Sunday, December 10, 2023

OPINION: Students call for attention to environmental issues

| September 6, 2023 1:00 AM

Since 1881, the Coeur d’Alene Public School District has been providing high quality education to members of the larger Kootenai County area. The district has understood that education must be adaptable; when significant events occur, education undergoes changes. We update our curriculum to ensure that students comprehend pertinent current affairs, equipping them for their inevitable entry into the workforce and their lives at large.

With that being said, the Coeur d’Alene Public School District is failing to prepare students for increasingly severe local environmental issues. Our summers are breaking records — 109 degrees Fahrenheit (record set in 2021), 94 degrees Fahrenheit in June (record set in 2023) and 108 degrees Fahrenheit in July (record set in 2021).

Despite rising temperatures and growing local environmental hazards, we're not teaching students to prevent or adapt to them. Unlike districts facing hurricanes and tornadoes, our district lacks the critical environmental education necessary for tackling our unique climate challenges: the threat of wildfires and heatwaves. The recent fire season devastated parts of our community, which underscores the importance of enhancing our students' environmental knowledge, even if our region does not experience the same threats as others.

Therefore, we call on the district to explore ways to introduce age-based environmental education into our schools. This means teaching students how to manage these environmental disasters. In addition, it is essential to ensure that current and any new K-12 curriculum contains accurate, relevant and up-to-date information. The said curriculum must allow for the teaching of local environmental issues, as well as those occurring around the world.

Our school district must also take immediate action to reduce its own ecological footprint, because ultimately, Gen Z and every generation to follow will be forced to bear the consequences of the inaction to protect our planet. A strong commitment to clean energy, which acknowledges the fiscal responsibility of switching to renewables, along with a disaster plan that isn't solely reactionary but also transforms schools into community hubs during times of need, while also assisting students and the community in personal disaster preparedness, are avenues the district must consider if it aims for a safer and better future for its students.

Today, we earnestly call upon the board of trustees and Dr. Hocker to collaborate with students, using channels such as our Student Advisory Group, to take decisive action and establish a bold conservation commitment for the Coeur d'Alene Public School District.

• • •

Luke Sharon is the Lake City High School Student Body president. Andi Jane Howard is the Coeur d'Alene High School Student Body president.


Andi Jane Howard

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