Tips for Public Comment
Schools for Climate Action
ABOVE ALL BE 100% POSITIVE and RESPECTFUL
(If more than one student is speaking, divide the statement up so that you each have something to say.)
(Name, Age, School)
Thank them for something they’ve done
(Their hard work as board members, improvements at school, etc.)
Introduce the idea of climate change being a generational justice issue.
Tell them that that other school boards have spoken up, too.
Encourage them to speak out because they are focused specifically on children.
Thank them again.
Example Statement developed by Lola Guthrie
(You can copy this word for word, substituting only your introduction and appreciation)
Hi, my name is Lola Guthrie. I’m 14 years old, and I live in Sebastopol. First I want to thank you for the solar panels you recently installed, and for the Analy turf, which I have practiced soccer on many times.
I believe that Climate Change is a generational justice issue because my generation and those to come will bear the greatest burden, although we are least responsible for its cause.
On a happier note, more and more elected officials are speaking out. In the past four months, six school boards in Northern California have passed resolutions calling climate change a children’s issue. I am here to encourage you to do so as well.
School Board members are the only publicly elected officials who have a singular focus on the well-being of children and future generations, so your voices are the strongest when you speak up for us. Please consider passing a strong climate action resolution on behalf of me and my generation.
Example Statements Given By Schools for Climate Action Members
Statements to Sebastopol Union School District on 12.4.17
Note: This was the 2nd time before the board and passage of the resolution was almost a foregone conclusion at this point.
Joey Thompson, 8th grader, SUSD District (Top-level stakeholder)
Hi, my name is Joey Thompson. I recently joined SCA and was really excited to be able to help in the ways that I can to fight Climate Change. I am an 8th grader at Brook Haven and live in the district.
First of all I want to thank you for all the time that you dedicate for the well being and success of students like me. I really appreciate the work that you do such as making sure we have such a nice campus or having facilities open to the public.
I think education about Climate change would be an awesome thing to have. If we could learn what to do a little differently and set the bar for other schools and communities than we could have a huge impact on the way the Climate is going.
If you passed this resolution it would be a great step forward into a healthy future for generations to come. Sebastopol Union would be a role model for other districts to follow to make a cleaner, more sustainable world. Schools for Climate Action can help by providing online resources and links as well as help in the other ways that they can
Thank you for considering this. I really appreciate it and I think that it would be a big step forward into a greener community!
Kaya Weber (senior at Analy, but graduate of SUSD K-8 district) Top-level stakeholder.
Hi, my name is Kaya Weber, and I am a seventeen year old senior at Analy High School. I graduated from Brookhaven in 2014, and had a wonderful experience. I am a part of Schools For Climate Action because addressing and talking about climate change is important to me.
I want to thank each of you for doing work for the students and the greater community. I especially want to thank all of you for declaring the schools in the district a Safe Haven amidst the current political climate.
I also want to thank you for considering the Climate Resolution. School boards are the only group of leadership who are working just for the students, and climate change will disproportionately affect young students. That is why it is important to me to talk about climate change in schools, and make changes to reverse it.
Earlier the board mentioned the things that affect the school districts, but that the schools do not have much control over, one example being climate change. This resolution is one way to start taking control of climate change. I urge you to pass the resolution. If it passes, it will be a strong precedent for other school to take action as well, to ensure bright futures for all students, and a healthy planet. Thank you very much.
Statement to West Sonoma County Union High School District in November, 2017 during open comment period.
Hi, my name is Lola Guthrie. I’m 14 years old, and I live in Sebastopol. First I want to thank you for the solar panels Analy recently installed, and for the Analy turf, which I have played and practiced soccer on many times.
I believe that Climate Change is a generational justice issue because my generation and those to come will bear the greatest burden, although we are least responsible for its cause.
On a happier note, more and more elected officials are speaking out, and I am here to encourage you to do so as well. School Board members are the only publicly elected officials who have a singular focus on the well-being of children and future generations, so your voices are the strongest when you speak up for us. Please consider passing a strong climate action resolution similar to the one Sebastopol Union School District is considering.
Park Guthrie (presented during open comment period in November, 2017 modified in February 2018 to include recent developments).
