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Sorry, Seattle Public School kids, your Climate Strike attendance will not be excused

Seattle Public Schools students attending Friday’s Climate Strike at Cal Anderson are going to learn the first lesson of advocacy and public service: self sacrifice.

The district won’t be excusing any absences Friday.

Wednesday, District 3 representative Kshama Sawant joined students at S Jackson’s Washington Middle School in calling on the district to release its thousands of students from class on Friday so they can attend the rally without chalking up an unexcused absence.

A letter being sent to parents about Friday’s strike from Superintendent Denise Juneau

Officials say the district’s hands are tied due to board policy and state law. Multiple unexcused absences could spur disciplinary action by the district.

Private schools can take a nimbler approach. Capitol Hill’s Northwest School announced this week “that a majority of its faculty and student body” will be part of Friday’s strike.

CHS reported here on the return and hopes for growing Climate Strike efforts at Cal Anderson following another student-led strike in March when hundreds of students from schools around the region rallied in Cal Anderson to call for more to be done to address environmental damage and in support of Green New Deal initiatives. This week’s strike is being organized in conjunction with “2,500 strikes planned globally and over 650 in the US alone,” organizers say.

Monday, the Seattle City Council passed Sawant’s resolution supporting the strike. Included in that resolution was a call urging “Seattle Public Schools to support its students’ right to assemble and participate in the Global Climate Strike.”

Seattle Climate Strike

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12 thoughts on “Sorry, Seattle Public School kids, your Climate Strike attendance will not be excused

  1. Seattle Schools did the right thing and the Superintendent’s response to the Council was absolutely beautiful. Basically, “why don’t you talk to us before you pass resolutions on subject matter you have no authority over. Now take a walk.” A rare and lovely rebuke of our legislatively flatulent Council. Thank you Superintendent Denise Juneau.

  2. While I agree with what the superintendent said (the district is limited by state law), I feel that the situation is now put into parent’s hands. My kids get to take off one day a semester without having to justify the absence to me or anyone else. They often don’t choose to use it, but they feel better knowing it’s there. I have no problem excusing my child’s absence by telling their school they’re taking a mental “health” day. I have no problem lying to them, if it comes to it, and telling them my child is sick instead. The school has no need to know how I or my child choose take care of our mental health (like striking to save the world).

    • Actually, if no one knows your child was on strike, then the strike will have zero effect. It is always better to be truthful, for so many reasons.

  3. I loved the superintendent’s letter to the school board. This is a fantastic learning opportunity for students about activism and civil disobedience. Both of which have consequences. Each student needs to take the time to do their own cost/benefit analysis on whether or not an unexcused absence is worth it to them in order to make a point about climate change.

    The City Council has enough unfinished business on their plate and maybe should just keep their nose out of the the jurisdiction of other government entities. The framers of our state constitution clearly didn’t want city governments involved in education, so just stay out of it.

    • Um, her letter to the City Council.

      *Note to staff: the ability to edit and delete posts would be super cool. I might even be convinced to subscribe for that ability.

    • It’s a lose-lose for the children. No winning option. It’s like we think they have an obligation to suffer for the mess we’ve created.

    • Our planet is in CRISIS!!! If that wasn’t the case, then i would agree with you. HOWEVER, our planet is in CRISIS!!!

      Do you camp back country? Do you grow a vegetable garden? Are you certified in wilderness survival and first aid? You will need to be an EXPERT in ALL OF THOSE AREAS, in order to survive soon.

      SPS missed the boat on this CRITICAL gesture of solidarity and CONCERN for the FUTURE of our students and the planet.

      If you don’t get that, then your own privilege and ignorance needs to be checked. Because money will NOT save the planet, giving a shit and listening to our YOUTH will.

  4. I’m sorry this is a missed opportunity for our public schools – participation in events, such as tomorrow’s protest are great opportunities for kids to learn the multiple ways they can be active in their communities and also on the global stage. Why not have participation be part of a larger conversation about the power of participating from voting and letter to writing to lobbying to running for office or being active in nonprofits. Teaching participation and leadership as part of civics will make our world better and schools can be a huge part in this!

    • Yes, I agree. Schools should have an important role here. It’s a problem and also really too bad that state law limits what the district can do. This situation is the perfect opportunity for kids to learn about how laws (with the best of intentions or with contradictory intentions) cause unintended consequences, whatever the district’s position has to be. It’s time for teachers, parents, organizers and all the students themselves to step up and help facilitate the learning process! After all, isn’t it the intention of the organizers and participants to “educate” citizens and leaders on the crisis?

    • It’s a strike, not a field trip. Adults are walking off the job to be there. I have no doubt Seattle Schools will have a strong presence there, regardless of any class excuses. It’s very important for their future.

    • How about an old fashioned return to a ‘civics’ class in which students learn about the constitution and all the mechanics of government. Less trendy fads and more immersion in the basics of our republic will make for better (future) informed citizens.

  5. Both my Senior daughter and I are looking forward to the June 2020 graduation, and no longer having to deal with a public school systems whose ONLY concern is the BOTTOM LINE on their spread sheet. This is MOST evident in the school bus system, class sizes & teacher layoffs, and any form of advocacy by students.
    SHAME ON YOU SPS and the BOARD that represents it! Sounds like we need YOUNGER, more PROGRESSIVE thinkers to take your seats next election!