How do we include schools in the climate agenda? Let’s ask the new president

K12 Climate Action is asking just that in a letter to the Biden-Harris Transition Team.

In the letter urging the Department of Education participation in a cross-agency approach to address climate change, they note, “By including representation of education in a cross-agency plan, the Biden-Harris Administration can help to acknowledge the critical role education can play in climate solutions and help our country build long-lasting change to advance a more sustainable society.”

“The U.S. K-12 public school ecosystem is a large public sector with a considerable environmental impact. With over 98,000 schools across the country, schools are among the largest energy consumers for public sector buildings, and energy costs for schools have been estimated at $8 billion annually, the second highest cost for schools behind only salaries. Schools operate the largest mass transit fleet in the country with 480,000 primarily diesel school buses and drive an estimated 3.45 billion miles annually. Schools also serve over 7 billion meals each year, and decisions on food sourcing, options, and waste contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.”

“In addition to the considerable need to address climate change in America’s public schools,
education also provides a critical opportunity to work toward climate solutions. Our education
sector can work to mitigate its environmental impact and work to build resilience in preparation
for climate change. With over 50 million children enrolled in public schools, education can help
prepare children and youth to advance a more sustainable world.”

Read full letter here

School Connections will meet on Nov 19, 2020 – Join Us!

Green Newton’s Schools Connections will meet ONLINE on Thursday, Nov 19, from 3:45-5pm. Google Meeting Link: meet.google.com/enc-hnvv-yms 

Green Newton’s Schools Connections group provides a forum for parents, students and educators to promote sustainability in the classroom and beyond. You are welcome to participate as we share experiences and ideas that support the implementation of green initiatives in our schools. This is out open agenda.

For more information contact: [email protected] or visit www.schools.greennewton.org

NNHS March for Climate and Racial Justice

Newton North High School students marched for Climate and Racial Justice on 10/17. The event was organized by the NNHS Climate Collective. Take a look at the report by Newton North TV.

The Climate Collective also created an online petition asking for Climate Justice for Newton

“To ensure the progression of our just, equitable, and sustainable vision for Newton, we ask that local leaders (Mayor Fuller, the city council, the school committee, etc.) meet with Climate Justice, antiracism, and social justice representatives on a recurring basis to review progress towards these goals. ”

 

Energy: Solar Panels Update – October 2020

From the October 5, 2020 Facilities Update

Phase 3 Solar Panel Project – Update

    • All of the Macquarie solar projects will be scheduled for next spring and summer 2021.
    • The projects are likely to be phased as follows:
      • Phase 1 – Early Spring- Roof projects at Cabot, Carr, Angier, Williams.
      • Phase 2 – Carports at Ed Center, Memorial-Spaulding, Mason Rice, Pleasant Street Parking lot.
      • Phase 3 – Summer- Carports at Wheeler Road, Brown, Oak Hill.
  • Two Ameresco solar canopy projects at North High School are on schedule. Solar canopies were installed in the two parking lots this summer and the contractor is now completing the electrical work. Four Electric Vehicle charging stations will be included as part of this project, two at each lot.
  • Ameresco rooftop projects at the Ed Center, Zervas, and Fire Station #3/HQ have been on line and providing electricity to these buildings since June 2020.

Water fountains and sinks

  • Water Bottle Refill Stations – Installed at Lincoln Eliot and Horace Mann. Every school now has at least one.
  • Additional Sinks – Installed at Horace Mann as part of a previously planned project. Portable sinks installed in schools identified as needing additional hand washing stations.

Climate Education Survey 2020 – first results

In an effort to promote more Climate Education in Newton schools, earlier this year we created a survey for teachers. We wanted  to find out what is already being taught in the district and what can be done to strengthen climate literacy and justice for our students. 

The survey was launched in March and due to Covid-19 and the closures of schools we didn’t promote it as much as we had originally planned. We hope to build on this effort once school commences in the Fall. For now, these are the initial results.

Given that many survey respondents expressed interest in training focused on climate education, we compiled a list of low-cost, flexible summer professional development options.

If you have not taken the survey yet, please take it here: CLIMATE EDUCATION SURVEY 

 

Climate Education Survey 2020

Survey data from 03/09/2020 to 04/03/2020
Number of respondents: 84

We found a few patterns in the answers:

  • Climate Change is not part of the curriculum and it’s hard to find time/resources to incorporate the topic and space/time to teach it.
  • Many are interested in learning more but lack time, knowledge, resources, ideas for activities, projects, etc.
  • Some teachers bring up the topic in passing or in a few lessons, ranging from statistics and environmental poetry to music and the Industrial Revolution.
  • It never occurred to teach it.

Sample comments:

  • Interested in ways to support the staff and facilitate trainings.
  • It is difficult to fit in anything more to the required curriculum.
  • I try to practice energy conservation and recycling habits with students in the classroom – concrete steps they can understand to contribute to efforts against climate change.
  • Climate change is a politically charged topic.
  • Kids are already cynical about being preached at.
  • Indirectly it is taught in terms of how we treat the environment, our spaces.
  • It doesn’t often apply unless a given project connects to it.  
  • I have not made it a priority to incorporate climate change into my lessons (though I am interested in finding ways to do this).
  • This topic is dear to me.
  • It’s a topic on many kids’ minds.  
  • Students bring it up for discussion depending on what is in the curriculum.
  • It relates to health of our people; health of our planet.
  • I don’t have a lot of knowledge on how to teach the topic, the current curriculums are pretty packed as it is.

