U.S. high school students have launched a Green New Deal for Schools campaign in the hope of influencing climate policy. Sunrise Movement
Founded in 2005 as an Ohio-based environmental newspaper, EcoWatch is a digital platform dedicated to publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions.
Students at more than 50 high schools across the United States are launching a Green New Deal for Schools campaign, with the hope of getting climate policies enacted that will require school districts to add climate education to their curriculums and plan for climate disasters.
The ultimate goal of the initiative, organized by the youth climate justice organization Sunrise Movement, is for federal legislation to be enacted to implement climate education policies in schools nationwide.
“The Green New Deal for Schools will transform public schools in America to face the climate crisis and ensure all students receive safe and high-quality education – no matter their zip code or the color of their skin,” said 17-year-old Adah Crandall, one of the heads of the campaign, as reported by The Hill. “Our generation is on the front lines of this fight and it’s time for our school districts to take real action.”
The Green New Deal for Schools campaign could involve walkouts, “teach-ins” and petitions to school boards, Sunrise Movement organizers told the Guardian.
“We are prepared to do whatever it takes,” Crandall said, as The Guardian reported. “The far right has waged this battle against school boards and against public education, and they put a lot of time and money into trying to do things like ban books and prevent us from learning the truth about the climate crisis. And all of these things, all of these things are happening while the climate crisis is raging outside of our windows.”
The campaign is demanding that school administrators prepare extreme weather disaster plans, make school infrastructure — like buildings and buses — more climate resilient, updated to run entirely on clean energy and safe and non-toxic, as well as provide students with free lunches made from local ingredients.
The initiative is also demanding that curricula in schools reflect the current, science-based reality of the climate crisis.
“Students must be taught a comprehensive climate justice curriculum — developed by scientists, educators, and students, not lobbyists and politicians — that helps them understand our history and prepares them to face the climate crisis,” the Green New Deal for Schools list of demands said, according to a press release from the Sunrise Movement.
School districts all over the country have adopted policies and guidelines to prevent science-based teaching about climate change.
“Being a youth right now is really scary,” said Aster Chau, a 15-year-old an organizer for Green New Deal for Schools and student at the Academy at Palumbo in Philadelphia, as reported by The Guardian. “It’s really scary knowing that I’m underage, and can’t vote to elect the people making these big decisions about our futures, not having a say in that.”
“The Republican Party knows that they don’t have the youth vote,” Chau said, according to the Sunrise Movement. “They’ve spent the last few years antagonizing students and teachers — eroding trust in public education — in order to distract from all of the problems they’ve created in our society. Today, we say no more — these are our schools and our futures.”