A Green Revolution for All

Two weeks from today, Secretary Duncan will take the stage at the Green Schools National Conference in Denver, providing a high note at what is fast becoming the largest annual meeting of the green schools movement. The Secretary and other distinguished speakers, including Deputy Undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Janey Thornton, mayors from several cities, and business leaders representing companies from Stonyfield Farm to Siemens, will address the green schools movement and how it can strengthen our economy, revitalize our schools and ensure access to green school benefits for all.

The Secretary’s appearance and the growing popularity of this conference signal a new milestone in green schools, coinciding with the inaugural year of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) program. ED’s new Environmental Justice Strategy explains how ED-GRS is just one initiative supporting a goal at the very heart of ED’s mission: assuring equal educational opportunity for every student. ED-GRS, among other initiatives, helps suggest ways to address the adverse health and environmental conditions that disproportionately affect student achievement among minority and low-income populations.

Over the past months, we’ve all seen how ED-GRS is encouraging state education agencies and school communities to consider the intersection of environment, health and education; putting a range of existing resources in one place for their use; and facilitating experts to help schools become healthier, safer and easier on the environment.

For this reason, ED-GRS plays an important part in ED’s Environmental Justice Strategy, responding to a Presidential Executive Order, which explains how the Department’s policies, programs, and activities aim to increase access for all to healthy, safe and high-achievement promoting environments. The strategy is available for public comment through March 26th and is one of several initiatives in which ED takes part, including America’s Great Outdoors and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, to make good on the President Obama’s commitment to healthy environments and sustainable economies for all Americans.

The draft strategy makes it plain that the green schools movement, with its focus on environment, health, economy and education aims to do more than help our economy and nation grow sustainably.  Just as importantly, this veritable green schools revolution is helping to ensure fairness and opportunity for all of our nation’s students. 

Comment on ED’s draft Environmental Justice Strategy.

See all U.S. Department of Education environment blogs.

Connect with U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools on Facebook.

Please note:  U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools is a federal recognition award and should not be confused with any green schools program conducted by non-governmental entities.