Please Respectfully Encourage the National School Boards Association to Pass the Proposed Climate Action Resolution
Very exciting news. The National School Boards Association (NSBA) may be considering this climate action resolution very soon (also pasted below). This would create a realistic and rapid path to thousands of local climate action resolutions from school boards across the country. This, in turn, would help move Congress to finally act on climate change to protect our young people. We need to be sure to be very respectful of the NSBA. They do tremendous work fighting for better conditions for schools and school kids across the country, often at great odds. To some extent, it's probably exhausting for them to be asked to take this on as well---they already have so many pressing priorities.
1. Please send 100% supportive and positive emails to the NSBA board of directors: Here is a template email you could share with school stakeholders in your networks (parents, students, teachers, and especially school board members). Please encourage school stakeholders to email the NSBA directly at firstname.lastname@example.org (Marsha Bernard is the executive assistant for the NSBA board). Please cc "email@example.com" so we can track outreach.
"Dear National School Boards Association:
Thank you for all of your important work supporting great public schools for kids and communities across America. I believe American public schools are one of our most vital public institutions.
As a supporter of the non-partisan, grassroots, youth-adult Schools for Climate Action campaign, I was happy to learn that the National School Boards Association was considering a non-partisan climate action resolution. I think it is so important that Congress hear from educational leaders detailing the risks and harm of climate inaction on American kids and schools. There are many positive steps Congress can pursue to help mitigate the impact of climate change for American young people. Thank you for encouraging Congress to show leadership on this issue.
I am a ____________________ (insert school stakeholder category---parent-teacher-student-school board member, etc.) in _______________ district in __________ (city, state).
Thanks again for all of your work.
2. Outreach to Individual Directors by School Board Members or Top-Level School Stakeholders (Parents-students-educators) It would also be helpful for top-level school stakeholders (schoolboard members-students-teachers-parents) to reach out to the NSBA directors from their regions. Here is the NSBA director webpage. The more school board members and top-level school stakeholders these NSBA directors hear from, the better.
3. Other: I don't have all of the details about when this resolution will be considered by the full board. The NSBA is a private association so it does not necessarily publish board agendas, minutes, etc. We need to be sure to be very respectful of the NSBA. They do tremendous work fighting for better conditions for schools and school kids across the country, often at great odds. To some extent, it's probably exhausting for them to be asked to take this on as well---they already have so many pressing priorities.
The NSBA represents all 50 state boards of education which in turn represent 14,000 school boards across the country. This would be a game changer if the NSBA passed this proposed climate action resolution. It would make it possible that thousands of school boards would pass their own climate action resolutions fairly quickly. This could help drive a society-wide paradigm shift about the way we perceive and react to climate change.
I think it makes the most sense to write 100% supportive and positive messages to the National School Boards Association about this draft resolution. This resolution does not cite carbon-pricing specifically, but it does call on Congress to act. To me, it makes sense not to advocate for any wording changes, but simply to encourage them to pass their proposed resolution. I don't think we need to get too specific about policy on this one. Please contact me if you want more information about this. At least one significant county school board in California tried to pass a climate action resolution, but it was voted down because it was too specific policy-wise. Certainly, the board agreed that Congress should be acting on climate, but they did not feel they had the expertise to choose between common-sense policy options.
Thanks everyone for all of your support and your work helping the educational sector speak up for a safe climate for our students.
“NSBA recognizes and understands the significant negative impact that rapid and ongoing climate change has on America’s schools, students, and their communities. NSBA urges the Congress and administration of the United States to provide mitigation for the effects on our communities. Specifically, NSBA advocates for funding for school infrastructure needs and emergency funding for disaster relief caused by natural catastrophes and extreme weather events. Furthermore, NSBA urges a reduction of carbon emissions and an increase in carbon-free electricity production to slow the rapid progression of climate change and its effects on America’s schools, students and communities. Additionally, NSBA encourages states to adopt a curriculum that addresses the challenges that climate change puts on our communities and equip students with the knowledge necessary to slow such changes.”
Research demonstrates that climate change adversely effects students’ physical and mental health and negatively impacts student achievement.
The damages caused by natural catastrophes and extreme weather events devastate local economies and therefore schools.
In 2017, the Government Accounting Agency reported that the impact of climate change to the United States was approximately $350 billion for the preceding 10 years, and is projected to cost at least $35 billion annually from now until 2050 when it will increase to as much as $112 billion annually by the end of the century.
A report by the Universal Ecological Fund places the annual cost at $240 billion. These figures did not include the devastating California wildfires of 2017/2018, the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey in South Texas, loss of Alaskan permafrost and coastal land mass, significant droughts in the western United States, increases in insect population growth leading to destruction of crops, and projected loss of low lying land in Florida, Virginia, Texas, California, and Louisiana.
Research by the World Meteorological Organization concluded that 80 percent of natural disasters between 2005 and 2015 were in some way climate related.
The insurance industry has recognized the impact of climate change. In 2010 the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) adopted an Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey in response to The Potential Impact of Climate Change on Insurance Regulation white paper released by the NAIC in 2008. “The disclosure of climate risk is important because of the potential impact climate change can have on insurer solvency and the availability and affordability of insurance across all major categories.”
In addition to the projected costs due to major flooding effecting coastal schools, there will be increased electricity demands due to heat and air quality for inland schools requiring increasing amounts of air conditioning and possible indoor gyms for physical education and athletics.
The specific costs to school infrastructure including the loss of buildings and lands as well as declines in tax revenue and increases in insurance rates has not been determined, however it is expected to be billions of dollars. It is vital that climate change be slowed so that school districts and their communities can spend precious dollars in classrooms to support the students of today and for future generations.
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.