Teachers strike in Columbus, Ohio over air conditioners. They shouldn’t.

Back in the ’90s, the start of the school year at my high school in Brooklyn often coincided with a series of sweltering days. At the beginning of class, most students demanded the row of seats closest to the windows rather than the blackboard, as students competed for whatever breeze was available. Teachers kept the doors to their classrooms open in hopes of cross-ventilation, so their lessons were interrupted by the noise from the hallway. To help alleviate the situation, we were given class time to create paper fans.

Effective teaching and learning does not occur when teachers and students are physically uncomfortable due to too much heat or cold.

However, everyone was turning up the heat in our cramped and barely ventilated space. My skin stuck to my seat, sweat dripping from my teachers’ hairlines, their shirts wet as they moved around the room to teach. No outside drinks were allowed, so students frequently requested trips to the water fountains. With teachers constantly having to take care of students’ discomfort (as well as their discomfort), the heat has been a predictable disruption to teaching and learning. The curriculum became an afterthought as the only question on anyone’s mind was “How long until we get out of here?”

It’s no wonder, then, that teachers in Columbus, Ohio, are finding themselves dumbfounded as school begins this year. One of the central disputes between the Teachers’ Union and the Columbus City Schools Board of Education revolves around hectic classrooms, which create an environment that teachers describe as miserable.

As reported in The Columbus Dispatch, many schools that started the year without air conditioning were on track to complete HVAC projects in August, and school board He told teachers that six more buildings will be finished with HVAC projects in mid- to late September. But NBC affiliate WCMH from Columbus reported that Three unscheduled schools to receive that renewal during the 2022-23 school year, although the city said two will receive them next summer.

But the teachers union says this arrangement unacceptable according to unfortunate teaching conditions. Some protesters have also claimed to CNN The history of the school board of vague promises The school’s improvement and the current presentation’s lack of specifics were reasons why it was not taken seriously.

There are also enduring educational issues with the Ohio strike, including demands Adequate class sizes and full-time art, music and physical education teachers in city elementary schools. But it is inconceivable that basic standards of health and safety in schools require collective bargaining to secure them, especially in a post-Covid and climate change world. Why are humane teaching terms still considered negotiable?

There is a lot at stake. Similar to what research has shown when students arrive at school hungry or sleep-deprived, effective teaching and learning do not occur when teachers and students are physically uncomfortable due to too much heat or cold. According to the data you collected Illinois Department of Public Health, “Season temperatures should be maintained between 68° and 75°F during the winter months and between 73° and 79°F during the summer months.” Those numbers are a far cry from what I experienced during heatwaves in Brooklyn, and the harsh conditions only get worse as temperatures rise.

Researchers at Harvard UniversityMeanwhile, it published data on heat and learning that found that without air conditioning, “every 1 degree Fahrenheit increase in school temperature reduces the amount gained that year by one percent.” Experts also found that children’They are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses than adults and require special protection from high temperatures.

However, the 2020 report was released by US Government Accountability Office “About half of the districts need to upgrade or replace multiple systems such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) or plumbing” — about 36,000 schools, he says. This number is a “conservative low point estimate,” the report says.

Scholars, researchers, and public policy experts are beginning to debate it Air conditioning should be considered a basic human right in the midst of the climate crisis. But in New York City, equipping city schools with air conditioning wasn’t a big priority until 2017, when the city’s then-mayor, Bill de Blasio, He announced his goal to install air conditioning units in every city classroom by 2022.

Even these late plans Excluding thousands of school spaces, such as gyms and cafeterias — crowded, airless spaces where students have been asked to practice social distancing — according to educational news organization Chalkbeat. As of this time last year, thousands of schools have been allowed to teach face to face Despite the unreliable ventilationWNYC/Gothamist reported.

In addition to pandemic concerns plaguing school environments, the planet continues to rise each year, with 2021 being the sixth warmest year on record, According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. However, the right of teachers and students to have their basic health and safety needs met remains controversial.

I understand the frustration many students and parents in Columbus may be feeling right now. Many people find it difficult to support – or even understand – Sweaty event like teachers strike. While recent reports indicate that the teachers’ union and the school council He may be about to reach an agreementIt’s crazy for everyone involved, no matter the weather.

But before anyone takes a stand against Columbus’ teachers–or any educator fighting for reasonable working conditions–I’m compelled to make a condition of my own: spend the day teaching in a hot, crowded classroom before deciding that our nation’s teachers are asking too much. Only then can these opinions be considered information.

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