Op-ed penned by BTU President Diamonte Brown and AFT President Randi Weingarten
“School started in Baltimore this month with temperatures in the 90s. Approximately 60 buildings in the district lack functional air conditioning, meaning kids and teachers are subject to sweltering conditions, which can have a huge impact on kids’ ability to concentrate on learning. Recently, teachers across Baltimore, through their union, the Baltimore Teachers Union, organized a fan drive so the community could assist with climate control in classrooms. Their goal was to collect 500 fans, but school officials were concerned that some of the city’s school buildings and their aging electrical systems can’t handle multiple fans running simultaneously.
And Baltimore city and county certainly aren’t the only school districts in the country — or even the state — where a lack of air conditioning in classrooms or inadequate electrical wiring is an issue. According to a 2014 report from the National Center for Education Statistics, 53% of public schools in this country needed to spend money on repairs, renovations and modernizations to put them in good overall condition. A 2016 State of Our Schools report notes the nation should be spending about $145 billion per year to maintain, operate and renew facilities so that they provide healthy and safe 21st-century learning environments for all children.”