On September 20th, the Santa Cruz County Office of Education became the 24th school board to speak up for climate action to protect students. There are now 27 school boards, including 4 county office of education school boards (Sonoma, Marin, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo) that have joined the campaign. The social norm of climate silence among educational leaders is starting to flip. The harm caused by national climate inaction is clear. Congress can act on climate to protect our students. All 90,000 school board members across the nation can speak up in respectful, non-partisan, but assertive climate action resolutions to protect students. School stakeholders across the country engage their local, county, and state school board members to be a clear voice for commonsense climate action to protect students. These resolutions are an expression of love, respect, and care for students and future generations. Thank you for Santa Cruz County Office of Education trustees and Superintendent Watkins.
Please Respectfully Encourage the National School Boards Association to Pass the Proposed Climate Action ResolutionRead Now
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 email@example.com (Marsha Bernard is the executive assistant for the NSBA board). Please cc "firstname.lastname@example.org" 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.
S4CA Congress, Act on Climate! Day~March 28th, 2019 (Click here for continually update information)
Congress, Act on Climate! Day 2019
On a single day in March, 2019, youth-adult teams representing school districts and student councils from across the country will hand-deliver scores (?hundreds/thousands?) of climate action resolutions to every Member of Congress. These resolutions will send a clear, unified, and non-partisan message that the educational sector believes Congress has a moral imperative to act swiftly and effectively on climate change to limit harm to students and future generations. School districts, educational leaders, and school communities will no longer be silent witnesses to continued Congressional climate neglect.
Note: All information is currently tentative. We hope to finalize dates by December of 2018. We will finalize numbers in January of 2019.
Next Steps: If you are interested in participating or supporting a youth-adult team from your school district, please email Schools for Climate Action lead volunteer Park Guthrie at email@example.com.
Tentative Timeline Agenda:
Initial commitment/rough numbers
Firm commitment and first virtual planning meeting
Teams gather additional district resolutions (student councils, PTAs, educators’ unions) and start local fundraising.
2nd virtual planning meeting.
February, 2019 Pre-visit webinar: Delivery Day Logistics and Scripts
Wednesday, March 27th In-person prep meetings and some Member of Congress meetings.
Thursday, March 28th Hand-deliver school board and student council climate action resolutions to all 535 Representatives and 100 Senators
Friday, March 28th Teams meet with Members of Congress or School Support Organization Headquarters (Ex: National School Boards Association, American Federation of Teachers, National Association of School Psychologists, etc.)
Fairfax County School Board Passes Resolution on Climate Change Action
At its business meeting on October 11, the Fairfax County School Board passed the following resolution:
RESOLUTION OF THE FAIRFAX COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD
CALLING FOR STATE AND FEDERAL ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
WHEREAS, an overwhelming majority of credentialed scientists, in the U.S. and abroad, support the finding that climate change is happening and that human activity is a key contributor; and
WHEREAS, if left unaddressed, the consequences of climate change will harm all Americans, most especially children and those living in poverty, and saddle future generations with the costly burden of a dangerously damaged planet; and
WHEREAS, climate instability is a global challenge requiring bold, innovative, and sustained actions at all levels of government, local, state, and federal; and
WHEREAS, the size of Fairfax County Public Schools’ physical footprint provides an unparalleled opportunity to advance the use of renewable energy sources and reduce greenhouse gas output in Northern Virginia; and
WHEREAS, pursuant to School Board Environmental Stewardship Policy 8542, FCPS leads the nation in energy efficiency, the development of green building design standards, and award-winning classroom opportunities for student advocacy and learning through the Get 2 Green program; and
WHEREAS, the Fairfax County School Board’s commitment to the safety, well-being, and future success of all children in our community also demands a high priority on reducing carbon consumption in our decisions regarding capital improvement, energy use, transportation, and other policy priorities within the Board’s control; and
WHEREAS, the Fairfax County School Board depends on committed partners in local, state, and federal government to realize our climate action goals, and recognizes the efforts and progress made to date, especially Fairfax County Government’s recently announced request for proposals for solar installations on public buildings, to include schools;
NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Fairfax County School Board: 1) calls on the members of the Virginia General Assembly and the United States Congress to act boldly on climate change and provide a regulatory framework that removes barriers to progress on climate action and encourages the rapid replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy technology; and 2) directs the Superintendent to report timely to the Board changes in state and federal policy that support the goal of reducing carbon consumption, along with staff proposals to make best use of those opportunities in facilities and transportation planning.
