4 Ways Your School Building Impacts Your Child’s Future and 1 Way Congress Can Help

But a school isn’t just a backdrop for the big moments of youth; it is more than an abstract “where.” With so many important things happening inside, it’s easy to forget that a school is a building — a vital piece of infrastructure — and like any building, it needs upkeep and maintenance. That’s something that nationwide we’ve been failing to provide.

On average, American students are in school 7 hours a day, 180 days out of the year — not including any extracurricular activities. In a poorly maintained school, that’s time that children can be exposed to mold, lead, pests, and uncomfortable conditions. All of that adds up in ways that can impact children for the rest of their lives. Here are just a few ways.

1. Lead exposure causes irreversible harm to the brain and nervous system

There is no safe blood level of lead for children and even small amounts of lead exposure can cause permanent damage to the developing brain and nervous system of a child, resulting in decreased IQs and diminished academic ability. Yet, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency still does not require schools to test their water for lead. In 2019, that’s completely unacceptable.

A 2019 report by the Government Accountability Office found that only 43 percent of school districts that responded to a survey test for lead, and 37 percent of those districts found elevated levels. Forty-one percent of districts that responded had not tested for lead in over a year before taking the survey, and 16 percent of districts that responded said they didn’t know if their water had been tested for lead. That level of uncertainty is unacceptable.

2. Failing HVAC systems result in poor air quality

Unacceptable air conditions in schools can be harmful to students’ health. Failing HVAC systems result in poor air circulation, uncomfortable temperatures, and they can spread things like allergens and mold, which have negative health impacts. In 2013, the American Lung Associationreported that 13.8 million school days were lost in the United States due to asthma. Poor air quality in schools contributed to at least some of those absences.

3. Schools in poor condition can lead to poor grades

In 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation’s school infrastructure a “D+.”It’s hard to expect students in schools with poor grades to perform at an A+ level. The quality of school facilities impact student attitudes, health, and academic achievement. In fact, a study by the Council of the Great City Schools found that students in poor quality schools score between 5 and 11 percent lower on standardized tests than students in modern buildings.

Additionally, as of 2013, more than half of the schools in operation in the United States were built before 1970. The needs of students have changed drastically since that time and in many cases districts are not able to keep up with the needed repairs, renovation, and modernizations needed to make schools that were built for baby boomers work for kids today and tomorrow. That shortcoming impacts learning.

4. A lack of investment in school facilities perpetuates inequality

School funding often comes from property taxes, meaning the schools in the worst condition are often in low-income urban and rural communities, while the schools in the best condition are in high-income communities. That means that students in low-income communities are more likely to encounter all of the problems listed above, contributing to the ever-growing inequality in the nation.

Congress needs to help fix this problem. Now.

Students need to learn in a safe, modern, healthy environment. A bill moving in the U.S. House of Representatives — the Rebuild America’s Schools Act of 2019 — would help districts around the country move their schools into the 21stcentury. It includes grants, loan programs, and other funding to help repair America’s schools and increase access to broadband. Local communities shouldn’t have to go it alone. Congress should act now.

Our students deserve better. They deserve a healthy learning environment that can adequately meet the needs of 21st century students, that won’t contribute to inequality, and won’t get them sick.

Write a letter to your member of Congress today urging them to support the Rebuild America’s Schools Act of 2019.

Healthy Schools Grow Smarter Students

Not only do school-aged children spend a large portion of their day in school buildings, they are uniquely susceptible to the complex environmental threats that abound today. According to the Healthy Schools Network, children are particularly vulnerable because:

  1. Their bodies are still developing;
  2. They eat, drink, and breathe more per pound of body weight;
  3. They are exposed to more environmental threats; and
  4. They are least able to recognize exposure risks or take action when exposure occurs.

Inadequate ventilation of school buildings—in conjunction with degrading infrastructure—are leading culprits of children’s exposure to unhealthy chemicals. Without proper ventilation, toxic chemicals are unable to be flushed out and can have prolonged impacts on students’ health.

