Superintendent Juneau and School Board members:
I received Superintendent Juneau’s letter in response to the unanimously-passed Seattle City Council resolution, and to my letter addressed to you. In both the Council resolution and in my letter, the School District is urged to stand with students courageously walking out Friday this week, September 20th, as part of the global youth climate strike, and grant students excused absences for the strike action.
I am incredibly proud of the young people, here and around the world, working to build a fighting movement for climate justice. Actions by students and workers stand in stark contrast to the inaction in response to climate change by public officials and corporate-dominated parties. Earlier today, I stood with several Seattle students in front of Washington Middle School, as they declared their intention to take action for climate justice this Friday.
If you were to declare excused absences for the climate strike, it will undoubtedly have a transformative impact on the number of students able to participate. Youth turnout on Friday will, in turn, have implications for the movement, and the School District shares responsibility along with other city leaders. The New York City School Board is supporting students going on strike. The Seattle Education Association just passed a resolution supporting students.
Contrary to what Superintendent Juneau suggests in her letter to City Council, the school district’s own rules allow for excused absences if the district was to decide that it was community activity worthy of being excused. However, at the end of the day, it is not really about what is written in the rule book. It is about acting to avert the climate catastrophe.
As Washington Middle School student Zoe Schurman said this morning, addressing the School District, “ You have the power to help hundreds, maybe thousands, of Seattle school children. Will you use that power for the better or for the worse?”
I urge you to reconsider your position, and to stand with the students and with the fight for climate justice by declaring that student absences on Friday will be excused.