Student Climate Strike Letter

Here is a letter by students from the Climate Strike Youth Coalition in Portland, Oregon, to the school district superintendent about their intention to strike on September 20 and their demands of the district. This could be a useful reference for students in other school districts. [Learn about related efforts in Portland to pass a Climate Justice Resolution.] 


August 27, 2019

Superintendent Guerrero,

On September 20th, youth from around Portland will be striking from school to demand climate action. Portland’s strike is part of a global movement calling for climate justice and the end of the age of fossil fuels. This movement has come out of Greta Thunberg’s Friday’s for the Future strikes where students leave classes and take part in demonstrations to demand action to prevent future climate chaos. The strikes have grown globally over the past year, including widespread participation this past March by PPS students. We will be marching again on September 20th to stand up for the future that we deserve. It is clear that youth have a unique perspective on the issue of climate justice, which is why it is so important for us to be taking strong action. We are youth who care about the future, youth who want to work toward solutions, youth who are willing to make sacrifices and stand up for what we believe in. That is why we are counting on Portland Public Schools to support us in this action.

In May 2016, the Portland School Board unanimously passed Resolution 5272. In May 2019, in response to student leader demands for implementation of Resolution 5272, Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero, wrote “I want to make clear our intent and commitment to following through on implementing the key elements of this resolution affirmed in 2016.” One of these key elements is that “All Portland Public Schools students should develop confidence and passion when it comes to making a positive difference in society, and come to see themselves as activists and leaders for social and environmental justice.”

We know that many students will want to join the Global Climate Strike and we are concerned that this be a safe, empowering, and educational experience for us. To that end, it is important that the district take action to support student leadership and activism in the face of the climate crisis. We respectfully demand the following from the district:

  • By September 5th, make sure that all administrators, teachers, coaches, and staff are aware of the September 20th All schools should be given clear, consistent guidelines for how they should respond to students participating in the strike in ways that do not penalize or inhibit participation
  • Allow students to do outreach in schools, including, but not limited to:
    • posters
    • morning announcements
    • speaking at assemblies
    • school social media
  • Ensure that students will not be penalized for missing classroom time on September 20th
    • No tests that day
    • Instruct teachers to provide opportunity for youth to make up missed material without penalty
  • Ensure that participation in the strike does not impact student participation in athletics (i.e., no penalties for students missing school or practice on that day). Athletes should not be penalized in practices or competition for an unexcused absence relating to the
  • Provide lessons about the climate crisis and the strike for teachers to utilize in all schools on the days leading up to or on the day of the Curriculum suggestions and resources can be provided by the PPS Climate Justice Committee
  • In order to facilitate safe routes for youth traveling to City Hall, we ask that you communicate with TRIMET about the need for extra buses on routes from schools to downtown on the morning of the
  • Set a date for a Climate Summit in spring 2020

Details of Event:

On September 20th, students will be leaving school with plans to gather across from City Hall at 10:30 am for a rally in Terry Schrunk Plaza. Youth and adults will then walk to the open area just south OMSI, crossing the river on the Hawthorne bridge. At this second location, there will be a family-friendly Climate Mobilization Festival with speakers, workshops and tabling extending through the afternoon. The youth organizers have obtained the necessary permits from the city for these locations and the march.

Sincerely,

Members of the Climate Strike Youth Coalition

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