Asthma is the most common childhood chronic disease, affecting 8.3 percent of children in the United States. Indoor asthma triggers are substantial and include many of the chemicals and exposure routes found in schools. Though asthma is the most widespread, it is far from the only impact that harmful building products in schools have on student health. Exposure to certain chemicals that may be found in flooring, paint, and insulation—just to name a few sources—can lead to lower IQs and educational attainment, as well as reproductive disorders and cancers.

Recently, it was discovered two Indiana elementary schools had unsafe levels of a cancer-causing chemical. The schools have been shut down and are undergoing further testing to determine when it will be safe for children to return to class. Exposure to such a chemical not only interferes with student education by keeping them out of class but could have harmful impacts that may not emerge for years.

Every day, children across our country face environmental hazards and chemical exposures in a place that ought to be safe for them. Encouraging regular school maintenance and healthy, sustainable retrofits is one way that you can join in the fight for childhood environmental health.

Find out more about protecting students and school staff at the Healthy Schools Network.

Green Schools – AFT President Thinks Public School Buildings Need Extreme Makeover

The following blog by AFT President Randi Weingarten has been cross-posted from Earth Talk. The original post is available online here.

America’s public school buildings need an extreme makeover.

Just as today’s education must to be aligned with what students need to succeed in the 21st-century global economy, mid-20th-century school facilities that are falling apart, filled with environmental hazards and unable to support modern technology just won’t do. To reclaim the promise of public education in America, school buildings and their classrooms must be safe, healthy and welcoming.

Half of the schools our children attend were built in the 1950s and 1960s. If homes had some of the decrepit, structurally unsound and moldy conditions present in today’s obsolete, neglected schools, they would be condemned. Yet we are condemning children, as well as teachers and other school staff, to attend these schools every day.

The state of our school infrastructure is unacceptable. Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers puts out a report card on America’s infrastructure systems, including our schools. Schools received a D in 2013. If our kids came home with D’s, we’d demand an improvement plan. Something –maybe no Facebook until the grades improve!

Teachers and other school staff understand the impact on teaching and learning in degraded conditions. Asthma is the No. 1 chronic illness for children, yet many of these students are suffering in schools with damp, moldy and inadequate air quality, putting even more stress on their vulnerable respiratory systems. Troubling is the fact that U.S. students will miss approximately 14 millionschool days because of asthma. The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicinesays controlling exposure to indoor environmental factors, such as carbon monoxide, dust and pollen, could prevent more than 65 percent of asthma cases among elementary school children. Of course, these toxic conditions also affect teachers and other school staff, who have higher rates of asthma than the general working population.

Retrofitting schools requires repairing out-of-date heating and cooling systems, replacing pipes and taking additional actions to make schools more energy and water efficient. Many buildings need to be enlarged so that closets or utility rooms aren’t converted into makeshift classrooms. Other infrastructure deficiencies common in 50-plus-year-old buildings include leaky roofs, potentially dangerous boilers and no air-conditioning.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, green schools use an average of 33 percent less energy and 32 percent less water than traditional school buildings, lowering utility costs by an estimated $100,000 per year and resulting in 585,000 pounds of avoided carbon pollution as well as other pol­lutants.

A significant side benefit of modernizing school infrastructure is job creation. Working with the Clinton Global Initiative and other unions, the AFT has secured $10 billion in labor pension funds to invest in crumbling U.S. infrastructure, which could include modernizing public schools. A recent study by the BlueGreen Alliance shows that the work necessary to improve our schools from a D to a B could create or sustain 452,000 jobs in the United States.

Recent government reports show that the price tag for the needed repairs, renovations and modernization of schools could reach $271 billion. Clearly, the need for these improvements is there, but what we need now is the political will to invest in our school infrastructure so that our students can be assured that they are learning in structurally sound, safe, healthy, modern buildings.

We need to put our children in the best possible position to succeed. BlueGreen Alliance co-chairs Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers, and Michael Brune, president of the Sierra Club, agree with us that we’re doing a disservice to this generation of students by giving them outdated, neglected buildings with leaky roofs, poor air quality and other chemical concerns.