“Recent reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are disconcerting and will have an impact on our students,” said School Board chair Karen Corbett Sanders. “The Board has been formally committed to leading the way in reducing our carbon footprint through energy conservation and incorporating renewable energy into our capital improvement plan. With this resolution, we recognize the need to work with our State and Federal policymakers to advance a similar policy framework that encourages citizens to embrace renewable energy.”
Press Release: Credo High School Student Council Passes 1st Student Council Climate Action Resolution in the NationRead Now
On Anniversary of Sonoma County Firestorm, Credo High School Student Council Passes 1st Student Council Climate Action Resolution in the Nation
On October 9th, 2018 the Credo High School Student Council in Cotati, California passed the Call to Climate Action Resolution. This marks the first student council climate action resolution as part of the Schools for Climate Action (S4CA) campaign. Credo HS junior, Avery R. led the effort to pass the Call to Climate Action Resolution. She is a Credo HS student council member and President of the California Association of Student Councils, Region 3.
S4CA is a grass-roots, non-partisan, youth-adult campaign with a mission to empower school communities to speak up for climate action in order to protect current and future students. Inspired by the work and methods of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, it was started by a team of students, parents, and teachers in Sonoma County, CA in July, 2017. Since December, 2017 25 school boards and now 1 student council have passed climate action resolutions. There are 14,000 school boards in the country and likely 20,000+ student councils. If just 10% of these pass climate action resolutions, it generate a groundswell that would help move Congress to end the 30 years of climate neglect which threatens our young people and future generations. Youth-adult teams with the S4CA campaign will hand-deliver the Credo High School Student Council resolution to every member of Congress in March of 2018. By then, scores or hundreds more student councils will have passed their own climate action resolution.
The Credo High School Student Council Call to Climate Action Resolution is the strongest of all the S4CA resolutions. In it, Credo High School student leaders declare climate change a “generational justice and human rights issue” and endorse “equitable and effective carbon-pricing policies.” In addition, they encourage “other student councils, school district boards, county boards of education, state boards of education, and the board of the California School Board Association, and the board of the National School Board Association to all pass climate action resolutions similar to ours, calling on Congress to enact swift, fair, and effective climate policies in order to protect current and future students.”
For more information about Schools for Climate Action, please contact Park Guthrie at firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 691-5051 or visit our website at www.schoolsforclimateaction.weebly.com
"Polite" Silence Harms Kids by Protecting A-Scientific Worldview that Allows National Climate InactionRead Now
The San Mateo County Office of Education became the 25th school board (and 3rd county board) to pass a resolution building non-partisan political will for climate action and stating that climate change harms students. Here is the text:
San Mateo COE Resolution
Unfortunately, it did not include language calling specifically on Congress to act, but hopefully as more and more educational leaders break the silence about national climate neglect, the language can become stronger and more efficient at moving Congress. It does however include language calling for climate leadership from "elected officials".
We are grateful that the San Mateo educational leaders spoke up. We are eager for 89,900 other school board members---the only elected leaders with a singular focus on the well-being and future success of young people---to join them. No educational leader should be a silent witness to national climate neglect which so harms our students and undermines our institutional coherence.
Thank you San Mateo County Office of Education Board Members and Superintendent for speaking up.
I thought you might be interested in this last-ditch appeal I made to San Mateo County Office of Education Leaders. I requested that they add two lines to their inspirational Commitment to Environmental Sustainability Action Resolution. It's long, I know. But, it lays out some of the logic behind environmental educators and environmental literacy folks to include real-world non-partisan climate advocacy by adults and youth as part of their efforts. Finger's crossed.
Hello San Mateo County Education Leaders,
So great seeing your Commitment to Environmental Sustainability Action Resolution on Board Docs.
I'm hoping you might consider adding 1 or 2 lines:
(1) Congress should act quickly to enact common-sense climate policies to protect current and future students. (If you were just going to add one line, this would be the most important one to add).
(2) Climate change is a generational justice, human rights, and equity issue.
OR a slightly softer version that comes from the CA PTA 2015 resolution: Climate change is a children's issue.
I have a campout planned with my 6th grade class on Wednesday, otherwise I would try to attend your board meeting and make this appeal in person.
