By Oren Kadosh, LNS Legal and Policy Researcher
For the past several months, LNS has had the privilege of convening the monthly meetings of a newly formed Educators Climate Action Network (ECAN), formed by union educators across the United States in both the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA). ECAN’s monthly meetings have thus far each been composed of ECAN members or outside experts coming to present on a primary topic of discussion chosen in advance. Monthly meetings have focused on topics such as climate justice demands in bargaining, climate justice curriculums and education standards in schools, and the building and retrofitting of green, healthy public schools. There have been richly informative presentations and discussions at each meeting and an impressive repository of resources has already been assembled on each meeting topic.
While this space has been fruitful, and while the creation of space for solidarity and collective learning is a prerequisite for movement building, there is also a desire among members to construct the network further into an organized body for exercising power. ECAN members are now starting to act where they are, organizing for action such as: getting interdisciplinary school curriculum and cross-cutting educational standards on climate justice passed into law at local and State levels; turning their schools into solar powered “resilience hubs” capable of providing power and cooling to community members during climate emergencies and related weather events; and bringing community members into their contract bargaining committees while incorporating community-informed green retrofitting of schools as major contract bargaining demands, beyond exclusively their own demands as workers. LNS will continue to support the development of this exciting formation. If you wish to be involved, please visit bit.ly/LNSECAN to sign up, as well as share the link and our flyer with your fellow union educators!