Rob Roper said in his Sept. 21 commentary: “Is this really what we are paying some of the highest property taxes in the nation and, by some estimates, $22,000 a year per child for? Brainwashed children pouring out of their classrooms to disrupt our daily lives on behalf of political lobbyists?”
But I, too, have been convinced by the climate science news. I don’t consider scientific reports to be politically motivated, though it’s what may motivate political stands. It’s not political to say the planet is warming up and it’s hard to discern left from right when it becomes clear it is both possible and necessary, in a most profound sense, to take action that will change the course of climate change.
School children have never been in a world with this sort of possibility lurking in their immediate future. Is it responsible for educators to ignore this matter, and if they do tell it the way the vast majority of scientists see it, is it right to treat it as purely academic? If the message to all, regardless of political affiliations, is to look at the science, how distorted by political motives is that?
And faced with these realities, presented by the scientific community and impacting all of humanity everywhere, how are school children to react? They are a special group; they are the ones who will experience the brunt of this carbon intensive history.
It won’t do to just throw epithets like “brainwashed” and to try to call out schools for permitting their students to voluntarily march in protest. Sure, there are risks, but there are risks in most outside extracurricular activities. This is not a daily activity. All the subjects Mr. Roper is concerned that the students learn will be taught regularly and will support their ability to understand what is truly (look at the science) a threat to their future.
Perhaps there are schools out there that do not consider important real world events and only concentrate on academic “reading, writing, math, etc.” (would “etc.” include history and science?). School shootings and gun control, racial injustice and gender politics — are these subjects to be avoided?
I believe it is hard to isolate students these days from the events of the world. To do that is more like brainwashing and in the case of climate change — letting them see the science and that people all over the world are alarmed and ready to do something — is that not an appropriate part of their education? In fact, one demand of an early student protest in Montpelier was that they be educated about climate change.
The climate crisis is a different class of event from all the others. It threatens the survival of future generations. To deny that, Mr. Roper, you must prove it wrong, and you need science to do that. And why does protesting the climate crisis look like left wing politics to you? The “Green New Deal” is one proposal. Come up with a better one.
Bob Messing lives in Montpelier.