It’s time for America to reclaim the promise of public education by repairing our schools and giving our students the best possible chance for success.

Randi Weingarten is President of the American Federation of Teachers.

Repair America’s Schools

Public schools have long been a neglected part of our infrastructure system. That neglect is taking a toll on the health and safety of our students, teachers and other school personnel. In addition, old and inefficient schools are further contributing to the root causes of climate change by wasting energy and adding to our air more of the carbon pollution that drives climate change.

We can lift up schools as models of the clean, green, resilient environments we need at the heart of our efforts to rebuild a nation that is better able to address, prepare for and recover from the effects of climate change. This is no small task, but we can be successful if we work together with allied labor, environmental and
business organizations.

Green Ribbon Schools Empower Today’s Students to Fill Jobs of the Future

WASHINGTON, DC (April 22, 2013) – Today, the BlueGreen Alliance congratulates 64 schools and 14 school districts across the country for being honored as Green Ribbon Schools award recipients. The Green Ribbon Schools honors were awarded by the U.S. Department of Education in collaboration with the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency. The full list of award recipients is available here. The following is a statement from BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director David Foster:

“Green Ribbon Schools and the well-rounded educations they are providing to students across the country are vital to our collective future. Apart from educating our students about the effects of climate change, greening our schools provides a tremendous opportunity to create jobs in our communities and reduce energy and water waste in the most important buildings in our communities.

“These schools and their students come from diverse areas of the country and economic means. Over 50 percent of the schools honored are in underserved areas and are located in 29 states and the District of Columbia.

“Empowering today’s students to be engaged in addressing climate change and becoming more energy and water efficient means they will be working in the jobs of tomorrow that reduce our dependence on foreign energy supplies, find new and innovative ways to harness renewable energy and curb greenhouse gas emissions. Congratulations to all of the 78 award honorees for a job well done.”

Green Bay Area School District Recognized For Energy Savings in New Video Series

Green Bay Area School District Recognized For Energy Savings in New Video Series

District’s Efforts Saved Taxpayers $9.7 Million Since 2002

GREEN BAY, Wis. (January 28, 2013) The BlueGreen Alliance — a national coalition of some of the country’s largest labor and environmental organizations with a joint membership of over 15 million people — today released a series of three videos recognizing the Green Bay Area Public School District for its efforts to provide a cleaner and more energy efficient learning environment for its students. The videos can be seen on the BlueGreen Alliance’s YouTube (http://bit.ly/UZC9ha or see below for individual movie links) and Facebook pages.

“The Green Bay Area Public School District made a wise decision when it decided to look at its energy use while attempting to cut costs,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director David Foster. “The dollars saved by cutting energy use can be put directly back into the classroom, and these efforts have successfully created good jobs for area contractors.”

“We aren’t done yet,” said Jeff Christens, responsible for the district’s Energy Management systems. “These energy efficiency improvements were our first step in ensuring we are using our energy wisely. We’re very pleased with the results so far, and we have more work to do.”

The District began considering how to reduce its energy use in 2002, and they have since saved the District an estimated 46.5 million-kilowatt hours of energy, 5 million-therms of gas, 163 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and $9.7 million.

The videos — which include interviews with Green Bay Area Public School District officials and several of the Green Bay-area contractors  — discuss several of the energy efficiency upgrades, including:

  • The installation of Direct Digital Controls (DDC) systems at 37 of the District’s schools allowing the District to better regulate and monitor each building’s energy use;
  • The replacement of outdoor air control dampers in order to better control the air entering and leaving the buildings;
  • The use of a Peak Demand Limiting system that encourages the schools to pre-cool their buildings and limit energy use during high-demand times;
  • The development of new HVAC control sequences that optimize energy savings; and
  • The installation of pass-through lighting in the middle and high schools which dim the lights when the hallways are not in use.

