NASA’s Global Climate Change website is dedicated to educating people about human influence on the environment. Under the “Scientific Consensus” tab it states,
“Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals1 show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities” (http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/).
When 97% of publishing climate scientists make the same observation, it should not only cause people to take notice, but spur them into action. Global warming is theorized to be behind the rise in catastrophic weather like hurricanes, extreme heat, excessive cold spells, floods, and erratic patterns of rain and drought.
An astounding number of educators in our traditional schools here in North Carolina would assert that there has been a significant change in the climate of the public school system whose terrain has also been victimized by floods of standardized tests, droughts of legitimate support from governing bodies, catastrophic storms of baseless criticism, the heat of reform efforts, and the freeze of privatization attempts.
In short, public education has been metaphorically altered by man-made climate change. And just like actual climate change, we as a state and as a nation are approaching a tipping point where the effects of climate change will be irreversible and our citizens will suffer.
Just like the many deniers of climate change and others who do not believe that humans have interfered with the health of the Earth, many people in North Carolina cannot conceive that what has happened to our public school system in the last four years has been detrimental to our schools and/or directly caused by uninformed politicians.
Simply look at the many claims coming from the governor’s office concerning his “Carolina Comeback” that includes assertions about teacher pay, graduation rate, funding, and college tuition and one can see a singular manufactured picture of what the governor wants you to believe North Carolina is at all times (https://www.patmccrory.com/results/). However, saying that we just experienced a day of mild temperatures and blue skies does not erase the fact that certain patterns have been put into place that erode both our physical environment and the public educational situation.
Man-made climate change in our public schools has included giving huge raises to a select few and claiming an erroneous average salary increase for all while ignoring veteran teachers.
It has included removal of due-process rights and graduate degree pay bumps.
It has included arbitrary evaluations systems and a push for merit pay where merit is based on standardized tests that do not measure growth.
It has included attacks on advocacy groups and the removal of class size caps.
It has included a revolving door of standardized tests constructed by for-profit entities and graded by outside institutions.
It has included a money-siphoning voucher system, unregulated charter school growth, and the creation of an Achievement School District, all of which have no history of success in other implementations.
It has included the use of a school grading system that literally displays the effects of poverty on public school children and the schools that service them.
The climate has severely suffered. Fewer students are entering the education field. Too many school systems have vacancies that still need to be filled. Veteran teachers are moving to other states, moving to other school systems, or beginning new careers.
And students are the victims. Not only do we leave them with a physical world that is rapidly losing its health, but we leave them unprepared because their public schools are not being properly funded.
We in North Carolina have just been witness to Hurricane Matthew. It wreaked havoc on our state and dumped tremendous amounts of rain on our towns and cities causing damage and flooding in places like Kinston and Lumberton. Even the Triad area experienced flooding. The governor to his credit declared a state of emergency for these areas opening monies and resources to be used so that all affected citizens can receive the help needed to rebuild and reclaim.
Has he and those in power on West Jones Street in Raleigh done the same for our public schools? Have they released the funds necessary for our teachers and staffs to make sure that we have a strong foundation of public education? They say they have, but they have not. The climate of public education is proof of that.
And we are reaching a point of no return. Therefore, it is incumbent that we combat the sources of educational climate change and it begins on November 8th. We have the power to place people in office who can stop this man-made climate change in our public schools.
So get out and vote.