Open Comment. First introduction to Schools for Climate Action. Had emailed one week earlier. District resident and teacher in feeder school (2nd tier stakeholder)
Thank you for your work on behalf of our community. I especially appreciate the solar panels at Analy and your wonderful athletic facilities which you make available to the community. I also appreciate your rigorous AP program at El Molino.
My name is Park Guthrie. I have been a public school teacher for 17 years, for the past four in an Analy feeder district. We live your school district. I am speaking up tonight for Kai, Lola, and June, my three kids, ages 10, 14, and 15. I’m also speaking up for my nephew Mo, who is 3 months old. My hope is that by the time Mo is my own kids age, we---today’s teens and all of us adults---will have contributed to reversing carbon emissions and that climate change will not have to be one of the burdens he will carry as an adolescent, like my own kids and my own students do.
We know how to solve the climate crisis. We already have the mix of technologies and policies to reverse the emissions trends and to begin drawing down carbon out of the atmosphere. We already know how to create a prosperous and healthy society for current and future students. All we lack is the public will to act. As the only elected leaders with a singular focus on the well-being and future success of children, school board members can play in building public will to act on climate change.
By speaking up now, by bearing witness to the tremendous lifetime burden climate inaction has placed on current and future students, you can help generate energy to solve this crisis so that 10 years from now, young people do not need to appeal to their elders to protect them like this.
There are many, many ways for school boards and school districts to respond to climate change and federal climate inaction. The California PTA declared climate change a children’s issue in 2015. In December, Sebastopol Union School District echoed these words while establishing the first district Climate Change Committee in the nation (that we are aware of). Ross Valley School District in Marin adopted the Sebastopol Union resolution nearly verbatim just a month later. Sonoma County Office of Education passed an even stronger Commitment to Climate Change Action in February 2018. School boards are speaking up for climate action to protect current and future students. Please help us spread this message to other districts in the County and to the California School Board Association and to the National School Board Association.
We are an institution of mandated reporters bound to speak up about neglect of young people. We are an institution that celebrates leaders like MLK who taught us all to speak up for justice. Collectively, we can be a powerful voice speaking up about the intergenerational neglect of climate inaction. Our non-partisan, respectful voices can help break the logjam on science-based climate policies in DC. You can help lead the way by considering and passing a strong climate change resolution.
Thank you in advance for considering this. I look forward to further discussion of a climate change resolution. Thank you for your work on behalf of our community.
Park Guthrie statement to State Board of Education on 3.7.18.
1 minute Open Comment period
Stakeholder Category: Teacher, parent, community member
Thank you for your important work and service to California kids. My name is Park Guthrie. I am have been a California public school teacher for 17 years. I teach 6th grade in Sonoma County. I am also the parent of 3 kids in CA public schools (and a co-founder of the Schools for Climate Action Campaign.)
I respectfully request that you follow the lead of 23 school boards across California, Colorado, and New York to pass NON-partisan climate action resolutions.
As you know, climate change is not a partisan issue. It is a generational justice, a social justice, and a human rights issue. Congress has failed to act and by doing so it has put our current and future students at significant risk.
We know the harm. We are mandated reporters. No educator or educational institution has to be a silent witness to the generational neglect that national inaction on climate constitutes.
You have an inspirational history of fighting for equity and justice for all California kids. By passing a climate action resolution, you can clarify the moral imperative for Congress to act to protect our students.
If you do, likely hundreds of school boards across the state and possibly thousands across the country will join you.
Together, the educational sector can help break the logjam on rational climate action in DC.
Statements to Sonoma County Office of Education on 2.1.2018
Lola (student, resident):
Hi, my name is Lola Guthrie. I’m fourteen years old and I live in Sebastopol. First I want to thank you for all of your hard work. I also want to say that, as a member of a generation that will bear a great burden of climate change, it makes me really optimistic to see adults taking action and breaking the spiral of silence around climate change.
I was thrilled to hear about this resolution, and I strongly encourage you to adopt it.