“These energy efficiency projects are not just good for the taxpayers and the environment; they are a learning opportunity for the students,” said Christens. “We are using our projects to teach the students how to save energy, and we are showing the high school students new and exciting careers.”

The District’s education efforts efforts begins as early as elementary school, with children being told about the importance of turning off lights. The efforts extend all the way to high school where the students can take courses about the renewable energy and energy conservation careers of the future.

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Links for the BlueGreen Alliance’s videos are as follows:

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BlueGreen Alliance Congratulates Green Ribbon Schools

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 23, 2012) Education Secretary Arne Duncan, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley today announced the Department of Education’s first-ever Green Ribbon Schools at an elementary school in Washington, D.C. The BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director David Foster:

“The BlueGreen Alliance congratulates the first-ever Green Ribbon Schools, a recognition that we hope will continue for many years to come. Modern, greener schools in America mean healthier classrooms for our children to learn in, as well as good jobs for American workers. The communities surrounding these schools should be proud of the students, teachers, administrators, and officials making decisions every day that are reducing their school’s environmental impact and providing effective environmental education that will prepare students to succeed in the 21st century economy.

“To prepare the workforce of the next generation, we have to make a commitment to ensure our students have both a good learning environment and a well-rounded education that includes learning about the environment. We must also make our schools modern and green, which will reduce energy and water use, ensure safe and healthy air for our students, teachers and staff, and create good jobs for American workers — those who are doing the work to make our schools better and those providing efficient goods in the supply chain.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 23, 2012) Education Secretary Arne Duncan, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley today announced the Department of Education’s first-ever Green Ribbon Schools at an elementary school in Washington, D.C. Four of the schools designated as Green Ribbon Schools are in California. They are: Longfellow Elementary School in Long Beach; Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale; Grand View Elementary School in Manhattan Beach; and The Athenian School in Danville, California.

The BlueGreen Alliance, a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations, released the following statement from Executive Director David Foster:

“The BlueGreen Alliance congratulates the first-ever Green Ribbon Schools, a recognition that we hope will continue for many years to come. Modern, greener schools in America mean healthier classrooms for our children to learn in, as well as good jobs for American workers. The communities surrounding these schools should be proud of the students, teachers, administrators, and officials making decisions every day that are reducing their school’s environmental impact and providing effective environmental education that will prepare students to succeed in the 21st century economy.

“To prepare the workforce of the next generation, we have to make a commitment to ensure our students have both a good learning environment and a well-rounded education that includes learning about the environment. We must also make our schools modern and green, which will reduce energy and water use, ensure safe and healthy air for our students, teachers and staff, and create good jobs for American workers — those who are doing the work to make our schools better and those providing efficient goods in the supply chain.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 23, 2012) Education Secretary Arne Duncan, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley today announced the Department of Education’s first-ever Green Ribbon Schools at an elementary school in Washington, D.C. Three of the schools designated as Green Ribbon Schools are in Minnesota. They are: North Shore Community School in Duluth; Garlough Environmental Magnet School in West St. Paul; and Kennedy Community School in Saint Joseph.

The BlueGreen Alliance, a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations based in Minnesota, released the following statement from Executive Director David Foster:

“The BlueGreen Alliance congratulates the first-ever Green Ribbon Schools, a recognition that we hope will continue for many years to come. Modern, greener schools in America mean healthier classrooms for our children to learn in, as well as good jobs for American workers. The communities surrounding these schools should be proud of the students, teachers, administrators, and officials making decisions every day that are reducing their school’s environmental impact and providing effective environmental education that will prepare students to succeed in the 21st century economy.

“To prepare the workforce of the next generation, we have to make a commitment to ensure our students have both a good learning environment and a well-rounded education that includes learning about the environment. We must also make our schools modern and green, which will reduce energy and water use, ensure safe and healthy air for our students, teachers and staff, and create good jobs for American workers — those who are doing the work to make our schools better and those providing efficient goods in the supply chain.”

