DSA-LA Priority Resolution:
Green New Deal For Public Schools LA
Authors: Marc K. and Jordan E.
The clock is still ticking. It’s been too late to stop climate change from starting, but the future of our planet is still in our hands.
DSA-LA should make work in this area a chapter priority. Due to the Federal Infrastructure Bill, an enormous amount of investment is there to be spent on green projects, but we need to articulate a socialist vision for how this money should be spent to prevent cooptation from the NPIC and Green Capital.
With a pre-existing and ongoing National “GND4PS” Campaign, we have an opportunity to join a national DSA campaign to advance anti-capitalist demands for green investment in public education; retrofitting schools to create healthy learning environments, calling on LAUSD and other county institutions to create pressure for green energy, and creating green union jobs in the process. Further, we have the opportunity to build a mass campaign that can engage our members and our base — especially parents — across the county in order to defeat the ongoing threat of privatization and advance a positive vision for fully funding and transforming our public schools and services.
What is the national Green New Deal For Public Schools campaign?
DSA endorsed leaders in Congress have proposed a Green New Deal for Public Schools (GND4PS), which would dedicate over $1 trillion to supporting:
- Healthy, green, climate friendly retrofits for K-12 public school facilities that completely eliminate their carbon emissions
- Resource Block Grants to fund expanded staff, social services, training, and professional development in public schools with the greatest need
- Expanded Title I and IDEA Annual Funding to sustain operational support from the Resource Block Grants.
This Green New Deal for Public Schools would create over 350,000 jobs, including 100,000 construction and maintenance jobs, paying union-wages, while radically equalizing funding for low-income schools;
The students, parents, and workers who would benefit are overwhelmingly African-American, Latino/a, immigrant, and poor and working-class of all races;
This Stimulus would reverse decades of austerity-based class war that has been against the working class by dismantling and privatizing public schools, some of the most important working class community institutions in America, waged by both conservatives and corporate Democrats.
GND4PS is especially important in Los Angeles, where UTLA and community groups were recently able to fend off a voucher scheme called “Student-Centered Funding” that would have waived Title I funding protections in LAUSD. Charter school advocates will continue to push for privatization at the local, statewide, and national levels, and we’ll need to effectively counter their narratives in order to go on the offensive.
Local Campaign Description and Goals
Despite near-unanimous agreement that climate justice is a crucial area of struggle, DSA Los Angeles has historically struggled to organize mass action in this area. The battle for a Green New Deal has primarily played out at a national level, and it has not always been clear how to adapt that campaign to our local conditions.
But now, with a pre-existing national DSA campaign related to education investment, and with the knowledge that some degree of investment is all-but guaranteed at this point, we have a clear opportunity to fight for federal demands and local, strengthening relationships with existing labor partners, and especially empowering parents to get involved in a meaningful and winnable campaign to advance socialist climate demands while supporting public education.
This campaign resolves to accomplish the following:
- Support national efforts to pressure strategic members of Congress to pass this legislation.
- Build a Green New Deal for Public Schools Coalition with unions and community groups, including at least one union co-sponsored event and at least one union or Central Labor Council resolution passed in support.
- Move Green New Deal for Public Schools Resolutions through neighborhood councils to put demands on LA City Council
- Create two social media posts per week and at least one video for the campaign.
- 100 members participating in canvasses.
- Build a list of at least 5,000 Green New Deal for Public Schools petition signers throughout Los Angeles County.
- Educate membership about other ongoing strategic climate fights in Los Angeles to get involved with when the resolution expires. (For example, LA100, removing fossil fuel extraction from neighborhoods, public transit demands, and or other climate and greening projects)
- Educate membership about the importance of defending and fully funding public education, which is seen as the final frontier by capitalists who seek to advance a profit motive into every social institution. (For example, in addition to the local “Student-Centered Funding” voucher scheme, signatures are currently being collected for two statewide ballot initiatives to create a school vouchers system, one of which would prohibit vaccination mandates)
Campaign Tactics and Components:
In order to accomplish the goals described above, the working group should plan on utilizing the following tactics and actions
- Campaign Plan – The working group should host public meetings to create a strategic plan to ensure the resolution goals are achieved using the following tactics and any others decided by the campaign working group.
- Organizing Training – There should be opportunities for members to take advantage of existing trainings on how to have an organizing conversation in order to participate in the campaign as well as to share it’s message in their personal lives.
- In-person & Virtual Town Halls – The chapter should host town halls on the subject of Capitalism and Climate in Los Angeles to provide some preliminary education in the field, and inspire members to sign up to
participate in the campaign. Town Halls should also promote an understanding of the intersectional nature of climate struggle; especially regarding racial disparities resulting from environmental racism, climate change and fuel extraction. Town Halls should make an effort to invite guest speakers who can attract attendees.
