CUNY Conversations on Climate Crisis
The People’s Climate March of September 21 in New York City is of critical importance. It is very good that PSC is supporting it. Climate change is a problem about which anyone looking seriously at the evidence, and thinking ahead more than five years, can only come to the conclusion that radical new policies are urgently needed. Yet in the present situation the necessary changes will not happen without a push by a strong popular movement.
My point in writing this letter is that we at CUNY have a particular responsibility in this matter towards our students. I think it is our duty to reach out to them and encourage them to educate themselves about climate change and about the popular movement aimed at keeping it under control. Sufficient information cannot be gotten just from television programs, but it is not difficult to get the statements of The Union of Concerned Scientists, of 350.org, or of Friends of the Earth, to mention only some of the important organizations. Even easier is to get to the basic science-based sources: Statements of the National Academies, The World Bank Report of 2012, and mainly the recent UN Intergovernmental Climate Panel report. All these have easily readable clear summaries.
Inequality and Education
Our union, united with the UUP, NYSUT and others, successfully won college students in education an 18-month reprieve from EdTPA, the new State of New York evaluation system for student teachers. However, the struggle is far from over because basic attitudes have not changed significantly: national and state leaders still see teachers as the problem, overlooking deep inequalities and racism in our society. A recent Economic Policy Institute report shows declining incomes over the last three years in every income group except the top two-tenths.
Teachers, however dedicated and well trained, cannot overcome deep inequalities and entrenched and growing racism. There is an almost perfect correlation between school test scores, student performance, and teacher accomplishment with socioeconomic status. Such inequality is difficult to solve while pervasive in diminishing school performance.
Our US population is segregated by race, income and ethnicity. There are generally poorer performances from immigrant groups and minorities for reasons of poverty, language, and past and present racist and exclusionary policies.
The authorities are by no means finished with us or with EdTPA because they want to deflect attention from bigger problems by focusing on teachers at all levels as solely responsible for student performance, rather than all the stakeholders including parents, students, and leadership itself.
They want a cheap way out, and a smokescreen that hides underlying problems.