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May 22, 2018
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Schools for climate action

By: Irene Hilsendager
February 16, 2018

On Thursday, Feb. 1, the Trustees of the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) unanimously passed Resolution #17-18-15 “Commitment to Climate Change Action.” 14-year-old Lola Guthrie of Sebastopol spoke during public comment period, stating “As a member of a generation that will bear a great burden of climate change, it makes me really optimistic to see adults taking action and breaking the spiral of silence around climate change.”

The climate is changing and now 250 schools in over 69 countries will collaborate on climate change topics over the course of four weeks.

The press release stated that this may be the first official mention about carbon pricing as a policy tool by any school board in the nation. Sonoma County Office of Education may also be the first County Board of Education in the nation to encourage “local school districts to engage in non-partisan advocacy and engagement with local, state and federal jurisdictions advocating for reducing the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Other parts of resolution echo the recent Sebastopol Union School District and Ross Valley School District resolutions. Dr. Herrington, superintendent of Sonoma County Schools stated in the board meeting that he prepared the SCOE resolution working from a draft of the Sebastopol Union School District resolution.

A youth-adult team with the Schools for Climate Action campaign met with SCOE Board President Herman G. Hernandez on Jan. 25, 2018 to discuss a proposed climate change resolution. 

Nevin W., a junior at Credo High School in Rohnert Park appreciated Hernandez’s enthusiasm, encouragement and commitment to bring a climate change resolution forward. There are 14,000 school boards in the country with roughly 90,000 school board members. To date, Schools for Climate Action has found eight school boards consisting of about 40 school board members who have spoken up for action to address climate change as a children’s issue or to protect students. Passing climate change resolutions helps close feedback loops between those who nurture our children (schools and school leaders) and those who create climate policy.

If enough school boards speak up about generational climate justice like Sebastopol Union School district, Ross Valley School District and now Sonoma County Office of Education have done, this great nation may be able to muster our creativity, knowledge and resources to address the issue in a swift and effective manner.

Schools for Climate Action is a non-partisan, grassroots, volunteer campaign started by a group of students, parents and teachers in western Sonoma. They have a mission to empower school boards to speak up for climate action in order to protect current and future students. Currently, there are Schools for Climate Action supporters working on local school board climate resolutions in more than 12 public school districts and independent schools in California. In addition, there are Schools for Climate Action supporters working on climate change resolutions in public school districts in Ohio and Colorado.

What is better than learning about global issues directly from each other? The School Climate Improvement Support Action Guides are designed to provide district leaders, families, students and community partners with action steps on how to support school climate improvements.

For more information about Schools for Climate Action, contact Park Guthrie at park.buthrie.jr@gmail.com or call 510-691-5051.