Here are 3 reasons for this request:
1. Help Move Congress to Act: If your resolution included a line calling directly on Congress to act on climate change, it would make it so much stronger as a tool to move Congress and also as an example to share with other school districts across the country. We are organizing youth-adult teams to hand deliver the school board and student council resolutions which call on Congress to act on climate in March of 2019. With just 15 teams we'll be able to hand-deliver them to all 435 Reps. and 100 Senators in a single day. This will help send a very clear signal about the educational sector's belief that Congress should act on climate change. Below is an overview sheet:
S4CA Congress, Act on Climate! Day 2019
I'm hoping school boards and student councils across San Mateo County will pass climate action resolutions and send some teams with us in March. We did a beta test in June and it was a very powerful and empowering experience for youth and adults involved.
2. Model High-Levels of Climate Literacy, "Scaffold" the Climate Problem, and Correct Possible Contradictory Subtexts:
SB 720 helps institutionalize climate literacy within the California school system. Scientists and climate policy experts suggest that we have a very short window to bend the national and world emissions curves---some say as soon as 2020 or 2025. While providing K-6 students robust climate literacy will help prepare them to address climate change, the science and policy experts seem to suggest that the timescale of this climate literacy initiative may be too slow to prevent the worst climate effects from harming our students and future generations. SB 720 is still an important and necessary piece of legislation and I am very grateful to the CA EE leaders and to Assemblymember Tony Thurmond for making it happen. However, school boards can extrapolate from the logic of SB 720 and speak up for national climate action now in a non-paritsan way. We do not have to wait for our climate literate students to do so in 5 or 10 or 15 years, after the window of safety has closed. Speaking up now would help school boards better model and therefore institutionalize climate literacy, as SB 720 encourages.
Pre-emptive scaffolding: By building non-partisan political will to start addressing climate change immediately, the educational sector can also make the climate problem (that requires climate literacy and SB 720 in the first place) a bit more manageable. Think of it as pre-emptive scaffolding. We know climate change will be a problem, that's why students need the climate literacy. We know the problem will be huge, that's why it is so important that climate literacy be institutionalized across all California schools. By the same logic, if there is anything we can do to manage the scale of the problem for which students will need the climate literacy, then we should do so. Calling directly on Congress to act is a clear, reasonable step which will help scaffold the already daunting task our students will have to manage climate change. Currently, without showing students a path to building will for national climate action, it seems likely that no amount of climate literacy will prepare and protect California school kids an overwhelming climate problem.
Model Highly Climate Literate Decisions: By modeling highly climate-literate behavior themselves school boards will better institutionalize climate education. Certainly, local, intradistrict sustainability initiatives are very, very important and display important climate literacy. But focussing strictly on those local efforts, without also making direct, non-partisan appeals for national climate action may undermine school district climate literacy efforts. Part of climate literacy is developing the ability to use climate science to influence human institutions at all scales (including Congress) to make climate-safe decisions. It would be a significant missed opportunity to model (and, therefore, teach) climate literacy if your resolution did not include a direct appeal to Congress. One most salient patterns in our nation's struggle to preserve a safe climate for young people is national inaction and the perpetuation of socio-politically transmitted, a-scientific worldviews and perceptual filters related to climate change and climate solutions. To model robust climate literacy, it is important not to sidestep or avoid responding directly to this pattern, but rather to speak in a non-partisan manner that builds will to break the dangerous pattern of inaction.
Correct Possible Contradictory Subtext: Omitting direct, clear mention of national climate action or Congress' need to act may cloud climate literacy efforts with unstated subtexts. An unstated subtext of your resolution without a clear appeal for national action might be that we can act effectively on climate as a community and a society without explicitly and directly building support for commonsense national climate action. This does not seem to be backed up by mainstream climate science and climate policy analysis. Given the timescale of action needed, it seems unlikely that we'll preserve a safe climate for our young people without moving Congress, in addition to expanding all of the very important local, county, and state efforts. This seems to be a very important message to include in all of our climate literacy efforts---that action on every scale is important and that actors at every scale can influence actions at every other scale in a positive manner. Local actors can influence local actions, but one necessary and important local action is to build will and help create socio-political norms for national scale actions.
Fortunately, sending a clear signal to Congress requires very little or no resources and it is not the least bit partisan. If it feels partisan, that's mostly an artifact of one specific political party's disassociation from mainstream climate science and not an objective interpretation of the signals or statements themselves.
3. Strengthen Coherence of the Educational Sector: There exists a "polite silence" about many aspects of climate change from across the educational sector. For example, in June, 2018, my fifteen-year-old son, Kai, and I met with a long-time staffer of the California School Boards Association (CSBA) in Sacramento. I asked him/her if the CSBA measured climate change impacts on California schools or California school kids. (As an educator from Sonoma County, it's easy for me to see the direct links between climate change, national climate inaction, and negative impacts on schools and students.) The CSBA staffer laughed ironically, clearly frustrated. He/she said something along the lines of, We don't and if we did, we would not be able to call it that. We'd have to call it 'air quality' or something like that. The words "climate change" are considered too controversial, too political around here.
