“Time for a revolution in public education”: Bowman unveils new green deal for American schools

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Longtime Democratic Congressman and educator Jamaal Bowman unveiled legislation Thursday morning that would invest $ 1.43 trillion over 10 years in transforming public schools across the country in line with what experts say is needed to tackle the climate emergency and reverse the damage caused by decades of divestment.

“It comes down to whether we are ready to provide our children with the resources they need to achieve their shine and have a liveable planet.”
-Representative. Jamaal archer

Bowman (DN.Y.) and 22 original co-sponsors presented the New Green Deal for Public Schools Act (pdf) as Congress Democrats continue to detail the details of a multibillion-dollar infrastructure and climate package they hope to unilaterally adopt using the budget reconciliation treat.

The New York Democrat said in a declaration Thursday that “it is time for a revolution in public education”, and it is aim to include provisions of his bill in the new reconciliation package.

“As we face a devastating climate crisis caused by decades of unchecked corporate greed, we must center our children and their futures,” said Bowman, who was principal of a public school in the Bronx before his successful candidacy. at the 2020 Congress.

Bowman has touted his legislation as a remedy for long-standing educational crises resulting from years of cuts to public school funding in states across the country, which have disproportionately impacted the poor and people of color. The deadly coronavirus pandemic has put massive additional pressure on public schools across the country, and some states have resorted to to pursue continue cutting education to cover budget deficits.

“It’s about whether we are ready to provide our children with the resources they need to achieve their shine and have a liveable planet,” Bowman said Thursday. “Do we want to continue to build a world based on militarization, incarceration, poverty and the destruction of resources? Or will we use this moment, put our children and educators first and deal with the climate crisis? How urgent is it? This legislation is what we need to get us on the right side of history. “

According to a summary released by Bowman’s office, the new bill would modernize all public school buildings across the country and hire hundreds of thousands of additional educators and support staff.

New research by the Climate + Community Project, also unveiled Thursday, shows Bowman’s legislation would fund 1.3 million jobs per year and eliminate 78 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year by decarbonizing the country’s K-12 public schools .

Schools need investment,” write the researchers. “The American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated that public schools nationwide need $ 380 billion just to meet good repair standards, let alone climate resilience and decarbonization. In June 2020, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated that about 54% of all public school districts in the United States need at least two major systems updated or replaced in most of their schools, and about 26% of all districts need at least six systems updated or replaced.

The summary of the Green New Deal Act for public schools states that the bill includes:

  • $ 446 billion in grants for climate capital installations and $ 40 billion for a climate change resilience program

    • Grants for climate capital installations will fully fund healthy green renovations for the one-third of the most disadvantaged schools, as measured by the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index, and will offer a mix of grants and loans without or interest-free loans. low interest in middle and upper thirds. The grants will cover respectively two thirds and one third of the modernization costs of these schools.

  • $ 250 billion in global resource grants

    • Block Resource Grants will fund staff increases, the expansion of social service programs and the development of programs in high need schools. The program will enable local education agencies across the country to hire and train hundreds of thousands of additional educators and support staff, including paraprofessionals, school psychologists and counselors, and learning specialists. The funds can also be used to design locally rooted curricula; adopt culturally appropriate, trauma-informed restorative justice practices to evolve towards a “whole child” approach to public education; and partnering with community organizations to provide a range of services to schools and surrounding neighborhoods, such as after-school programs.

  • $ 100 million for a pilot grant program for educational equity planning

    • The Education Equity Planning Grants will encourage neighboring local education agencies to form regional consortia, which will receive funding to conduct broad community outreach, identify historical and current sources of educational disparities in the region, and create and implement a regional education equity plan to address these disparities. This pilot program is modeled on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Regional Planning Grants for Sustainable Communities, which are designed to encourage equitable and local economic development.

  • $ 695 billion over 10 years for Title I and the IDEA (Individuals With Disabilities Education Act) increase

    • This bill proposes to quadruple Title I funding to $ 66 billion per year to support schools and districts with students living in poverty, as well as increase IDEA Part B funding to 33 billion dollars a year to support students with disabilities.

In a statement endorsing Bowman’s legislation, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said the bill “makes the bold investments in America’s K-12 education system that we need, from renovating school buildings to investing in school staff and mental health professionals, while addressing historical inequalities so that we can build a just future where every child can access basic opportunities to thrive . “

“As we navigate the ever-growing climate crisis and school buildings are ill-equipped to deal with it,” Weingarten said, “we find ourselves with a unique opportunity to meet the moment and ensure all of our students can learn in schools where they can drink clean water, breathe clean air, and be free from mold and broken windows. “

It is unclear which sections of Bowman’s bill, if any, will be part of the Democrats’ reconciliation package. In one interview with the Washington post On Thursday, Bowman said that “we are in the process of negotiating and communicating with leaders to ensure that the provisions of this bill are included in the reconciliation.”

“You have parts of the country that are reaching 118 degrees, parts of the country have never been warmer, recent storms on the east coast, massive flooding and destruction of property – I mean, climate change is here. , and it’s real, ”Bowman says. “I encourage my colleagues to be on the right side of the story. This about their legacy and all of our legacies: How are we responding to the climate crisis that lies ahead? The story will tell the story of who has answered this question correctly. “


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