The Parkland students who mobilized in the wake of that school shooting have been a much-needed bright spot in our gridlocked and polarized political discussions about gun violence and the reach of the Second Amendment. But the most wonderful thing about this group of poised and effective youngsters is they aren’t the only ones. A young, determinedly activist generation is emerging, and demanding that we adults get our acts together.

Much of the activism concerns climate change. A 15-year old recently confronted world leaders at a U.N. meeting about climate change, demanding action.

This 15-year-old has got something to say, and on June 29th, the United Nations General Assembly heard him loud and clear.

Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez stood before the representativesand spoke earnestly and boldly (without notes, for the record) about the urgency of climate change, urging them to take action immediately. “What’s at stake right now is the existence of my generation,” he said in his speech. “In the last 20 years of negotiations, almost no agreements have been made on a bonding climate recovery plan,” he said.

Another 15-year old, Sweden’s Greta Thunberg, is also demanding action.

Fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg has been protesting for more than a month. Before the country’s parliamentary election on September 9th, she went on strike and sat on the steps of the parliament building, in Stockholm, every day during school hours for three weeks. Since the election, she has returned to school for four days a week; she now spends her Fridays on the steps of parliament. She is demanding that the government undertake a radical response to climate change. She told me that a number of members of parliament have come out to the steps to express support for her position, although every one of them has said that she should really be at school.

And in October, a federal court ruled that a lawsuit brought by American children, asserting that they have a constitutional right to a habitable planet, could proceed.

A lawyer for a group of young Americans suing the federal government over climate change said a judge’s decision Monday to allow the suit to move forward should clear the way for a trial to begin on Oct. 29.

The suit, which was brought by 21 children and young adults, accuses federal officials and oil industry executives of violating their due process rights by knowing for decades that carbon pollution poisons the environment, but doing nothing about it.

 “When the climate science is brought into the courtroom it will result in the judge finding that the government is committing constitutional violations,” said the lawyer for the kids, Phil Gregory.

It isn’t just climate change, however. In a suit that warms the cockles of my old, cold heart, Rhode Island, students are suing to force schools to teach civics.

Aleita Cook, 17, has never taken a class in government, civics or economics. In the two social studies classes she took in her four years at a technical high school in Providence, R.I. — one in American history, the other in world history — she learned mostly about wars, she said.

Left unanswered were many practical questions she had about modern citizenship, from how to vote to “what the point of taxes are.” As for politics, she said, “What is a Democrat, a Republican, an independent? Those things I had to figure out myself.”

Now she and other Rhode Island public school students and parents are filing a federal lawsuit against the state on Thursday, arguing that failing to prepare children for citizenship violates their rights under the United States Constitution.

The student plaintiffs allege that the state has failed to equip its students with the skills to “function productively as civic participants” and has failed to provide them with the information they need if they are to be capable of voting, serving on a jury and simply understanding the nation’s political and economic life.

The state allows local school districts to decide for themselves whether and how to teach civics, and the lawsuit says that leads to big discrepancies. Students in affluent towns often have access to a rich curriculum and a range of extracurricular activities, like debate teams and field trips to the State Legislature, that are beyond the reach of poorer schools.

The lawyers for the plaintiffs hope the case will have implications far beyond Rhode Island, and potentially prompt the Supreme Court to reconsider its 45-year-old ruling that equal access to a quality education is not a constitutionally guaranteed right.

I seem to recall a movie titled “The kids are all right.” These kids certainly are; in fact, they’re better than all right. They’re great.

I hope they kick our butts.


  1. Great news! The youth are rebelling loudly and clearly. I hope that they win these lawsuits and bring even more lawsuits against the powerful wealthy corporate interests who have been raping our land and our society for their own greedy benefit.

  2. Thank you for acknowledging our young people. They know they have a fight ahead of them because the corruption we’ve allowed to gridlock our country won’t easily give up the power they’ve bought over the years.

    And for you die-hard democrats, yes, that means you as well. Both political parties work for their donors. It takes a lot of spinning, much like we saw yesterday from Chuck Schumer and Chuck Todd, to make Americans believe these two Chuck’s have our best interests at heart.

    They’re both highly paid frauds. Actors, nothing more.

    I wrote an article yesterday about Greta Thunberg. If the link Sheila used doesn’t work, here’s one to her speech:

    It’s worth your 5 minutes if even, to listen to her mic dropping finale:

    “We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past, and you will ignore us again. We have run out of excuses, and we are running out of time. We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people. Thank you.”