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Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley today announced the Department of Education’s first-ever Green Ribbon Schools at an elementary school in Washington, D.C. Four of the schools designated as Green Ribbon Schools are in Pennsylvania. They are: Thaddeus Stevens Elementary School in Chambersburg; A.W. Beattie Career Center in Allison Park; Springside Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia; and Radnor Middle School in Wayne. 

The BlueGreen Alliance, a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations, released the following statement from Executive Director David Foster:

“The BlueGreen Alliance congratulates the first-ever Green Ribbon Schools, a recognition that we hope will continue for many years to come. Modern, greener schools in America mean healthier classrooms for our children to learn in, as well as good jobs for American workers. The communities surrounding these schools should be proud of the students, teachers, administrators, and officials making decisions every day that are reducing their school’s environmental impact and providing effective environmental education that will prepare students to succeed in the 21st century economy.

“To prepare the workforce of the next generation, we have to make a commitment to ensure our students have both a good learning environment and a well-rounded education that includes learning about the environment. We must also make our schools modern and green, which will reduce energy and water use, ensure safe and healthy air for our students, teachers and staff, and create good jobs for American workers — those who are doing the work to make our schools better and those providing efficient goods in the supply chain.”

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State, Local Leaders Highlight Cost Savings, Job Creation Potential, Environmental Benefits of Modern, Green Schools

Event at George W. Gibbs, Jr. Elementary School Will Showcase Benefits of Modernizing Public Schools 

ROCHESTER, MN  (December 14, 2011) — Local school officials, state, labor and environmental leaders held a press event today to call for state and federal investments to modernize schools. They gathered to discuss the cost savings, health and environmental benefits, and job growth potential of modernizing and greening Minnesota’s schools. The U.S. Green Building Council reports that modern, green schools can save $100,000 per year on operating costs — enough to hire at least one new teacher, buy 200 new computers, or purchase 5,000 textbooks. High performance, green schools also use, on average, 33 percent less energy and 32 percent less water than other schools.

The George W. Gibbs, Jr. Elementary School hosted the press event. The school is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certified, a green compliance standard.

“We can modernize our schools and make them greener, helping our students, teachers and support staff, while reducing pollution and waste,” said Tarryl Clark, the National Co-Chair of the BlueGreen Alliance’s Jobs21! campaign. “Investments in green schools will create jobs, both in construction and in other industries that supply the materials for these upgrades.”

“We’re exceptionally proud of this facility that not only is saving taxpayer dollars but also is reducing pollution and energy waste,” said Jim Kelly, Coordinator of Design & Construction Services at Rochester Public Schools ISD 535.

“A green school is good for students, teachers, and support staff,” said Kit Hawkins, President of the Rochester Education Association. “The air is better, and there’s less unnecessary waste in energy and water.”

George W. Gibbs, Jr. Elementary School opened its doors in 2009 and is the newest elementary school in Rochester. It is one of only a few LEED-certified schools in the state.

“Many other schools in our state need to be modernized and made more green, said Russell Hess, Political Coordinator for the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA).  “That’s an opportunity for better schools and for good jobs for thousands of construction workers in our state that have been stuck on the bench waiting to work.”

State, Local Leaders Highlight Cost Savings, Job Creation Potential, Environmental Benefits of Modern, Green Schools

 Event at American Canyon High School Will Showcase Benefits of Modernizing Public School 

AMERICAN CANYON, CA (December 13, 2011) — Local school officials, state, labor and environmental leaders held a press event today to call for state and federal investments to modernize schools. They gathered to discuss the cost savings, health and environmental benefits, and job growth potential of modernizing and greening California’s schools. The U.S. Green Building Council reports that modern, green schools can save $100,000 per year on operating costs — enough to hire at least one new teacher, buy 200 new computers, or purchase 5,000 textbooks. High performance, green schools also use, on average, 33 percent less energy and 32 percent less water than other schools.

The American Canyon High School served as the backdrop for the event. It is the first school in the nation to complete the certification process for the Collaborative for Performance Schools, a green compliance standard. The campus features natural day lighting in all classrooms, low flow water fixtures, and utilizes both photovoltaic solar and geothermal energy.

