On Wednesday, September 22, the San Mateo County Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools adopted a resolution committing themselves to take action to make their schools and facilities more sustainable and climate ready as part of Climate Action Week. The resolution represents a further commitment of the San Mateo County Office of Education and Board of Education to ensure that all San Mateo County schools are “climate ready” or able to both mitigate the causes of climate change and adapt to its impacts.
Schools play a key role in the county’s climate change response efforts. Educators can empower students with the knowledge, skills, and voice to better understand climate change and contribute to solutions to address it. School leaders can also ensure their facilities and practices are as environmentally sustainable and climate ready as possible.
The San Mateo County Office of Education is expanding its already-robust menu of services to help schools and districts become more sustainable and climate ready and is working with key partners, including San Mateo County’s Office of Sustainability, to launch the Sustainable and Climate Ready Schools Partnership Network to support administrators and leaders in creating more sustainable campuses and operations. The County Office of Education is also planning an event later in the fall to elevate the work to create climate-ready schools in the county.
Recognizing its leadership in environmental literacy, the California Legislature appropriated $6 million for the County Office of Education to create free and open education resources on climate change and environmental justice. The County Office of Education will be working closely with Ten Strands to create this curriculum for use in schools across the state.
“Momentum is growing in San Mateo County to engage schools in efforts to address climate change. Many of our district and school leaders have stepped up and are ready to partner with county and city officials to create climate-ready schools," explained San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Magee. “I look forward to expanding these partnerships as this is clearly not work that schools can do alone.”
Building environmental awareness in San Mateo County is bolstered by the release of important plans amplifying the role of schools in addressing climate change. These include the U.S. Department of Education’s first Climate Adaptation Plan, a framework for integrating climate adaptation and mitigation into school operations and facilities. The plan acknowledges that climate change presents a real and grave threat, includes commitments to improve sustainable operations both internally as well as in organizations receiving federal funding for education, and designates a new Chief Adaptation Officer to implement the plan. Additionally, the Aspen Institute released its K12 Climate Action Plan, which outlines policy recommendations for federal, state, and local governments to catalyze and scale climate action in the education sector.