OUSD Board of Education Votes to Adopt Climate Emergency Action Resolution
Oakland – On Wednesday, October 28, the OUSD Board of Education took bold action in declaring a climate emergency and outlining what the District is doing, and will do, to develop a comprehensive plan to increase the District’s environmental sustainability. The Board passed a resolution establishing a goal of transitioning the school district to 100% clean electricity by 2030, and completely off of fossil fuels for heating and transportation by 2040. It also laid the groundwork for a more holistic and comprehensive ecological sustainability policy and its implementation. The resolution is rooted in OUSD’s values of equity and justice and highlights the need to keep the concerns of Black, Indigenous and People of Color central in the implementation of its goals.
This effort was supported by a coalition of students, families, teachers, and district staff in collaboration with Sierra Club’s Climate Parents program. With the Board passing the resolution, OUSD joins other school districts across the country, including Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, that have made a commitment to 100% clean energy and other aspects of sustainability.
Beyond the fossil fuel and clean energy goals, the resolution sets out other ambitious plans:
Urging the Superintendent to establish an Interdepartmental Task Force to develop a Climate Action and Sustainability Board Policy that describes a holistic and equitable sustainability planning process focused on the areas of energy, water, waste, transportation, facilities, schoolyards, purchasing, curriculum integration, climate adaptation, and the implementation of a sustainability revolving fund
Urging the Superintendent to establish a Sustainability Advisory Council that includes representation of OUSD families, teachers, students, environmental/climate justice representatives, and subject matter experts to help inform the creation and implementation of the associated Climate Action and Sustainability Board Policy and subsequent District-wide Sustainability Plan
Encouraging the Interdepartmental Task Force and the Sustainability Advisory Council to seek partnerships with local student environmental and social justice groups, business leaders, nonprofits, and government agencies and organizations to promote climate education in District classrooms and ecologically sustainable practices in District operations, and to focus on climate-resilient District decision making
Designating the OUSD Energy & Sustainability Manager as liaison to the City of Oakland’s Environmental Service Division to coordinate any OUSD Sustainability Plan activities with the City of Oakland’s Equitable Climate Action Plan
Prioritizing the concerns of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and marginalized communities in the planning process and implementation of the OUSD Climate Action and Sustainability Board Policy and Sustainability Plan
Naming that climate injustice is racial injustice, and the Board believes that climate solutions must advance racial and environmental justice in alignment with the leadership of Black Lives Matter and the Movement for Black Lives
Urging Congress to take swift and effective action to fight climate change.
Board President Jody London who, along with Vice President Shanthi Gonzales was a co-sponsor of the resolution, said this resolution brings together work that is ongoing across many departments within OUSD, and will foster greater collaboration and opportunities to enhance student learning. “It is our responsibility to give our students the tools to be good stewards of the environment,” London said.
During public comment, Hillcrest K-8 School seventh grader Adam Sutro said, “The future of the world lies in the education of the next generation, and with the deadly implications of the climate crisis on the horizon, this resolution will enable students to learn about an issue that will shape our futures.”
Letters of support for the resolution came from students, and local and state organizations. They underscored the timeliness of this resolution by pointing to climate impacts such as days and weeks filled with smoke from wildfires and Public Safety Power Shutoffs, all of which harm students and the broader community.
“The impact of climate change and pollution is extremely urgent and when we have the power to do so, we must take action to reduce the ways we contribute to it,” said Oakland Tech senior Meron Gebre. “We don’t have much time left, but the passing of this resolution is a step in the right direction.”
Lara Clayman, a parent who helped lead the Climate Emergency Resolution organizing effort, said, “OUSD became part of a larger movement to eliminate fossil fuels and advance environmental justice… I’m excited to get to work to build climate resilience, clean energy and climate literacy for our students.”
Students from third graders to high school seniors gave public comment and said a commitment of this kind isn’t just about the district taking meaningful action to fight climate change. They highlighted many other benefits including lower energy costs, improved indoor air quality, increased educational outcomes, improved student physical and mental health, reduced waste and water consumption, increased opportunities to improve STEM learning and climate literacy, and greater resilience as schools function as critical emergency shelters during natural disasters, power outages, food shortages, and days with toxic air.
“What an absolute relief to know that OUSD is joining the students in the fight against this climate catastrophe we’re all facing,” said Noah Canton, Hillcrest K-8 School Science Teacher who, along with his students, helped create the resolution.
Oakland Tech junior Sage Plaisted said, “Recognizing youth advocacy as something more than a token inclusion is crucial to combatting the climate crisis. I’m pumped that it’s a key aspect of this resolution!”
Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell was pleased with the climate emergency mobilization resolution. “We are educators, which means we listen to the science, and the climate science is clear. Our future depends on us taking decisive action to reverse the effects of climate change. The resolution and the goals it lays out are a remarkable starting point that position the District to once again be a leader on an issue that is critical to all students in Oakland and around the world, and the generations of young people who will follow them. Together, we can and will save our planet from climate change.”
The Board of Education voted unanimously to pass the OUSD Climate Emergency Action Resolution.
This post based on a press release from OUSD to Zennie62Media.
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