“With strategic investments we can modernize our schools and make them greener, helping our students, teachers and support staff by giving them a safer and healthier learning environment, while reducing pollution and waste,” said State Assemblymember Mariko Yamada. “We’re also creating jobs, both in construction and in other industries that supply the materials for these upgrades.”

The American Canyon campus produces as much as 66 percent of its own energy, dramatically impacting costs to taxpayers for energy. According to school officials, an average high school of its size spends $200,000 to $300,000 per year on energy alone.

“When we didn’t have a school here, students were bussed miles out of the city to go to school,” said Patrick Sweeney, Superintendent of the Napa Valley Unified School District. “Now, they can walk to this neighborhood green school, that is a shining example of innovation in green space.”

“We’re exceptionally proud of this facility that not only is saving taxpayer dollars but also is reducing pollution and energy waste,” said Don Evans, Director of School Planning and Construction, Napa Valley Unified School District.

“Rebuilding our current schools to be more efficient and healthy needs to be a priority for government at all levels,” said Belia Ramos Bennett, City Councilmember from the city of American Canyon.

Construction on the school began in 2008 and it was dedicated in 2010. Members of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Union (SMWIA) — a partner in the BlueGreen Alliance — constructed the facility. The BlueGreen Alliance is a national partnership of 11 labor unions and four environmental organizations working to expand the number and quality of jobs in the green economy.

“Our members are exceedingly proud to have built this great school,” said Brett Risley, Business Manager for SMWIA Local Union 104. “Many other schools in our state need to be modernized and made more green, and that’s an opportunity not just for better schools, but also for good jobs for thousands of construction workers in our state that have been stuck on the bench waiting to work.”

“We should focus on greening our schools in every area,” said Carl Pope from Sierra Club, a co-founder of the BlueGreen Alliance. “From energy and water efficient buildings to transportation to educating our young people about the importance of the environment, modernizing and greening our schools will help us build a brighter future for the youth of America.”

“The technologies that are cutting edge today will be commonplace tomorrow,” said State Assemblymember Michael Allen. “By being forward-thinking and making wise choices now, we can create a more sustainable California for generations to come.”

“Making our schools more modern will create good jobs that people in our state desperately need,” said Lisa Hoyos, the California Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “California’sGlobal Warming Solutions Act of 2006 envisioned buildings like this school — ones that reduce carbon emissions and energy use. In more ways than one, we’re investing in our kids.”

Congressmen Conyers, Clarke Urge Action to Create Good American Jobs

Representatives Join Business, Labor & Environmental Leaders to Support President’s Plan & Clean Energy Policies Needed for Economic Revival in Detroit and U.S.

DETROIT, MI (November 9, 2011) Calling the need for action on job creation “urgent,” Congressmen John Conyers and Hansen Clarke, both of Michigan, and local labor and environmental leaders joined together today at Detroit-based NextEnergy to urge the passage of the President’s jobs plan, along with additional clean energy policies to encourage the creation of millions of good, jobs.

“We can create jobs in Michigan and around the country if we get to work on building the industries that will drive our economy now and in the future,” said Congressman Conyers. “Michigan — with our focus on renewable energy manufacturing and advanced vehicle technologies — is a great example of how building a cleaner, more efficient economy will jumpstart job creation and put people back to work.”

President Obama’s jobs plan includes critical investments in modernizing and renovating America’s public schools, transportation infrastructure, and deploying high-speed wireless Internet to at least 98 percent of Americans. Additional strategic policies and investments can spur the growth of renewable energy, energy efficiency, advanced auto manufacturing, recycling, green chemistry and smart grid will create jobs while ensuring that the U.S remains a leader in the global 21st century economy.

“The President’s jobs plan will invest in our nation’s infrastructure, including the modernization and renovation of public schools and more efficient roads, railways, transit and highway systems,” said Congressman Clarke. “We need to pass this jobs plan, and we need to ensure that Michigan and the United States lead the 21st century global clean energy economy.”

