Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Back students on climate issue

On Sept. 20, millions of young people poured into the streets around the world to strike for global climate justice. They did so because too many adult leaders have failed them. Students are afraid and angry and rightfully so. Climate change is a scientific fact, and this truth has devastating consequences for their futures. This is a crisis. It is time for educators to take a stand and give students the support they deserve. It is time for the important adults in their lives to stop failing them.
Taking a stand means confronting the supposed political neutrality that school institutions often profess. Public education is inherently political. For example, many long-standing policies at Middlebury Union High School are quite political. The school does not allow discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender, and it has extremely strict gun rules. Outside of school walls, there are clearly people who believe that homosexuality is a sin, women should be subordinate to men, and guns should be unrestricted. Currently, the International Baccalaureate curriculum encourages us to be an active part of the bigger picture, which again is quite political. As stated in the Student/Parent Handbook 2019-2020, “We engage with issues and ideas that have local and global significance…We are resourceful and resilient in the face of challenges and change.” The biggest challenge right now that has huge local and global significance is climate change. This crisis is like a worldwide cancer. If it can’t be cured, nothing else matters.
When political leaders fail, other responsible adults need to take action. Teachers should be able to strike with students without fear of punishment. Administrators should accept and creatively deal with the upheavals and disruptions that future strikes will entail. And there will be more. Time is running out.
Karen Anderson Greene
Cornwall

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