I have spoken with other people connected with top-level educational organizations in California who were not the least bit surprised by this conversation. To them, the climate self-censorship and climate-semantic tiptoeing in the educational sector seems widespread. Based on conversations I have had with high level employees at the the National School Boards Association, it seems like the NSBA is also not yet ready to speak openly and clearly about climate change and the national climate inaction, even though this inaction contributes to conditions which expose hundreds of thousands or millions of American students to harm and risk of trauma each year. It seems safe to assume that if the CSBA and the NSBA cannot speak openly and directly about climate change, then nearly every other state school boards association also cannot. I have seen this same pattern of "polite climate silence" replicated over and over again across scales of the educational sector---classrooms, schools, school districts, school boards, Superintendents, in state and national education support organizations, independent schools, national independent schools associations, etc. Silence about the Congressional climate neglect which harms our students is the dominant social norm in the educational sector, among educational leaders at every scale. Fortunately, social norms can shift rapidly, especially when there is a pre-existing, shared, but private belief that may not be congruent with the social norm. This is the case with climate change and national climate inaction. Nearly all educational leaders, especially those with a background in environmental education share a pre-existing, but private belief that Congress should act on climate and that decades of national climate inaction has created an unfair burden for students. The social norm for climate silence could flip very quickly.
Likely, at its root, this climate silence in the educational sector is both highly partisan and a natural psychological defense mechanism to cushion the "traumatic" content of objective climate science. Without subtle or overt partisan influence and the secondary pattern of self-censorship and semantic tiptoeing, educators and educational institutions might have already spoken up at scale, in non-partisan ways, about the 3 decades of Congressional climate neglect which threatens our students. I suspect the majority of leaders of the CSBA and NSBA already believe climate change is a "children's issue" or a "generational justice and human rights issue". I believe that the majority of the leaders of the CSBA and the NSBA agree with the reasonable, mainstream, and non-partisan assertion that Congress should act quickly on climate to protect our students. The CSBA and the NSBA have an incredible opportunity to break silence and to move Congres to act on climate to protect students by simply making these existing shared, but private beliefs public and official in a climate action resolution.
If you added the proposed 1 or 2 lines to your resolution, your courage and your specificity would be contagious. It would contribute significantly to end the "polite climate silence" from within the educational sector which, in turn, would help Congress do the right thing by our students on climate.
As a collection of institutions grounded in mainstream science, we, the educational sector, know the harm from national climate inaction. Thanks to our focus on young people who will bear the greatest burden, we "see" and "feel" the harm more easily than any other sector. We know that national climate action can help prevent future harm to young people. Our institutional values and our frameworks of mainstream morality and justice (Ed. Code language---see below)* suggest that we, mandated reporters all of us, should not be silent if our voices will help prevent this future predicted harm to our students. You, like the board members of the Sonoma County Office of Education, the Albany Unified School District, the San Lorenzo Unified School District (and others) have tremendous power to help end three decades of climate neglect by Congress which threatens all of our students and future generations. You can do this simply by including a non-partisan appeal directly to Congress in your existing resolution. It won't cost anything.
Multiple Members of Congress and their staffers have explained to us that the voices of 90,000 school boards members from across the country can send a very powerful, effective signal to Congress. Right now, only about 140 school board members have sent clear, unambiguous signals that Congress should act on climate to protect their students. Certainly, tens of thousands more school board members already believe this and could quickly join with you. Your example would be very powerful in generating a groundswell.
Here's another document that also explains this line of thinking:
Three simple assertions
Thanks so much for reading and considering this request.
Thanks so much for all of your work creating great public schools for California kids and being such a leader in environmental education.
6th Grade Teacher
Co-founder and Lead Volunteer of the Schools for Climate Action Campaign
*California Education Code Section 233.5(a) lays the groundwork and calls upon educators to impress upon students the principles of character:
"Each teacher shall endeavor to impress upon the minds of the pupils the principles of morality, truth, justice, patriotism, and a true comprehension of the rights, duties, and dignity of American citizenship, and the meaning of equality and human dignity, including the promotion of harmonious relations, kindness toward domestic pets and the humane treatment of living creatures, to teach them to avoid idleness, profanity, and falsehood, and to instruct them in manners and morals and the principles of a free government..."
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.