A key component of the President’s jobs plan is to modernizing and renovating 35,000 public schools. In Michigan, the President’s plan would invest $926 million — $346 million in Detroit — and create an estimated 12,000 jobs. The U.S. Green Building Council reports that modern, green schools, can save $100,000 per year on operating costs — enough to hire at least one new teacher, buy 200 new computers, or purchase 5,000 textbooks. High performance, green schools also use 33 percent less energy and 32 percent less water than other schools.

“Michigan has great students, teachers and staff and we need to be sure that our schools are just as great so that we can provide safe, healthy learning environments,” said Hecker. “We can create good jobs — as many as 12,000 of them — by making these investments now, and we can ensure that our kids are prepared for a 21st century economy.”

Miguel Foster, Director of Civil and Human Rights for the United Auto Workers, said critical investments in the development and production of more fuel-efficient vehicles has helped revitalize a struggling auto industry in Michigan.

“Recently proposed fuel efficiency standards, along with investments in advanced vehicle technology, will create more than 30,000 jobs in Michigan,” said Foster. “We also need to create and drive more programs like the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program, which has already created 40,000 auto industry jobs throughout the country. These initiatives will help us build a thriving, domestic industry and ensure that the U.S. leads the world in the production of fuel-efficient vehicles.”

Jim Harrison, president of the local 223 of the Utility Workers Union of America, noted that the President’s plan, The American Jobs Act, would expand high-speed wireless Internet to 98 percent of Americans and that the expansion of a modern interstate power grid will create jobs while more efficiently delivering clean energy.

“To make our economy more efficient, we have to make the delivery of energy more efficient, and doing so will create jobs,” said Harrison.

Jobs21! is a nationwide, grassroots initiative of the BlueGreen Alliance for good jobs in the 21st century economy. The Jobs21! Blueprint for Solving the Jobs Crisis outlines critical policies and strategic investments in the industries that will drive our domestic economy and create jobs, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, modern transportation, recycling, green chemistry, smart grid and broadband Internet.

“Both the President’s plan and Jobs21! will reduce energy waste and pollution,” said Anne Woiwode, State Director of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “Moving Michigan forward to a cleaner, more efficient economy will create jobs and ensure we leave a better environment for future generations.”

21st Century Schools Create Good Jobs and Healthy Learning Environments for California’s Students

California State Superintendent Joins Labor and Environmental Organization to Support President’s Jobs Plan and Investments in Modernizing, Renovating California’s Public Schools

PASADENA, CA (October 17, 2011) Modernizing and greening California’s schools will create thousands of good jobs and improve the educational environment for students, according to California State Superintendent for Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and BlueGreen Alliance Co-Founder Carl Pope. The two held a media availability today at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium after speaking to the California Green Schools Summit to call on Congress to pass a nationwide jobs plan which focuses on rebuilding infrastructure and modernizing public schools.

The President’s proposed American Jobs Act would invest over $2.8 billion into K-12 schools and an additional $1.1 billion into community colleges in California alone. Those K-12 investments would create 36,600 jobs and provide economic benefits for a whole host of California industries, from services that these workers will use now that they are back to work to solar installers to window and glass manufacturers and everything in-between.

“America needs a real plan to create jobs, and that plan should include critical investments in modernizing and renovating our nation’s public schools. These investments will create much-needed jobs and help to get California and America back on track,” said Pope, Chairman of the Sierra Club and Co-founder of the BlueGreen Alliance. “Now, we need Congress to pass the President’s plan so that we can get started on these vital projects, and start creating good jobs in California and across the country.”

More than 2.1 million Californians are out of work, and the state’s unemployment rate of 12.1 percent is significantly higher than the national average of 9.1 percent.

“We can put Californians to work ensuring that our schools are cleaner, safer and more efficient,” said Superintendent Torlakson. “Students from Kindergarten through college should have a safe and healthy learning environment. The investments we’re calling for today will move our state forward-they will create jobs, they will improve our learning environments, and they will help to prepare our students for the future.”

