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Spokane Students Push For Action At Earth Day Event

Spokane students joined the worldwide 50th anniversary Earth Day celebration. They held a virtual event in which they put forth an agenda and tried to get school board members to commit to supporting some of it.

The event was sponsored by students from the group Sunrise Spokane. They showed videos of students talking about their motivation in working on the climate change issue. They listened to Greta Thunberg scold world leaders at a climate summit in New York. And they showed California Senator Diane Feinstein’s belligerent response when asked by young activists to support the Green New Deal.

The students are asking local officials to take action in three areas. Jadyn Malone called on the Spokane School District to adopt a K-12 climate literacy program.

“Young people need to know about these issues in order to be prepared to address them," she said. "So I’m wondering what are your thoughts about adopting a climate literacy curriculum for K-through-12 and would you commit to doing that?”

The recipients of that question were Spokane school board members Jerrall Haynes and Nikki Lockwood. Lockwood says climate-related information is already taught in science classes at several grade levels. The students responded by saying they thought the messages would be more impactful if they were pulled out and taught separately, something Lockwood wasn’t ready to commit to.

“Climate change issues are changing so quickly that to adopt a specific curriculum that’s not just introducing and discussing the topics at each grade level, or age appropriate, that would be outdated pretty quickly," she said.

The students also asked the board members if they would commit the district to changing its bus fleet to all electric vehicles. And they want the district to install solar panels on the roofs of all new and renovated schools. Board president Jerrall Haynes says the district has explored the idea with the city of Spokane and Avista.

“We’re trying to get a group rate or a group discount by engaging in that partnership with the city of Spokane and other entities around town, so that, if we’re operating on a much larger scale, would we be able to get lower rates for things like that?” Haynes said.

Earth Day online events, both worldwide and in Spokane, will continue Thursday and Friday.