LTUSD passes student-led climate literacy resolution
The resolution passed by the school district
Whereas, the winter sports industry generates upwards of $70 billion per year and supplies 694,918 jobs (according to Protect Our Winters), a major factor in the economy of the Tahoe region; and
Whereas, in 1910, Tahoe’s average winter low was about 28 F°. In 2015, the average winter low was above 32 F°. We have seen a 4 F° warming period which puts our average winter low above freezing point; and…
Whereas, because climate change represents a mortal threat to all of human society, it is critical that we equip all students with the knowledge and skills they will need to understand and respond effectively to the climate situation…
Be It Therefore Resolved, that the Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board of Education ensure that all high school students graduate climate literate beginning with the graduating class of 2025....
Be It Further Resolved, that LTUSD Invites community organizations and relies on environmental agencies in order to professionally train teachers and provide learning opportunities for all students.
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Since Sept. 2019, when kids around the world walked out of school for a climate strike, students and activists have been fighting to bring the issue of climate change to the forefront for the Lake Tahoe Unified School District.
After a year of work, the students experienced a win when on Sept. 22, the LTUSD School Board unanimously approved Resolution No. 2020/21-07 in support of climate literacy.
Local activist Nick Exline and other members of the community helped with the resolution but Exline said this was truly a student-led effort.
“There was a lot of engagement with staff but what was it upon themselves to say, ‘this is what we want to see in our schools,’” Exline said.
The resolution, which was introduced by former Climate Crew co-president, Anthony Pedigo, would require teachers of all topics to introduce climate change into their curriculums.
“I realized that many students didn’t really understand what climate change is,” Pedigo said, adding that the current two-week climate change section in one year of high school wasn’t enough. “They don’t really go into [climate change] which isn’t fair for the students who will have to deal with this in the future.”
The curriculum changes could be as simple as adding word questions with climate change verbiage into math classes or could be as big as a history or civics lesson on climate change. This resolution doesn’t just impact high school students but will reach all grades.
“Once you can understand the scientific realities of climate change, the real question to me is, ‘what do you do then?’” Exline said. “So allowing students to be creative and innovative in developing strategies allow them to kind of take ownership of this massive challenge and problem and start to look to ways to solve it.”
Exline said there are examples of similar curriculum changes in schools around the country and many local experts will be available to help craft the new curriculum. Pedigo, who is a freshman at Lake Tahoe Community College, also said the Sunrise Movement at the college is willing to help.
The groups are also aiming to work with school districts regionally to bring similar initiatives to other schools. Exline said he’s had conversations with Tahoe Truckee Unified School District about adding this type of curriculum.
While the school board was excited about this resolution, the students did run into some resistance from the board on the issue of electric busses. Last December, the board voted to turn down an opportunity to apply for grants to buy electric busses, instead deciding to replace old busses with new diesel busses.
Then, the students tried to bring a resolution that the district would promise to move to electric busses by 2025. According to Pedigo, the board told him that financially, it would be hard to make that happen, despite the fact they had recently turned down a grant opportunity.
One of the reasons the board didn’t want to purchase the electric busses is because they wouldn’t have held enough charge to reach farther away cities for sporting events.
Pedigo believes if they had this conversation after COVID hit and sports were canceled, there might have been a different outcome.
Still, despite that disappointment, the students continued to fight for what they believed in to get the climate literacy resolution passed.
“I think the important lesson is that they saw that, they got their no and they didn’t quit,” Exline said. “They regrouped, they got together, they dug deep and they worked hard to make sure that they could make positive change.”
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