Family & EducationFeature

Public Schools for the Future

Congrats to St. Paul Public Schools’ class of 2033. The class of 2033 just finished what was for many their first year of school and did so in the face of numerous challenges.  Let’s just for a moment look back at their first year. The class of 2033 faced near constant changes in how their learning was provided (virtual or in-person class), many faced food insecurity, housing instability, the loss of loved ones, and all faced at least some level of family stress. In spite of it all, the class of 2033 pushed forward and made it through.
  While I would like to think the worst challenges are behind the class of 2033, I know that not to be true. In particular, when we look at the planet’s current path regarding climate change, we know those challenges will likely worsen.  Let’s for a moment look ahead as to what some challenges for the class of 2033 will be.  Without bold and aggressive action to address our changing climate we know food insecurity will worsen, housing instability will increase, health conditions for kids and families will deteriorate and extreme weather will disrupt their overall learning.  Sadly, we all know that the class of 2033 already knows how weather can impact the school year, disrupt peer relationships, change end of year plans, etc.
  The only positive to this bleak outlook for the class of 2033 is that it could still change.  It could still be better. However, to make that outlook brighter, the class of 2033 needs the adults in their lives to demand historic change and movement towards climate justice.  In keeping things local and immediate, the SPPS class of 2033 need their school district (and communities) to be leaders in addressing this impending climate catastrophe. Many solutions are out there and it is up to us to show the class of 2033 we care by aggressively utilizing those solutions. One current solution available to SPPS is to embrace and develop community solar gardens on SPPS facilities. In doing this SPPS can take a tangible step to improve the environment for the class of 2033, along with providing (District and family) economic benefits, learning opportunities and so much more.
  In summary, I wonder what the class of 2033 will say as they finish high school in June 2033. Will they say our parents, teachers and elders did EVERYTHING they could and acted quickly to give us a healthy future? Or will they say, our parents, teachers and elders were too slow to act and now we have to suffer? None of us know the answer to that question, but each of us have a voice to influence that outcome. I encourage all of us to make that voice heard.  If you have not already you can sign the SPFE petition for SPPS Solar at If you have not already you can speak to SPPS Administration and Board members about this and other climate actions.  Whatever you do, we must remember time is short and the class of 2033 cannot wait for us any longer. 
Tom Lucy is a member of the St. Paul Federation of Educators and a social worker at the St. Paul Public Schools.

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