The effort was organized in order to help local public schools comply with Connecticut’s 2009 “green cleaning in schools” law. The first video was premiered in September at a public roll-out-out of the campaign at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)’s headquarters in Hartford.
“Promoting green cleaning products in our schools is vital,” said Brian Bisson, a carpentry instructor at Windham Technical High School. “Exposure to dangerous toxins and chemicals is detrimental to students’ learning and health. This effort is a simple, effective way to help educators make a difference,” added Bisson, who also serves as vice president of our AFT Connecticut-affiliated State Vocational Federation of Teachers union.
The campaign’s launch comes at a time when we have a long way to go towards accomplishing the law’s intended purpose. A recent survey of school facilities’ directors found almost 90 percent reported non-green cleaners like bleach in their classrooms. Nearly 70 percent also found hazardous products in other areas of their schools.
“It’s always important to engage with our students’ families,” said Patti White-Fusco, a gifted and talented education teacher in West Haven Public Schools. “Particularly when it comes to their child’s health, we need to keep parents educated and informed. This campaign provides us a set of tools to do just that,” added White-Fusco, who also serves as AFT Connecticut’s vice president for PreK-12 teachers.
Parents have recently reported receiving notices from some districts requesting non-compliant and hazardous cleaning products, such as bleach wipes. This, despite the statute’s clear prohibition of outside consumer products that pose a health risk to students in our state’s public schools.
“This campaign will help educators better protect their students’ health,” said AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel. “We’re doing our part in getting the word out to the thousands of teachers, paraprofessionals and school support personnel we represent across the state. It’s an example of what ‘solution-driven unionism’ is all about,” added Hochadel, a former physics teacher in the Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS).
Under the law, local and regional school districts were required to have a green cleaning program in place by 2011. All cleaning products must meet nationally certified guidelines and be approved by the state’s administrative services department.
to learn more about Connecticut’s green cleaning in schools program.