High performance, green schools can use 33 percent less energy and 32 percent less water than other schools. On average, they can save $100,000 per year on operating costs – enough to hire at least one new teacher, buy 200 new computers, or purchase 5,000 new textbooks, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

“Reducing waste and pollution means a healthier environment, reduced dependence on foreign oil, and cost savings for taxpayers,” said Pope. “We need to do what’s right for our economy, our communities, our environment and our future by moving forward to modernize our schools now.”

Jobs21! is a nationwide grassroots campaign for good jobs in the 21st century that is coordinated by the BlueGreen Alliance, a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations working to expand the number and quality ofjobs in the green economy. Jobs21! works to create and maintain good jobs in emerging industries – energy efficiency, renewable energy, manufacturing, transportation and transit, recycling, green chemistry, broadband Internet and a smarter electrical grid.

 

Bemidji Event Showcases How 21st Century Schools Create Good Jobs and Healthy Learning Environments for Minnesota’s Students

BEMIDJI, MN  (October 5, 2011) The American Jobs Act will create thousands of sorely-needed jobs and improve the educational environment for students by modernizing Minnesota’s public schools, according to representatives from the BlueGreen Alliance, Education Minnesota, the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), and the Minnesota Conservation Federation. The groups gathered in Bemidji today to call on Congress to pass the President’s nationwide jobs plan – the American Jobs Act – that focuses on rebuilding infrastructure and modernizing public schools.

The American Jobs Act would allocate $30 billion to updating and modernizing 35,000 public schools across America, which would bring $275 million to Minnesota for updating K-12 schools and allocate almost $88 million for modernizing the state’s community colleges. Such investments are expected to create 3,600 jobs in Minnesota.

“The American Jobs Act includes critical investments in modernizing and renovating our schools, and repairing our crumbling transportation systems, and it will create the jobs we need to maintain a competitive U.S. economy,” said Tarryl Clark, the National Co-Chair of the BlueGreen Alliance’s Jobs21! initiative. “It will get thousands of Minnesotans to work creating safer, healthier, more energy-efficient schools – schools that will be better for our students. And the bill will also create better roads, bridges, transit and other transportation systems for all of us. But, we need Congress to pass it now to get started on these vital projects and create jobs.”

“Modern, green school will create a better learning environment for children and safer and healthier schools for teachers, aides, nurses, custodians and other support staff,” said Gina Bernard, an English teacher at Bemidji High School who also serves as Vice President of the Bemidji Education Association. “Here in Bemidji, we have great students and great teachers. They deserve great schools.”

Minnesota’s construction industry has been hit particularly hard by the economic downturn. Since 2005, construction employment in Minnesota has dropped by approximately 50,000 jobs, according to the Department of Employment and Economic Development.

“Too many construction workers in our state are stuck waiting for an opportunity to work and provide for their families,” said Russell Hess, Political Coordinator for Laborers District Council of Minnesota and North Dakota. “These investments to modernize our schools will create thousands of construction jobs in this state. In addition, the transportation infrastructure investments will create many thousands more.”

High performance, green schools can use 33 percent less energy and 32 percent less water than other schools. On average, they can save $100,000 per year on operating costs – enough to hire at least one new teacher, buy 200 new computers, or purchase 5,000 new textbooks, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

“Modernizing schools to be more energy efficient meansa healthier environment, reduced dependence on foreign oil, and savings fortaxpayers,” said Clark. “By passing the American Jobs Act, we can do great things for our economy, our environment and our communities.”

Jobs21! is a nationwide grassroots campaign for good jobs in the 21st century that is coordinated by the BlueGreen Alliance, a Minnesota-based, national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations working to expand the number and quality of jobs in the green economy. Jobs21! works to create and maintain good jobs in emerging industries – energy efficiency, renewable energy, manufacturing, transportation and transit, recycling, green chemistry, broadband Internet and a smarter electrical grid.