From San Diego to Sacramento, the threat of rising temperatures to our youth continues to worsen.
And as California’s six million public school students return to the classroom this month, they’ll be walking on asphalt schoolyards — unhealthy, prison-like environments that are harmful to a child’s physical, mental and educational health.
Fortunately, state policymakers this month have a historic opportunity to build a lasting, bipartisan legacy to address this systemic injustice by tearing up asphalt, planting trees, and “greening” K-12 schools so that youth to grow, learn and play in healthier environments.
California’s commitment to solving climate change could not be played out on a more impressive stage than in classrooms and playgrounds.
While our legislature works with Gov. Newsom on how to wisely invest our $70 billion budget surplus, we urge them to allocate at least $250 million to support a rapidly growing movement of students, teachers and parents demanding greener schools.
Last July’s budget earmarked $50 million in initial funding for school greening. However, that amount would only renovate a portion of California’s more than 10,500 schoolyards. That’s why we’re calling for an additional $200 million to be appropriated in the final climate resilience budget to better support the much-needed transformation of our schools.
Such a commitment would echo Governor Newsom’s recent call to push California’s climate plan into the world’s first major carbon neutrality plan.
“Prioritizing community health … and economic growth can work hand in hand,” he said on July 22. “Now we must take even bolder action…”
California’s commitment to solving climate change could not be played out on a more impressive stage than in the classrooms and playgrounds where future generations learn and play during their formative years.
Greener schoolyards support academic excellence, meet environmental education standards, and improve student health and well-being
However, it’s been 10 years since voters passed Proposition 39, which invested $1.7 billion in school energy efficiency programs. With temperature trends on the rise worldwide, now is the time to address the need for more trees and less asphalt.
That is why:
– Shade from trees can lower surface temperatures by up to 45 degrees and cool the air around them, reducing air temperatures by up to 9 degrees.
– Greening of schoolyards brings water saving and flood reduction benefits.
–Greener schoolyards support academic excellence, meet environmental education standards, and improve student health and well-being.
For an example of how green schools can work, see this recent story at the Vaughn Early Learning Center in Pacoima.
Let’s face this threat to future generations of students. Let’s improve their quality of education and their health.
Let’s start with the simple act of planting a tree.
Editor’s note: State Sen. Bob Hertzberg represents the nearly one million San Fernando Valley residents of Senate District 18. Cindy Montañez, a former Assembly member, is the CEO of TreePeople, an environmental advocacy group based in Southern California.