“Even school districts have a part to play in the climate crisis.”
— Danny Cage, youth activist and Portland Public Schools student rep
17-year-old Danny Cage is a student representative of the Portland Public Schools Board of Education Policy Committee and a speaker and youth organizer who advocates for racial justice, education reform, and LGBTQ+ rights. We last shared his words when he spoke at the Global Climate Strike in front of City Hall last September.
The Portland Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education recently voted their draft Climate Crisis Response Policy (CCRP, see PDF embed below) out of its policy committee and it had its first reading at a public hearing on February 8th. The soon-to-be climate policy is an important one and recognizes how even school districts have a part to play in the climate crisis. As the student representative to the district’s policy committee, I can say that this is a bold and comprehensive plan and a meaningful commitment to our students.
Years ago PPS was not called-out, but called-in by youth organizers and students, myself included, to step up and be leaders among the climate crisis. Now I have been honored to work with the district and be a part of the solution.
Some might ask: Why does it matter if a school is invested in climate change? And to that I would say that we must be not only committed to the academic well-being of our students but the physical safety of them long-term — and that means climate change. We know that if we don’t address the climate crisis it will have devastating impacts on the planet as well as future generations that means students will be impacted. We as a district can take accountability and hold ourselves accountable to not only our students but the wider Portland community and be the example for other school districts to follow across Oregon as we have been in the past.
If done so thoughtfully this policy can address and accommodate the ever growing needs that our students have from climate based issues. This policy has seen over a year of extensive community engagement from students, staff, community, and climate-based organizations. This long and thorough process of community engagement will have had in this policy allows us to address the multiple effects of the climate crisis and while continuing to educate on the issue as well.
From presenting solutions and learning-based options, to lowering our net-zero target goal from 2050 to 2040, to teaching students to understand climate change is a byproduct of capitalism, colonialism and white supremacy, to community engagement opportunities with your youth — PPS will be a leading example of how a school district can be a climate leader.
The PPS Climate Crisis Response Policy is currently open for public comment through March 1st. If you have input or feedback, please email email@example.com.
View the draft policy below:
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