    It’s hilarious that the parliamentarians would advise Greta to go back to school where they can dumb her down and mold her into a nice non-thinking worker drone. 😉

    The Democratic National Party is in for a rude awakening come January. Get ready for censorship and propaganda to ramp up a few degrees as our Fascist government is used to clip more of the rough edges from the fringe hoping Americans will accept the slop from their approved media sources.

  3. Climate Change and Global Warming are tightly locked together; both are in lockstep with general health conditions throughout this country and the world. This locks attempts to deny quality, reasonably priced health care into this government’s denial of the science of Climate Change and Global Warming; all to increase profits for the health care system and corporations continued and escalating pollution of the entire environment. It is, as always, down to FOLLOW THE MONEY which is the same basis for the NRA. These students see the full picture and are willing to fight against allowing it to continue.

    “The student plaintiffs allege that the state has failed to equip its students with the skills to “function productively as civic participants” and has failed to provide them with the information they need if they are to be capable of voting, serving on a jury and simply understanding the nation’s political and economic life.”

    This is the system these students are protesting at this time; this system will no longer be in place to stifle their seeking factual knowledge when the Trump/Pence/DeVos “God’s Kingdom” education system is put into place. The areas of interest in their demands, like their demands for gun control, won’t be found in the Bible which will be their primary text book unless we rid the government of the current “money changers”.

    When Trump’s government shut-down happens – and it WILL happen within days – because the same Republican Congress is still in place to support his ridiculous demands for a wall. Contrary to what they say against him or the wall, they always vote FOR whatever he demands of them.

    “Out of the mouths of babes” applies here. The states may “allow school districts to decide for themselves whether and how to teach civics” but local government control the school districts.

  4. i would applaud all the students who reconize,all,of the above. as a non grad high school,1972 at 17 and joining the navy, to escape bakerfield calif,( i was new to this area,and found it repulsive to divesrity,and its citizens,I being from the ny,nj metroarea) failure in civics education,as i lookback, is a failure to have the young enter a world,unprepared for life. though i will say,civics wasnt my best study,i did however keep informed via the news of the day, about what and when. the vietnam war was still at its worst,walter,david,peter,mike,and alot of independant journalists,all the news you needed. but,we also back then had questions,and queationed the authority. todays students are picking that up again. i dont know when we lost civics,but i can atest,after 39 years driving truck, people have lost its sense of questioning authority. like just let it kick you to,the curb,and take it. i,support the ACLU for this reason,and point fingers at authority,, as this my civic duty, as i see it ..yes,,is it your civic duty.. do you have the right to decide w hat law is good and bad,yes. can you vote them out,yes. in this age of trumpism, i can see the issues as if they slapped me in the face. and they have. as i lay blame,i see ignorance at the ones who vote today,not to see common elements taking your civic duty,and denying you of your rights in all aspects of this new world/nationalism order. i can and will support the rights of anyone,tripped up by those who deny you a hard fought freedom,your right to question and act,against so called authority. too many lay down and allow that bus to run you over. Thanks to a few kids,(my words) they are in the media circle now,and will be kicked,lied to and savaged by thise who feel we,the people,have no right to question authority. dont give in,but also,be spot on in your decisions,and keep fighting. dont allow others to influence you,as they have obviously been doing since reagans term of lies. best wishes,we really need you today,tommarow,and the future of this countries survival for all Americans… best wishes to all in this fight

  5. I just want to know what Todd is smoking!

    Those kids seem to have it together and want it fixed and now! YES!

  6. Yes, it’s wonderful that our children are speaking out. “A child shall lead them…” seems appropriate in that we have so many of them masquerading as adults in our governments around the world. On the other hand, it’s pathetic that the children and their parents have to sue governments to (1) teach the children they need to know for the future of the countries and the planet, (2) to awaken the sleeping and active corruption by capitalist-run governments that are wantonly destroying the planet and (3) sue to make our children safe from gun-toting lunatics of all ages.

    Apart from Todd’s daily visit into his locker of horrors and his daily attacks on the Democrats, the writers on this blog seem to grasp the issues firmly. I’m sure all of us are active in some way. I was a public school educator in Colorado Springs when the Columbine massacre happened. My wife’s partner had a son at Columbine H.S. that day. One of my students lost a cousin to the shooters. Results from government? Making gun laws more relaxed.

    No wonder our children have to resort to suing. It’s the only way to get somebody’s attention. But when we have compromised fools on our Supreme Court like Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, don’t expect much to get fixed.

    I’m glad I’m old.

  7. While I commend the students for their efforts to get civics back in the classroom; I cannot help but to wonder where their parents are.
    What we have too much of in this country is ignorance breeding ignorance.