What we are reading in June

Green Matters, 06/04/20 – New Jersey Now Requires Climate Crisis Education for Grades K-12

Washington Post, 06/03/20 – I’m a black climate expert. Racism derails our efforts to save the planet

NPR, 06/03/20 – The Winners Of The NPR Student Podcast Challenge

Our Children’s Trust, 06/15/20 – A message from Juliana v. United States youth plaintiff, Isaac #youthvgov

Grist, 06/04/20 – Why racial justice is climate justice

The New Yorker, 06/17/20 – How Public Opinion Changes for the Better

Boston Magazine, 06/15/20 – Marty Walsh Declared Racism a Public Health Issue. Here’s Why

Yes!, 06/15/2020 – There Is No Climate Justice Without Racial Justice

Hartman Group, 05/28/2020 – Sustainability in Everyday Life: Plastic and Packaging Waste

Grist, 06/16/20 – 5 board games for a world that’s falling apart

Green Newton Statement on Black Lives Matter

Original post from Green Newton, June 8, 2020 – 

Green Newton stands with organizations here in Newton and across the country in reaffirming that Black Lives Matter. We are outraged, like so many others, by the recurrent murders of Black people by the police and vigilantes in our country — most recently, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

It is clear to us that institutionalized racism has been the underlying cause of the deaths of many people of color in our country and around the world.

Climate justice and racial justice are inextricably linked. The ravages of polluted water, land, and air, leading to illness, injury and early death are far greater in populations of people of color. Racially insensitive policies have long negatively impacted housing, education and medical care in Massachusetts.

We aspire to think globally and act locally as we work to better understand the pervasive, systemic nature of injustice within all of our institutions, including our schools and police departments. We strive to bring that understanding to our work to help heal the planet and make our community safe and welcoming for all.

Reduce & Reuse School Supplies

From the Bigelow PTO, June 13, 2020 – 

The Bigelow PTO invites you to think about school supplies in a sustainable way.  

The end of the year is a great opportunity to embrace our sustainable values with our children and show them how they can personally take climate action. Going together with the kids through their books, notes and school materials can be a valuable experience – in economic and environmental terms – and help reducing waste at the end of the school year by practicing the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

There’s a reason reduce & reuse come before recycle – not just because it sounds good, but it’s the order in which we should approach sustainability. Here are some tips to use with your child when cleaning out their school supplies:

  • Empty backpacks, pencil cases, binders, folders.
  • Clean everything (a swipe of rubbing alcohol can remove marker and make everything looks like new).
  • Repair or patch what you can. 
  • Organize pens, pencils, markers, scissors, calculators, etc.
  • Take out the used pages of notebooks and evaluate what can be reused in school or at home.

You will note that you can really reduce the purchase of new supplies because a lot can be reused next year. And we can all celebrate how much energy, water, resources and money we will have saved in our community! 

Check out more resources:

Students Can Take Action Against the Climate Crisis

Small habit changes can make a big difference. And students, as well as parents and educators, can take action and have a positive impact to reduce our carbon footprint.

Download and print flyer: Take Daily Action Against the Climate Crisis

What students can do

What can be done at home

Home heating and electricity account for a large portion of fossil fuel use. Talk to others at home about:

1. Signing up for 100% Renewable Electricity at Newton Power Choice, a really easy way to make a huge difference! Find your homers Eversource account# & call 866-968-8065 or visit www.masspowerchoice.com/newton

2. Signing up for no-cost home energy assessment and insulate/air seal your home. Call 781-305-3319 (select #2 & mention Green Newton) or go to hwe.click/green-newton

Download and print flyer: Take Daily Action Against the Climate Crisis

How to Make NNHS a Leader in Climate Justice

The Newton North High School Climate Advocacy Club is creating a student and teacher organization in order to advise the Principal on climate issues. The Climate Advisory Panel will be formed by a nomination process in Fall 2020 where students and teachers can be both self-nominated and nominated by others.

“Our school is lacking in both the educational side of the issue and physical side of the climate issue, most egregiously on the very important topic of climate justice. Given our position as a school that has traditionally led in academic and social emotional learning, it is our duty to be a leader and an example for ourselves and others in the values and practice of climate justice. ”

The panel’s goals, according to the document developed by the students, are to:

  • Educate peers on climate justice through developing, advising, and observing the revised sustainability curriculum with teachers; organizing Sustainability Day; and more.
  • Oversee and facilitate a strike absence policy.
  • Ensure that Newton North’s infrastructure is as sustainable as possible, specifically by working with the city of Newton and the sustainability director.
  • Incorporate climate justice into all facets of the school.

The panel will be a leader in connecting all the different groups in Newton that work on climate issues: teachers, activists, administrators, and more. If you are interested in being involved with the panel next year in any capacity, please fill out the interest form so we can keep in touch: https://bit.ly/2Byh9gC