We keep Infrastructure Week going with our next part focusing on America’s schools

Detroit has been ground zero for America’s crumbling schools. Water has been shut off at some locations due to lead and copper in the old pipes. Pictures of collapsed ceilings and mushrooms growing out of the walls painted a picture of school buildings that can’t keep up with the students, especially a growing student population. Then there was the Baltimore heating scandal in January 2018 where many buildings were unable to stay warm, in the middle of winter. So what is wrong with America’s schools?

Local Funding

One of the issues with America’s crumbling schools is the cost. Schools in America get most of their principal funding from local property taxes. Needless to say, local districts cannot afford the $197 billion price tag to get all school facilities up to a good standard. There is a large gap in funding because the federal government spends little on capital projects.

Age

After World War II, America built many new schools to educate children as a result of the baby boom that occurred from 1945-1961. America built great schools that were modern and had plenty of technology (for the day) and served the nation’s children fairly well. However, even by the 1980s, the cracks in the education system began to show.

Income Disparity

It should be no surprise that wealthier school districts spend more money on capital projects. They also tend to pay their teachers better and retain their teachers as well. Breaking news, money does great things for schools when properly deployed. There are a variety of political commentators, including this guy from Forbes that claim, there is no crisis and that most buildings are just fine. He even goes on to blame districts for failing to maintain the buildings properly and that local leaders are only interested in building grand buildings instead of building simple and effective schools. However, despite the national average of poor buildings, according to his report being low, that isn’t really born out in the lived experiences of people. When schools have to shut down due to inclement weather because they can neither heat nor cool buildings, that is a problem.

NEA Plan to Rebuild Schools

Every part of America’s infrastructure is important and the facilities where students are learning and getting ready to live to their full potential should be a place that is well-built, maintained, and most importantly, functional. It’s clear that we can’t meet the basic standards of that in America.