  8. I applaud the efforts of the children and I pray that they may become neither disillusioned nor co-opted in the future.

  9. Todd at 8:45am
    “these two Chuck’s have our best interests at heart”

    Let’s watch our distracting plurals and possessives.

  10. ….and Todd, again, “The Democratic National Party is in for a rude awakening come January.”

    And the GOP had its kick in the ass on November 6th. Expect more in January.

    Now the kids, too are giving the GOP “what for” !!

  11. OMG,

    LOL. Well done. As a former English teacher, I concur. I hate it when I re-read my posts and discover errors. Keep fighting the good fight.

  12. Vernon @7:36am:
    ” But when we have compromised fools on our Supreme Court like Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, don’t expect much to get fixed.”

    We’re watching Kavanaugh and he voted right the other day. Forget (or impeach) Thomas. He has laughed at us on his way to the bank for decades. Remember? Thomas, after assaulting Anita Hill with sexual innuendos, and after promising to vote issues always as a clone of Scalia, was rewarded by being seated on SCOTUS for life, never opened his mouth in oral arguments until after Scalia’s passing. Glad? Applaud one of the ‘Shrubs’.

  13. Bravo to all the youth! I deeply admire all the youth of our country who are standing up and using their voices to bring attention to gun violence and climate change. It reminds me of the courage of the youth and civil rights activists in the 60’s.

    They also, I believe, need to stand for campaign finance reform and an end to gerrymandering so that we have a government that represents all its citizens, not just the wealth and not just conservatives or progressives.

    And those of us who are older need to stand up for further health care reform especially since this administration is trying to maintain the status quo in healthcare. I miss the days as an RN when no one had to worry about a huge bill for a life saving medical procedure. The health care system should worry more about its patients and less about their profits.

  14. Cynic that I sometimes am, I read Sheila’s offering today and the first thing that popped into my mind was > “What kind of a country is this when students have to sue in order to become knowledgeable citizens equipped to understand issues, vote etc.?” Then it occurred to me to applaud such student activism in trying to become rounded and thoughtful citizens – and I do.
    Why are we so enamoured with teaching reading, writing and arithmetic to prepare our students for a lifetime in the corporate maw but teach them little or nothing about the economic and political practices of such maws? That profit is good but regulation is bad? That unions are peopled by socialists when in truth it is the rich and corporations who are enjoying the fruits of government-sponsored socialism?
    Such spin and tax-deductible propaganda should be challenged by state-approved curricular requirements in economics, history and government in every state. (The State School Board of Texas has removed civics from the state’s high school curriculum in a back to the cave move designed to “keep ’em dumb and manipulatable.”) I suppose the board has decided that wildcatters in the West Texas oilfields don’t need to know nothin’ about supply and demand, why their grandchildren will be paying for the Trump/Ryan giveaway to the superrich with mind-boggling deficits etc.
    So is there a long term vast right wing conspiracy afoot designed to keep this near lord-serf arrangement intact? It sure looks like it, and kudos to the young who, getting no relief from the executive and legislative branches, are seeking judicial relief. It’s their future, and they should certainly have standing in any court of competent jurisdiction to bring that to the attention of all of us. Go for it, kids!

  15. Interesting to me is the fact that people are willing for kids to do the “speaking up” and they are not.

  16. I certainly applaud the anyone young or old who can bring Progressive Issues in the light. The problem is moving them forward into our political reality. It is disappointing but totally expected the to hear the pundits on CNN and MSDNC when they try to prop up a Corporate Joe Biden run in 2020. Biden took two previous shots at the presidency and to my knowledge never won a primary.

    Two people the pundits never mention are Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren for 2020 run. Sanders or Warren would align well with the Progressive Movement among young people.

  17. I think that there is a difference between Donald Trump and all of the other players in DC. He is stupid, they are smart.

    We have forced them to play a destructive game. We have allowed a system wherein to be in DC they have to advertise heavily every election year. That cost millions of dollars. Unless they have unlimited funds laying around like Trump does, that requires wealthy donors who do. It’s very hard for people working very hard to just survive to come up with much money in comparison even if we are so much greater in number.

    We can complain all that we want but until campaign reform becomes real and nobody has to pay for campaigns both because the money comes from our taxes and because campaigns are limited to a few and only informative means like debates, nothing will change.

    Notice that that’s the common theme of the children’s crusades; nothing is getting done. The inevitable future requires much to be done and nothing is. Why? The status quo is funding election campaigns.