- Tabling and Canvassing – In addition to having relational organizing conversations, the chapter should supplement outreach by tabling and canvassing; especially targeting communities in LA county that have been identified as priorities for outreach by our chapter’s Electoral Committee. (Working class communities of color that voted heavily for Bernie Sanders, but are underrepresented in DSA — especially those around Southeast LA, San Gabriel Valley,
and potentially even Antelope Valley)
- Petition & Survey – The chapter should design a petition that people can sign on to so that they can express their support for the GND4PS goals. The petition should also feature a few survey questions that can allow us to get meaningful feedback from around the county about people’s awareness and interest in climate issues related to GND4PS Goal.
- List Building – The Petition and Survey Data should allow us to target expanded outreach, especially to build up targeted organizing lists of teachers, educational staff, and construction and maintenance workers;
- Post-Campaign Report – As the next convection approaches, the working group should develop written analysis of their own work and accomplishments and present it to the membership
Timeline for Development
- October 2021 – Begin representing ongoing, national GND4PS work as a local priority for members to support. Steering Committee form local GND4PS campaign working group.
- November 2021 – Petition designed and deployed. Begin developing local campaign plan to achieve local goals. Begin reaching out to existing GND4PS contacts to bring them into campaign planning. Host first town hall.
- December 2021 – Finalize plans for local campaign efforts. Identify strategic targets including key school sites.
- January 2022 – Implement local campaign plan. Begin canvassing, tabling, and member phone banking.
- March 2022 – Flagship rally and campaign event – ideally (COVID-pending) at a target school location with union partners.
- April 2022 – Campaign Working Group releases post-campaign report sharing analysis and recommendations for future chapter engagement in this terrain.
- Chapter Comms including free resources like social media posts, member email blasts, as well as paid resources like online ads.
- Physical Canvassing Materials including signs, banners, handouts, etc
- Physical Event Materials including tents, speaker system (purchase or rental), hand carts, etc.
- Translation and interpretation service to involve and organize alongside non-English speaking members and parents
- Chapter membership list
All item costs to be researched by Working Group once exact needs are identified and then approved by Steering Committee if requests are appropriate and reasonably priced
Isn’t the Infrastructure Bill passing in the next couple months? Is the national campaign going to continue once it does?
- The infrastructure bill will be voted on by the end of September. The national campaign will continue with a focus on helping local chapters develop capacity and strategies to continue the campaign with a local focus.
Are outreach and organizing efforts going to detract from electoral endorsements that we make in the same time period?
- We will focus outreach efforts in areas where DSA needs to grow our presence and membership. Outreach will be organized to not interfere with major electoral work we will be doing.
How will this resolution address the DSA-LA goal of running campaigns that are not racially “color-blind” in their methods or goals?
- Climate justice and education justice is directly related to racial justice. The connection between racism, poverty, and pollution is well documented, especially in Los Angeles. As the campaign is developed, effort must be directed to make sure that goals and public messaging articulates these intersections. We also need to have more than talk and should invest in organizing directly around schools in working class communities of color.
Organizational Priority Alignment
- Engage mass of membership by creating low-barrier opportunities to get involved, ranging all the way from boosting social media content and completing a petition, to going canvassing, to helping coordinate outreach efforts.
- External facing campaign that focuses on recruitment by articulating DSA-LA’s socialist theory of change and creating compelling reasons for people to join us.
- Building our presence in strategic areas of LA County, especially those identified by the recent Electoral Committee, especially by supporting existing organizers in locations like our South Central Inglewood Branch and equipping them with a ready-made campaign to participate in, as well as by creating opportunities for on-the ground community engagement in parts of the county that may not be reached by other electoral endorsement campaigning.
- Align our chapter work with national priorities by taking advantage of their pre-existing resources.
- Leadership development opportunities by creating a robust working group with tangible goals that members can be trained to help achieve.
Relevant Goals for Working Groups
- Labor: Deepening Labor’s analysis and member involvement in supporting and putting forward Green New Deal demands as part of new organizing and union contract campaigns. Actively organizing union members to engage in the campaign work. Building relationships with the building trades unions that would benefit from projects retrofitting our public schools.
- Climate Justice – Educating members about tangible ways to campaign around climate demands. Activating interest in climate struggle on a local terrain.
- Housing and Homelessness: Making the link between the need for climate resilient and healthy learning environments to the need for the same type of public investment in public social housing.
- Electoral: Articulating demands that are related to the Democratic Socialist Program, creating a clear goal for neighborhood council members to rally around, creating standards to use to pressure hostile local electeds.
- Healthcare Justice: Articulating the need for green spaces in our schools and communities and how they correlate to health outcomes for students. Also, in light of the health impacts of COVID-19, highlighting issues related to poor ventilation, drinking water safety, and other health related issues due to outdated school facilities.
- Immigration Justice: Articulating the need for Community Schools that are safe spaces and sanctuary for immigrants especially in neighborhoods directly targeted by ICE enforcement.
- Prison Abolition: National Campaign has an explicit focus on investment in Title 1 schools — which are in communities that are affected by overpolicing and the “school to prison pipeline”. Local campaign plan should continue this focus utilizing expertise from the Prison Abolition committee.