Sunday, March 15, 2009

Crumbling Schools Need New Ideas

Some politicians think that if they ignore crumbling schools they will just go away. Schools are just like the bridges and roads that have fallen into disrepair around the country. They will not go away. The school districts around the country have been repairing schools for years while trying to maintain failing budgets. There are ceilings falling down, hazardous rooms that are closed to students, cracking and dull paint and broken chairs and desks. Teachers suffer too. Many teachers spend thousands of dollars out of their own personal budgets to buy resources for their classes.

The crumbling schools did not get there overnight. School districts have delayed construction to meet their annual budget. As they wait the cost of materials and labor continues to rise and we have the perfect storm. The cycle continues where a school board says let’s wait and see how we can budget construction for next year. Students are at risk physically and emotionally when they attend a school that is falling apart. Students wonder who cares about whether they show up for school. School board members should take proactive steps to get legislators and the community involved in pursuing funding and all school funding must be equitable.
Teachers also suffer when schools are falling apart. They are shuffled from room to room. They are told to make due with what they have. While other schools issue lap top computers to students. Teachers need a boost in resources to provide instruction and innovative experiences for each student . One cannot expect teacher instruction to excel if they do not have the equipment for chemistry and biology courses that they teach. Corporations need to be more involved in supplying some of these resources.

The cost involved in the continuous repair of failing heaters, water systems, bathrooms and roofs of older buildings continues to increase. In many cases it is just better to build a new school. Why not get engineering and architecture colleges around each city involved in innovative projects with the crumbling schools. This is one way to create enthusiasm and innovative solutions for the problems that plague schools. It would also create engineers and scientists who are sensitive to the needs of schools. It is easy for college students to get stuck on campus and lack an awareness of the problems that schools are facing.

It’s time to stand up for schools and teachers who want to make an impact on student’s lives. Our country cannot compete with the rest of the world if we lack the will and commitment to change our schools. Presidents Obama must continue to fight to increase financial resources to construct new schools across the nation. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. Maybe legislators across the parties should tour schools to see their condition. CNN should do a year-long series on the crumbling schools. It’s better to prepare for the future by building innovative schools than to watch students drop out. Let’s think big and create schools that will be noticed around the globe.

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