Student Climate Activists Rally at Board of Education

Student climate advocacy group MoCo Students on Climate held a rally Friday to demand climate action from Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). 

Students gathered with signs outside the east entrance of the Board of Education office in Rockville. According to their petition, their demands to MCPS are:

“1. New MCPS buildings will not contribute to any new greenhouse gas emissions.

  1. MCPS will retrofit buildings and report energy use and efficiency of all buildings starting with the lowest energy efficiency.
  2. MCPS will immediately apply for the three free electric buses available to it and only contract for electric buses from now on.
  3. MCPS will incorporate climate change education that includes the role of industry and government policy, not just lifestyle choices, into elementary, middle and high school curricula.
  4. MCPS will establish a student-led joint faculty climate change recommendation group to suggest policies schools can follow to model a low-greenhouse gas lifestyle. It will take its lead from MCPS employees and front-line communities of color affected by the policies.
  5. MCPS will establish three excused absences per year for civic action.”

Rosie Clemans-Cope, a sixth grader at Thomas W. Pyle Middle School in Bethesda, said she’s negotiating with her school principal to allow walkouts. 

Clemans-Cope led student walkouts for climate change last year at her elementary school. She met 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg two weeks ago, who inspired her to do the same in middle school. 

 

“Getting an agreement with administration is very, very hard to do,” said the 11-year-old. “But I’m not going to give up because talking to kids about the climate crisis is crucial to our futures.”

County Executive Marc Elrich also spoke at the rally. He supported the students there and encouraged them to grow their numbers.

“It’s not surprising that young people lead. Young people led the opposition to the Vietnam War. Young people were in the lead in the Civil Rights Movement,” Elrich said. “It is not surprising to see young people out here taking the lead on climate change. It is absolutely the right thing to do.”

Last Friday kick started a busy week for climate activism. Global climate strikes across more than 150 countries took place on Sept. 20, and the United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019 was on Sept. 23.

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Maryam Shahzad

About Maryam Shahzad

Maryam is a broadcast journalism major at the University of Maryland and an intern at Montgomery Community Media. She graduates in December and wants to be a television reporter. She previously interned at WBAL-TV 11 and was a reporter for Capital News Service. Maryam loves videography and always says the movie is better than the book. She can be reached at mshahzad@mymcmedia.org or on Twitter @maryamUMD.

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