Friday March 26, 2010

Good Afternoon D.C. council members,

Thank you for your time and leadership on this comprehensive Healthy Schools Bill. My name is Ryan Pleune, I work as the Maryland Green Schools Coordinator and I volunteer as the Ways and Means committee chair for the District of Columbia Environmental Education Consortium. I am here to speak on behalf of my own classroom teaching experience not for the members of those two organizations.

I’d like to start with a quote from Albert Einstein:
“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge”

I am here to address what I call the soul wound and lack of health of every teacher I know. I define health and wellness through indicators from the mind, body and spirit. My life’s work is to co-create human communities that are ecologically sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just. This bill addresses nearly all components of that mission and it will fall on teachers and education leaders to enact it. I am here today to express that every teacher I know suffers from a soul wound because of the way we are portrayed in society and because of the expectations that are placed on us. The wound is deepened by the lack of human capital and support in our classrooms. Teachers and our students do not need more standards; more evaluations; more unfunded expectations. The increase of these three aspects of teaching over the last decade or more has not been matched by an increase in human capital and Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) to meet the overwhelming demand by our society. That disparity is hurting the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual health of all teachers I know. I urge you to use your influence and relationship with the superintendent and the chancellor to increase FTE’s and human capital in our classrooms in order to achieve the goals of this bill and to meet the requests of the students in this video.

In order for teachers to accommodate multiple intelligences and adapt to the variety of learning styles in order to fully develop the health and wellness of our students we need more human capital in schools and that will require a significant investment. When people complain about increasing taxes or re-allocating budgets to divert money to public schools I urge you to reframe that dialogue into the investment they will ever make. If you really want to promote healthy schools, please consider all aspects of health. Currently the bill does not address spiritual/emotional health and without that component, the development of mind and body knowledge will be unbalanced.

It is not food, physical fitness, or eco-literacy alone that will address what has been discussed in everyone’s testimony today. Health can be defined in many different ways. I measure it on a community level based on ecological sustainability, spiritual fulfillment and social justice. Green Schools and ecological literacy should include indicators from all of these areas. If you address one without the other, our collective dysfunction will continue and soul wounds will continue to deepen.

Loading more stuff…

Hmm…it looks like things are taking a while to load. Try again?

Loading videos…