Kristan Klingelhofer (parent, teacher):
My name is Kristan Klingelhofer. I am a Sebastopol resident, a teacher, and a mother of 3. Thank you for considering a climate change resolution. Almost everyone I know - grandparents, parents, teachers, teenagers - is concerned about the threat of climate change and understands the challenge before us. But it is hard for people to find meaningful action to take. Recently, with Sebastopol Union School District passing a climate change resolution, followed swiftly by Ross Valley in Marin, and now with you, the County Board, considering a resolution, there is great reason for us to be hopeful. Suddenly it seems so obvious, so perfect, for schools to be the ones to speak out in face of a threat to future generations. Schools are really at the heart of communities, and so of course it should be schools to break the silence and act in such a way as to give us all a more hopeful future. So thank you -- for your courage, your common sense, your foresight. Passing this resolution will show that you deeply do care about the future of our children and that you know what it will take to protect it. I hope that you do indeed pass it, and I hope that school boards all across the country follow your lead.
Beth Mathews: Parent, teacher, resident
Good afternoon. I’m Beth Mathews, a Marine Biologist and retired educator. Our son, who is a freshman thriving at UC Santa Barbara, graduated from Montgomery High School. Thank you all for your efforts and hard work to make our schools nurturing, inspiring, and safe places to learn and grow.
I’m here today because I consider climate change the world’s biggest challenge. Global warming is real; the science is solid. The unprecedented increase in greenhouse gases, coupled with a 40-year climate response lag, means we need bold action now to protect our sons and daughters, their children, and generations to come from shouldering the enormous burden of global warming. The longer we wait to take action, the greater the effort and cost to reverse warming trends.
We have the tools and technology to do this; what we lack is the political will. I encourage you, as community leaders and advocates for children and youth, to support a nonpartisan Schools for Climate Action resolution in defense of our current and future students. Your bold actions on climate change today will make a difference for generations to come.
Thank you for your thoughtful work and many contributions to our community.
Celeste P., Sophomore, 2.14.18 Montgomery HS, statement during open comment period of the Santa Rosa City Schools
YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/Knhk70dOqRE?t=38m51s Starts at 38:51
Teen Appeals to Santa Rosa City School Board to Consider a Schools for Climate Action Resolution
Good evening everyone. Before I begin, I would like to thank the Santa Rosa City School Board for taking the issue of climate change into consideration. My name is Celeste Palmer and I am a sophomore at Montgomery High School.
Our community has just gone through one of the most costly, destructive, and deadly fires in California history. Many members of our community have lost everything and in some cases even loved ones. It is unethical to sit back and do nothing, as we know the severity of this fire is a result of climate change—a human caused phenomenon.
Past generations have put a burden on the backs of current and future ones, and we now have to address it before it is too late. I, like many others my age, have nightmares about the world I might someday live in: the prospects of a world where our children might never get to see the wildlife we are so fortunate to live with; the prospects of a world with an unstable climate and unprecedented amounts of climate refugees causing famine and war. And finally, the fact that humankind has every part of the puzzle to solve this problem except one: Political will.
And this is why I come to you today, because I truly believe that this political will starts at the local level—in this room. Therefore, for the sake of my generation, I sincerely hope that you adopt a strong resolution recognizing climate change is a children's issue.
Thank you all for listening.
Lucy L. Statement to Petaluma School Board on 2.27 (Draft)
Stakeholder category: Youth, resident/community member, recent middle school alum (currently attends high school in a different district)
Hello everyone. My name is Lucy London, and I am 17 years old. I am a resident of Petaluma and I attended Petaluma Junior High, and am now a junior at Novato High School. I am a member of Schools for Climate Action, and I am here to encourage you to pass a resolution of climate action, similar to the resolutions passed by the Sonoma County Office of Education or the Sebastopol Union School District. I am very grateful to be here, and I am incredibly thankful for the actions you have already taken to promote sustainability in our community, specifically with the addition of solar panels in many local schools.
I'd like to bring up the importance of speaking about climate change, remembering that we are stewards of the earth. Climate Change is an issue that continues to grow in importance, and we are already seeing the effects of it close to home. If we do not act soon to stop it, the future of the human race, and the future of this planet, will be greatly endangered. We still have time to stop the changing climate, and the scientific innovation necessary to do so, but we are missing the political will and influence that comes with it. By acknowledging that climate change is a children’s issue, and resolving to take action against it, my generation, and the generations after me, will be more equipped to combat the effects of climate change. I strongly encourage you to fight for your children by resolving to take action against climate change, for we are the future of this world. Thank you.
