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Failing Students on Climate Change

Failing Students on Climate Change

Photograph Source Leonhard Lenz

Last Friday hundreds of thousands of students around the globe walked out of classrooms to demand that our political leaders take concrete steps to address the deadly threat of climate change. They are right, of course, that the generations of their elders, from millennials to baby boomer grandparents, have failed in our responsibility to preserve a livable future for our ever more crowded, ever more polluted and ever more endangered planet.

And while that’s a sad statement to make, it is an undeniable truth and a shameful guilt that should cause every one of the “elders” to think long and hard about whether they’re making the world better or worse for our young people.

The movement, characterized by various identifiers such as #fridaysforfuture#schoolstrike4climate and #climatestrike, is vast and growing. The strikes by young people staring an unlivable future in the face are now massive, but were inspired by a 16-year old Swede, Greta Thunberg, who has now been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. As Thunberg famously addressed the United Nations climate conference in Poland earlier this year: “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you’re stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”

Truer words were never spoken. Just look at what these young people are up against. Here in the United States, the second-largest producer of greenhouse gasses in the world, we have a president who not only doesn’t believe 97 percent of the world’s scientists who acknowledge human-caused climate change, he demands that we exert “energy dominance” by drilling, fracking, pumping and burning more fossil fuels than any nation on the planet.

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Students Are Pulling a Kaepernick All Over America — and Being Threatened for It

STUDENTS ARE BEING threatened with punishment for not participating in rituals surrounding the national anthem or Pledge of Allegiance — and they are fighting back.

Since NFL 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat during the national anthem in August to protest oppression of people of color, many Americans, particularly professional athletes and students, have followed suit. But their constitutional right to engage in such gestures of dissent is not always being respected.

Threats from school administrators and teachers have put free speech advocates like the ACLU on high alert. At Lely High School, a public school in Naples, Florida, the principal told students that they would be removed from athletic events if they refused to stand during the national anthem — though he said the quote was misunderstood when the ACLU of Florida reached out.

“You will stand, and you will stay quiet. If you don’t, you are going to be sent home, and you’re not going to have a refund of your ticket price,” Lely High School Principal Ryan Nemeth told students.

“The Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that public schools may not constitutionally force students to salute the flag,” Lee Rowland, a First Amendment attorney who works with the ACLU, told The Intercept. “That ruling is crystal clear about a student’s right not to be compelled into patriotism by their government, and it is over 70 years old.”

The ruling that Rowland references came after many Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States began to refuse to salute the flag in solidarity with their brethren in Nazi Germany who were being arrested for refusing to salute that country’s fascist flag.

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Google is Collecting Information on Public School Students – Here’s How

Google is Collecting Information on Public School Students – Here’s How

As a new parent, the idea of sending my children to public school is a frightening thought. The more you read, the more you realize the importance of extreme vigilance when it comes to what’s happening at whatever place you send your kids to for majority of their day. Quite often, parents are simply left completely in the dark about some very important matters.

One such example relates to Google’s penetration of the U.S. public school system, and how the company employs a loophole in order to collect data on children. Google achieves this by referring to itself as a “school official” under the law. I truly wish I was making this up.

From the Washington Post:

Google is a major player in U.S. education. In fact, in many public schools around the country, it’s technically a “school official.” And that designation means parents may not get a chance to opt out of having information about their children shared with the online advertising giant.

The combined allure of Google’s free suite of productivity tools and cheap laptops that use the company’s Web-based ChromeOS operating system have made Google’s products a popular choice at schools around the country. And the company’s growing dominance is raising concern from some privacy advocates who allege it is using some student data for its own benefit.

Google’s standard agreement for providing its education suite defines the company as a “school official” for the purpose of that student privacy law. In Google’s case, the company is providing software that districts might otherwise have to develop or support themselves, such as email services or tools that help students digitally collaborate on assignments.

But schools are supposed to have “direct control” of how a company or individual uses and maintains education records to deem them a “school official,” according to the department’s regulation. 

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Schools for Disaster: Rethinking Endless Growth in Education

Schools for Disaster: Rethinking Endless Growth in Education

We have good reason to be proud of our North American education system. Especially in the 70 years since the end of the Second World War, it’s helped to create and sustain more prosperity for more people than ever before in history. Higher education, once the privilege of a very few, is now considered essential for most careers.

Among our best-educated are the climate scientists who since the 1980s have tested and re-tested the theory that human activities are changing the climate. Despite the criticism many of them have endured, we trust them precisely because we trust their education.

Right from the start, North American public education was designed to assimilate immigrant and working-class children and prepare them for the workplace. To my generation of teachers who started in the 1960s and ’70s, it was the great equalizer — the way underprivileged kids would gain their share of the postwar golden age. Thanks to us they would get good jobs, vote and make this a better country.

We were just beginning to realize that “the environment” was a real issue. Problems like oil spills and smog and rivers catching fire were not the cost of progress — they were obstacles to progress. We teachers figured that our educated students would soon get around to cleaning up the planet.

Just as we didn’t foresee climate change, we didn’t foresee that our students would settle for a good job, two cars and a house in the suburbs, just as we had. A society built around endless growth and development was the subtext in everything we taught. Only with growth could we ensure more high-paying jobs and the promise of upward social mobility.

Consumption and more consumption

The purpose of such jobs and mobility, of course, is consumption and more consumption: a bigger SUV, a bigger house with more appliances, more air travel, more everything. More consumption demands more energy, especially fossil energy. Consuming energy costs money. And that is why business schools are crammed with students while liberal arts schools fight for their lives.

 

 

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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