution to "Resolve" that they "call on Congress to take swift and effective action". Other resolutions hint at it (all elected leaders should act) but this is more direct and powerful. Up until now, Congress has failed us all, but especially our children on this issue. CREDO board is providing constructive coaching, being assertive about what they specifically want Congress to do.
#4. Carbon pricing mention.
#5. Follow-up committee to recommend on-going action.
Thanks again Credo!
Who is next?
CREDO High School Governing Board Public Charter School Board (March, 2018) Rohnert Park, CA
This past week (3.4 to 3.10.18) has been an awesome week for us.
Youth radio hosts Lily Willis and Cyrus Thelin interviewed Lola and Park Guthrie and Molly Whitely about the Schools for Climate Action campaign on Tuesday 3.6.8. Thanks Lily, Cyrus, and KWMR for this wonderful opportunity.
Here is the link to the archive.
James Hansen: Some Basis for Optimism (but no time to waste)!
This essay is worth a read.
Dear Trustees Noe, Walker, Stecher, Bruhner, and Landry and Superintendent Kellner,
Thank you so much for your important vote last tonight on the Commitment to Climate Change Action resolution. Thanks, too, for your thoughtful supportive words about the youth and about our campaign. Every time I sit in on a school board meeting, I am reminded that school board members are true champions of democracy. You make so many important, difficult decisions. Thank you for your service to our community.
You are now the 7th school board (5th in Sonoma County) to pass a strong climate action resolution thanks to advocacy by the SCA campaign. With your amendment creating a Superintendent's climate change committee and your mention of bi-partisan carbon pricing as a specific positive solution, your resolution is officially the strongest climate action resolution yet passed by any school board in the nation. As a constituent, I am proud of your strong stand and your example.
Including you, there are now at least 55 school board members who have gone on official public record speaking up for climate action to protect current and future students. There are 90,000 school board members across the nation and we suspect at least 20,000 to 50,000 more share the values and perspective you expressed in your resolution last night.
Climate change not only threatens our children's environment; our national retreat from climate action threatens to squander our proud national heritage and has done direct harm to our national identity and to our intergenerational relationships. Institutional silence on this justice issue has also eroded the relationships and values we hold most dear in schools. Many of the values fundamental to our institution are directly contradicted by our national retreat from climate action (be responsible for your messes, work together to solve problems, be fair, be courageous, etc.) By breaking official silence and bearing witness to the intergenerational neglect that climate inaction entails, you have begun to repair the damage to our institutional coherence and to our cultural fabric. More importantly, you have spoken up in a respectful, non-partisan way that generates political leverage for concrete solutions to this problem.
We (Schools for Climate Action) will be working with Citizens' Climate Lobby and Put A Price On It to translate your resolution into political leverage for common sense bipartisan climate action. We believe that the respectful, organized, and non-partisan voices of school board members and student councils across the nation can be a significant force in breaking the logjam in DC. Our goal for Earth Day 2019 is for 3,000 school boards and student councils across the nation to make their political will for a common-sense national climate action explicit in climate action climate resolution such as you passed last night.
Please consider helping us spread the word in two ways:
1. Share news of your resolution widely among your networks of school board members, especially those outside of Northern California. If we can energize the California School Boards Association and the National School Board Association, we'll reach 50,0000+ school board members. By retreating from national climate action, we, as a nation, have turned our backs on the next generation. Certainly, there are already tens of thousands of school board members across the nation who have a cry of grief stuck in their throats about this issue. Together, we can empower those school board members to speak up in politically effective, but non-partisan ways. School board leaders and educational communities can be the ones to call out the best in the American people and rally us all around common sense climate action in order to protect our precious children. Sonoma County board members have blazed a trail school board members across the country can follow. There are already Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress who strongly support common-sense bipartisan climate action---they just need the American people to make their political will explicit on this issue.
Please also consider reaching out to board members and board member networks sharing this news. I have begun emailing school board members in Houston because, like us, they have seen first hand the direct harm children experience as a result of a climate-related disaster. There are 36 school districts serving Houston. There are likely scores of Houston school board members who might be eager for a way to speak up on for climate action the way you have done.
2. Share word of the Schools for Climate Action Website and our Working Summit on Sunday 3.11.18 from 2-4 at the Sebastopol Grange.
Thanks again for all of your work in service of our community and especially for your important vote last night.
6th grade teacher~Parent~Schools for Climate Action Co-Founder and Lead Volunteer
PS---Here is a link to a YouTube video of Kai's statement.
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.