EDUCATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
WHEREAS, the United States is dependent on an outmoded fossil-fuel energy system that simultaneously speeds environmental degradation and threatens our security; and
WHEREAS, reducing dependence on oil from unstable and undemocratic governments through investments in a resilient energy system and support for renewable energy generation reduces the likelihood of further wars for oil; and
WHEREAS, reducing the use of nonrenewable energy use can enhance the environment and slow the rate of climate change; and
WHEREAS, a shift to renewable sources of energy would also revitalize the economy through creating green jobs, increasing investment in domestic social programs, and improving health, while also protecting consumers both from damage to their health and from the rising cost of fossil fuels; and
WHEREAS, schools, colleges and universities and public employees should set an example for their communities and the nation by developing, teaching and implementing alternative energy programs and developing environmental sustainability projects to demonstrate their feasibility and effectiveness; and
WHEREAS, academic institutions have traditionally been at the forefront of cultural and technological change and can become a catalyst that moves the country toward sustainable energy independence; and
WHEREAS, academic institutions with research missions can pioneer new technologies and use these experiments to develop teaching and research opportunities; their groundbreaking work can then inform future environmental policy as they educate the next generation of thinkers, scientists, policymakers, voters and leaders; and
WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers, as a union with more than a million members in the field of education and the public sector, is in a strong position to lead a national agenda of beginning environmental change in our schools and colleges:
RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers, working together with its locals and environmental advocacy organizations, urge that the following practices be incorporated into state and local legislation, university and school policy; and
RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers consider developing materials to be used at the various levels of education to educate students and the public about global warming and other environmental crises (for which it may draw on many existing resources, such as those created by the Union of Concerned Scientists); and
RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers place a high priority on providing these resources to its members, educating them through its local affiliates about global warming and other environmental problems, and encouraging them in the strongest terms to educate their students and fellow citizens about these pressing issues.
a. Reduce use of fossil fuels in order to lessen dependence on nonrenewable resources.
b. Purchase increased clean power from renewable resources.
c. Implement green purchasing policies for products that use less energy, last longer, and are safer for the environment, with an emphasis on limiting disposable waste, and increasing safe and secure recycling programs without contaminants.
d. Upgrade renovation and repair practices to meet standards outlined in the 21st Century High-Performing Public School Facilities Act of 2006 (pending).
e. Construct better buildings that are high performance and energy efficient with approved designs meeting LEED Certification standards.
f. Create curriculum for environmental education at all levels.
g. Create demonstration projects at schools and college campuses for teaching and researching environmental sustainability.
h. Institutionalize conservation through education and the creation of a culture of conservation in schools at all levels across the country.
RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers, recognizing both the urgency of the issue and the opportunity to become a national leader in advocating for sustainable energy independence, urge the executive council to create a national committee on Education and Environmental Sustainability and that the committee draw on the expertise of rank-and-file members with expertise in environmental policy to advance the goals of this resolution.