Sea Levels May Be Rising Faster Than Predicted

What that means for Miami and coastal communities everywhere.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Climate scientists and researchers have spent the last 20-plus years pleading with governments and companies to reduce carbon emissions, which have been directly linked to the rise in sea levels for several years. National Geographic reports that “the Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL) has risen by 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters). However, the annual rate of rise over the past 20 years has been 0.13 inches (3.2 millimeters) a year, roughly twice the average speed of the preceding 80 years.” And while 4 to 8 inches may not seem like a lot, this small increase adds up over time. In 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s annual Assessment Report predicted that ocean levels would rise more than 3 feet by the end of this century, according to Wired.

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#UseMeInstead, Say Clergy to Police Who Use Photos of Black Men for Target Practice

Pastors are sending in their photos to be used as target practice instead of the photos of black people.

Rev. Joy M. Gonnerman's photo submission to the North Miami Beach Police Department, to be used for target practice.

The North Miami Beach Police Department was forced to stop using the mugshots of black men for target practice after they were discovered by a woman whose brother’s photo was among those found riddled with bullets (although it took a city council resolution to get them to do it). The police department found itself without any photos of real human beings to practice shooting their guns. Fortunately for the North Miami Beach Police Department, a group of Lutheran pastors are offering up their photos to be used for target practice, and their campaign’s rallying hashtag is #UseMeInstead.

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Students in Chicago walk through gang war zones only to arrive at schools starved of music and arts. Parents in Philadelphia watch their children's chances of getting into college minimized because guidance counselors have been laid off. Community members in Miami see how poverty impacts neighborhood kids and want to do something about it. Passionate teachers in New York juggle larger class sizes, the Common Core and new evaluations, without the necessary teaching supports or economic stability. Yet they still work to create great, joyful, engaging environments for their students. For these students, these parents, these community members, these teachers, we must reclaim the promise of public education.

On December 9, students, parents, educators, and community members from these and 90 other cities will take part in a National Day of Action under this banner.

While Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind were market-driven, top-down policies advanced by corporate interests, large foundations and test-fixated politicians, Reclaiming the Promise is a community-driven movement, focused on investing and doing what works, and spurred on by the people who have been on the receiving end of these bad policies: students, teachers, parents and community members — including business owners, clergy and all those who make our local communities the heart and soul of America.

Those closest to the classroom deserve to have their voices heard. If we keep traveling down this path laden with test fixation, budget cuts and privatization, the proud legacy of public education in the United States will fade completely, and with it our children's futures, our thriving economy and our enduring democracy. It's simple: Education is a highway to the middle class. Providing high-quality public education to every child will ensure that students aren't just college-ready but life-ready, prepared to be productive, engaged citizens. And failing to provide such education will only lead to staying where we are, as we saw in the PISA rankings this week.

This must change. Schools are community opportunity centers, yet they are being closed in low-income communities by the dozen, with the most destabilizing impact in low-income African-American and Latino neighborhoods. Teachers and school support staff are being laid off. Our schools live and die by the test. Privatization is transforming our nation's public education system into winners and losers. Inequality based on race and income in education is at an all-time high.

But it doesn't have to be this way. And teachers, parents, students and community members are banding together to catalyze the change. We are charting a new course entirely: one that will reclaim the promise of public education, not as it is today or as it was in the past, but as it can be to fulfill our collective obligation to make sure every child reaches their potential.

We reclaimed the promise in California, where we passed a referendum to fund public schools through a tax hike for the wealthy. We did it in Seattle, where we boycotted overtesting. We did it in Pennsylvania, where we pressured Gov. Tom Corbett to release $45 million in funding meant for Philadelphia schools, money that he was holding hostage to hurt teachers. And we did it in dozens of other cities and states, where we've held town halls to bring communities and unions together to discover solutions.

The challenges are great, and so too must be our solutions. We want to put public schools back into the hands of the public. We want teachers, parents, students and community members to have a meaningful voice in education policy and practice. We want public schools to again be the center of our communities, providing supports and services that families need to thrive, and an engaging curriculum that includes art, music and physical education. We want Common Core standards as well as Common Core supports, and we want these standards to be implemented and established before there is testing. We want quality teaching delivered by respected and supported educators, who care so much for their students and their communities. We want safe and welcoming schools that are fully and equitably funded.

In short, we want to reclaim the promise of public education. It's an important movement taking hold in communities all across the United State, a movement that we must continue to build. We need to keep finding solutions that work, and calling out policies that don't. This National Day of Action is only a steppingstone, and we still have mountains we're determined to climb. For our students, our teachers, our parents and our communities, we've got to keep climbing. That's what reclaiming the promise is all about.

Click here to say you'll pledge to reclaim the promise of public education.

Randi Weingarten is President of the American Federation of Teachers. John Jackson is President and CEO of The Schott Foundation for Public Education.

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There's No Such Thing as a Super Teacher

Surprise: The expectations set by movies like "Dangerous Minds" are totally unrealistic.

After 10 years in the classroom—teaching everything from elementary school to adult education classes—Roxanna Elden has seen it all. Now working as a writing teacher at Hialeah High School in Miami, Elden, who is the author of See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers By Teachers a humorous survival book for new teachers, is on a mission to bust the super teacher myth for good.

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A Bee You Cannot Eat: Education Reform After the SOS March

The march may be over, but the battle for public education is just getting started.

When 5,000 educators, parents, students, and other citizens concerned with the state of education come to Washington, D.C. ready to answer the call for change, you respond. When they come together in a coalition for educational social justice and activism, you listen. When you’re asked as a teacher to speak on behalf of these thousands—and the many more who couldn’t show up—you stand up and represent. More importantly, when students of all backgrounds deserve better, you fight for it.

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