8 Things Union Members Are Doing To Create Green Schools

Today is Earth Day, when events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection and sustainability. Across the country, AFT members are working to create green schools. Here are a few examples:

1. School Gardens

AFT members around the country are planting and maintaining school gardens with their students. Many schools use the produce from the gardens for fresh fruits and vegetables in student lunches.

2. Wind Turbines

Career tech students in Connecticut have a wind turbine and greenhouse they use to study turbine technology.

3. Green Roofs

Special education teacher Steve Ritz is teaching children to cultivate green walls and roofs. His Green Bronx Machine has grown 12 tons of vegetables. They built the first indoor edible wall in New York City’s public schools.

4. Solar-Powered Devices

Paraprofessional-turned-teacher Pat Lockhart’s students built a solar-powered tricycle using detachable solar panels to power a motor, allowing it to run for up to four hours.

5. Green Jobs

Teachers in the State Vocational Federation of Teachers have added green building certifications to their traditional training programs in Connecticut. Here they install solar panels. With skills like these, they’ll be able to thrive in the green economy.

6. Hybrid Cars

Philadelphia public school students took first place in the 2012 Green Grand Prix for building a hybrid car. Here, AFT President Randi Weingarten checks out a sports car built by students that gets upward of 100 miles per gallon.

7. Outdoor Classrooms

Thanks to the initiative of classified school employees, reading achievement is going through the roof at Franklin Park Elementary in Florida. Oh, wait. There is no roof because the Support Personnel Association of Lee County created an outdoor classroom nestled near the school.

8. Recycling Programs

Two United Federation of Teachers members, disturbed that their school didn’t have a recycling program, started a campaign that resulted in the creation of 1,200 school sustainability coordinators and a Department Of Education Sustainability Initiative throughout the five boroughs of NYC. The goal of this initiative is to optimize building operations and energy efficiency, to increase recycling and to help teachers apply standards to lead current and future generations to a more sustainable future. The coordinators consult with representatives from all sectors of the school, including principal, food services and custodial staff, and wherever possible, parents and students, in developing and implementing all of the sustainability initiatives in the school which, at a minimum, must include school recycling and waste reduction plans.

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