    Such a simple problem to solve.

  18. I guess it’s okay to cheer the kids, but don’t let the educational excellence of the top 1% blind you to the utter failure of the rest. The acumen gap between our most sentient students and the rest of America’s “students” mirrors the income gap and is just as dangerous. It may also evolve from the same cause.

  19. This year the Newtown national Vigil in Honor of 6th Anniversary of Sandy Hook really emphasized the impact of youth on the push to bring sanity to Gun Violence Prevention. Their concerted force of will has shown these voices to be strong and vibrant – and uncompromising in their effort to make change for their lives.
    Great read Sheila. I am going to send this to the coordinator of the #Enough San Diego who sponsors our youth group!

  20. Good on ya: Sheila, Nancy, ALG, Theresa Bowers, Peggy Hannon, OMG and Vernon (for those pesky grammar and punctuation issues), and finally, Shorty.

    The kids truly are the future and they’re coming out swinging! Good on each young person who is takin’ care of bidness (TCB, for our Elvis fans!). My daddy pronounced it ‘bidness,’ so that made it OK. 😉

  21. My sense is that current educational outcomes reflect the bipolar distribution of our adult population in term of one peak for well informed and the other for unable to learn.

    Do any of you educators have data to prove or refute that?

  22. Hey Pete! There likely are studies and data out there. We even get a thrill when we hear ‘data’ (which is actually plural) pronounced and used correctly (Ex: These data are proof of what we have been saying all along.) The correct pronunciation is actually DAY ta [long a], not DAT a [short a]. The mountain of incorrect usage and pronunciation is just too high to tackle today, and the incorrect punctuation is insurmountable! Class dismissed.

  23. Need to support Adult Education
    See Trump’s elementary spelling goof tweet today. He ignores Spell-Chek in favor of his own constructs:

    seperate vs separate
    Tell your mirror, Donnie, what a great POTUS you are. You’ll believe it in your dyslexic kindergarten.

  24. There has been discussions here about child hood education in schools and teachers.

    This article from the Intercept shocked me.
    A Texas Elementary School Speech Pathologist Refused to Sign a Pro-Israel Oath, Now Mandatory in Many States — so She Lost Her Job.

    She was prepared to sign her contract renewal until she noticed one new, and extremely significant, addition: a certification she was required to sign pledging that she “does not currently boycott Israel,” that she “will not boycott Israel during the term of the contract,” and that she shall refrain from any action “that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with Israel, or with a person or entity doing business in Israeli or in an Israel-controlled territory.”

    The sole political affirmation Texans like Amawi are required to sign in order to work with the school district’s children is one designed to protect not the United States or the children of Texas, but the economic interests of Israel.

    One of the first states to impose such repressive restrictions on free expression was New York. In 2016, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order directing all agencies under his control to terminate any and all business with companies or organizations that support a boycott of Israel. “If you boycott Israel, New York State will boycott you,” Cuomo proudly tweeted, referring to a Washington Post op-ed he wrote that touted that threat in its headline.

    Wow, so much for the Land of the Free and the Home of Brave. Your First Amendment Rights can be taken away from you.

  25. Betty – @12:51pm Monday, December 17th.
    If you check Wicktionary’s audios you will find pronunciation for “data” is given thus for English usage:

    DAYTA – – – – – – U.S., UK, Ireland
    DAHTA – – – – – U.S., Ireland, Canada
    DAHTA – – – – – UK(formal), Australia, New Zealand, S. Africa

    So, in the U.S., according to Wicktionary, you have the option of using DAYTA or DAHTA.

    Betty December 17, 2018 at 2:51 pm
    Hey Pete! There likely are studies and data out there. We even get a thrill when we hear ‘data’ (which is actually plural) pronounced and used correctly (Ex: These data are proof of what we have been saying all along.) The correct pronunciation is actually DAY ta [long a], not DAT a [short a]. The mountain of incorrect usage and pronunciation is just too high to tackle today, and the incorrect punctuation is insurmountable! Class dismissed.

  26. OMG; thank you, thank you, thank you! Betty’s editing and correcting our comments, grammar, spelling and terminology has long irritated me. I have wanted to ask if she has been hired as the blog English grammar teacher or if she is a frustrated ex-teacher.

    Of course; my irritation could stem from the years ago total embarrassment in front of my English Grammar class when I asked for clarification of an instruction and the Tech High School teacher, Jean Wells, responded with, “That is a stupid question; you are the dumbest student I have ever had.” Throughout my 12 years of school; I remember three teachers, the other two actually taught me something.

Comments are closed.