K-12 students can influence policy

Daily Editorial Board

On Monday evening, a group of St. Louis Park High School students assigned grades of their own as they publicly critiqued their hometown’s environmental impact.
At a City Council meeting, members of the high school Roots and Shoots club gave municipal leaders a D-minus for zero emissions plans, a C for carbon removal and A-grades on waste and renewable energy. The teenagers also drafted and submitted a resolution for the St. Louis Park City Council to create a climate action plan.
The group is one branch of a national youth climate organization, iMatter, which empowers students to push their local governments to address climate change through grassroots initiatives. Monday marked the nationwide campaign’s first presentation to a city council.
Council members received the average overall grade surprisingly well — it was a B-minus.
“We need to be pushed,” said Council member Anne Mavity. “We are trying to be very forward-thinking, but we can do more. Help us do that.”
Members of Roots and Shoots say the group’s past initiatives — including a composting program at their school — haven’t affected the kind of change they fear is necessary to ward off serious environmental damage.
We commend this local high school group for bucking the stereotype that K-12 students cannot influence policy. We also encourage any other young Minnesotans who are passionate about protecting natural resources to reach out directly to the local leaders — leaders who are tasked with serving minors as well as adults.