Youth Statement on Climate Change (for more ideas): Note---SCA cannot take credit for any of this. This was developed by Jonah and Bella in conjunction with Religious Action Center, the legislative branch of the Union for Reform Judaism. This speech was given to staff of Congressperson Jared Huffman (CA-02).
Jonah G. (CREDO HS) and Bella N. (Analy HS)
Lobbying on Behalf of the RAC
Climate Change (100 by '50 Act)
12 February 2018
Lobbying Reps. of Congressman Huffman
The Torah says: “One generation passes away, and another generation comes; but the Earth remains forever.” As you are well aware, human activity has exacerbated the natural greenhouse effect, causing the average global temperatures to rise significantly. The actions we take now are imperative for the future of not only our nation, but the entire world. Today, we would like to express the way our Jewish values align with this issue and we would like to thank Representative Huffman for his cosponsorship and constant support of the 100 by '50 Act.
When we think about natural disasters caused by climate change, our thoughts are automatically drawn to hurricanes like Harvey, Irma and Maria, or melting ice caps thousands of miles away. But for us, the problems facing our planet hit very close to home.
As you know, the Sonoma County fires of fall 2017 were devastating to the entire community. The powerful winds, caused by our mistreatment of the environment, turned several small blazes into walls of flame that scorched the unusually dry earth and destroyed businesses, homes, possessions and lives. Being in Petaluma, I was just outside the evacuation zone. At three AM the morning of the fires, I was awakened by the sound of dogs barking. Unbeknownst to me at the time, several of our friends from Santa Rosa and Sebastopol had evacuated in the middle of the night and showed up on our doorstep, along with their dogs.
From early Monday morning to Friday afternoon, my house was filled with evacuees. For that entire terrifying week, the number of guests fluctuated almost hourly, with new people appearing left and right. As the toxic air quality left us unable to go outside without masks, we were trapped inside, all of us fearing for our homes, schools and places of business. As we packed our bags in case the fires reached Petaluma, I reached out to my nervous friends online, all of us worried that our small high school would be forced to close if it burned the same way their homes did. These traumatic events cemented the idea in me that fighting climate change is not just about protecting plants and animals. Climate change directly affects human life.
Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths each year. Additionally, humans are becoming increasingly exposed to toxic air quality, polluted water and food-borne diseases. Unfortunately, the people most likely to be affected by these health issues are people who can only be blamed for a fraction of the damage to our environment.
While the world’s wealthiest nations hold the greatest responsibility for climate change, poor communities and nations bear the brunt of the effects. In the United States today, environmental risks are not evenly distributed, with social and economic minorities being impacted the most. This injustice has been going on for decades but continues to, time and time again, be swept under the rug. While seemingly capricious, communities are not contaminated at random. Traits such as race, ethnicity, and class can cause one to be at a disproportionately high risk for environmental disease. The United States is home to 5% of the world's population, yet we produce almost 1/3 the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. As a self-declared global leader, it is time to take some action.
Built into Jewish tradition is an obligation to love and care for all that G-d has granted to us. As G-d said to Adam in the Garden of Eden, “See how beautiful and praiseworthy all of my works are? Everything I have created has been created for your sake. Think of this, and do not corrupt or destroy my world; for if you corrupt it, there will be no one to set it right after you.” G-d teaches us to preserve the world that has been created for all species. The Jewish concept of bal tashchit, meaning “do not destroy,” expands on this notion by teaching us that human dominance over nature does not include a license to abuse the environment. Derived from Deuteronomy, Jews have been opponents of the human-caused destruction of our globe since ancient times. These Jewish teachings just reaffirm our belief that humans must take responsibility for ruining our environment and make amends for what we have done, before the climate is irreversibly altered.
With the planet's temperature increasing ever so quickly, the time to act is now. We thank Representative Huffman for supporting the 100 by ‘50 Act and being one of our nation’s best legislative hopes for saving ourselves from the planet we have contaminated, polluted, defiled and putrefied. We implore the Congressman to continue the fight for environmental justice by sponsoring additional legislation that will continue our efforts to fight climate change. To complacently stand by while the climate rapidly changes and hurts American citizens and the global population as a whole makes all of us complicit in the demise of humanity.
