Squad member unveils 'Green New Deal' for education with support from NYC's de Blasio

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Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman, one of the newest members of the Squad, unveiled Thursday new legislation called “The Green New Deal for Public Schools,” a sweeping new progressive vision for upgrading school buildings with green infrastructure and major investments in teaching and learning.

At an event in the Bronx to launch his $1.43 trillion plan, the freshman New York congressman got high-level endorsements from New York City Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter and Mayor Bill de Blasio who touted the plan as a visionary model that would “catch fire” nationwide like the original Green New Deal did. 

“This is what we’ve dreamed of, but now it’s actually here,” de Blasio said Thursday who predicted Bowman’s GND for public education would become law. 

Bowman praised the original Green New Deal founder, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and said his plan for public schools is aligned with the “paradigm shift” she launched for tackling climate change and creating more green jobs. He emphasized the need to transform public schools by addressing historic economic, environmental and racial injustices. 

“It’s time for a revolution in public education,” Bowman, a former middle school principal, said. “As we deal with a devastating climate crisis caused by decades of unchecked corporate greed, we need to center our children and their future. 

FILE: UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 19: Rep.-elect Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., speaks during a news conference with other Democrat members of Congress to push President-elect Joe Biden to appoint a corporate-free cabinet and an administration staffed with personnel committed to addressing the climate threat, as well as following through on promises made during the campaign to Build Back Better outside of the Democratic National Headquarters in Washington on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“The Green New Deal for Public Schools represents the level of school infrastructure investment that is urgent and necessary to heal the harm from decades of disinvestment, redlining and cycles of poverty and trauma, particularly for Black and brown children,” Bowman continued. “What this comes down to is whether we’re willing to provide our kids with the resources they need to realize their brilliance and have a livable planet.”

Bowman’s $1.4 trillion legislation includes $446 billion in climate grants to retrofit high-need schools over 10 years, $250 billion in block grants to increase school staffing and social services programming, $695 billion to support students with disabilities and quadruple Title I funding to high-poverty schools, and $100 million for “educational equity” grants to address historical educational disparities. 

Bowman wants his Green New Deal plan to be incorporated in the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill for human infrastructure that is poised to pass alongside a smaller bipartisan infrastructure plan to fund traditional roads, bridges and waterways.

He said that while $1.43 trillion may sound like a lot of money, it’s not that big of an ask when compared to how much the United States spends on defense spending.

“If we can invest that on the military industrial complex, we can invest just as much or more on our children in our public schools,” Bowman said. 

The legislation picked up co-sponsors already from 22 Democrats, including Ocasio-Cortez and Reps. Cori Bush of Missouri, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. It’s been endorsed by various environmental, education and progressive groups, including the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Sunrise Movement, Justice Democrats and the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

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