Friday, September 13, 2019

School Scope: Will NYC Students Join Global Climate Walkout?

Since I wrote this on Tuesday, the DOE has announced that students will be excused to attend the rally.

School Scope

Will NYC Students Join Global Climate Walkout?


Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg blew into town and is making waves over the threats from climate change and leading a global strike on Friday, Sept. 20 with a rally and march starting at noon at Foley Square in lower Manhattan. If the word has caught on, we may see disruptions in schools where there are student leaders promoting a walkout. It will be interesting to see if students in Rockaway, one of the more endangered areas of the city by climate change, take part. Let me know if you hear of anything brewing.

Author Jonathan Franzen in this week’s The New Yorker says that the people fighting climate change are in essence misleading us just as much as the Republican deniers – giving us hope that we still have a chance. Greta is offering hope but he thinks we should be preparing for the consequences. He points out that “we’ve made essentially no progress toward reaching [the target of keeping below 2 degrees Centigrade]. Today, the scientific evidence verges on irrefutable. If you’re younger than sixty, you have a good chance of witnessing the radical destabilization of life on earth—massive crop failures, apocalyptic fires, imploding economies, epic flooding, hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing regions made uninhabitable by extreme heat or permanent drought. If you’re under thirty, you’re all but guaranteed to witness it.” Phew! I’m out of that zone and have no direct descendants to worry about. But if I did—- well, I do wonder about the proud Republican parents in Rockaway, one of the first places to go in what Franzen calls The Climate Apocalypse.

I wonder how one would teach children about climate change and risk scaring them to the extent we children of the 50s were frightened about the coming nuclear wars by hiding under our school desks during drills?
In the good news department, I attended the Labor Day Parade celebrating unionism on the first Saturday after Labor Day. It was thrilling to see the streets thronged with thousands of unionists proudly wearing their teeshirts. Construction workers and teachers marching together. I of course marched with the UFT contingent and didn’t get much of a chance to engage people from other unions. Given that there are about 200 thousand UFT members, 99 percent stayed home and those who showed were among the most committed. Yes, there is a gap between what I call the 1 percent committed and the rest and closing this gap should be a goal of UFT leaders, but I won’t be holding my breath.

Unionists from both sides of the political divide were marching together. Even the divide between UFT members and their bosses in the Council of Supervisor Associates (CSA) – the principals and assistant principals. Former CSA leader Ernie Logan was the Grand Marshal of a Labor Day parade? The very same people who have made so many teacher lives miserable? How we are all unionists when one is the boss is beyond me. But the UFT leaders often use “we are all unionists” as a reason not to attack mad dog principals.

Norm is a mad dog when he blogs at

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