Save Schools: Promote Green Jobs
On July 3rd, the Oakland School Police raided a sit-in at Lakeview Elementary School. They threatened to use chemical agents on parents, teachers, children and supporters who had been demonstrating at the school for 17 days. The demonstration consisted of a free day camp for children called the “People’s School for Public Education,” a community garden, and a 24-hour sit-in involving half a dozen tents on the school property.
The organizers were protesting the five school closures in Oakland. Late last year, the Oakland Unified School District board voted to close Lakeview, Lazear, Marshall, Maxwell and Santa Fe elementary schools to save $2 million annually. This vote affected 882 students and resulted in a lot of heartbreak in our community.
Oakland isn’t the only city in the state dealing with balancing a tight budget. On utility bills alone, California’s public schools spent one billion taxpayer dollars last year. This means that they spent more money on heating, cooling, and electricity than on school books and supplies combined.
One reason for the high cost of utility bills is that 70% of California’s classrooms are over 25 years old. As schools age and become more inefficient, energy spending increases at the expense of students and teachers.
Retrofitting inefficient classrooms creates a comfortable environment conducive to learning, increases green job opportunities, and provides long-term savings so districts can concentrate limited resources on education and not utility bills. For example, recent retrofits at Murrieta Valley Unified School District saved the district $420,000 per year.
Unfortunately, school districts like Oakland’s face difficulty financing retrofit projects and as a result, many schools cannot access Murrieta Valley’s savings. This is why it is important for California to invest in greening our public schools.
Assemblymember Nancy Skinner introduced the School Energy Bill (AB 1186) on May 22nd. AB 1186 proposes to use Cap and Trade proceeds from PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E, to make schools more energy efficient. The Green Collar Jobs Campaign at the Ella Baker Center is working with Assemblymember Nancy Skinner to ensure that AB 1186 prioritizes retrofitting public schools in communities hit first and worst by climate change.
What you can do to help:
Please contact your legislative representative and say, “I support AB 1186 because I want to save our children’s schools, fight climate change, and create green jobs.”