State Lawmakers Convene in Celebration of Green Schools
Green schools were the focus of a reception with more than 60 attendees – mostly state lawmakers – at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) this past Tuesday, August 9. Co-hosted with the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, leading legislators from the 50 for 50 Green Schools Caucus Initiative convened with their colleagues from other states to discuss some of the recent updates in the national green schools movement and opportunities to stay engaged in the coming months.
Illinois State Representative Karen May, Chair of the Illinois Working Group on Green Schools and the 50 for 50 National Advisory Council, set the stage by providing an overview of recent progress and achievements that are facilitating the uptake of green schools. Noting the opportunity around greening existing schools, Rep. May discussed the replicability of HJR 45 and Illinois' intention to green every school in the state, and she announced the release of an updated Green Schools Menu of Options for State Legislators published by the Center for Green Schools at USGBC.
The Representative also expressed her excitement about the Department of Education's pending Green Ribbon Schools program . Given that the nomination process for Green Ribbon will likely come through the states, Rep. May encouraged her colleagues to connect their local schools with the program when the criteria become available in the coming weeks.
Texas Rep. Eddie Lucio III., Chair of the Texas Green Schools Caucus, welcomed everyone to Texas and spoke about how green schools are striking an important chord with Texans – particularly in his part of South Texas.
"How do you change the mindset of a society," Rep. Lucio asked. "It starts with our children. We can have a tremendous impact on our future energy use, our national health, and even our purchasing habits simply by promoting the right values in our kids -- values championed by the green schools movement."
Washington Sen. Maralyn Chase said, "I'm here tonight because of my 11-year-old grandson. I'm working so he can have a healthier school, free of harmful pollutants, with ample natural lighting and where he has the best opportunities to learn. Why else would we spend our time working so hard on this? We need to ask ourselves what kind of world we're turning over to our grandchildren, and then we need to have a razor sharp focus as we work for them. Coming here tonight has recharged my batteries."
Florida Rep. Alan Williams concurred. "I'm always enthusiastic about legislators getting together to talk about policy ideas that we're passionate about. Given that green schools embrace core values that transcend political boundaries and that they make sense for the future of our country, I look forward to working with my colleagues in Florida and from across the nation to make green schools a reality."