Raise Your Voice to Support School Repair and Renovation in Jobs Plan

September 19, 2011

by Rochelle Davis, President and CEO

In his recent address to the nation, President Obama called for federal funding for school repair and renovation as part of his jobs-creation plan. School repair and modernization are critical to student health and achievement, so I was pleased to see the president highlight this enormous need as a priority.

For a glimpse of the needed repairs this funding could begin to address, I encourage you to check out Through Your Lens, the photo contest that HSC presents with Critical Exposure and the 21st Century School Fund.

The student and teacher photos say more than I ever could about the needs and potential of our nation’s school buildings.

Broken_door
Broken Wooden Door by Brittney from Washington, D.C.

The photos also highlight the significant disparity in our country’s school conditions. While the president mentioned technology and science lab upgrades in his address, he also mentioned emergency repairs and asbestos removal —  basic unmet needs that stand in sharp contrast to the healthy learning environments available in other schools.

Riva_BudgetCuts
Budget Cuts by Riva from San Diego

In Through Your Lens, we not only received photos of schools in need of repair but also many photos of schools that truly support learning. Some of these show new facilities with cutting-edge technology and energy-efficient design; others show schools that have made a strong investment in the arts or in providing spaces for physical activity.

Murch
Murch Elementary School's historic Cupola by Holden from Washington, D.C.

Many powerful photos, though, simply show old school buildings that have been kept in good repair. These historic spaces may not always have the newest possible technology, but they have been maintained well and provide good environments where students and teachers can come to school and focus on learning. 

Library
The Library by Janelle from Las Vegas

Safe, well-maintained school buildings are fundamental to learning and health. We know students and teachers can’t do their best in school if they, like students who shared their photos in Through Your Lens, are shivering next to broken windows, straining to hear over ineffective ventilation systems or worrying about water dripping through a leaky ceiling.

They also can’t do their best when they need to leave the classroom because of asthma or other health problems exacerbated by unhealthy indoor air quality. Keeping school buildings in good repair is a simple and critical element of student health and learning.

I applaud the president’s proposal to address this serious need as part of his jobs-creation plan. The plan will now go before Congress, where the school-repair funding will need strong support. Please take a moment to contact your Senators and Representative to let them know you support federal funding for school repair in the jobs bill. Click here to send a letter.

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If you’re interested in learning more, I encourage you to check out Education Week’s excellent summary for more background on the proposal. This recent Washington Post editorial (published prior to the president’s address) also offers compelling background on the logic of including school repair in a jobs bill.

For more on this issue, check out the Through Your Lens section of our blog.