INDEPENDENT NEWS

Principals seek guidance over students climate strike

Published: Thu 28 Feb 2019 11:34 AM
Principals seek ministry guidance as students prepare for climate change strike action
John Gerritsen, Reporter
Principals are facing a dilemma over next month's school strike for climate change - should they punish students who wag school to protest, or encourage them?
Melbourne School Strike for Climate Action 2. Credit: Julian Meehan
Strike organisers said students from about 100 schools had signed up for the event on 15 March and principals said they had asked the Education Ministry for guidance.
One of the organisers of the strike in New Zealand, Sophie Handford, said she was not aware of any schools forbidding students from participating in the event.
"We've found a good mix - some wondering how it will fit into the curriculum, others not willing to be seen supporting it but they are kind of supporting it in the background. [At] some schools, the principals are really supportive," she said.
Ms Handford said some students were worried about missing a day of lessons or being recorded as truant and she urged them to consider what lack of action on climate change would mean for their future.
She said the strike had clear goals.
"We would like our government and governments worldwide to do everything in their power to limit global warming to no more than 1.5C because we know that once we get over that point of warming we are pretty much destined for catastrophic climate change and [there's] no turning back," Ms Handford said.
"This involves stopping all exploration for more fossil fuels and regulation [of] emissions from agriculture as well."
The ministry said it would provide schools with information but indicated that the strike could fall within the parameters of the curriculum.
Its deputy secretary, early learning and student achievement, Ellen MacGregor-Reid, said the curriculum included awareness of the environment and encouraged students to "take action as critical, informed and responsible citizens".
"As part of their curriculum schools may want to follow up on their students' interest in social issues such as climate change. This can include discussion of ways they might raise awareness of these critical issues in their communities, including costs and benefits of any proposed action," she said.
Mike Williams is the president of the
Secondary Principals' Association. Photo: SUPPLIED Secondary Principals' Association president Mike Williams said schools might be lenient with students who were active on environmental issues but would take a hard line if they thought students were just trying to get a day off school.
"It really needs to be a school-by-school decision about how they manage it," Mr Williams said.
"If you're in a school environment where you're heavily into environmental sustainability, got very active student groups who have been working on this for a while, then you might be a lot more lenient about how you handle it."
"But if it hasn't been a school focus, the school community hasn't been involved and suddenly they want to go on a strike day you're going to be a lot less sympathetic to the cause."
Mr Williams said schools might consider allowing some students to attend the climate strike for a limited amount of time.
New Zealand Secondary School Principals' Association Canterbury and West Coast president Phil Holstein said strike organisers sent schools in the region an email telling them the strike would be happening and asking them to inform their students.
He said that was an unusual approach and the association had asked the ministry for guidance.
"Principals are saying 'well how best do we respond to this' because this would be perhaps unprecedented the way it's come about," Mr Holstein said.
"I don't disagree with the intent at all, but it's the process that has caused the dilemma among principals."
RNZ
New Zealand's public broadcaster, providing comprehensive NZ news and current affairs, specialist audio features and documentaries.
Radio New Zealand is a Crown entity established under the Radio New Zealand Act 1995. Radio New Zealand News are vital elements in our programming, providing impartial news and information to New Zealanders every day. Radio New Zealand (RNZ) provides listeners with exciting and independent radio programmes in accordance with the Radio New Zealand Charter.

Next in Comment

Were journalists 'just doing their job' in the political resignation of Metiria Turei?
By: Sean Phelan and Leon Salter
Gordon Campbell on the extradition of Julian Assange
By: Gordon Campbell
Gordon Campbell: Islamic State Meets 'The Searchers'
By: Gordon Campbell
Learnings From CJR Analysis of Post-ChCh Media
By: Joseph Cederwall
News Deserts; The Death March of Local Journalism
By: Joseph Cederwall
The Effort to Relabel Julian Assange
By: Binoy Kampmark
Shredding Asylum: The Arrest of Julian Assange
By: Binoy Kampmark
Terms of Asylum and Distraction: Moreno’s Assange Problem
By: Binoy Kampmark
Grand Jury Efforts: Jailing Chelsea Manning
By: Binoy Kampmark
How You Can Be Certain The Charge Against Assange Is a Fraud
By: Caitlin Johnstone
10 Reasons Assange Should Walk Free
By: David Swanson
WikiLeaks Founder Charged in Computer Hacking Conspiracy
By: United States Department of Justice
CPJ troubled by prosecution of Julian Assange
By: Committee to Protect Journalists
AI Day 2019 panel sees the need to reboot journalism
By: Storicom
Journalism Has a Problem - It’s Called Capitalism!
By: Joseph Cederwall
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILEWe're in BETA! Send Feedback © Scoop Media