Rep. Jamaal Bowman speaks during the introduction of the Green New Deal for Public Schools Act in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) speaks during the introduction of the Green New Deal for Public Schools Act in Washington, D.C. on September 28, 2023.

(Photo: Sunrise Movement/X)

Markey, Bowman Unveil $1.6 Trillion Green New Deal for Public Schools

"Let's build a green future where every student can learn and thrive," said Sen. Ed Markey while introducing the proposed legislation.

Climate and education advocates on Thursday cheered the introduction in the U.S. Congress by Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Jamaal Bowman of the Green New Deal for Public Schools Act, which the lawmakers said would invest $1.6 trillion to transform the nation's education system while "creating 1.3 million jobs and eliminating 78 million metric tons of carbon emissions over 10 years."

A statement promoting the proposed legislation says it would "fund green upgrades that remove all health harms and carbon pollution fromevery public school in the nation while taking on environmental and racial inequities."

"It will unleash the potential of safe and inspiring public education for 50 million K-12 students in every neighborhood across the country," the statement added. "And, it willadd essential staff to vulnerable schools, create 1.3 million good-paying jobs annually, and reduce carbon emissions by 78 millionmetric tons each year—that's the same as taking 17 million gas-powered cars off the road!"

The measure is currently co-sponsored by 74 House lawmakers and is endorsed by advocacy groups including the Sunrise Movement; American Federation of Teachers; Gen Z for Change; Working Families Party; Sierra Club; Institute for Policy Studies; GreenLatinos; March for Our Lives; Progressive Democrats of America; and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.

"The United States of America should have the best public education system in the world—our students, parents, teachers, staff, and administrators are doing their part, but Congress is failing them at every turn," Markey (D-Mass.) said in a statement. "School buildings are falling apart, educators and staff are creating makeshift air conditioners from window units, aging infrastructure is making our kids and our planet sick—it's a disgrace."

"The Green New Deal for Public Schools Act delivers climate justice, health justice, social justice, economic justice, and racial justice so that students—no matter their zip code—can learn in a safe and healthy environment, and one that is contributing to a healthier planet for the next generation," Markey added. "It is long past due for the United States to invest in schools what schools invest in us."

Bowman (D-N.Y.)—the founder and former principal of the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action, a public middle school in the Bronx—said that "it's time to revolutionize our public schools."

"As we face the devastating impacts of the climate crisis and confront the harms of underinvestment in redlined communities and inequities in our education system, we must center our kids and their futures," he asserted. "Education can change the world."

Bowman continued:

Schools should be the centers of our communities, places of joy and self-discovery where students feel safe to grow, thrive, and explore their passions and curiosity. Right now, they're crumbling, leaving our students, educators, and communities behind. We must take advantage of this moment by putting them first and facing the climate crisis head-on with bold investments in our schools focused on environmental, educational, economic, and racial equity.

"It's time for us to provide our kids with the resources they need to unlock their brilliance and have a livable planet by passing the Green New Deal for Public Schools Act and making urgent and necessary investments to revitalize our public education system," Bowman added.

The proposed legislation comes three days after students at more than 50 high schools across the U.S.—led by the Sunrise Movement—launched the Green New Deals for Schools campaign. The campaign is demanding that education officials provide school buildings powered by renewable energy; free, healthy, local, and sustainable meals; support for finding well-paying, unionized green careers; plans for extreme weather events; and instruction about the climate crisis.

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