We thank you for your time.
Statement to Santa Rosa City Schools Board on 2.28.18
Stakeholder Category: Teacher, community member
Just over 3 minutes, but rushed.
Note, on further reflection, I think some of my language may have come across as a bit too negative. I noted this in comments below.
Superintendent and Trustees of the Santa Rosa thank you for your work creating great schools for kids and families in our community. Having been a CA public school teacher for 17 years, I believe strongly in your mission and value your service. My name is Park Guthrie and I am co-founder of Schools for Climate Action.
Thank you for considering this resolution tonight because America is not perfect, but we have greatness in us. I encourage you to pass this resolution tonight because America is not perfect, but we have a proud tradition. . .a proud heritage of facing humanity’s scariest and most intractable problems head on: we defeated fascism, we stood down the spread of totalitarianism, we confronted the evil of legalized racism within our own society. We have expanded the notions of freedom and justice for all the world and for all future generations. Your discussion of a Voting Rights Act tonight is an important demonstration of this great heritage we all share. We are not perfect, but we have done great things together, and there is already greatness in us today.
So please pass this resolution because our nation needs reminding of our great heritage and our present greatness. Our inaction on climate change is beneath us. Our national inaction on climate change is a betrayal of our great heritage. Climate change is a tragic and heavy topic and our national leaders have run from it.
Please pass this resolution tonight because America needs reminding that this is not who we are; it is not the American way to run from this great problem; to turn our backs on our children and future generations. We are better than this.
Educators, we are a cohort of millions of mandated reporters----and we can be silent no longer. Inaction on climate change is, at best, intergenerational neglect on a massive scale. We can be silent no longer.
We can speak up. We can speak up with one voice. The educational sector----90,000 school board members, 3 million teachers, 10s of millions of students and families, ---the educational sector can be rallied to wake America up, to remind us that it is in our nature to face this great problem with greatness---courage, compassion, ingenuity, and drive. This is the American way.
Sonoma County school board members are already leading the way; They have shown school communities across the country how to speak with an organized, non-partisan, respectful, patriotic voice, to help break the climate action logjam in DC. Republicans and Democrats can work together to pass fair, effective common sense national climate policies.
So I respectfully urge you to pass this resolution tonight and then work to energize school board members and school communities across this great nation to face this problem head on in order to protect our precious students and future generations. Thank you.
Kaya Weber statement to WSCUHSD Board on 3.7.18. Board passed their resolution that night.
Stakeholder Category: Student-top-level stakeholder
My name is Kaya Weber and I’m a senior at Analy High School. I have been a part of Schools for Climate Action since we formed last summer. We are a grassroots organization that works with school boards to speak up about the issue of climate change. Climate change is something I want to take action on because it is a pressing issue. Climate change shouldn’t be a partisan issue, nor a political issue at all. Climate change is a human rights issue, and deals with the future of our environment.
Children all over the world are dealing with the consequences of the pollution that older generations have put into the Earth’s atmosphere. Children are the ones who will have to deal with cleaning this mess up. And education plays a large part in how a child grows into an adult who feels empowered to take a stand. Education has helped me find the confidence and community I need to make a difference, and I hope all students can feel that way. Our education system should work to inspire and teach students how they can take action. If your generation and my generation fails to address climate change, we are looking at a questionable future for all people. That is why we must work together to make some huge changes.
Tonight, the WSCUHSD is voting on a resolution to address climate change in the school district. I am so grateful that Superintendent Kellner has placed the climate resolution on the agenda, and I’m grateful that the board is willing to discuss it. I urge you all to vote to pass the resolution. School boards are the only group of elected officials who are working just for the students, and the resolution is a step to help protect the students from the dire effects of climate change. This resolution will not only help reduce emissions, but also make students more aware of the implications of climate change and how to take action. Tonight, we have a chance to show our students, teachers, parents, and community members that we mean business, and we will NOT be silent on this issue. Thank you for all you do for us at Analy, El Molino, and Laguna. Again, I urge you all to pass the resolution. Thank you.