The Progressive


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50+ High Schools Launch Green New Deal for Schools Campaign

Today, in response to attacks from the Right on the American education system, as well as slow federal action on the climate crisis, the Sunrise Movement launched its Green New Deal for Schools Campaign in over 50 high schools across America.

“The Green New Deal for Schools will transform public schools in America to face the climate crisis and ensure all students receive safe and high-quality education – no matter their zip code or the color of their skin,” said Adah Crandall, 17, one of the leaders of the campaign. “Our generation is on the front lines of this fight and it's time for our school districts to take real action.”

Student organizers are launching Green New Deal for Schools campaigns in every corner of the country – from Pennsylvania to Michigan to Arizona – demanding that school districts face the climate crisis, listen to their students, and deliver on Green New Deal for Schools demands listed below. They are calling on school boards and superintendents to pass district-wide policies, while building the power and momentum for eventual federal legislation that transforms our school system to stop the climate crisis.

“For too long, students have been left out of the decision making spaces within our schools,” said Shiva Rajbhandari, Sunrise Movement organizer and Idaho’s youngest elected school board member. “Students are the most important constituents of our school boards and they deserve to call the shots for their own education. Public schools belong to us, and we know we deserve better.”

This comes as Republican extremists across the country are imposing their agenda on students in public schools. In Texas, education officials plan to rewrite climate science textbooks. There has been a years-long fight in Idaho on teaching climate change education in schools. Extremists are imposing book bans on students. Meanwhile, students across the country are facing the brunt of the climate crisis and struggling to learn amid heat waves and other climate disasters hitting their schools.

“The Republican Party knows that they don’t have the youth vote,” said Aster Chau, a student and Green New Deal for Schools Organizer at the Academy at Palumbo in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “They’ve spent the last few years antagonizing students and teachers — eroding trust in public education — in order to distract from all of the problems they’ve created in our society. Today, we say no more — these are our schools and our futures.”

As 2024 approaches, young voters will be one of the most important voting blocs, as they were in 2020 and 2022. Consistently, they rank clean air and water as one of their top issues.

The Green New Deal for Schools campaigns are demanding:

  1. SAFE AND CLEAN BUILDINGS: School buildings, buses, and other school infrastructure must be updated to run on 100% clean energy, be climate resilient, and ensure safe, non-toxic learning environments.
  2. FREE & HEALTHY LUNCH: Schools must provide locally sourced and sustainably grown lunch to all students for free, to make sure no student goes through the school day hungry.
  3. PATHWAYS TO GREEN JOBS: Schools must offer opportunities to connect students with meaningful and good paying union jobs combatting the climate crisis.
  4. CLIMATE DISASTER PLANS: When climate disaster strikes, school administrations must have plans to help students recover and use buildings as designated relief zones for the whole community.
  5. CLIMATE CURRICULUM: Students must be taught a comprehensive climate justice curriculum - developed by scientists, educators, and students, not lobbyists and politicians - that helps them understand our history and prepares them to face the climate crisis.

This comes after Sunrise Movement held a multi-week summer camp to train hundreds of high schoolers from across the country on how to run campaigns in their schools, plan protests, and grow their organizing skills. It also comes on the heels of Sunrise’s historic win for an American Climate Corps, building youth momentum across the country.

Sunrise Movement is a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.