It’s been nearly 20 years since the federal government paid attention to the state of America’s schools, and now they need $270 billion in repairs, according to a new study released by the centre for Green Schools. On average, the nation’s school buildings are more than 50 years old, a 1999 report from the National centre for Education Statistics states. And the last time the federal government conducted an extensive report on the state of America’s school buildings was in 1995.
Now Green Schools, which is affiliated with the U.S. Green Building Council, is urging the government to start collecting regular data on how schools are maintained and how much money states will need to create healthy learning environments for students.
The report estimates it would cost $270 billion, or $5,450 per student, to repair our schools, which are plagued by poor ventilation, leaky roofs, and plumbing that backs up.
And students struggle to concentrate in schools with poor ventilation, heating, and air conditioning — problems that can lead to “Sick Building Syndrome.” SBS can cause headache, eye, nose, or throat irritation, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and dry cough, according to the EPA.
“We have a moral obligation,” Green Schools director Rachel Gutter told AP. “When we talk about a quality education, we talk about the ‘who’ and the ‘what’ — teachers and curriculum — but we don’t talk about the ‘where.’ That needs to change.”
Bill Clinton, who commissioned the 1995 study on America’s school infrastructure, writes in the foreword to the Green Schools report:
“[I]n a country where public education is meant to serve as the ‘great equaliser’ for all of its children, we are still struggling to provide equal opportunity when it comes to the upkeep, maintenance, and modernization of our schools and classrooms.”
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