New Roots to rethink old education model
The State University of New York Board of Trustees approved the charter application last week for the New Roots Charter School, an innovative new high school that will be one of the first fully integrated models of education for sustainability at the secondary level in the nation. Students in my spring 2007 “Teaching Sustainability” course contributed to the development of the initial school concept paper, which provided the foundation for the charter application submitted in June.
Why this school, why here and why now? New Roots Charter School answers the call of the U.N. Decade for Education for Sustainable Development for the rethinking of education necessary to address the problems of the 21st century. Gov. David Paterson was quoted as saying, “Global warming presents each of us with a question. Do we continue with the status quo or are we ready to make significant cultural and lifestyle alterations?”
Consider our energy crisis, expanding poverty and the degradation of essential ecosystem services, and Paterson’s conclusion becomes even more urgent. “Future actions will require a fundamental change of philosophy in how we live our lives,” he said.
HER giggling friends suddenly quiet down when Jamilka Carrasquillo, her large silver hoop earrings swinging, describes the day her class killed chickens.
“We actually had to go up to the woods to do it,” she says, perched on the back of a chair in a classroom at Common Ground High School in New Haven.
Each student who wanted one got a bird. Following a modified-kosher method (no rabbi), the students stunned the birds with an electric shock, hung them upside down and cut the jugular vein. They call the chickens “meat birds” to maintain emotional distance, but the experience can be difficult.
Jamilka cried; others, even teachers, did too. A lot emerged as vegetarians. Jamilka did not, but she says she came to understand that the pinkish slabs wrapped in plastic on the grocery shelf actually come from living animals. She pledged not to waste food.