SOME PROGRESS IN CLIMATE LEGISLATION
The Climate Crisis Committee of the Windham Southeast School District is advocating bold legislation..
Two years ago BCS started a Climate Crisis Committee in the school district in order to create a standing forum for climate issues and to keep climate issues in the board directors’ attention. The school district is larger than Brattleboro, and people are more sensitive and protective about it. So, it is a good venue.
In steady times the purpose of education is the transfer of culture and society. The Greta Thunberg Resolution addresses climate crisis through the schools. Realistically, scientifically, in the ultimate crisis the purpose of education must be to prepare students for life in that crisis, and to encourage serious action for survival and rescue. Since we all recognize Greta Thunberg as an exemplary influence on our students and society the WSESD should reduce the school week to four days, so that students have time to pursue climate rescue following Greta Thunberg’s exemplary activism. Many people who say they admire and support Greta Thunberg will oppose the resolution. So, the resolution illuminates latent denial.
The Greta Resolution (below) can serve as an introduction to revised policy recommendations, and the school directors should place the resolution on the ballots for all towns in the district.
Tom Nolan invited BCS worker Kurt Daims to give examples of “radical” proposals, and Daims proposed the Greta Thunberg Resolution. The committee listened but refused to discuss it at the next meeting in May. The committee met July 22, 2021, and the chariman of the committee. Tom Nolan insured that the Greta Resolution was on the agenda (so they would have to discuss it). Three members spoke against the resolution from a denialist standpoint — that is, for reasons that deny the emergency: because there might be legal challenges, because teachers wouldn’t like it, and because it threatened the arts curriculum. The proposal failed (5-1), but the discussion was a serious improvement. Mr. Nolan requested “drastic” proposals. He and he and member Tim Maciel drafted a compromise, the “Student Survival Resolution”. At their August 31 meeting the committee voted to forward the compromise resolution to the directors for a public vote in December. Good work by Tom Nolan.
It’s far past time to get real. Everyone must write to the school directors and demand that they allow a vote by the people.
Here is a web page with their E-addresses: //sites.google.com/wsesu.org/wsesdboard/current-members?authuser=0.
The Greta Thunberg Resolution
Shall the voters of the town of ______________ resolve as follows:
Whereas we all recognize Greta Thunberg as an exemplary influence on our students and our society, the WSESD will reduce the school week to four days, so that students have time to pursue climate rescue following Greta Thunberg’s exemplary activism.
Whereas climate change . . . . immeasurable human suffering . . .
1. The school directors must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change, emphasizing courage not college, realizing that it is inadequate and dishonest to update the school curricula with classes and about climate crisis.
2. Instead the directors must recognize and declare that the purpose of education must be to prepare students for life in climate crisis and to encourage their efforts toward climate rescue and climate justice;
3. The WSESD directors shall convert the schools to a four-day week so that students have time to protect their lives. The voters further require that:
4. The school directors must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
5. The directors must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate justice with a majority of students.
6. Whereas we are students in life, and not scientists, we have faith in science, and whereas some people have faith in their god, let no student or teacher — no one scorn those of us who deny the crisis, since their inaction has been no worse than ours who believe it, and since their lives will be turned upside-down for a rescue against their will, and let us who will lose our livelihoods in fossil fuel and other industries know our neighbors will help us. We have all been living our lives and denying the climate crisis together. Let us bravely acknowledge and address the emergency we face together.
7. And therefore we the people of __________ declare a state of emergency, and we vow to use any and all means necessary to meet the extremes of it. We will endure hardship and self-sacrifice like military men and women, exert our utmost energy, and summon the deepest truthfulness and courage, even without certainty, to secure the survival of our children, ourselves, all humanity and this divinely beautiful natural world, which has sustained us through the ages with unspoken love.
The Student Survival Resolution
The climate crisis before us is rapidly endangering our children’s survival. In response to the existential threat of the climate crisis our children face and the lack of a substantive response from higher levels of government, the voters of Brattleboro, Guilford, Dummerston, and Putney direct the Windham Southeast School District to make the climate crisis its top priority by doing the following:
1. Become a carbon neutral district by January 1st, 2025.
2. Immediately adopt a plant-based food system.
3. Devote 1 school day per month to a focused “Climate Emergency Day” where education is centered solely on mitigating climate change and living with its consequences.
4. Immediately focus one day a month for staff development on current climate emergency reports with a focus on how to present findings to students on Climate Emergency Days and how to develop action plans for responding to the emergency. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and documentaries such as “Breaking Boundaries” may be good starting points for discussion, but our own staff would determine content for these monthly sessions.
5. In matters of purchasing and capital improvements, make climate costs a higher priority than financial costs.