Lawmakers propose $1.6 trillion investment to transform U.S. public school system, creating 1.3 million jobs and eliminating 78 million metric tons of carbon emissions over ten years

Bill Text (PDF) | Press Conference (VIDEO)

Washington (September 28, 2023) - Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety, and Congressman Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) today introduced the Green New Deal for Public Schools Act, legislation that would invest $1.6 trillion over the next decade in public and Bureau of Indian Education schools to revitalize the K-12 education system, upgrade every public school building in the country, and reduce hazardous pollution. The legislation would also reverse harmful disinvestment in the public school system by investing in schools serving low-income students, fully funding education for students with disabilities, and giving schools the resources to hire hundreds of thousands of educators, paraprofessionals, and staff, including counselors, to support student mental health. Investing $1.6 trillion over ten years in the U.S. education system would create 1.3 million jobs annually and eliminate 78 million metric tons of carbon emissions, which is equal to taking 17 million cars off the road. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is a cosponsor in the Senate.

“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. 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,” said Senator Markey. “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. It is long past due for the United States to invest in schools what schools invest in us.”

“It’s time to revolutionize our public schools,” said Congressman Bowman. “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. Education can change the world. 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 and making urgent and necessary investments to revitalize our public education system.”

A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.

More than 70 lawmakers in the House are cosponsors, including Representatives Andre Carson (IN-07), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Melanie Stansbury (NM-01), Cori Bush (MO-01), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Nikema Williams (GA-05), Maxwell Alejandro Frost (FL-10), LLoyd Doggett (TX-27), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), Becca Balint (VT), Delia Ramirez (IL-03), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Robert Garcia (CA-42), Summer Lee (PA-12), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Greg Casar (TX-35), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Tony Cardenas (CA-29), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Jesús G. "Chuy" García (IL-04), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Juan Vargas (CA-52), Brendan Boyle (PA-02), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Morgan McGarvey (KY-03), Jerrold Nadler (NY-12), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Mark Takano (CA-39), Grace Meng (NY-06), Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11), Ted W. Lieu (CA-36), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Adam Schiff (CA-30), Ritchie Torres (NY-15), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Nydia Velázquez (NY-07), Kevin Mullin (CA-15), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Adam Smith (WA-09), Mike Quigley (IL-05), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Jasmine Crockett (TX-30), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-31), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Valerie Foushee (NC-04), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Debbie Dingell (MI-06), Shri Thanedar (MI-13), Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02), Kweisi Mfume (MD-07), Katie Porter (CA-47), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Dan Goldman (NY-10), Maxine Waters (CA-43), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Nanette Diaz Barragan (CA-44), Stephen Lynch (MA-08), Jim McGovern (MA-02), Alma Adams (NC-12), Raul Grijalva (AZ-07), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (CA-47), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Al Green (TX-09), Jill Tokuda (HI-02), and Linda Sanchez (CA-38).

Specifically, the Green New Deal for Public Schools Act puts young people and public education at the center of the nation’s response to the intersecting crises of climate change, systemic racism, and economic inequality by:

  1. Providing $486 billion to upgrade every public school building in the country – starting with the highest-need districts – to create safe, healthy, zero-carbon, and accessible learning environments for students and staff.
  2. Ensuring school upgrades support safe, well-paid union jobs with project labor, prevailing wage, and registered apprenticeship protections.
  3. Investing $250 billion for schools to:
    1. Drastically reduce student-to-staff ratios;
    2. Strengthen and diversify the educator pipeline; and,
    3. Develop and implement initiatives to support high-quality teaching and learning, student mental health, and positive school climates.
  4. Quadrupling funding for schools serving predominantly low-income students and tripling current funding to support students with disabilities.

The Green New Deal for Public Schools is endorsed by the American Federation of Teacher (AFT), NEA, SEIU, American Psychological Association, UFT, American Institute of Architects, Labor Network for Sustainability, New Deal for Youth, Gen Z for Change, American Federation of State, Country, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Climate and Community Project, Chicago Teachers Union, Alliance for Quality Education, Network for Public Education, Working Families Party, New Leaders, EduColor, Sierra Club, Taproot Earth, Institute for Policy Studies Climate Policy Program, Green New Deal Network, Generation180, Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), Citizens for Public Schools, CCAN Action Fund, National Educators United, National Resources Defense Council, Friends of the Earth, GreenLatinos, Education Law Center, First Focus Campaign for Children, Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association, Public Advocacy for Kids (PAK), March for Our Lives, People’s Action, School and Communities United, Zero Hour, People’s Justice Council, Progressive Democrats of America, Sunrise Movement, Journey for Justice Alliance, NYC Opt Out, New Rochelle FUSE, Yonkers Family YMCA, Rewiring America, and Food & Water Watch.

In April, Senator Markey and Representatives Ro Khanna (CA-17), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Summer Lee (PA-12), and Maxwell Frost (FL-10) introduced the Green New Deal for Health, legislation that would enable the U.S. health care system to respond to climate change by improving sustainability and supporting patients, providers, and communities. Earlier that month, Senator Markey and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) were joined by labor, health, and climate justice advocates in celebrating the reintroduction of the Green New Deal Resolution to tackle the climate crisis with a 10-year mobilization that puts millions of Americans to work in good-paying, union jobs.